I’ve seen some carping about the current episode being a step-down from the first four, but I thought it was outstanding. The casual dialogue was excellent and funny in both a deadpan (“Phones? They do that, yeah.”) and absurd (“Sis, even in the afterlife I’ll never forgive you for what you did with my pudding”.”). I enjoyed the introduction of the OOParts concept, and the “Little Prince” tie-in. And I found the premise of the cliffhanger, with the near-death tank and the results, provocative.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of Kozue that’s going to be a big strike against this episode. While she isn’t my top choice in this cast, I don’t mind her a bit – I find her occult otaku antics pretty amusing. The sequence with the black cat – with the ducks, trains, etc. crossing her path before she finally catches up to it and promptly falls off a cliff – to be a sight-gag of absolute brilliance. It’s the kind of stuff you see in great old movies and while it looks easy, that kind of humor is really hard to pull off.
That’s one of the many areas this series excels in for me – the ability to be funny and engaging in an apparently effortless way. The dialogue is very natural and has a great flow from which most of the humor is derived, but isn’t above the absurd comment and bizarre sight gag. The Kozue path of the episode may seem like a diversion from the main storyline but I found it a very entertaining one, and I have no complaints about it taking up the next episode as well – at least the first part of it. I think it will prove plenty relevant to the Nostradamus key storyline anyway – if Kozue isn’t the key herself, I have a strong suspicion she’s going to be directly connected to it. Her Quixotic quest for an occult experience seems to be converging with the main storyline to me, and at some point they’re likely to connect.
Next ep looks to bring the focus back on Fumiaki, at least in part – we’re certainly going to see more of young spoon-bending Bunmei, anyway. I think Mikaze’s bread is likely to be more than just bread. And whatever evil machinations the Vice-principal is involved in, they seem to be getting sidetracked by her ever increasing obsession with Fumiaki. Lots of interesting stuff going on here, and it feels as though it’s been very well thought-out – every episode has an agenda and the pacing is perfect. All elements considered Occult Academy remains the best series of the summer for me.