Winter 2020 Anime: Official Info, Airdates & Trailers
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
I absolutely love urban fantasy series, so Spring 2019’s Midnight Occult Civil Servants (Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin) is right up my alley! Supernatural beings against a modern backdrop, with some hints at reincarnation… SIGN ME UP!! Episode 1, ‘Angels and Tengu Above the Shinjuku Skyline’, spotlights quite a few supernatural creatures from various folklore and mythologies.
Original Japanese Title: 新宿上空の天狗と天使
Miyako Arata thinks his new job at the Shinjuku Ward Office is just a normal 9-to-5 civil servant gig. Little does he know that he’s just joined the elusive Nocturnal Community Relations Department, a secret group that operates in conjunction with Tokyo’s 23 wards. Their mission: To resolve occult issues involving the non-human residents of Japan. Alongside his department head, Sakaki Kyoichi and Himetsuka Seo, Miyako’s nights are about to get pretty busy!
Opening/Ending Theme: The opening theme for the series, ‘dis-communicate’, is performed by Miyako Arata’s VA Jun Fukuyama and features a blended opening sequence that juxtaposes an animation style similar to that of the series with a color palette similar to that of the manga covers (grey with brightly colored accents). The ending theme, ‘Yakusoku no Overture’, is sung by the VA of the character Huehuecóyotl.
Our Monsters Are Different: The occult/supernatural beings in Midnight Occult Civil Servants are referred to collectively as ‘Anothers’, despite each type having their own given names.
Speaking in Tongues: There is a language barrier between Humans and Anothers, and rather than having the Anothers speak in another language altogether, the series adds an echo-like distortion to their speech. This is a rather unique stylistic choice that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in another anime like this before.
Tengu: There are several supernatural creatures referenced in this week’s episode, but one of the few to make an appearance are the Tengu, which are popular entities from Japanese folklore and legend. While their name 天狗, roughly translates to ‘heavenly dog’, Tengu are often depicted as bird-like creatures with dark-colored wings and beaks.
Youkai: While they aren’t featured in the episode, youkai are referenced several times by both Seo and Sakaki. Youkai is a catch-all term for any supernatural monsters, spirits, and/or demons in Japanese folklore.
Angels: While most of the supernatural beings shown in the series are deeply rooted in Japanese folklore, the angels which feature alongside the tengu are generally associated with religion, particularly the Christian faith. They are believed to be celestial beings sent by God to protect and guide humans.
Shinjuku Imperial Gardens: The events of the episode take place inside the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens, a large park/garden located in Shinjuku and Shibuya. During the Edo period, the gardens were the residence of the Naito Family.
Spray of Ibn Ghazi: This is most likely a reference to the Powder of Ibn Ghazi, a silvery powder that when used can make the unseen visible. It was first referenced in H.P. Lovecraft’s story The Dunwich Horror. Seo uses a spray form to reveal a pixie to Miyako.
Cu Sith: While exploring the Shinjuku Imperial Gardens, Miyako encounters a large dark green shaggy dog-like creature, which Seo explains is a Cu Sith. Cu Sith are mythical hounds from Scottish myth said to be a harbinger of death. Legend has it that if a person hears the three barks of the Cu Sith, they will be overcome with terror and die of fright.
Abe no Seimei: One of the older tengu addresses Miyako as Abe no Seimei at the end of the episode, much to his confusion. Abe no Seimei (安倍 晴明) was one of Japan’s leading onmyōji during the Heian Period (794 – 1185). While Abe no Seimei was a prominent Japanese historical figure, after his death in 1005 he became a common figure in Japanese folklore. Legend says that he wasn’t entirely human, having a human father and a kitsune mother and because of this he was able to control minor oni and commune with supernatural beings.
I am a huge fan of urban fantasies and supernatural media, so I was really looking forward to starting this series and Episode 1 ‘Angels and Tengu Above the Shinjuku Skyline’ definitely piqued my interest. Midnight Occult Civil Servants drops the viewer and the series’s protagonist Miyako Arata right into the action, introducing us to the supernatural goings on of Shinjuku fairly early in the episode. We see a nice smorgasbord of supernatural beings, dubbed Anothers, by the series from a wide range of folklore and legend from around the world; there is the tengu from Japanese folklore, a Cu Sith from Scottish legend, fairies and angels, just to name a few.
After watching the episode I’m kind of reminded of Descendants of Darkness with just a hint of Fukigen na Mononokean and a dash of Kamisama Hajimashita (without the romance) and I will admit that I am digging it. So far we’ve just scratched the surface of the fantasy world of the series, but we already see that there is an order to things. The Anothers have their own distinct races and cultures that are unique to their particular species, that is both otherworldly and surprisingly relatable. They really aren’t that different from us, save the wings and magical powers, which is something we usually don’t get from fantasy series. Either the supernatural beings are so otherworldly it’s hard to relate to them or they are presented as something sub-human, but here they’re depicted as equals to humans.
Now, I will fully admit to having a bit of a dumb moment, because I didn’t realize Seo and Sakaki couldn’t understand what the tengu and angels were saying until AFTER Seo said it. I really thought that they had a grasp on the situation and were simply choosing to ignore it in favor of some preexisting bias towards supernatural beings. I noticed the difference in the sound of their voices (kind of echo-y), but I just thought that was how all Anothers sounded, but, I do admit that it was a nice stylistic choice for differentiating between the two distinct styles of speech.
The characters are pretty solid, Miyako is pretty much a hapless everyman character with a ‘secret’ and both Sakaki and Seo are quirky sidekicks that help facilitate Miyako’s integration into the supernatural world. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but, I’ll withhold judgement until we get a few more episodes under our belts.
Episode 1, ‘Angels and Tengu Above the Shinjuku Skyline’, was a pretty solid introduction to the world of Midnight Occult Civil Servants. It does just enough to whet the appetite for the story while holding just enough back to leave you wanting more. The characters are fun and the premise is solid, but the true highlight of the episode are the supernatural beings themselves. Definitely going to stick around and see where this series takes us…
I’ll be back next week with another Midnight Occult Civil Servants review, but in the meantime, be sure to check out MANGA.TOKYO’s other amazing Spring 2019 reviews and bookmark the site for next week’s preview!
NEXT TIME: The White Nekomata of Kagurazaka ( 神楽坂の白い猫又)
Keep warm this winter season with the latest anime info at MANGA.TOKYO!
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