Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Review Episodes 1 + 2

Starting a new job always comes with problems – usually not supernatural ones.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 1 - Arata

Episode 1

Right, this one is appealing directly to my love of supernatural/paranormal stories and it has just enough real tension as well as its cheesy moments in this first episode to just nail exactly what I like from this kind of story. I get that it is kind of a niche market but there’s something really entertaining about a monster of the week style story with an ongoing mystery kind of developing in the background to be resolved by season’s end. When you throw in the one guy who can hear the yokai talking and helps two young yokai in love it is all just the right kind of silliness.

Visually, this one is very dark to look at. Which makes sense given they are working at night but is doesn’t make for an overly interesting anime as other than the characters who do stand out nicely, the backgrounds are all just kind of, well, dark. There’s nothing wrong with it but nor is it particularly interesting to look at and even the yokai designs so far have been pretty ordinary.

They also give in to the trope of not telling the new guy anything because of course it’s easier to learn by being thrown in the deep end. I really hate this trope if for no other reason than I cannot imagine any business or government being able to survive the law suits of not providing adequate employee training before throwing them into the field particularly when the results could be catastrophic if a mistake is made. I get anime isn’t real life but if you want me to suspend disbelief and accept a special group in Japan that are working to keep supernatural creatures safe as well as protect citizens, then they need to go all the way and actually make that believable.

However, there’s a pleasant and easy charm to this one, a set-up I really like, potentially interesting characters should they grow beyond their first impressions and lots of room for the story to grow or even just become a yokai of the week type of affair and either way I’ll probably enjoy it. I’m pretty hopeful of enjoying this one so fingers crossed it doesn’t fall apart.

As for larger appeal, as I said, this one is definitely the kind of story that will appeal to those who like this kind of story but for everyone else it will probably be the anime they pass over this season because there’s nothing here to grab you unless you particularly like this kind of niche story.

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Episode 2

Midnight Occult Civil Servants isn’t exactly going out of its way to grab its audience seemingly content to go through the motions of a story we’ve seen before with the rookie who is more than he seems learning about the secret world that he’s directly tied to even though he didn’t know it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining for those who like such stories but it also isn’t exactly making it something that can’t be missed.

There’s a few pots boiling away in this episode with his co-workers investigating Arata’s ability to understand the Anothers (Ears of Sand which seems like a silly name), as well as mysterious thefts going on involving occult items. However, little other than walking and talking, and the introduction of a cute two tailed cat, actually happens until the final moments where they leave us on a cliff-hanger probably because there’s literally no other way to ensure the audience coming back for a third episode.

It isn’t just that this is a story we’ve seen before with characters who are barely sketched in at this point in time. The execution is, at absolute best, average. Visuals are quite dark for the majority of the time and movement is fairly limited in general. The most animation seemed to come from morning greeting on entering the office and that is perhaps the least interesting part of the story and yet we return to it again and again.

I am going to make it clear that I am enjoying this. It isn’t great, it isn’t even really good, but there’s potential and even if this story remains just average it is exactly the kind of thing that appeals to me even as I’ll pick it apart so I’m in for the long haul. Still, I’m not exactly going to jump up and down and recommend it unless it noticeably picks up in the next few episodes.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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