by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Coming off the end of last episode, we open on pop psychic Miyu Aikawa's friend Chi walking home pre-kidnapping. She sees a little kid. He breaks into a slasher smile and (presumably) kidnaps her. Later, a concerned Miyu – who knows that Chi has been missing for a while – receives a phone call. That's all we get from that plotline this week.
“Kid” detective Shun Moritsuka meets up with doujinshi lady Ririka Nishizono. (It turns out that Shun's in his 20s, but I'll keep calling him a kid since he's a brat.) After some roundabout flirting, he brings up his real business: Ririka's doujinshi predicted Hashigami's murder, and he wants to probe her for details. Specifically, he's after information regarding Hashigami's dying message - the word “CODE.” Ririka denies any knowledge of its significance but does reveal that she creates doujinshi based on dreams she's had. They part on a slightly hostile note.
Cut to boob assistant Ryoka, who's hanging out at the cafe. Apparently Yuta, the blogger, hasn't been in contact. The last Ryoka heard of him, he was depressed. Ryoka gets a call about “returning” somewhere, so she heads off. We end on an ominous shot of Izumi, the flamboyant bartender.
Some time later, Shun tracks down Hashigami's son Sarai and questions him about his father. He refuses to say anything but privately flashes back to an argument with his dad, where he was trying to dissuade his father from studying the occult, saying that it'd ruin his career. In this, we learn that Hashigami was planning to “make the super-theory left behind by Nikola Tesla into reality." This involves "a world where the spiritual bodies, conscious astral forms, gathered." So Nikola Tesla found the astral plane. Okay. Apparently, Shun already knows all about this, as well as Hashigami's involvement. He also mentions something called the Aveline Note, but refuses to elaborate. Shun advises Sarai to keep his cellphone turned off, and then he leaves.
That means it's time for more of the urban witch Aria Kurenaino's backstory. As we learned last week, she's a creepy imouto who spent a year living with her brother's mummified corpse. This scene doesn't provide much that we didn't already know in terms of story information, but mostly there's more insight as to Aria's perspective on this whole thing. She's still bothered by what happened that year, since she was apparently under the delusion that her brother was alive and well the whole time. My favorite part of this whole scene is when a relative calls Aria "abnormal," and she goes on a “the lady doth protest too much” rant against the possibility of her having a incestuous relationship with her brother before realizing that the accusation was in reference to her cohabitating with a rotting husk of flesh.
Cut to journalist Toko Sumikaze, who's explaining Aria's story to her editor. It seems that she wants to write a story about the girl, but her pitch is rejected. Sumikaze flashes back to her interview with professor Hashigami sometime earlier, where he asked her about her dreams. She replies that she had a dream about watery human figures on a moonlit night – meaning that event involving the dredged-up bodies from the beginning of the first episode. She's puzzled, but doesn't think much of it before she receives a sudden phone call.
Now on to Yuta. It turns out that walking in on a murder scene has made him kinda loco. He's convinced that the cops are after him, as he walks around trying to shove the tooth-key into random locks. In the end, he tries it on a door in Hashigami's house, but runs off out of fear before he can verify whether it works or not. Then a demon corners him in an alley! Aah!
But it was all a dream! Yuta wakes up, checks to make sure he didn't wet his pants, and turns on the TV. The news reveals that dozens of bodies – apparently suicides – have been dredged out of a local lake. That's the opening scene from the series that roughly half the cast has had visions about! Aaaah!!!
And credits. Overall, this episode marks a slight improvement over the previous two. It seemed easier to follow, but I'm not sure if that's due to any change in the storytelling or because I had to watch the first two episodes four times for review. The few for-sure improvements are less exposition and more of the runtime being dedicated to getting the audience emotionally invested in the characters. I can't say I'm particularly interested in any of them – they're all some combination of a trope and chuunibyou trait – but they all feel like characters with their own personalities, emotional dynamics, and histories now. I feel comfortable following the story from Aria and Yuta's perspectives, and I know how Shun would react to a situation in contrast to someone like Ririka, for example. With the pace the previous two episodes were running at, there was a serious risk of them all turning out cardboard cutouts with purely plot-informed attributes.
The downside to this episode is that it brought even more plot elements into this already overcrowded narrative. The list is now suicide lake, tooth key, a dying message written in blood, several fortunetellers, Nicola Tesla's research into the astral plane, and a corpse/ghost brother. The thrill to watching Occultic;Nine comes from finding out how this could all possibly come together, and so far I have no inkling as to whether it will succeed or fail. I've gotten used to the show's style of storytelling, and while I still can't call it good, I'm willing to go along with it in order to find out what Occultic;Nine is trying to accomplish.
Occultic;Nine is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Gabriella Ekens studies film and literature at a US university. Follow her on twitter.
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