Midnight Occult Civil Servants – Anime Review
Synopsis: When Miyako Arata joins the Shinjuku Ward Office, he thinks he’s gotten a normal civil servant job. But it turns out he’s joined the Night Community Exchange Department, one of which operates secretly in each of Tokyo’s twenty-three ward offices. Their job is to resolve occult issues concerning non-human beings. Accompanied by his senpai and department head Sakaki Kyoichi and the occult obsessed Himetsuka Seo, they work night after night, facing off with beings whose existence defies the laws of our world.(Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Midnight is at its best when our protagonist and his coworkers are trying to solve the mysterious, ‘Another’ based happenings around town. It can actually get pretty intriguing with all these supernatural events happening and wondering just who or what is doing them and why, especially if you’re a fan of thrillers and mysteries. Despite its Shoujo tag, Midnight does not contain the more extreme and common stereotypes associated with that genre, playing out more like a standard supernatural investigation themed show, thus making it appealing and approachable for a wider audience. It seems more focused on following the cast around as they deal with all sorts of supernatural related drama and mysteries rather than showcasing a cast of pretty boys who are constantly sparkling and surrounded by female groupies, the latter something that Shoujo series are loved/loathed for.
Tom: Visually Midnight Occult Civil Servants is never great. The series is hardly a looker even early on, and when the mid-season production slump hits, it hits hard, crafting off-model art a good step below our mediocre starting line. But the visual dip is the least of the series’ problems. Too often Midnight Occult’s mysteries are solved too neatly. For a series that presents Anothers, and often talks about them, as dangerous supernatural beings that can do real harm, purposefully or not, there are few, if any, lingering consequences at the end of each mystery. Even when things seem totally dire, stories wrap up so well you could put a cute little bow on top.
Linny: Midnight plays the humans-supernatural beings (or as the show calls them, ‘Anothers’) dynamic very casually, despite featuring several cases where Anothers do horrendous things to humans, such as kidnapping school girls and turning them into zombies. Nobody (save for one specific person/group much later in the series) seems to mind. Yes, the show explains that these supernatural disasters are often covered up and explained to the public as just some freak accident in order to hide the existence of the Anothers but even the ones in the know, the officials and law keepers, seem extremely blase about preventing future mishaps. Maybe that is because any damage done by the supernatural beings gets easily undone at the end of each episode making it easy to ‘forgive’ any misconduct (save for a girl who gets abducted and then returned 50 years into the future without aging a day). This constant return to the status quo presents another issue; it makes it impossible to take any new threat seriously. We KNOW the cast themselves are going to be over it by the next episode and that everything will be back to ‘normal’ no matter how bad it gets, so the show loses any bite and lacks a sense of urgency and worry. Then there’s the fact that sometimes the solutions for the big problem are very convenient; such as every single person involved in a certain story’s solution being able to inherently/immediately be extremely skilled at weaving cocoons into silk thread. The more you watch of the series, the more clear it becomes that everything is always going to end up just fine, making it hard to take the show seriously or ever be genuinely intrigued or concerned about any new threat or problem it throws at you.
Tom: It’s frustrating because Midnight Occult Civil Servants has a lot of strong ideas, all hampered by this poor, hamfisted, easy-going execution. Maybe it’s the fault of the anime, wrapping an easy-going, don’t fret too much story in a more foreboding atmosphere than it was meant to have. But what’s offered makes for a dissatisfying journey all the same. It’s also disappointing that Midnight has a chance to talk about some really tough issues, like Xenophobia or Race Relations, but shies away from that, even when certain plot lines really, really speak to those ideas. Instead Midnight Occult is far more interested in featuring quick glimpses into various Japanese and Non-Japanese supernatural legends. If that’s your jam then Midnight Occult works, but if you want something with a bit more meat on the bones, Midnight isn’t worth going back for.
Linny: To the show’s credit, it does try to give its main protagonist, Arata, something of a character journey. He goes from the innocent, reluctant and a somewhat uncaring newbie to someone who genuinely cares about and wants to establish good relations between the Anothers and humans for both parties’ sake. But the show resets itself and its cast so often with each new story that his transformation comes off as uneven, sudden and even forced to some degree. Arata goes back to his more naive and reluctant personality far too often to really sell his final evolution into a sincerely caring person. It’s things like these that seem likely to prevent the show from truly winning over a large fan following. The constant and convenient resets of the status quo robs the series of any true drama or suspense and the crumbling art quality does the show no favours. Ultimately, Midnight Occult Civil Servants offers little of real lasting value or quality, making it an easy pass for most.