Posted by psgels on 19 November 2008 with categories: Mouryou no Hako



Short Synopsis: Sekiguchi, Toriguchi and Akihiko continue to talk about the various aspects of the boxed murders case.
Highlights: Just when I thought that the previous episode was filled with dialogue…
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10 (Excellent)
Holy crap; I can hardly believe my eyes. One episode that just takes place inside one room is one thing, but two consecutive episodes, featuring nothing more than a room with three guys in it, constantly talking. I think some record has been broken with this, because this even surpasses Seirei no Moribito. I can sort-of understand why no new subs have been released so far. This series is really something else to try and translate.

Okay, so here are my attempts to try and grasp what went on. We start the episode as usual with an example from one of the books of one of the characters of this series, I suspect that this is from Sekiguchi. It starts with a little girl who’s reading a children’s book at a local shop. We then switch to or the past of the main character of the story, and we learn that he used to be a very neat guy, sometimes taking it to extremes so that he ended up skipping his lunch. After his father(?) died, he ended up living in a large house on his own, where the loneliness drove him to insanity. I think that that scene was meant to clarify why we saw him ending up cutting up the limbs in the story blurb that we saw a few episodes back.

The rest of the episode is divided into two halves again. The first half, which takes up the longest part of the episode, is spent on our threesome as they explore the concepts of “Mouryou”. It becomes clear here that Akihiko is a real fan of calligraphy, and likes to search behind the meaning of different related words and Kanji.

What I picked up was that Mouryou aren’t just a bunch of monsters. Those are called the mountain Mouryou, but the whole term encompasses a bit more. According to the dictionary, “Mouryou” isn’t just the name of one particular monster, but the term encompasses all sorts of spirits and goblins. The “Mou”, or 魍 of the word means a monster, spectre or apparition, while “Ryou”, or 魎 means a sprite or hobgoblin. I guess that if you take the two terms combined, you get quite a broad collection of things.

For some reason, he also shows a bunch of alternative ways to write “Mouryou” in Kanji that didn’t make any sense when I looked them up. My guess is that after that, Akihiko shows them a few different creatures that can be considered as Mouryou, like a water sprite, or even a shikabane (zombie), and tells them stories in which they appeared. After that follows some weird symbolism about those Torii-shrines of the previous episode, but I really didn’t get what that was about.

Then the second half of the episode starts, end the focus gets back to the boxed-murder cases. My big trouble here is that I can’t seem to find the right translation for the word “onbaku”, which seems to be the central focus of this mystery. It seems to refer back to the concepts of faith and Buddhism, relating back to the first episode. I suspect that this “onbaku” is the guy they suspect to be the culprit of the boxed-murder case. Could he be the box-maker of the previous episode? That would explain the religious references to his cult and all.

Toriguchi then shares a theory he’s been having about the culprit of the crime, as he comes with a police report on the case. It turns out that the “onbaku” has a dead daughter. He comes up with the crazy theory that he started murdering because he believed that that will save his daughter or something, but Akihiko reckons that more information is needed to get to that conclusion. He asks Sekiguchi to show the relevant parts of the registry file that Toriguchi got from the box maker and distribute it to the police. One of the names in the document catches Sekiguchi’s attention, as it seems to be the name of another rising novelist. It seems that they met once.

The episode ends as Akihiko tells them not to go near the research institute, suggesting that he either is a very good at telling the future, or knows more than what he showed in this episode.

I must say that I’m really impressed by this series. Although it’s a lot of work to try and understand it, it’s exactly series like this one that are the reason why I watch anime: those rare unique series that simply go beyond genres and have a style of storytelling of their own.

