Posted by psgels on 12 October 2007 with categories: Mononoke


This is going to be a difficult review, simply because I want to praise this series, but at the same time it suffers from being a continuation of the third story of the anime Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror: Bake Neko. In there, a Medicine Seller exorcises the ghost of a cat that haunts a local family in feudal Japan, and it was one of the best short stories I’ve ever seen in anime. Mononoke sees the same premise, where we see five stories in which the Medicine Seller track down Mononoke (spirits) that are summoned to earth due to some grudge or regret. Obviously, it had a lot to live up to.

If you were expecting the same as Bake Neko, you’ll be disappointed. The thing that made Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror so great was its element of surprise: you never knew what was going to happen. With Mononoke, you do: Medicine Seller is going to exorcise a spirit. The amount of horror has also been toned down. Sure, it’s still there, but it’s no longer a central theme, like it was in Bake Neko. Instead, Mononoke decided to put more attention to the thought-provoking elements of its stories.

And yes, it does deliver there. All five stories are more than just ordinary ones, and a lot of attention has been put into them. The lines of good and bad are blurred in an effective way. The episodes also don’t answer every question, but assume that the viewer fills in the rest with his own common sense, and it works quite well. Especially the third and fourth story shine in this.

Another major plus in this series is that the characters are realistic, and don’t care to be moe or GAR or anything similar. Sure, there are a bunch of young girls, but by far most of the characters are all sorts of adults; quite refreshing amongst other anime, which rarely seem to have important characters above the age of 25. The dialogue is also nice and creative, and you can hear that a lot of effort has been put into it as well.

So the creators failed to trump Bake Neko. That doesn’t mean that Mononoke isn’t worth giving a look, and it’s great to see that people are still willing to go beyond the mainstream and experiment with original and different styles. Mononoke is an excellent recommendation for anyone who likes the Japanese-styled horror or similar forms of storytelling.

3 Responses

  1. ark says:

    The show is worth watching simply because it unlike any other anime. The art style is really special, wish more anime would experiment like this.

  2. Lis says:

    I love this show and the bake neko story it is easily on my top ten favorite anime of all time because for the first time ever it made me think and analysis the certain themes that this series presented. I always get something new out of this series. Since the c trailer is out now I definitely have something to be excited for this season ^_^ so happy.

  3. Stars says:

    This was really creepy I was surprised to discover. Mononoke can create some amazing moods with its art. Scenes which are vivid and full of colours seem desolate, yet somehow inhabited, then you realise this soundtrack has been playing subtly in the background and it gets really eerie. Nothing is there, yet there is always something there.
    I really got the horror effect, especially in the Bakeneko arc. There is some great camera work contributing to this.
    There’s so much energy in this anime, it’s hectic, it’s chaotic and it really feels alive.

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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:58 AM)
    Yes you heard it here, Kaiser admitted to this. Fully watching the films I thought they were alright. And I even liked the direction the third film went and consider it the best thing to happen to the franchise. The plot felt more accessible and easier to follow. It feels more tight and compressed and benefits from animation upgrade. I still think Mari is pretty worthless though and as much as I still hate Asuka and Shinji, their more tolerable here.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:54 AM)
    *Ahem*Ahem* I have a confession to make and now everyone can laugh at me for taking so long to come round to this. But I got past my stubborness regarding Eva and my old bitterness toward it that made me give up when I was trying to re-watch it/the movies. I sat down and watched the Eva film trilogy so far…and I admit…I admit I don’t harbour the same bitterness I had toward the franchise and Anno anymore.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:35 AM)
    *null 2nd[enough]
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:34 AM)
    And how come nobody tell me that it goes Lovecraftian with Necronomicom and a straight up Dagon summoning? I would’ve watched this a lot sooner if I knew it was daring enough for a mainstream anime enough to in any way address child sacrifices.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:31 AM)
    Also finished first cour of Fate/Zero. So far this is a lot better than UBW in my opinion. The removal of the highschool drama along with pubescent protagonists makes this a much more adult and sophisticated story. The level of creative freedom that the team had by not being a direct adaptation made this a much more wellcrafted piece.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:28 AM)
    @Aidan: I just YouTubed that game and it looks fun and cooky. Kinda reminds me of Futurama I gotta say, and that’s a plus. It’s not really a bullet hell as those are by nature a scrolling 2D shooter with very face ‘safe spots’ on screen.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:25 AM)
    @Aidan: it was really convenient, I played Fate like a console game on TV and it was great. I think that version specifically had it since it’s a weird PSP/PC hybrid that has all the pros.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:02 AM)
    @Bam, It blew my mind to find that VN’s have controller support. I didn’t even understand why you would need it.
    It’s a bullet hell first person shooter. The comedy isn’t really that great but the gameplay is solid. And the theme tune is catchy as hell. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eR73chGfiXQ
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 01:00 AM)
    I always torrent a game I’m interested in first, install it and see if it runs fine, play a little see if it’s a good game, and THEN I go and get it on Steam. After getting stung by broken games I see no ethical quandary there at all. This is of course different for console releases which I only get if it’s:
    a) an exclusive.
    b) just more convenient, since all my friends multiplayer on the consoles.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Sep 4. 2015 12:49 AM)
    @Aidan: yup like I said, save yourself the disappointment. Even Simon Templeman who did an amazing job voicing Kain said he won’t go back to acting for the series anymore.
    As for the latter game you mentioned- I have no clue and yet to Google it- but it sounds like a combination of three random words. Hopefully it has enough humor to back that up.

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