Occultic;Nine, Vol. 2

By Chiyomaru Shikura and pako. Released in Japan by Overlap, Inc. Released in North America digitally by J-Novel Club. Translated by Adam Lensenmayer.

This volume of Occultic;Nine does what it needs to do, which is begin to draw together the many and varied elements of the first book and show they’re all part of the same main plotline. It does actually shift genres a bit, as signposted by the end of the first book; that one may have been a mystery, and there are certainly still mysterious elements, but this second volume crosses over into outright horror much of the time. Unfortunately, its faults are still carrying over from the first book as well. While it does begin to draw together said elements, everything still changes viewpoints and tonal shifts a bit too much for my liking. And it’s still left with Yuta Gamon as the protagonist, and he’s really, really aggravating – yes, it’s deliberate, but that doesn’t actually make it easier to take.

To be fair, he’s had a bad day – he’s right in that any sane police officer who has his presence in the room and his fingerprints on the murder weapon would have arrested him by now. Luckily we have another one of the eccentric cast members as the detective, and he enjoys playing with his food, I guess, preferring to torment Yuta with cryptic conversations. Unfortunately, Yuta’s coping mechanism is to double down on being obnoxious, something which is fine by Ryoka, who still gets nothing to do this volume, but is starting to worry his new friend Miyuu, who was already somewhat wary of him (her friend basically says he’s a creep and why do you care?), but he’s falling back into familiar behavior patterns to cope, even if they’re bad ones. Also, he clearly hasn’t read any genre fiction at all, or he’d know that introducing everyone to the mystery radio voice only he can hear was never going to fly.

As for the main plot, the corpses in the lake that were briefly signposted last time become a big deal when they’re discovered this time around, and the clever reader will start to realize what’s actually going on when it takes forever and a day to actually identify said corpses. There’s a lot of somewhat interesting talk about acceptance of the occult versus looking for an actual realistic reason for said corpses, but the fact that said reason also sounds ludicrous and the reader is also getting the mystery organization of evil talking about their corpse plans tends to ruin it. Again, as with the first book, the ending is the strongest part – first, the darkest and most horrible part of the book (which completely rips off the movie Se7en, but is still well written), and second, the final revelation that Yuta figures out when he gets all the names of the bodies in the lake. What will Volume 3 bring us?

Good question, but one we’ll wait a while to answer – the third volume is not out in Japan yet, and I suspect the author is concentrating on finishing the visual novel, which is due out this year. In the meantime, there are bits of good and bad here. I’d recommend it to fans of this creator.

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