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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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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