Vatican City—Holy Land of the Catholics. Amidst the land, there is an organization that conducts rigorous investigations on "claims of miracles" from all over the world to ascertain their credibility. The organization is referred to as "Seito no Za" (Assembly of Saints) and the priests that belong there are called miracle investigators. Robert Nicholas, an ancient archive and cryptanalysis expert is partnered and good friends with Hiraga Josef Kou, a genius scientist. Together, the brilliant duo investigates the "miracles" and uncovers the incidents and conspiracies hidden behind them.
Vatican Miracle Examiner is, in essence, the campiest version of The Exorcist it will ever be your pleasure to enjoy.
Two miracle-auditing priests are tasked finding the missing half of a small piece of word with the word “RICH” on it. Also incidentally they are asked to see what’s going on with a nun from the parish where the piece of wood came from, who seems to have undergone an Immaculate Conception. And it gets spooky and dumb quickly.
The story grabbed me immediately. Catholic imagery suits horror and mystery so well. I know from many years of firsthand experience that the Catholic Church
likes nothing so much as putting on a highly choreographed and stylized show. This is the perfect setting in which to create mysterious horror, because it takes place in an organization that actively obfuscates the mechanics of its inner workings with a layer of mystery and ceremony. The Exorcist taught us it is ideal for dramatic scenes as well, because it allows for some crazy face yelling and splatter effects, both of which this show has in spades.
But for real you guys, this show is anime the Exorcist. People are possessed and tied to beds, children say horrible things in demon voices, and some very questionable parenting seems to be going on. Nobody has peed themselves or crab walked down the stairs yet, but I bet you it’s coming. Fingers crossed. It also shares a tone with the Evil Dead movies, in that it does not shy away from silly amounts of blood and violence in a way that is more funny than scary.
In the slight negative I will add that there is an unnecessary BL tone that seems to show up sometimes and just go away at others.
Something also keeps happening in this show which is either terrible or wonderful depending on how you interpret it: it is either possessed of some incredibly stupid and poorly written dialogue or it is a scathing critique of the contemporary Catholic Church. I choose to interpret it as the latter, while knowing full well that it is probably the former. Examples of this include “You don't care what their names are; they're just the nuns,” “Who would think a priest would do inappropriate things with a young boy,” and the fact that the senior priest main characters are surprised to learn that the Vatican was involved with Nazis in the past and financial misdeeds in the present.
The sound design is uninspired but perfectly satisfactory. It is mostly exactly what you would expect from a show about spooky catholic things: a lot of incomprehensible choral shouting and some scary ambient noise. It does manage to create tension, but in a lazy and obvious sort of way. It sounds like any soundtrack from any horror movie with a religious theme.
The character designs are on the whole fairly elongated and spidery, but not to a nightmarish and off-putting degree like the more noodley series from CLAMP. Color-wise everything is very purple, but it is atmospheric and lends to the half-ominous, half-silly tone that the show seems to be going for. The imagery manages to be fairly macabre and unsettling when it wants to be. I personally find babies to be terrifying, and there is a scary baby that keeps showing up that looks creepy as shit. Like the sound, the look of this show isn't mind-blowing, but it does manage to deliver what a scary mystery should.
Our two main characters are priests and high-ranking Vatican miracle examiners:
1.) Hiraga Josef Kou is focused on the use of scientific method and technology to inquire into the mysterious nature of potentially miraculous phenomena. He is a spindly nerd with a Dortohy Hamill haircut. I liked him immediately because he was introduced obsessing over a Go problem and it reminded me of Hikaru no Go, so I was biased. He also has a mysterious internet researcher named Lauren who magically gives him any information he wants via the internet. Presumably she will turn out to be Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I hope so. That would be a good anime. Lisbeth Salander would fuck up a demon if it got in her way.
2.) Roberto Nicholas: Historian guy. Initially has zero personalit,; but he's a late bloomer. At first all that is going on with him is that he has brown hair and a seemingly completely cosmetic and super dumb monocle. Then he knocks somebody out by hitting them over the head with the Holy Bible. I was completely won over. Also un-ironically utters the phrase “Who would think a priest would do inappropriate things with a young boy??” Nobody bothers to answer him.
The rest are a mixed bag as a whole.
Anna Delores, the pregnant nun, is crazy and has the world’s campiest stigmata: she shoots blood out of her wrists like Spiderman and then it seems to turn into rose petals. She's great. She also seems to be fairly obviously evil. She displays a terrifying amount of religious zeal that is definitely not going anywhere good.
The majority of the remaining characters are an assortment of asshole priests, possessed or completely ignored nuns, and students who are as fucked up as the characters on the British version of Skins (which is pretty fucked up). Some will get killed in creepy religious ways, some will be crazy and chew up all the scenery, and one, we will find out, is like T-Rex in that he can only see objects that are moving. It will be a blast from start to finish.