If you’re a fan of supernatural anime or visual novels, there’s a good chance you may have heard of Chiyomaru Shikura or at least his semi-colon separated works such as Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head or Robotics;Notes. Occultic; Nine is another mind bending tale full of twists from the same mind. Originally a series of light novel’s it has now received an anime adaptation and this review covers the first home release volume which contains the first 6 episodes of the 12 episode series.
The main plot of Occultic;Nine revolves around Yuta, a 2nd year high schooler that runs an affiliate blog “Kiri Kiri Basara” based around supernatural and occultic phenomena that take occur in the world from a scientific point of view.
Although the setup presents Yuta as the main protagonist, the series actually follows the lives of 9 separate individuals that each have a mysterious link to Kiri Kiri Basara and a mass murder event that take’s place in the town where they reside. Each of the nine play a separate but integral part to the overall story, which at first wasn’t apparent but the more I watched the more I became invested in finding out what was really going on in this world.
One thing you’ll likely find after watching the first couple of episodes is that you’ll probably feel lost and have little idea as to what is going on or who each of the characters are. It’s fine, it come’s together, keep going. It seems to be a storytelling signature of Chiyomaru Shikura. He doesn’t introduce character’s in an overly “hand holding” way for the viewer, wasting time with exposition to make sure the viewer is up to speed with everything going on.
While it was hard to keep up with what was going on and I did feel lost early on, I grew to appreciate the way the story was told when the twists or certain character stories were revealed as it isn’t a show where you’re aware of things in the world or the plot and are waiting for the characters to discover the facts, you’re along for the ride and feel just as lost as them before the big reveals come to light.
The sense of feeling lost isn’t helped by the breakneck speed in which the scenes play out. And because the series follows 9 different individuals it is hard to keep up at times because of how frequently it jumps around. All the while you still don’t really know who each of them really are. It contains many characters but you intentionally aren’t meant to know much about them which makes it hard to attach to them beyond their initial character trope (NEET, Detective, Fortune Teller etc).
Due to how the series has been licensed Occultic;Nine has been split into two 6 episode volumes rather than a single season set. The worst part about this is that episode 6 ends on such a great cliffhanger that I wish I was able to see the end of this murder mystery as it just got to a point where I was beginning to understand exactly what was going on here.
Much like Steins;Gate I think this show is going to benefit greatly from multiple viewings. Chiyomaru Shikura’s stories like to make you feel lost until the point they don’t and everything that’s been shown to you so far and just click’s in a moment of genius.
The anime adaptation has been produced by A-1 Pictures. And they’ve done a really great job replicating the visual novel style look of Shikura’s other work’s. The character designs have a painterly sketch-style look to them that I really enjoyed looking at as it didn’t look like most other anime I watch. Besides the character’s, I also enjoyed the overall world design. It’s bright and vibrant when need be but also nails the dark, grim and rainy horror moment’s the series has plenty of.
The home release Blu-Ray as mentioned only features the first 6 episodes of the series across 2 discs in full 1080p HD. The set includes both the English Dub and the Original Japanese track with English subtitles.
It’s unfortunately light on extra’s featuring only clean opening and closing animations and a trailer for the series. Which I always find to be such a strange addition to the set seeing as to watch it I need to own the set the trailer is for but anyway it’s on there.
Watching the first volume of Occultic;Nine has definitely got me interested in seeing what’s going to go down in the second. While I did feel quite lost for most of the six episodes, it did come together towards the end of the set and made me appreciate how the story was being told. If you tend to watch the first couple of episodes of a series to decide if it’s for you, you’re going to need to watch a few more here before deciding to drop it or not. You may be glad you stuck with it and go back in for a second viewing to get the full experience.
A Blu-Ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.