Midnight Occult Civil Servants (真夜中のオカルト公務員) is a shōjo, urban fantasy anime adaptation of the manga originally written by Yōko Tamotsu. It’s being produced by Liden Films with direction from Tetsuya Watanabe and is planned to have twelve total episodes. The story basically revolves around a department that’s tasked with handling supernatural and occult related cases. In the pilot episode, we are introduced to a newbie member of the team named Miyako Arata who also has a unique ability that sets him apart from everyone else.
The premise for Midnight Occult Civil Servants is something that appealed to me quite a bit. As I mentioned in my Spring 2019 preview post, I felt intrigued by seeing an urban fantasy anime. Also, thanks to shows like Natsume’s Book of Friends, Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast for Spirits-, and Inuyasha, I really can’t resist a series involving yōkai and other occult-related things.
The introduction episode surprised me with how balanced it was. It didn’t try too hard to be mind-blowing with fancy action or convoluted plotlines. It didn’t have any spectacularly flamboyant characters. It also didn’t end on any sort of pointless cliff-hangers. Everything about it was marvellously simple and satisfying.
We start off by getting acquainted with some of the task force members. My favourite is the scientist dude who’s constantly mistaken for a woman and who also tends to blow shite up in his laboratory. Then the gist of what this force does on a night-by-night basis (they work nocturnally) is revealed to us, leaving the rest of the episode to follow as an example to support that information. The series feels like a basic mystery, crime-solving show. As I approached the end credits, I was reminded a bit of the Western televisions series CSI, but without the high-intensity criminal activities or severe drama elements. If I were to compare it to an anime of sorts, I would say it’s a bit like Hamatora, but more light-hearted.
My assumption is that the vast majority of the series will entail episodic stories with one major overlying conflict. As we meet new faces and scenarios, we get a glimpse of how humanity has evolved to help issues that arise involving these beings. For example, in the pilot we learn that the modern way of creating a barrier to contain paranormal persons is by using a specially designed tape rather heaps of salt. There are properties to the tape that help restrain magical or mystically gifted creatures. I like how straightforward this was and also a bit of a no-brainer. Additionally, it’s very low-key so as not to startle the unsuspecting human population. It was cool and imaginative.
Another aspect that shall makes the story somewhat interesting is our rookie member, Miyako. He has the ability to understand the language of supernatural beings and seems to be the only individual with such a skill. I knew that there would need to be something special to set him apart from his colleagues. I figured he would have some kind of yōkai DNA and not know about it, or that he’s a reincarnation of some old, dusty dude (or dudette) and that’s why he has this nifty little talent. Whatever the reason, I’m sure it shall be revealed in due time.
The animation quality is rather standard. There isn’t anything that sets it apart from other generic anime. One of the things I do appreciate, however, is the emphasis that this takes place in a big city. Most anime that takes place in cities like Tokyo somehow aren’t portrayed to be as realistically bustling as they should be. Midnight Occult Civil Servants shows us busy streets with lots of people and plenty of cars on the road. Since the team works at night, we also see bright, neon signs and giant screens. It felt like it was actually taking place in Tokyo, or Shinjuku. It’s a small detail in the grand scheme of things, yet I felt quite grateful for it, nonetheless. It builds ambiance to match the urban aspect of urban fantasy.
Overall, I was pleased with the pilot episode for Midnight Occult Civil Servants. It won’t blow you away like Demon Slayer or Fruits Basket, but it won’t leave you horridly disappointed either. I’m quite curious to see how things shall develop over the season.
You can watch Midnight Occult Civil Servants on Crunchyroll on Sunday mornings.