Posted by Lenlo on 12 October 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mononoke, Throwback Thursday

Hello all, apologies for the delay, and welcome to the final arc of Mononoke! This is perhaps the most unique one yet. As we skip forward to a modern era, set the entire thing in a single location, and have ourselves a murder mystery. So, lets dive in!

Right off the bat, as always, I loved Mononoke’s strong sense of direction. Yeah the episode was kind of slow, which considering its the start of a 3 episode arc makes sense. However in spite of the pacing, or perhaps because of, we got a lot of really interesting scenes and decisions out of it. For instance, I found the usage of mannequins for the crowds fantastic. As this is the greatest amount of people in any scene Mononoke has had to deal with. So the decision both makes it easy to put them on screen, justifies their lack of animation, and denotes how unimportant they are. It also lead to some, not quite funny but memorable, scenes involving the train. Such as when it grinds to a halt, all of the mannequins are thrown to the ground, etc etc. It was all really quite clever I think.

On to the actual episode itself, I was actually rather surprised. I was not expecting the modern setting, and I think it raises a lot of questions. Most of those having to do with our curious Medicine Seller. For instance, why does he still exist? Is he immortal, the representation of some ideal, or maybe a Mononoke himself? Regardless, I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition between him and his antiquated clothes, and the modern setting of it all. Or almost modern, since its their first subway train and all. Still, post-industrialized Japan. Regardless, it made me think of the connection between ancient tradition and modern society. Something that Japan, unlike many modern countries, still has in abundance. With shrines dotting modern cities everywhere, the occasional street still built like the 1600’s. This inserting of the ancient and mythical into the modern and dull.

As far as the story setup goes, this might be the most conventional one yet. As it is a pretty clear cut murder mystery, though with Mononoke’s usual dash of the magic. We have the setup of the new subway, the premise of the girl Ichikawa jumping off a bridge, and the Mayor and his mysterious death. The Form, Truth and Reason are all still in question. And our Medicine Seller has to piece all of them together if he wants to have any hope of exorcising her. It’s like a classic detective novel in a way. I fully expect Mononoke to throw in a few twists and turns along the way as well. What with the Detective involved, or the Journalist who was her superior. Even the milk boy who supposedly saw her the morning she died. There is a lot to work with here.

Speaking of the individual characters. I want to take this opportunity to go a little bit more in depth on each of them. See if we can’t take a guess as to their involvement. Starting off, we have the obvious one, the Milk Boy. I think his is rather obvious, he was probably witness to Ichikawa’s death. Knowing the truth of what happened. After that is the Detective, whom I suspect most likely lied in the investigation. The journalist who helped cover it up, or perhaps gave her the job at the bridge in the first place. After that the Cafe Girl who knew her, and her connections with the Detective who seemingly had a thing for her. Lastly the train conductor, who ran her over. The only one I don’t know is the Widow, who seemingly has no connection to any of those here.

Of course in all of this, I failed to mention the Mayor, the only one to die so far. Seemingly shoved out the back of the train after he opens the door into thin air. The question there though, is why? Is he the center of Ichikawa’s ghostly revenge? Did he shove her from the bridge those years ago? With the Detective and Journalist covering it up, or perhaps facilitating the whole thing? Or perhaps Ichikawa will come for each of them in turn, until just like last arc, the Medicine Seller is the last to remain. My concern with that second one is how interesting it can be. What with the arc being constrained to a train car. However that seems a bit bleak for the series to end on, however much of a horror series it is. I suppose we will see.

So all in all, how was Mononoke this week? Another good arc intro, and one with perhaps some of the strongest direction. Even now I remember a number of scenes from the episode. Such as the mannequins, the Mayor at the door, or most of all the scales. I loved the use of the scales to visualize an invisible spirit walking down the train car. Their bells ringing as she does. It was just such a chilling scene, it really helps Mononoke keep its “horror” tag. For the arc itself, I am curious how Mononoke will manage to build up such a large cast. As the last one only had 4 or so major characters, while this one is up to 7. However at this point Mononoke has earned my trust. As its 4 for 4 on successful arcs so far, I trust it will pull this one through.

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