Midnight Occult Civil Servants
Arata Miyako is recruited by the Shinjuku Nocturnal Community Relations Division, which is tasked with (somehow) dealing with the Anothers, when they cross paths with humans. (The term encompasses ALL supernatural beings, from pixies to gods.) Arata's teammates can see these beings, but Arata can beat that- he can understand their speech, and communicate with them, which no other human seems able to. (It's his ancestry; he's the descendant (and possible reincarnation) of a Japanese mystic.) But how can mere mortals keep the Anothers in line- or for that matter keep other human beings from incurring their wrath?
Well, not always KILL, but here the various supernatural creatures certainly do create problems for humans. This show raised a lot of interesting questions for me, which I thought it really didn't have the depth to adequately explore.
One is the issue of who really has the "rights" to the territory they share with humans; after all, the gods, at least, probably predate us. Since most people can't see the Anothers, and until Arata nobody could TALK to them either, they pretty much do as they please here, and that rarely impacts humans- our heroes are supposed to deal with them when their activities DO become obtrusive, or harm humans; but, as Arata himself notes at one point, even then they can't DO much to stop them. Usually in this show Anothers who are menacing humans only stop when they move on to other locales, or when their efforts are (sometimes just temporarily) stymied. But even if the humans had the right tools to stop (or punish) an Another, would they have the...for want of a better term, LEGAL standing to do so? As I said, some of the Anothers might have been there longer than the humans, and have no intrinsic reason to either respect or obey humans, or human laws and values. We WILL meet a human who thinks he can terrorize the Anothers, and thinks that tactics he's developed to annihilate the small fry will work on the gods. He's a slow learner, by the way, and seems to represent the opposite extreme from our heroes, who just make do with potions and charms developed by their alchemically-inclined member Seo (Theo) Himetsuka (he could have aced both those classes at Hogwarts), AND- believe it or not- with barriers constructed using yellow "crime scene" tape.
We find out rather quickly that Arata is a descendant of (and might even be the reincarnation of) Abe no Seimei, the legendary Heian Era mystic, and, having seen the live-action Onmyoji films, this piqued my interest, but Arata's abilities seem to be a LOT more limited than the Seimei depiction of those films, being confined to understanding Another speech as well as being able to see them. It's called "Ears of Sand", though really sand would seem to be a deterrent to hearing rather than an asset. He's also inherited two legacies of Abe no Seimei's, a two-tailed magical cat being the more agreeable one. The other is an Aztec god named Huehuecoyotl (AKA Coyote, AKA Kohaku), who may have had a yaoi thing for the original Seimei but who's mostly a tormentor to Arata. Kohaku actually HELPS two Anothers attack Arata and/or his friends, once to "test" him, and then later on out of sheer spiteful jealousy, as far as I could tell. I REALLY hated that character- and the show lets him be the dominant personality, since Arata and the other good guys are pretty colorless, in ADDITION to being ineffectual. (Eventually Arata's communication skills get effectively used, but the bulk of the show is, honestly, our heroes beholding the various weirdness committed by the Anothers until the Anothers knock it off themselves.)
Oh, and the rest of the team? We have Kyoichi Sakaki, who has a personal matter that he wants to rope Arata into; and Reiji Senda, whose only notable moment in the whole show was when he got the opportunity to drive a hard bargain.
Not that I didn't think the show had its moments. Araka has a marvelously Ghostbuster-ish line: "Why are you collecting lost loves in a City Hall elevator?" (Like Stig, I thought that prominently-displayed box looked an AWFUL lot like the Hellraiser puzzle box, so much so that I was certain someone would end up with nails in their skull.) I would note that it's certainly CONVENIENT that Theo happens to carry sweets around in case of- uh, bad dogs. And a certain scene that's meant to evoke shock and anger certainly does exactly that. (It's the most emotionally effective scene in the whole show.)
Oh, one more thing, which only people who've seen the show will "get": the poor guy had ALREADY realized his "mistake" and "corrected" himself- she didn't have to kick him!!!
I guess it just bugged me that the show took SO LONG to effectively use Arata's talent, AND that the strongest personality in the show, Kohaku, is so often just contemptible. Throughout, I think I was more frustrated with our heroes' impotence than even THEY were, even though we're shown how horrible the OTHER extreme is. It's not a bad show, mind; I just thought it could have been better with some stronger GOOD characters, less (or preferably NO) Kohaku, earlier effective use of Arata's "gift", some more good comic lines (like the "elevator" one), or some deeper exploration of the show's own scenario, which could have been quite interesting. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: One scene of cold-blooded murder (of an Another); mild violence throughout. This and some terror elements (including threats against children, and psychological traumas of various sorts) make it unsuitable for small kids.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on crunchyroll
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Midnight Occult Civil Servants © 2019 Yoko Tamotsu/Kadokawa/Midnight Civil Servants Partners
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