In this first episode of Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin, we’re introduced to our protagonist, Arata Miyako, who’s been assigned to work in the Shinjuku Ward Office’s Nocturnal Regional Relations Department, a division that deals with the fantasy creatures who live alongside humanity unseen. After learning all this information and how to see into the supernatural world, Miyako stumbles across his first case: a tengu and an angel locked in a forbidden romance. It’s during this case that he finds he has a special power—where everyone else can only see the supernatural “Anothers,” he can also communicate with them thanks to his being related to Abe no Seimei somehow.
I ended up liking this show a lot. To be fair settings like this are some of my favorites. I love seeing extraordinary things like the supernatural through the lens of the mundane, so watching these two guys tell Arata that seeing into this supernatural world was part of his job now was pretty fun. Well, calling Seo and Kyouichi those two guys is an understatement. We only got surface level characteristics from them. Which is fine, this is the pilot, and what we did see of them was fairly likeable.
Story-wise, this episode is nothing really spectacular. It isn’t bad–it’s quite solid. It competently introduced us to the world and told a simple, easy to follow story. It accomplished everything it set out to do, but what it set out to do wasn’t much. We learned out the world and the characters and the formula going forward. I can’t complain. That’s what a pilot’s supposed to do.
Mayonaka’s world operates on some Fantasy Kitchen Sink logic, where all the myths are true and there are angels living with tengu in Japan for whatever reason. Usually in shows like this the fantasy creatures stick to their homelands, so I’m wondering if this crossover between eastern and western mythology will ever be plot relevant. It was hard not to see the tengu-angel romance as some kinda interracial marriage allegory.
While the tengu-angel romance was what got the plot going, the real driving force of conflict was everyone refusing to talk to each other, so as soon as they did it just kinda fizzled out. In the future, I can see this show’s quality depending a lot on what individual conflict the division has to face. This week’s star-crossed lover’s plot was fine, but I didn’t find myself overly invested in it.
The thing that stood out to me most was the overt communication theme. The episode implies that so far humans have just been fearfully observing this supernatural world without really understanding it. Looking on how Seo and Kyouichi talk about Anothers, the two speak as if they were animals. Arata being able to talk to them means that the others will have to acknowledge Anothers as creatures of similar complexity to humans. This show will probably be as much about disputes between supernatural creatures as it is about humans learning to see them as more than potential threats and subjects of study.
Switching gears to the visuals, the character designs will take some getting used to. There’s just something about their eyes and shapes of their faces. Kyouichi has it the least. The colors in the opening sequence were great. Animation wise, there was nothing bad but nothing spectacular. I seem to be saying that a bit with Mayonaka.
I’ll keep watching.