The main plotline focuses on two characters, Maya and Fumiaki, who are staff members of the Waldstein Academy, otherwise known as the "Occult Academy." Maya is the school's newest headmistress, taking over for her late father. Though most successors would want to keep their predecessor's legacy intact, Maya's sole mission is to destroy the school. She has an extensive knowledge of everything occult, and she wants to close the school however she can. Her father was obsessed with the occult, to the point that Maya blames it for ruining his marriage and his relationship with her.
Meanwhile, Fumiaki is looking for a way to prevent the end of the world. Fumiaki is from 2012 and is sent back in time to 1999 to prevent an invasion by aliens. He works at the Waldstein Academy as a teacher and despite getting off on the wrong foot with Maya, the two end up teaming up to find "The Nostradamus Key," the invasion's trigger device.
I'm a massive fan of unexplained events and urban legends of any sort, so Occult Academy basically had me from the start. The show's unexplained events cull a number of well-known events, such as cattle mutilations, Stonehenge, the Mothman, and chupacabra. As expected, the events have a very "anime" twists, though the embellishments rarely detract from the core fiction that makes them so interesting.
Even with some odd time travel-related plot issues, Occult Academy is an easy anime to follow. Although the name suggests something more inline with Persona, the entire run is more of a comedy/ drama. There's an overarching storyline -- prevent the apocalypse - though it stands as background flavor rather than another piece of a larger puzzle. The occult elements are usually used as plot devices, adding an X-Files style element. The combination may disappoint fans of darker, horror-based anime, but I really enjoyed it. The tone reminded me of the first few seasons of X-Files or Fringe, where the focus was on the "Monster of the Week," rather than adding layers to a complex mystery.
Occult Academy is also a very pretty anime and makes the most of the Blu-ray format. Character designs are fun and distinct, though the real stars are the beautifully painted backgrounds and assorted cryptids that show up throughout the series.
The series itself is short, as least as far as anime series are concerned, but NIS manages to pack a lot of great content into the Premium Edition. In addition to clean versions of the intro and outro, you also get a series of four shorts focusing on, Tsucchi, Maya's childhood pet. These are nice additions and while they don't offer a whole lot of background on Maya, they're still successful at showing a different side of Maya. They're also a lot of fun.
Occult Academy also comes with a "Confidential" artbook featuring information about the series. The character profiles play with the show's overarching mystery by including notes scribbled in the margins offering personal notes on each character. You'll also find a synopsis for each episode accompanied by artwork from the show and breakdowns of some of the show's locations. I especially like the concept sketches for each, especially the map of the academy, and the Occult Encyclopedia detailing all of the unexplained phenomena appearing in the series.
Occult Academy is one of NIS's best offerings and a must own for any anime fan.