This week’s Occult Academy was a surprise. Oh yes. With only 4 epis to go, it looks like they’ve actually found the Nostradamus Key. Okay, maybe not. Instead, with only 4 epis to go, they’re actually in the middle of another completely unrelated two-parter. Hrrmm. But does that mean this epi was a bad one? Well, surprisingly, no…
The epi begins in the Principal’s office, with Uchida somehow getting Maya to agree to let the annoying waitress sell more dodgy snacks at the school. Next, we see the Vice Principal actually teaching something, that something being no less than spirit summoning, and something about ectoplasm. Soon, the V.P. is confidently promising Maya’s class that she is about to call forth the spirit of their very own former Principal. Only to call forth the spirit of a mysterious little girl instead. Said little girl soon decides to follow Smile and then the rest of the gang around, while they try and find out more about her, or rather Akari-chan, in order to help her get her wish, which is to ‘go home’.
Meanwhile, Uchida, noticing what’s going on, wonders why Maya is getting so involved when this clearly has nothing to do with the Key-hunting, but nonetheless offers to help. Only to be side-tracked by the annoying one. At this point, Maya gets irritated and basically tells him not to bother. So, while Uchida goes off to eat more curry, Maya and the Scoobies eventually discover that Akari froze to death in front of her house while waiting for her widower father to come home from work one snowy Christmas Eve, the same house that Akari’s spirit now refuses to leave despite the efforts of Maya to reach out to her. The gang then track down Akari’s father, who has since moved and switched jobs. However, despite clearly feeling guilty about his daughter’s death, he tells Maya and co. to back off. The epi ends with Akari’s spirit still sitting huddled on the doorstep of her old house, with her head on her knees, waiting.
Well, after my initial feeling of what-the-hell-are-they-doing-introducing-another-two-parter-that-is-blatantly-completely-unrelated-to-the-Key, I thought this was a pretty good epi. Sure, there were no new occultish beasties, or giant spanner-swinging action, or crazy car chases, etc. However, there was some rather impressive spirit summoning, which basically triggered a pretty emotionally dramatic episode, with some very funny moments mixed in too. And what is possibly the cutest loli of the season.
Despite appearances, this is no ordinary extraordinarily-cute-for-the-sake-of-being-cute loli. Rather, continuing the rather cheerful abused-child motif that this show has got going on, Akari’s sad story allowed the show to maintain its let’s-introduce-a-new-occultish-phenomenon-every-other-episode-or-so-as-a-way-of-slowly-developing-the-main-characters-for-our-non-hardcore-horror-but-nonetheless-horror-fans-who-also-like-a-bit-of-drama-and-comedy-with-some-occult-stuff-thrown-in. Literally. Speaking of which, I almost forgot until I just wrote this sentence how little occult stuff Maya has been throwing about lately. Though, I’m guessing that this is probably because Uchida has been spending more time with the annoying one. Either that, or maybe Ami slapped some of that tsun/ yan(dere) out of her.
So, props to little Akari-chan for using a less slap-happy (or should that be happy slappy) method of getting our favourite tsundere of the season to open up her post-paternal-emotional-abandoned heart to both the occult and to others around her. Though, I’m guessing it’s probably not that difficult to have such a heart melted when faced with such a well-behaved and utterly adorable little girl.
In addition to the adorableness and the darkness in this epi, we the comedy moments, though less slapstick/ dramatic than in some previous epis, didn’t fail to deliver either. I particularly liked the series of fast-cut ant’s-eye-view shots where the Scoobies were looking at the map, including, of course, the moments when everyone else started screaming for no reason other than JK was doing so. Just because he remembered something about the way local elementary schools look. Ah, JK, your intuition’s one thing mate, but your epiphany-face is on an entirely different level. Though, I’m guessing, it was probably all that pent-up frustration of being the only gang member not able to see Akari. Also, I thought it was a nice, or rather hilarious, touch to have our resident occult detector being the only one who couldn’t actually see Akari. Another visual gag of many things I love about this show.
Lastly, some more thoughts on another thing I love about this show. Smile. If this guy isn’t husbando/ bf/ bbf material, then I don’t know who is.
Need reasons? I have at least five:
1) Looks bishie enough without making you worry that he appears more girly than you;
2) Can express endless emotions with a single badge;
3) Is good with his hands;
4) Is good with kids;
5) Has a big spanner. And knows how to use it.
In short, he is my honorary bishie of the season.
In shorter: I loved this epi.