I believe that this series is a typical alpha-series, and here’s what I mean by that: for my studies, I’ve had to read a number of papers, both written by alpha- and beta-scientists. A common trait among the beta-papers was that everything is defined up to the finest detail, and you can see the same in series as Higurashi: every action has a well-defined cause and a reaction, and it’s a great example of a beta-series. Papers that were written by alpha scientists on the other hand weren’t as straightforward, and instead just tried to look at their subject in lots of different ways and from various angles. And that‘s exactly Mouryou no Hako. It’s not trying to solve this mystery by providing clues on a silver platter, but instead it’s telling the story and background from a lot of different angles and views, explaining the background that might have something to do with it or might not. This really is the first series where this effect is so apparent.

Right now, I’m beginning to understand where Kanako’s Buddhist influences came from, and I believe that she was an influential member of the box maker’s cult. If this is true, then it does explain why she forms such a central role in this story.

2 Responses

  1. Zerozaki says:

    I don’t remember Kanako having any connection to Onbaku’s cult. You are right in that Onbaku is the name of the box making cult leader, the name he took when he became a cult leader.
    Chimimouryou is a generic name for less important monsters and spirits, but Mouryou on its own has a different meaning – or rather a surprisingly large number of different, conflicting explanations. He’s sifting through those, searching for a common thread, but hasn’t yet found one.
    Sekiguchi’s editor sends her a copy of a story by an author named Kubo, a story called “The girl in the box.” We’ve seen several selections from the story before. Kubo is also on the list of Onbaku’s admirers…as are people connected to the many of the murdered girls.

  2. windy says:

    I’m a little disappointed by this series , now that we had two eps without seeing anything happening, it started so well but now its flaws start. watching it in raw doesn’t make things better! It was quite hard to watch, that series that i enjoyed so much when it just started. Why did it turn out like that, i wonder, why don’t they show the protagonists and all, hope it’s gonna change!!!

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  • wicked
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 07:26 PM)
    Fire dragon arc! Fire dragon dies in the 5th episode
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 04:06 PM)
    @Bam, Well the three games were originally supposed to be one. But it turned out that the first two were bundled together and Alternative was made a separate release.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 08:38 AM)
    Jesus I never expected that doing a myanimelist/letterboxd account thing would be so hard. I’ve seen a scarily higher amount than I thought, its insanely hard to remember everything to add.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:17 AM)
    It seems then that the future of the franchise’s anime adaptations rests a bit on Schwarzesmarken’s success, which looking at the buzz doesn’t seem favourable at all. I doubt it can regain the lost audiences.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 06:14 AM)
    That would suggest that the author(s) had the foresight of including seemingly useless stuff that will come into play later. That’d be impressive if they did, as these kinda series are make-it-as-you-go.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:59 AM)
    It’s difficult to put into words but essentially while the first game isn’t good, it does work as a tool for introducing and endearing you to the characters. Then Unlimited sets down the rules of the new world. And finally alternative proceeds to kick your ass into next Tuesday.
    That’s sort of why I don’t think it would have the same effect if it was an anime. VNs allow you to get a more personal connection with the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Feb 6. 2016 01:55 AM)
    It’s not quite the same. It’s more like there are things in extra which seem insignificant but turn out to play an important role later. It wouldn’t really work the same if you did it in reverse order. Character history is a bit different too as each game is essentially an alternate universe. The character histories in extra are different from those in alternative.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:38 PM)
    And also remember how Darker Than Black had a big jump between the main series and Gemini of the Meteor. They later made a 4 episode OVA that covered the gap, and although you knew the outcome it was still entertaining; or at least more than the Gemini one. There’s merit to non-linear chronology and storytelling, but it is usually very hard to pull. The audience is intrigued by secrets that can later be uncovered, although in anime the pay-off is not always substantial.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:32 PM)
    I don’t know, the audience usually only needs very limited information to figure out dynamics and histories between the characters.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Feb 5. 2016 11:27 PM)
    A 13 episode series would work for the second title unlimited. But Alternative is a pretty long visual novel. You need at least two cours to give it justice. Making extra an OVA could work but you do need it for alternative. But it’s not an optional part of the trilogy. It needs to be read first, so that events later have a greater impact. Personally I am not even sure Muv Luv can even work in another medium.

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