[Synopsis]: Occultic;Nine follows the interweaving stories of nine unusual individuals in a city where the occult is booming and and the supernatural has become a common topic of discussion within the media. Gamon Yuuta (Kaji Yuki), self-proclaimed NEET and owner of the paranormal discussion blog ‘Kiri Kiri Basara,’ is one of these individuals. His interest in the occult results in him crossing paths with the other eccentric characters of the story and once together, they become embroiled in a series of strange events that blur the lines between the scientific and the supernatural.
In a word, Occultic;Nine is eccentric. It’s also chaotic, weird, idiosyncratic, strange, and practically every other synonym for bizarre in the thesaurus. Every one of these qualities manifest within each layer of the show’s presentation and one of the most immediate places this can be seen is in the characterization of its cast. While some of the characters are more grounded then others, the nine individuals of consequence that weave in and out of the story are strange people. Their roles range from paranormal blog writers and detectives to fortune tellers, doujinshi artists, and more. But the eclectic range of their backgrounds is only the beginning. In the same way that Occultic;Nine embodies the quirky and unconventional, so too do the characters.
The most quintessential example of this is Gamon Yuuta. As the primary source of breakneck dialogue, eccentric poses, and outlandish discussion topics – Yuuta not only sets the pace and tone of the show but for practically every conversation he’s a part of. The dialogue in Occultic;Nine is fast. Really fast. It’s hectic, convoluted, and often threatens to leave the viewer behind if they can’t keep up. Each conversation presents a barrage of information both spoken and unspoken as the person speaking skips back and forth and the characters dart about the room energetically. At its worst, this can drown the viewer in an unrelenting and unintelligible storm of nonsense which can be seen early on in the first episode. However, when set to better pacing, the characters and dialogue provide Occultic;Nine with a great sense of energy that fits extraordinarily well with the other similarly frenetic aspects of the show.
A significant distinction to make is that the characters don’t feel homogenized by their shared idiosyncrasy. Some of them are far more rational than others but more importantly, none of them are strange in quite the same way. While there are some exceptions, each character is generally pretty distinct and memorable either because of their enthusiasm or whatever uniqueness they bring to the story. What they say is strange, what they talk about is strange, how they behave is strange, and this makes them pretty entertaining if you can get past the initial abrasiveness of their dialogue.
Though Occultic;Nine details the various stories of nine different characters, it does a surprisingly decent job at balancing its focus between each of them despite how rambunctious its method of storytelling is. A number of the characters spend most of their time in the company of the others which makes this feat a tad bit easier however many of them present their own individual developments which miraculously stand out amidst the scattered progression of each episode. Some characters are far more integral to the plot than others and thus receive more screen time however the show does a remarkably good job of tailoring its presentation to the relevance of its characters. When apart, each character is explored and highlighted through scenic bursts of insight that quickly let you know what they are thinking and doing. This style of frantic exploration works well for the show given its boisterous nature.
If Occultic;Nine’s erratic nature boasted any greater contributing factor than its characters, it would most definitely be its visual style. Though Yuuta and the rest of the cast are energetic and their lightning-fast dialogue sets the pace for each scene, this is all to say nothing of how the characters themselves physically behave. They dance around, climb over things, and pick up various objects while the camera madly darts from speaker to speaker. The characters are just as visually wild and eccentric as they are verbally.
This style of cinematography extends far beyond the scope of the characters’ animation however. There are tons of interesting shot compositions, unnerving perspectives that obscure the audiences’ view, and an unmatched, ubiquitous use of dutch angles and the like. The presentation is chock full of visual gimmicks and techniques such as first person viewpoints and rapidly changing shots that keep the viewer on their toes. This chaotic visual approach matches the atmosphere of the show perfectly but moreover, it lends itself to Occult;Nine’s more dark and brooding subject matter.
The off-kilter cinematography speaks to the energetic behavior of the cast while simultaneously presenting an aura of unease and foreboding. It’s this visual duality which makes the presentation so engaging, entertaining to watch, and capable of pulling off such striking and horrific images. While the animation itself doesn’t stand out remarkably, the directing is exceptional and full of the same pervasive personality as the rest of the show.
