Posted by Lenlo on 20 September 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mononoke, Throwback Thursday

And so ends another arc of Mononoke. This was an interesting one as I was simultaneously proven right, yet also wrong, based on last weeks predictions. So without further ado, lets dive right into the finale of our latest horrifying arc.

Starting off, Mononoke this week sort of pulled a fast one on me. It took one of my usual pet peeves with anime, that being reused sets/episode long scenes, and turned it on their head. By incorporating the nature of that scene into the story itself. Suffice to say I thought it rather clever. Parts of it were constrained by Mononoke’s almost slideshow nature of course. The distinct lack of animation throughout the series could be off putting for some. I find the odd flash-fade/zoom in during some scenes this week to be rather dull myself. Most of the time though, the individual scenes have enough to at least keep you looking around until the scene is over. The bright colors and often complex designs sort of act as a bandaid for this I feel. Not perfect by any means, but it serves Mononoke’s story well I feel.

Getting into the actual meat of the episode, let’s talk about last week’s predictions and how Mononoke subverted them. Namely, one of my two predictions where Ocho ends up being the Mononoke. In a way, I was correct, as the Noh mask spirit ended up being fake, an illusion. But Mononoke didn’t make that easy as Ocho also ended up being possessed rather than the spirit itself. I think this was fantastic though as it simultaneously made the arc more horrifying without dropping the tragic romance of last week. It also continued to feed the theme of perception and self realization. As Ocho had succeeded in fooling herself as to what had happened, creating a whole fake scenario in her head. Whether it be by the Mononoke’s influence or not, I thought it all came together in the final moments fantastically.

The best part of all of this for me was the final reveal of the house. How this entire arc could, conceivably, have taken place in her kitchen. With the Medicine Seller walking through the door like the Noh last week. Coming in to solve the problem. Bringing back last weeks opening moments, as Ocho’s perception of the house changes. Whether it be a prison or a castle, all that matters is how she sees it. It also explains why we kept revisiting the same moment in the house with the Sake bottle. As that was technically still happening right then and there. Normally I don’t really enjoy these kind of “It was a dream” mind screws, but Mononoke made it work. With that final moment of an empty kitchen and Ocho walking out hitting like a sledgehammer.

As far as the “twist” goes of Ocho “killing” herself, I once again thought this was well done. As Mononoke makes it clear that she didn’t literally kill herself, only figuratively. Killing her own desires and personality for the sake of her mothers dreams. In a way, this left her a walking corpse, a shell. Mononoke presented this well I feel with the masks and the 2 versions of her. The masks denoting when she is putting on an act, not being herself. Then when we see her face without them, thats the real her. Then having her split into to. Showing us what she actually wants to be doing, vs what she is doing. I found the slow crumbling of this to be well done. With Ocho slowly realizing just what she had done for all these years.

This of course brings me to the Medicine Seller himself and his plot to help her. As far as dealing with a Mononoke goes, he most likely didn’t need to go as far as he did. Whether it be with words helping her, or setting her free. He seemingly knew what was up the entire time, setting the whole thing up as a play to trick Ocho. To make her recognize what was happening herself. Yet instead of just exorcizing the Mononoke, he goes out of his way to help. Even giving her some kind words near the end. Telling her how the Mononoke probably did actually love her in its own way. That split between his two sides, one with the sword one without, helped sell this to me. Showing for as blank as he normally is, he still does care in some way for people.

So all in all, I just want to say, this was probably my favorite Mononoke arc yet. It was perfectly paced, the subject was interesting, there was just the right amount of horror with a hint of tragedy. The only real complaints/nitpicks I have are about the series production values. Which aside from the actual style itself, don’t really stand out much. But the actual narrative arcs and OST sort of make up for that in large part. It makes me excited for the arcs we have coming up, as there are still 2 more left in the series. Suppose we will have to wait until next week for those though, huh?

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