#9 was yet another smart, atmospheric and beautifully animated episode of Occult Academy - thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. And you know, I'm getting very worried.
Why the long face? Well, we only have four episodes to go. And as this "Occult Flavor of the Week" ep will carry over into episode 10, that leaves only three eps to wrap up the main storyline. We seem to have really lost track of that main plot track lately, in a wave of side stories of varying success. It's a big plot, cleverly conceived, and I really want to see it resolved in a way that does it justice.
With that out of the way, 9 was an excellent episode, the start of what appears to be a two-parter focusing on Akari, the ghost of a little girl who died in tragic circumstances. Several interesting things happened here. First, we see the Vice-Principal teaching a class, this one on the subject of summoning spirits (in a classroom complete with a very cool Ouija guitar). While attempting to summon the Principal - at the insensitive suggestion of Kozue - she accidentally summons the little girl. That's when things start getting interesting, to say the least. Akari comes and goes in puffs of snow, and finally attaches herself to Smile. Eventually the Scooby gang sets off to help her find her home...
But not before a fascinating exchange between Maya and Fumiaki. He initially says he'll join the gang despite the fact that it appears not to be Nostradamus-related, clearly longing to be part of the group. But Mikaze comes a-calling, and his hormones get the better of him. There can be no doubt from Maya's reaction that what we're seeing here is jealousy - her incredibly expressive face leaves no room for it. That's an unsurprising though interesting turn. It also furthers a suspicion that's been growing in me that Mikaze's seemingly random interruptions are specifically designed to keep Abe-sensei from getting too close to Maya. She always turns up or calls at precisely the moment those two are starting to connect, seems to me. Mikaze is the most mysterious character on the show - we've really been given very little to go on with her. I can't believe she and the old lady aren't the same person at this point, but beyond that we know very little of her motivation or abilities - except that she's a terrible driver.
At least these side stories do manage to shed a little light on the main characters, and this arc appears to be continuing that. JK continues to emerge as the outright funniest character on the show as he grows beyond the limits of his archetype. There's the aforementioned jealousy between Maya and Abe. And the story of Akari is interesting in itself, obviously tragic, and the way her "homecoming" was played out was genuinely scary. I'm interested to see what happens to wrap her arc up, but even more anxious to get back to business and start hacking the big mysteries of the series.