12 Days of Anime, Day 7: A Near Death Mood Whiplash

From the get go, it was hard not to see Occult Academy as being anything other than a dramedy, what with Maya’s past with her now-deceased father coupled with the crazy antics and adventures in exploring the supernatural. And yet, the show still seemed to throw people for a loop with the fact that the quest to prevent a future apocalypse wasn’t totally Serious Business. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t completely executed well, but I felt that the show kept the balance of comedy and drama fairly nicely. And the show always (until the end at least) made ways to remind the audience of that balance, as one of the more stunning examples occurred in episode 6.

The flick that changed the world.

The flick that changed the world.

In the previous episode, Maya’s occult-obsessed, glasses-wearing (important!) friend Kozue jumped at the call to participate in a near-death experience (NDE) demonstration for their class, complete with essential knocking down all life markers to zero, and succeeded in having one. However, in coming out of it, a part of her remained behind in the afterlife after losing it’s glasses, leading to among other things, the lack of need to see without glasses and a complete lack of interest in the occult. Realizing that something was wrong, she had planned to dive into the afterlife to rescue Kozue’s missing part. The girls’ teacher/traveler from the future (to prevent said apocalypse), Bunmei, who at that point had been nothing more than wuss and cannon fodder, decided to go in himself, with a three-minute time limit before he had to be pulled back, with or without Kozue.

As Bunmei goes down, with the idea of one’s life flashing before one’s eyes in a NDE, we the audience, as well as Maya and her crew, get to see his life memories, both pre- and post-apocalypse. We find out his real identity and past childhood, which wasn’t the happiest of times. Parallels were made with the sad memories that Maya had with her childhood as her father became more obsessed with the occult, and despite how un-impressive Bunmei’s actions have been, it was hard not to feel at least a little sadness for him.

While in this depressed atmosphere, Bunmei manages to find the missing part of Kozue with less than a minute to spare. And the part does not want to come back, as she’s in despair trying to find the answer to the riddle “What’s really important is right beside you.What’s important can’t be seen with your eyes. You need to see with your heart.” After hearing that part of Kozue’s complaints about not being able to see the answer, Bunmei wonders for a bit, then notices that the missing glasses from before were on Kozue’s head all along, and flicks them so that they can fall onto her eyes. And it turns out that in Kozue’s eyes, that was the answer all along, which indicated that all this trouble that Bunmei went through was mostly unnecessary. The faces from Maya and others said it all.

Ami's reaction, and...

Ami's reaction, and...

Maya's reaction.

Maya's reaction.

And thus, a dramatic, sad moment was broken in an instant into a pretty damn funny one. And in my opinion, it was a well-played series of events on the part of Occult Academy to do that, especially since it led to a greater sense of trust between Maya and Bunmei to complete their quest. Plus, it was a great reminder of the role that humor also played in the show, and it was always good to keep that in perspective.

The moment of comprehension.

The moment of comprehension.

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