Posted by Lenlo on 6 September 2019 with categories: Mononoke, Throwback Thursday

Fair readers, if the first arc of Mononoke was a Horror, this one is without a doubt a tragedy. As the Sea Bishop closes with unexpected twists, deep seated guilt and somber tune. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

This week, Mononoke closed out its second arc, the Sea Bishop. Compared to the first, it could hardly be called horror, though elements of that were there. A kind of internal horror, one of character and internal strife. Similar in ways to Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. Though much more subdued I feel, since that secondary nature really only came out near the very end of the arc. For me it felt more like a character study, or perhaps a tragedy of some kind. Without a doubt at least the Bishop’s character is a tragic one I feel, though we will get into that later. Suffice to say though, before getting into spoiler territory, that I quite enjoyed this finale. I think Mononoke did a great job with presentation, with plenty of tiny details to pick up on throughout. But enough of that, onto the meat.

As far as the twist of the episode goes, I thought it was well done. I wasn’t expecting the boat to be empty at all. Instead for some great monster to be in it, presented in a terrifying manner. Similar to the first arc and its children. Revealing that it was empty though completely changed the focus of the episode I feel. A great job by Mononoke, so quickly turning it from an external monster to an internal one. I loved the presentation during the story as well. With the shadowy fish swimming just under the water/hull of the ship. The deeper problems. The ghostly woman behind each of the characters, seemingly tempting them, but the context changes as the story goes on. It was a very different sort of haunting than what we experienced in the first arc.

With the reveal of the empty boat, Mononoke shows us the issue wasn’t the sister, but the Bishop himself. His inner turmoil and guilt being what generated the Sea. This idea of built up guilt after 50 years of living a good life. A life he feels he doesn’t deserve. My favorite part of this was when Mononoke revealed his true inner thoughts while talking with his sister. He didn’t truly love her at that point, but rather was just trying to get out of the boat. So when she got in of her own volition, professed her love for him, it broke him in a way. This is why I think the Bishop is actually a rather tragic character. For all his terrible thoughts, he effectively lived 50 years with this guilt tearing him in two. Like I said, a Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde situation.

As far as how it was presented, it was just horrifying enough to fit Mononoke. The terrifying symbolism ala the his right eye being hidden vs the one in the sky. His body being split in half, literally at the end, showing his internal conflict. The complete difference between his 3 different forms. I thought it was a rather clever way of showing his inner ugliness and how it affects his outward appearance. Afterall by the end, after being exercised, his appearance became much more handsome. He had seemingly reached enlightenment through this confrontation with his inner-self. What I find the most interesting with this though is how he looks different in the flashbacks as well. So either he has reached enlightenment now, or that flashback self was another lie. A sort of demonstration he wasn’t being truthful with his story. This compounded when compared with the Medicine Seller.

The Medicine Seller was also shown to have a 2nd side, quite literally a darker one in some sense. Yet unlike the Bishop they seemed in sync, complete. Cognizant of each other and where they stand in his psyche, yet completely separate. Nothing demonstrated this to me better than their synchronization. With the normal form handing this inverted on the mirror, so that he can use it in the exorcism. It shows that our Medicine Seller is still there, just not physically. One could argue that this form isn’t actually the Medicine Seller of course, just the sword taking possession of his body for the exorcism. However in the context of Mononoke’s episode this week, I feel that is largely irrelevant. The whole point of the arc was inner thoughts, fears, guilt and recognizing yourself. From the Biwa player to the Bishop. The Medicine Seller slots right in with this.

So all in all, how was this episode and arc of Mononoke? As an arc finale, I quite enjoyed it. Once again Mononoke manages to wrap everything up nicely. Visually it stands out with the unique art style. Sure the animation is rather barebones at times, never really going beyond “decent”. Though since action is rare, Mononoke hardly needs it. The presentation of different kinds of horror in both of its arcs so far has been great. It makes me excited for what is to come. As the series seems to put in a lot of effort into keeping the arcs different. The only bad thing I really have to say about the arc is it felt like it dragged a bit in the middle. That and writing for it is difficult. Hardly the worst issues to have.

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