A Haunting Situation.
There are so many different anime available through online streaming that trying to find something to watch can be downright scary. Don't let it get your spirits down, because “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog” is here to help. Each week we provide additional info and cultural context to help fans decide whether or not they'd like to try out an unknown series.
What's Occult Academy?
Occult Academy is a 2010 original TV anime with direction by Tomohiko Itō and animation by A-1 Pictures and Aniplex. Known in Japan as Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin (“End of the Century Occult Academy”), the series originally broadcast on TV Tokyo as part of the "Anime no Chikara" programming block. Crunchyroll describes Occult Academy as follows:
The year is 1999. At the summit of Japan’s “pyramid”, Minakamiyama, stands Waldstein academy. Strange occult phenomena occur here, as if drawn by some mysterious force. Those who know it call it “Occult Academy”.
Occult Academy is the story of Maya Kumashiro, a young woman who returns to her hometown and assumes the role of school principal after her father, the head of Waldstein Academy, dies under suspicious circumstances.
Maya is an expert in all manner of strange and esoteric subjects, but she blames her father's obsession with the occult for the break-up of her family. On the day of the funeral, Maya's dad re-animates as ravening ghoul and - if that's not weird enough - Maya also encounters a naked man who claims to be a time-traveler from the post-apocalyptic future.
Supplementary Japanese Lessons: Zettai Ryouiki
Maya's everyday outfit serves as a segue to mention the concept of zettai ryouiki, or “absolute territory”. The phrase refers to the amount of skin visible between the top of a person's knee-high socks and the hem of their mini-skirt. Originally otaku jargon, the phrase has since entered Japan's lexicon of fashion terms. Zettai ryouiki also crops up in such anime as Outbreak Company and Fastest Finger First.
Aside from dealing with paranormal subjects from all over the world, Occult Academy is also peppered with references to Western science fiction and horror films. Sharp-eyed fans may notice visual and narrative allusions to David Cronenberg's remake of The Fly, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, James Cameron's The Terminator, and even the George Pal version of The War of the Worlds.
Occult Academy is set in 1999, and some viewers may be too young to remember that the end of the 20th century was rife with millennial anxieties, in the classical sense of the word. Between the Y2K panic and the doom-saying predictions of various religious and spiritual groups, many people were convinced that the world was coming to an end. Occult Academy capitalizes on these feelings and makes them a focal point of the plot.
Although Occult Academy consistently deals with the supernatural, the series explores a broad range of genre conventions and a variety of tones. Comedy is a constant, but Occult Academy also has emotionally moving dramatic moments, especially when characters try to reconcile with estranged family members or friends. Other moments feature elaborate action sequences, and a little bit of splatter-based horror creeps in when dealing with cryptids, UMAs, and other nasty ghastlies.
A School for Ghouls.
Crunchyroll currently streams Occult Academy in the United States, Canada, American Samoa, the United States Minor Outlying Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal, the Faroe Islands, the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Antilles. The series is available in the original Japanese language with English subtitles.
Occult Academy was also released on Bluray and DVD in North America by NIS America, but unfortunately these releases are now out-of-print.
Occult Academy combines high production values and deft direction with a narrative that never loses focus despite dealing with phenomena as diverse as ESP, black magic, time paradoxes, astral projection, and alien invaders. If you're in the mood for a bit of weirdness and the series is available in your area, please consider letting Occult Academy cast a spell on you.
Is there a series in Crunchyroll's catalog that you think needs some more love and attention? Please send in your suggestions via e-mail to [email protected] or post a Tweet to @gooberzilla. Your pick could inspire the next installment of “Cruising the Crunchy-Catalog”!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.