Third time’s the charm for Midnight Occult Civil Servants (Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin) with Episode 3, ‘The Trickster with Amber Eyes’, giving us a much more intimate look at the Nocturnal Community Relations Departments and how work together to take down bigger threats to public safety.
Original Japanese Title: 琥珀の瞳のトリックスター
Huehuecóyotl unleashes a horde of the undead upon the city in hopes of calling out his old friend the great onmyōji Abe no Seimei. Mistaking Arata for the ancient occultist, Huehuecóyotl pulls him and Sakaki into one of his pranks, dropping them into an underground bunker full of the undead. He promises to call off the attack if Arata can solve one of his riddles. Meanwhile, above ground, the members of the other ward offices have their hands full containing the undead threat.
Our Zombies are different: The kyoshi are Midnight Occult Civil Servants’ version of the walking dead. Brought to life through an occult ritual, they’re reanimated corpses that eat living beings. They act the same way most zombies do in other media, but with the added bonus of also being puppets…
Blast From the Past: Arata’s connection to Abe no Seimei has been one of the ongoing themes of these last few episodes and it all kind of comes to a head here when Huehuecóyotl returns. He was close with the real Seimei, so he’s the biggest clue we have to figuring out whether Arata is a reincarnation of the late occultist or Seimei himself.
Themes and Trivia
Yin energy: Seo remarks that the undead are fueled by Yin energy, which in this case means ‘negative’ energy. Yin and Yang is a concept from Chinese philosophy that focuses on the duality which asserts that opposing forces are in fact complements of one another. Yin is receptive and often associated with darkness, while yang is more active and associated with the light.
Kyoshi: Are the walking dead that appear in this week’s episode. Brought to life by an occult ritual, kyoshi are fueled by yin energy and are merely reanimated corpses. While they don’t retain any of their human faculties, kyoshi consume living beings in order to sustain themselves.
Huehuecóyotl: Is an ancient Aztec trickster god whose name roughly translates to ‘very old coyote’. He is said to preside over music, dance, song, and mischief. He is depicted as a dancing coyote with human hands and feet and despite being referred to as male, can change gender. He is known for pulling pranks that more often than not backfire and cause him more trouble than his intended victims, but he is generally harmless.
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 as well. Legend says that he wasn’t entirely human, having a human father and a kitsune mother and because of this was able to control minor oni and commune with supernatural beings.
Ask and a plot shall appear! With the appearance of Huehuecóyotl, it feels like the series is starting to settle into something resembling a coherent plot, though after only 3 episodes, I might be jumping the gun a bit.
Arata’s family history and connection to Abe no Seimei has been elevated from a passing mention to the most prominent plot driving theme of the series. Everything else up until this point has been rather episodic; an Another wreaks havoc on the city and the Nocturnal Relations Department shows up to keep the balance. This week’s episode was no different in that regard, but by connecting it with the ongoing mystery surrounding Arata and his lineage to Seimei, you give the story a bit more focus than it had early on. I’m not saying that we should completely do away with the episodic nature of the series. In fact, I welcome it. I just would like to have something consistent that ties everything together, and that seems to be where the series is headed.
Huehuecóyotl is a fun character. Trickster gods by definition are unpredictable wildcards that can either make or break a series, and I (at least right now) like the new addition. Whether he will become an antagonist has yet to be seen, but, I like keeping his intentions ambiguous. The zombie plotline was a bit of a miss for me, but, I suppose it did serve its intended purpose of introducing Huehuecóyotl to the story…
Getting Ready to Dance
If we’re going with the three-episode rule, Midnight Occult Civil Servants is finally ready to start digging into the meat of its story. The introduction of Huehuecóyotl indicates a switch from the aimless wanderings of the first two episodes to a more interconnected storytelling style. So far, I like the characters and the Arata/Seimei mystery plot is interesting enough to keep me invested… so, at least for now, Midnight Occult Civil Servants gets a pass.
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!!
NEXT TIME: Fixed-Point Observation in Kabukicho
This series is also part of our weekly anime previews.
Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin (Midnight Occult Civil Servants)
Spring 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast