Final Thoughts on Occult Academy

Do you see that look on Maya’s face? That expression of disappointment and contempt, mixed with just a hint of anger? Yeah, that’s how I feel right now.

Look, I wanted to like Occult Academy, I really did. Back in the early days of the summer season, I called this show “messianic,” a gift from the heavens destined to drive back the forces of mediocrity and darkness. Here, at long last, was an anime that had a plot beyond “cute girls drinking tea,” characters with more depth and originality than tired archetypes like “twintailed tsundere,” and humor more sophisticated than “LOL BOOBIES.” In other words, this was exactly the kind of thoughtful, original show we needed to counter the ever-increasing tide of fanservice and moe garbage that’s been swamping the airwaves. Sadly, it was unable to live up to those high expectations.

Find out why after the break.

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Review: Occult Academy 5 & 6

Just another ordinary day at Occult Academy.

As those of you who have been listening to the podcast know, my opinion of the recent Occult Academy episodes has been rather low. Episode 3 was just plain boring, and episode 4 completely derailed Fumiaki’s character, turning him into cowardly comic relief. Now, these two episodes weren’t BAD per se, but they also weren’t anywhere near as good as the first two. Seeing such a promising show fall from grace was painful, and I was starting to worry that Occult Academy would completely squander its potential just like So Ra No Wo To. Boy, am I glad to be wrong.

Episodes 5 and 6 were a complete turnaround. Thanks in large part to the strong writing, these episodes picked up the pace, un-derailed Fumiaki’s character, and rekindled my interest in the show. They even nailed the comedy, which was both hilarious and perfectly blended with the more serious aspects of the story. And, best of all, Mikaze got almost no screentime! Will wonders never cease?

Find out more after the break. Continue reading

Review: Occult Academy 3

Show us those pearly whites!

After the first two episodes of Occult Academy blew me away, I was expecting big things from the third. In hindsight, perhaps this was foolish; many anime have great introductions, but falter a few episodes in. Was I setting my expectations too high? Or was I merely so confident in the creative talent behind Anime no Chikara that I thought they could do no wrong?

Perhaps I’m being a bit drastic; the third episode of Occult Academy certainly wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination. It rounded out Fumiaki’s character wonderfully, and delivered more laughs than Seitokai Yakuindomo will ever manage. However, it barely added anything to the series’ mythos or storyline, other than the rather bland new character Mikaze. In fact, this Mary Sue romantic interest and her date with Fumiaki took up far too much of this episode’s runtime, and slowed the pacing to a crawl. The end result was an episode that, while still enjoyable, was nowhere near as good as the previous two.

Find out more after the break.

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Review: Occult Academy 1 & 2

You are entering the world of Pumpkinhead!

Like my fellow editors here at Project Haruhi, I have been pretty disappointed by the new summer anime thus far. In my humble opinion, this season’s shows are either overrated, subpar or just outright horrible. Of course, I’ve experienced this kind of thing before. I always take solace in the fact that, just when things are looking darkest, a single great anime emerges from the shadows. Like a brilliant beam of light from the heavens, this one show drives back the darkness and brings hope to all the downtrodden, world-weary otaku.

This season, that show is Occult Academy.

Think I’m being hyperbolic? Find out more after the break!

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Bakacast Briefs – The Saga Begins

Hey, look! It’s the debut episode of Bakacast Briefs! As always, you can download it directly, subscribe to our RSS feed, or let iTunes do all the work for you. So, what is Bakacast Briefs, you ask? Basically, we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that Bakacast will only update once a month. However, we wanted to give our audience something to listen to during that large gap of time. So we figured we’d try doing mini-episodes that ditch our typical news and in-depth review format; instead, Bakacast Briefs will feature Jon (aka Ritsu), Chris (aka Kagami) and me giving our brief thoughts on each week’s new anime episodes. Unfortunately, Chris is unusually busy with something called “real life”, so it’s just Jon and me in this episode. We discussed:

I was hoping to add Sengoku Basara 2 to this list, but Funimation still hasn’t put the first episode up (so much for a “simulcast”). I’ll talk about it on next week’s show, I promise. Also, this list is likely to change as we drop shows we’re not interested in. So by the time we’re a few weeks in, we’ll probably have narrowed it down to a few shows that all of us are watching. In the meantime, tell us what you think of the new style. It’s very much in the “experimental” stage, so we’d love to know what you like or don’t like about it. The music used for this episode is “Colour Television” by J. Arthur Keenes.

Crunchyroll on the Road to Profitability

Earlier yesterday, ANN reported that Crunchyroll—the formerly illicit streaming anime site that went legit in January of 2009—broke even in May. This is huge news for advocates of on-demand and simulcasted anime like myself. It proves that Crunchyroll’s strategy can work, which hopefully means Japanese companies will be less hesitant to put their stuff online.

To put this in perspective, the enormously popular YouTube has yet to turn a profit, though this is likely because the service was largely ad-free for quite a while. Crunchyroll, on the other hand, supports itself by charging subscription fees for instant access to their newest shows and—for non-subscribers—including commercial breaks in their videos. It would be interesting to see what percentage of their revenue comes from each source, though it’s highly unlikely Crunchyroll will ever release that kind of information.

Whatever the monetary breakdown, Funimation and the Anime Network are probably feeling much better about the chances of their own streaming services. And if they succeed, us fans may finally get decent, legal alternatives to DVDs.

InuYasha: The Final Act Simulcast Announced

Viz announced at the New York Anime Festival today that it plans to simulcast episodes of InuYasha: The Final Act starting on October 3rd. The simulcast will be broadcast on Hulu and Shonen Sunday, presumably subtitled in English. It’s also likely that it will only be available to viewers in North America, though this has not been confirmed yet.

Although I’m no great fan of InuYasha, I am happy to see more series getting simulcast. After all, who can argue with free legal fansubs? Hopefully this will be as successful as the Naruto, One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood simulcasts, and will convince Japanese companies to be a little more liberal-minded when it comes to online distribution of content and overseas licensing. After all, I would love to see simulcasts of other shows like Gundam Unicorn or Dragon Ball Kai. Let’s keep our fingers crossed…

–Via ANN