Midnight Occult Civil Servants completely fell under my radar and I’m kind of surprised because it seems like something that’d be up my alley. Public service workers investigating supernatural activities in Tokyo? Playing plenty of MegaTen has made me a bit of sucker for that kind of thing. Sure, there’s no cataclysmic scenario going on like mainline SMT or Devil Survivor but come on, you know what I mean.
It’s a slow burn with this series. Arata (Jun Fukuyama), the protagonist, starts off by getting recruited into the “Nighttime Regional Relations Department” for Tokyo’s public services, not really knowing what the job exactly entails. Rather than just give him a briefing, veteran members Seo (Miyu Irino) and Kyouichi (Tomoaki Maeno) decide the best job orientation is by taking Arata to a mission. From there, they reveal to him the existence of “Anothers”, fantastical creatures of all kinds. I quite like the gradual approach taken here. It really creates a feeling of “realism”, making the otherwordly seem more everyday instead. Arata’s reaction comes across as believable too; stunned but stomaching the revelation just fine since this is now a part of his life from now on.
Something that I also like is that even after the big reveal of the Anothers’ existence, you’re still left to piece together how the Nighttime Regional Relations Department operates. Arata notices that the conflict between Angels and Tengu stems from a star crossed lover from each race but neither Seo and Kyouchi pick up those signals and are quick to resort with hostile measures. This baffles Arata but he soon learns that the baffling one is actually himself as humans actually can’t understand what Anothers are saying. And as if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, an Another soon recognizes him as a reincarnation of the famous onmyouji Abe no Seimei. The easy thing would’ve been to explained the communication barrier through exposition. Having Arata presume it’s normal for him to understand Anothers only find out it isn’t feels really natural and also creates a effective twist designed to compel viewers into watching Episode 2.
I’d say I’m one of those compelled viewers. I quite enjoyed the first episode of Midnight Occult Civil Servants for how it smoothly eases into its urban fantasy self. How normalized things will stay remains to be seen. After all, revealing your protagonist is the reincarnation of someone so famous kind of up the grandeur. So long as this show sticks with what it does right here, I’d say this could shape up as a pleasant surprise in Spring 2019’s lineup.
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