Ah, finally Mononoke is back. I’m glad that I returned to the subs, as it’s much easier to concentrate on the mystery here. I’ve stopped to believe that Mononoke can produce a story that’s better than Bake Neko, because let’s face it: the thing that made Ayakashi ~Japanese Classic Horror~ so great was its shock-value. Bake Neko also was much more aimed at horror, while Mononoke goes more into the intelligent direction with unique and original character-studies. While that’s awesome in its own way, it’s not going to be as tense as Bake Neko.
The main theme of this episode: scents. There are three major characters in this one so far, which is more like the second arc. The female heir of a famous school in the arts of scents has to marry, and there are four guys after her hand. The lucky person will be determined by a game, where everyone needs to smell different scents and try to discern which are the same. The game is called Genjikou.
Basically, the fourth guy didn’t show up, the medicine seller takes his place, and later he ends up killed, along with the heir herself. It then seems that the heir possessed something that the three guys wanted even more than the woman herself: the Toudaiji. The clues we have is a strange dog which walks around, a strange girl, a strange stone carrying a kimono and the fourth guy brutally killing himself in the beginning of the episode.
The scent-game is quite interesting. It’s just like in the second arc, with the fish: a great and original way to develop the characters. Two of the guys are scent experts, and yet they turn out quite differently. Then there’s a samurai who doesn’t know anything about scents, and the best he can make out is the scent of horse dung. He ends up with the conclusion that all scents are the same.
Then there’s the game itself: every possible combination of scents, which refer to a story called the tale of Genji. One chapter tells about a woman with four lovers, though surprisingly the heir decided that all five scents used were the same. Why did she do such a thing? And why did she decide to use the Genjiko to begin with? Also, why did the fourth guy of all people die? Was he special? Did he actually love the heir?
What also should be taken into consideration is the art style: every single colour is washed out, except for when someone smells something and the medicine seller. But not only that: it only happens with scents that move them, and quite possibly make them forget about the Toudaiji. This can be helpful for the next episode: the bright colours simply symbolize something like genuineness or something similar. What should also be noted is that the old servant is also washed-out, just as the heir. The dog however, appears bright.