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.

Occultic;Nine, Vol. 1

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

Of the three initial licenses by the fledgling J-Novel Club, this was the one that people had heard of. The creators are responsible for such titles as Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, and other series with highly eccentric casts that abuse the common semicolon. Now we have Occultic;Nine, which is not connected to the other series that I know of (aside from the punctuation), but does have the advantage of an anime currently airing, as well as a visual novel coming next year. The plot of this book is not quite certain yet, except that it deals with a large group of people who are somehow interested or connected to the occult. The narrative viewpoint bounces back and forth between them (with one notable exception). And as a light novel, it’s not too bad.


Our hero, if such a word can be applied to an ensemble cast, is Yuta Gamon, a teen loser who spends most of his time running a blog devoted to mocking the occult with the help of his mysterious, airheaded, and large-breasted friend Ryoka, who is not quite Mayuri from Steins;Gate but seems to fulfill much the same function. (She is the only character without a narrative viewpoint, which unfortunately makes it look like she was added simply for people to talk about her boobs.) Yuta is teeth-gratingly irritating in a way that most people who have been teenagers will likely be very familiar with, but ultimately harmless, and also seems to be getting mysterious messages on his ham radio setup. As the book goes on, we also meet a girl who tells people’s fortunes, someone who curses people via black magic, an occult reporter, a seeming detective (though honestly he could easily be faking), etc. Interspersed randomly throughout this (very randomly – the author admits in the afterword he added it after the book had been written) are the actions of a vast conspiracy doing… something.

This is very much a Volume One, promising a lot of cool things but not really delivering until the last few pages, which are easily the best part of the book, as Yuta discovers a corpse and unfortunately makes himself the prime suspect. But for the most part it’s there to show us the world these characters live in and slowly start to bring them together. I understand the anime compressed this entire first novel into one episode, which doesn’t surprise me. The characters are interesting, though. I particularly liked Miyuu, who despite her fortune telling powers is easily the most normal character in the book, and her determination is admirable. The whole thing reminds me a lot of the Durarara!! series, where you get a bunch of things thrown at you that won’t make sense till about Books 3 or 4.

The book’s main flaw, of course, is that at times it’s a bit TOO disparate, and can read sort of like waiting 200 pages for anything to actually happen. But if you enjoy a book based around mood, with a bunch of eccentric, annoying, yet ultimately sympathetic characters and an ominous undertone (what’s with the bodies in the lake?), Occultic;Nine is a good read worth your time. Though it will put Gloomy Sunday in your head (I like to think they heard the Billie Holiday version).