by Gabriella Ekens,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Community score: 4.1
Who would have thought that last week's climatic revelation that most of the characters are already dead would lead to one of the most blasé and deadpan episodes in this already emotionally stilted show? Upon hearing their names on the 256 incident's roll call and realizing that holy crap, they're ghosts, our heroes gather to have a...calm and collected conversation? That's right, Occultic;Nine follows this bombshell up with a lengthy technobabble sequence that doesn't resolve any of the situation's important plot holes. Way to deflate the momentum.
Do you remember The Sixth Sense, and how that movie falls apart once you realize how colossally unlikely it is that the main character wouldn't notice that he can only interact with this one kid and nobody else? At least that movie gave a one-line excuse for this blind spot, but Occultic;Nine forgoes even that much for the same thing happening to several hundred people. Alongside this, the mechanics of ghost-dom don't make much sense. Basically, ghosts might be able to interact with some people, but those people might also be unwitting fellow ghosts, as was proposed regarding Yuta's encounter with a woman in the crowd. In this latter case, ghosts somehow manage to mostly interact with their fellow ghosts, so it takes them a while to figure out that they're dead. At the same time, they can definitely interact with their environment, but it doesn't seem like non-ghosts can notice this, as evidenced by the fact that nobody's freaking out at stuff like drinking glasses levitating in midair. Then there's the most glaring elephant in the room; none of them address the fact that barkeep Izumi has been interacting with them this entire time. This entire setup is based on a series of stupidly massive coincidences. The show needs to justify this somehow to make it at all plausible, but it hasn't yet. The closest justification to this is Sarai's proposal that they're in “something like a dream.” That makes it sound like they've fallen into some sort of alternate reality, which doesn't reflect the situation as we know it at all.
It doesn't help that the characters aren't having emotionally understandable human reactions to this. Yuta comes the closest with his initial freakout, but that soon gives way to excitement at the idea of monetizing this story on his blog. (Can he even use that money if he's been declared dead? Can people still read his articles? Wouldn't people notice if someone who's been publicly announced dead continues to update his blog? This premise breaks down in like ten different ways every time you try to think about it.) Worse, the other people attending this exposition-fest – Ryoka, Sarai, and reporter Touko – seem entirely unfazed by the fact that they're deceased, which means their friends and loved ones are currently mourning their deaths. Reactions from the other characters are no less odd. Aria looks forward to reuniting with her onii-san, but I don't really get that. If I were in her shoes, I'd be more angry that departing from my flesh didn't take me to wherever the hell he ended up, and just left me wandering around invisibly with no seeming purpose instead. Meanwhile Shuu, Lord Chuuni that he is, prepared for this possibility, which takes us to this episode's second major misstep: Asuna Kisaki.
Asuna is Shuu's coworker and a brand-new character. She has the power of psychometry, or reading memories by touching objects. (This includes human bodies.) Apparently, Shuu plants this kind of information in objects he owns so she can continue his work should he die on the job. Via memory-Shuu, we're introduced to a new plot point: a radio station called FM-KCZ. Later, when Asuna goes to investigate the bodies, she is shocked to discover that their memories have all been replaced by the same image of suicide-by-drowning. She comes to the conclusion that they were all brainwashed into drowning themselves when their own minds were somehow erased or removed. Around this time, Yuta catches wind of where his corpse is being stored and goes to check it out. While he's there, Asuna tries to read Yuta's memories, finds him empty, and looks up to suddenly see his ghost. The episode ends on this, so I assume that Asuna is about to start working with the Kiri Kiri Basara crew.
I don't object to anything particular about Asuna so much as I dislike the idea of introducing a new character at this point period. She's treated like a new protagonist who takes up an investigative role in the story. The problem is that Occultic;Nine has eight other characters like this that have all been around from the beginning, and I'm already struggling to relate to all of them. At this stage in the game, more characters only muddle things further, which is a huge problem since this show is already juggling way too many plot points. I feel like, in order to become the best version of itself as a conspiratorial occult-pastiche rollercoaster, Occultic;Nine should have ridden on the momentum of last episode's big revelation as a segue into the endgame.
As it stands, I'm starting to seriously doubt that this show can wrangle its manifold plot threads (which include several murders, a key found in a corpse's mouth, a dying message, a mass suicide, a government conspiracy researching immortality, Nikola Tesla's theories regarding the astral plane, a human scalp placed in a mailbox, a comic book that predicts the future, a talking radio, a cursed box that kills people, a witch and her devil friend, and someone sending threatening messages to a fake psychic on Nico Nico) into something comprehensible, let alone satisfying. Occultic:Nine is running out of time, and it can't afford to keep spinning its wheels for much longer.
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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