Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin // Episode 1 Review
Episode 1 Review: Angels and Tengu Above the Shinjuku Skyline
There is a great modern fantasy appeal to Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin. One of the best parts of the Men in Black movies is the idea that a whole other world coexists with our modern daily lives. Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin really takes us in that direct with a fun Japanese Fantasy twist. Like MiB, it starts with someones first day on the job.
The Nocturnal Community Relations Division
Miyako Arata isn’t 100% sure where he is going, or what he was reassigned to do, but he is now joining the Nocturnal Community Relations Division. His day starts at 7 P.M. well after everyone has gone home for the day. After a winding journey through the neighborhood government office of Shinjuku, he finds himself outside of a storage office. Here we meet the rest of the cast.
Enter Himezuka Seo, who comes in with a literal bang. Seo is quite the enigma. The voice actor is distinctively male, and Seo is self referential to being a man, something which even trips up Miyako. The outfit and hair of Seo is in contrast outwardly feminine. Outside of a few jokes by Sakaki, the point is moot for the first episode. We do get reference to Seo once being British, so there must be a story there. Is he a British man trapped in a woman’s body, or am I looking to deep into this?
The last and final main character introduced in the first episode is Sakaki Kiyouichi. As far as we are told, he is a bit of a womanizer, but not much of that gets to happen this episode. He is the head of the Shinjuku department, which so far only seems to consist of him, Seo, and now Miyako. They also work out of what looks like a glorified storage closet.
Its nice that at least for the first episode none of the main characters seem to be particularly extreme caricatures. They are seemingly normal people who deal with the occult world, and everything is normal to them. Even Miyako handles this new found information rather swell. He has up to this point never seen an angel or a devil let alone a fairy. I can’t imagine a normal person taking this so well.
Angels & Tengu & Romeo & Juliet
Unfortunately for Miyako, he doesn’t actually know what he signed up for. Sakaki and Seo surmise this quickly from Miyako’s indignation over a question about fairys and ghosts. They bring him to the Imperial Garden in the dead of night to show him something. There they reveal a fairy and from then on Miyako seems to gain sight of the Anothers. They are called Anothers by Sakaki who is surprised by Miyako’s nonchalant reaction to his world being flip turned upside down.
We now know two things about the world of Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin. There is another hidden world that lives side by side with humans, and sometimes problems in that world arise and cause problems in the human world. Sakaki Kiyouichi makes it seem like it takes significant effort and skill in order to be able to see the Another. That makes it all the more surprising in Miyako’s amazing take to it. Of course just as we the viewers and Miyako are learning about the Another, there is still a job to do
The Relations Division is told there has been numerous disturbances coming from the park. Since their have been no events, something is afoot with the Another. The team goes around putting up magical barriers to prevent territory disputes between the angels and the tengu, similar heavenly spirits, who have been fighting the past couple of nights. Miyako stumbles upon a tengu and an angel, and he overhears them profess their love for each other. The angels are fighting the tengu in the park, and we have the Romeo and Juliet of the two groups. The plot follows its natural course and all hell breaks lose between the two groups.
As the fighting breaks out over the rest of the city we see why such a group is needed to keep the peace. AS the fighting settles over city hall, we get the last piece of information about the main character and the world built around him.
Abe no Semei
Not much overall plot-wise happens in the first episode, but a lot about the world is constructed. We get a sense of what kind of job the folks at the Nocturnal Community Relations Department handles. Secondly, we find out that our main character is of course very special. He alone can actually understand and communicate with the Another. Sakaki and Seo are left out in the cold as he calms down a standoff between the angels and tengu. The show really cheated earlier when Miyako overheard the Romeo and Juliet, and Sakaki came over to investigate. He didn’t hear them speak because he can’t understand them, not because he wasn’t listening.
As the episode winds down an older tengu approaches Miyako and calls him Abe no Semei. FYI, Abe no Semei is a historical figure from 10th century Japan who has been referenced in many fictional Japanese works. This is the biggest plot development in the episode and comes just as the main character faints and we go to credits.
Overall this is definitely a good start. It was heavy on the world building without going too deep and leaving a lot of us the viewer to still discover. It left a lot open with regard to the direction of the plot. Is this just going to be a monster/Another of the week? The possible Abe no Semei reincarnation is definitely the plot point we are going to have to unravel, but we really didn’t get a villain/antagonist. It will be interesting to see where the conflict of Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin shakes out.
[Sources and Further Reading]
[Image via Official Site]
[Abe no Semei – Wikipedia]