So by this point we get it – Occultic;Nine crazy. So it should come as no surprise that its overarching narrative is incredibly hard to distill. The story hosts a large variety of topics from mass suicide, to black magic, to enigmatic, secret organizations. The first thing on the tip of everyone’s tongue when it comes to Occultic;Nine is its pacing which it rather famously botched in its first episode. In attempting to lay far more groundwork than it was capable of, the actual meaning and purpose of each scene becomes completely unintelligible within the show’s already frenetic presentation. After the first episode however, Occultic;Nine reigns itself in and after a short stretch, begins developing a genuinely coherent story. It’s fast-paced but not to its detriment. Each development borders on lunacy but the narrative itself is relatively easy to extract from the proceedings.
Given Occultic;Nine’s hectic nature, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the viewer to be bored. It’s a science fiction mystery in the same way that a car barreling down a long stretch of road is still referred to as a car. Its description alone doesn’t truly encompass what it’s actually about. There are a handful of interesting twists and dramatic moments that keep the show honest but so much of what it wants to say and do is built into its own idiosyncrasy that to talk about one aspect of the show is to talk about another.
It’s not the kind of mystery show that is interested in letting the viewer piece things together but rather a more suspense-oriented, chaotic network of individual character stories that coalesce into one expansive science fiction plot. Occultic;Nine is bold enough to feature some really sickening subject matter which is fantastic because of how the grittiness of these scenes undermine the weird, pseudo-levity present within the character interactions and dialogue. It’s just as perturbing as it is bizarre and that makes it remarkably entertaining to watch.
Hand-in-hand with Occultic;Nine’s imaginative cinematography, the sound design augments each scene through various immersive unsettling sound effects. The use of creaking floors, pounding heartbeats, and heavy breathing adds a lot of atmosphere to each scene and really extenuates the sense of unease Occultic;Nine attempts to conjure. The soundtrack is fantastic. It features a great range of styles that closely fit each tonal curve of the show. It can be tense and ominous, bouncy and upbeat. The show also makes great use of silence which can even seem deafening given how busy most of its scenes are.
There are a fair number of memorable tracks but more importantly, the music itself possesses much the same personality as the rest of the show. It thrashes along, upbeat and loudly while the characters act like lunatics and crazy developments unfold. It’s the juxtaposition of its uptempo sound with the catastrophe on screen that makes it so entertaining. The soundtrack is just as likely to be racing along when Narusawa Ryouka darts about the room as it is when hundreds of bodies are pulled from a lake. Its tone can be wonderfully detached from what is happening on screen and this dissonance lends itself once more to Occultic;Nine’s crazed presentation.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
If nothing else, Occultic;Nine is entertaining. The combination of the characters, the wild perspectives and angles, and the disjointed music make for an incredibly consistent package where each element lends itself to the other. The story itself is pretty entertaining as well though by the end it introduces more than a few contrivances in order to wrap things up. It’s easy to forgive the show for this however as these developments either feel like they took place off screen or are just another unhinged facet of the show.
I gave Occultic;Nine a 7 because of its cohesive presentation and entertaining mystery elements. Despite not learning much about them, the characters stand out in my mind and their eccentricity is infectious. It permeates each layer of the show in a way that gives each scene a keen sense of momentum and suspense. Occultic;Nine’s story is by no means close to perfect and relies heavily on its viewers’ suspense of disbelief in order to make sense. Its narrative twists and turns are quite fun however their reliance on certain plot contrivances and esoteric implications may compromise their effectiveness for some people.
Watching Occultic;Nine requires a certain level of patience. The dialogue of the characters and the narrative developments that transpire can often seem nonsensical and so to make sense of it all, one must be able to invest themselves in the presentation. I would recommend watching beyond the first episode because I think its introduction does the show a disservice. However, if you find afterwards that you aren’t enjoying it, then you aren’t likely to appreciate what follows. Occultic;Nine will appeal to people looking for something a little unconventional and crazy and if its initial abrasiveness doesn’t turn you off, it can be a pretty captivating show.