When appreciating a truly enormous jigsaw puzzle, one must take strides in reverse, backing far enough away until the immeasurable mesh of squiggly little pieces makes some semblance of sense. Of course, distance does not change the composition, merely the understanding. Those pieces are still weirdly shaped and were frustrating as hell to put together, barring the ever helpful corners, but the proper perspective does wonders for seeing the picture of which they are a part. That being said, the bigger picture itself may also be a confusing mess that doesn’t exactly mesh with your aesthetic; but hey, you’re the one who decided to put time into building a jigsaw puzzle. Unless you were forced by some third party…blink twice if you need help.
So, halfway through and Occultic;Nine is still the epitome of rapid-fire narrative. Characters continue to blather on at a speed beyond human comprehension and treat their ramblings as if they weren’t quoting an anime that doesn’t exist in-universe; also, low blow bringing up “I failed” and Steins;Gate, real low blow. Anywhen, call it Stockholm’s Syndrome if you like, but I found myself able to keep up with the series a little better this time around. Though the truth of the main cast’s mortality does do wonders for gaining a handle on the plot, events still remain rather hectic and clash in ways which take a second to grasp. A more dedicated focus on Yuta and his direct friends also helps hone everybody’s attention, with characters such as Ria and Ririka falling by the wayside. Unfortunately, what we gain in focus we lose in closure, as said characters simply stop mattering for no discernible reason. Sure they’re mentioned a decent amount, but their impact on the plot is far less than one would expect given the time devoted to them in the earlier half of the series. This, however, is merely a symptom of a much more widespread condition of Occultic;Nine…
In creating such a complex web of narrative, Occultic;Nine finds itself tangled up more than once. With the in-depth look into the shattered psyche of Ria, her reappearance and newfound understanding of her business partner should carry a certain emotional upswing. Said partner’s timely advice saving Yuta (and the day) is also inspires much awe and celebration…conceptually speaking. Given the utter disconnect between Yuta, Ria and Kiryu (said partner), their meeting reads as less of a joining of parallel forces and more a deus ex machina. To get specific, Kiryu’s experience as a ghost taught him long ago that the limitations of the human body can be ignored through force of will. This mentality allows him to sprout demonic wings and soar above the streets at will, a mentality he so kindly passes on to Yuta. Now, as awesome as this moment is, Kiryu has existed as a vague entity at best and isn’t known for his flight, merely his existence as a spirit. So whilst everything makes sense in this sequence, it just doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it should, especially for the final episode in the series. It is further hindered by the series’ frantic pace, leaving roughly two seconds between discovery and action, a trend that is repeated thrice over. Though said speed does wonders for confounding an audience when presenting occultic argot, it is less appreciated when attempting to create an emotionally resonant scenario…no matter how cool it may be to spontaneously gain the ability of flight.
Given the highly supernatural beginnings of this series, the subsequent leaps into understanding the unknown carries with it a slightly negative element: destroying the mystery. A necessary route to be sure, however the sporadic nature of scepticism and mysticism clash in their utilisation. With spirits and the other side explained as electromagnetic phenomena, a tremendous amount of uncertainty about the narrative at large is alleviated. I have no problem with this aspect, in fact I enjoy the scientific take on the supernatural, it’s interesting and well thought out…or it just uses enough jargon that I’m convinced it must be interesting and well thought out, but I’ll give Occultic;Nine the benefit of the doubt. The part that irks me slightly is the reveal of an evil faction: The Society of the Eight Gods of Fortune. Though played off as a conglomerate of evil that has been pulling the strings since the age of Nikola Tesla, they are remarkably bland. They want money and power and will gain both through bestowing immortality upon the rich and charging them for the eternal upkeep. Sounds interesting, no? It most definitely is, but I couldn’t care less about them and their advent is almost as late as the emotional bonding of Yuta and friends. I feel like a jerk for saying this, but I feel as if every character was simply near each other until the end of the series, when their relationships suddenly mattered. Had they possessed a stronger connection, the faceless evil organisation would have been fine; because they wouldn’t have been the focus, the growth of the main cast would’ve been. Instead, Occultic;Nine built itself upon mystery and simply used emotion to fill the void left when the mystery was unravelled.
Despite my negative notes, I actually enjoyed the second half of Occultic;Nine far more than the first. With the core element of the series revealed after six episodes (the life and death of two-hundred-and-fifty-six unfortunate souls), there was finally a plot to stand on. Each character finally shared a goal and events led forward, rather than left, right, up, down and every other way you can conceive. The insanity was palatable because it was in aid of a purpose, instead of existing solely for the sake of quirkiness. I will, however, remain hesitant about the exact nature of the narrative, with each event fitting so snugly into place. Actions taken were all deliberate, calculated and unavoidable in nature, foretold and followed to the letter. Almost as if the events of this series were a jigsaw puzzle, it’s answer conceived before its inception. And to understand something like that, you must remember one simple truth: When appreciating a truly enormous jigsaw puzzle, one must take strides in reverse, backing far enough away until the immeasurable mesh of squiggly little pieces makes some semblance of sense.