Posted on 12 October 2007 with categories: Mononoke


This is going to be a difficult review, simply because I want to praise this series, but at the same time it suffers from being a continuation of the third story of the anime Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror: Bake Neko. In there, a Medicine Seller exorcises the ghost of a cat that haunts a local family in feudal Japan, and it was one of the best short stories I’ve ever seen in anime. Mononoke sees the same premise, where we see five stories in which the Medicine Seller track down Mononoke (spirits) that are summoned to earth due to some grudge or regret. Obviously, it had a lot to live up to.

If you were expecting the same as Bake Neko, you’ll be disappointed. The thing that made Ayakashi ~ Japanese Classic Horror so great was its element of surprise: you never knew what was going to happen. With Mononoke, you do: Medicine Seller is going to exorcise a spirit. The amount of horror has also been toned down. Sure, it’s still there, but it’s no longer a central theme, like it was in Bake Neko. Instead, Mononoke decided to put more attention to the thought-provoking elements of its stories.

And yes, it does deliver there. All five stories are more than just ordinary ones, and a lot of attention has been put into them. The lines of good and bad are blurred in an effective way. The episodes also don’t answer every question, but assume that the viewer fills in the rest with his own common sense, and it works quite well. Especially the third and fourth story shine in this.

Another major plus in this series is that the characters are realistic, and don’t care to be moe or GAR or anything similar. Sure, there are a bunch of young girls, but by far most of the characters are all sorts of adults; quite refreshing amongst other anime, which rarely seem to have important characters above the age of 25. The dialogue is also nice and creative, and you can hear that a lot of effort has been put into it as well.

So the creators failed to trump Bake Neko. That doesn’t mean that Mononoke isn’t worth giving a look, and it’s great to see that people are still willing to go beyond the mainstream and experiment with original and different styles. Mononoke is an excellent recommendation for anyone who likes the Japanese-styled horror or similar forms of storytelling.

Posted on with categories: Mononoke


I’m not sure what roastedpekingduck meant when he said that the creators ran out of budget for this episode. Sure, the build-up wasn’t as good as the first Bake Neko, but this episode provided a satisfying if not a bit predictable ending. It’s not the best episode of this series, I’ll admit, though I didn’t sense any lack of budget.

So, in the end, the reporter was the culprit, with the Mayor being the mastermind behind everything. The others were just bystanders. The waitress often hung out with the victim, so I think that the cat wanted her to know what happened. The boy and the woman were actual witnesses, and I think that they refused to talk about what they saw because it had a major impact on them. After all, if you just saw a human body getting crushed under a train, in all graphic violence, while being alone, there’s a very good chance that you just don’t want to talk about it.

Ah well, even though it turned into something entirely different from what I expected, Mononoke made excellent use of the Noitamina-timeslot. I still like the initiative, and it’s good to see that among the countless high-school-anime, there still are people who welcome change and different ideas for series. Its current series, Moyashimon, also sparks with freshness.

Posted on 8 October 2007 with categories: Mononoke


Whoa… so everyone was hiding something! This story is probably the most horror-focused arc of the series with the arrival of yet another Bake Neko. I have no idea what the heck the Kotowari is supposed to be, and why the train-driver turned out to be the key-figure for this mystery, nor do I want to try and guess it. All I know is that I’m going to anticipate the final episode of this exciting arc. This is what I’ve been expecting from this series, and it’s going to be interesting whether this arc will be able to be as exciting as the original Bake Neko.

Posted on with categories: Mononoke


Whoa! Time-skip!

The final arc of this series, consisting out of three episodes has finally started, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the setting: we see another Bake Neko, and the setting of the series has suddenly skipped about hundred years, to the industrial age. The medicine seller however remains in the same shape as ever. Is he a Mononoke himself as well? Something tells me that this series is never going to answer that question, and leave it up to the viewer’s imagination.

Anyway, this arc has the potential to be the best one yet because of this. It all revolved around one suicide of a young woman. Somehow, her anger created the Bake Neko, who transported all important people to this mystery in the cabin of a train, who just departed from a newly built station, with lots of festivities.
– We first have a waitress who works at a restaurant where the woman often used to visit.
– Then there’s the conductor who ran over the woman, after she fell off the bridge above the train tracks.
– We also have the detective who investigated her case.
– There was also a young boy who witnessed the woman jump, along with her cat.
– And there’s her employer: a journalist.
– There’s also the mayor of the town, who gets eaten by the Bake Neko before he can tell the others what his role is.
– And to close off, there’s a mysterious widow, whose part in this isn’t quite clear yet, apart from the fact that it’s absolutely vital. Apparently, the woman couldn’t forgive the widow.

And the journalist is hiding something: he’s contradicted himself in this episode. At one time, he says that he often writes on the train, which explains how he doesn’t get sick while doing it (apparently trains back then were quite shaky), but later he claims to often work behind a desk, though he was at the station because the company he works for was short on staff. Why would he lie about something like that? I think that he, the mayor and the widow are the vital ones that need to be watched, the others sound more like unlucky bystanders who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Posted on 2 October 2007 with categories: Mononoke


Apologies for the delay. One thing I realized after I started to watch raws is how easy you can plan to watch them, compared to the subs, which get released at an unknown time.

Anyway, about the episode: I liked this one a lot, and the subs make this series definitely more enjoyable. It seems that the three guys who came to propose were actually already dead, and Ruri never existed in the first place. It seems that she was a form of the Mononoke Nue, who kept luring in men in order for them to acknowledge it as something more than the piece of wood it actually was.

There were a few questions left open, though. The samurai killed the fourth guy in the end, but did he really kill him or were they already dead at that point? The guy with the nose-cone seems to confirm that they were indeed really dead, as he seems to have killed Ruri, while being dead. The fact that the blood they were covered in just disappears after the killing seems to symbolize this as well: even though the two of them killed, they weren’t aware what they did back there.

Then there’s the third one. While he never killed anyone, he actually went on with a game where five scents had to be smelled, among which one of them is poisonous. Would a normal person really say the same?

Then there’s the strange dog. I originally thought that that was the Mononoke, though it was just a random bystander. It also seems that the Mononoke’s existence caused the colours in the house to dull out.

Posted on 23 September 2007 with categories: Mononoke


Ah, finally Mononoke is back. I’m glad that I returned to the subs, as it’s much easier to concentrate on the mystery here. I’ve stopped to believe that Mononoke can produce a story that’s better than Bake Neko, because let’s face it: the thing that made Ayakashi ~Japanese Classic Horror~ so great was its shock-value. Bake Neko also was much more aimed at horror, while Mononoke goes more into the intelligent direction with unique and original character-studies. While that’s awesome in its own way, it’s not going to be as tense as Bake Neko.

The main theme of this episode: scents. There are three major characters in this one so far, which is more like the second arc. The female heir of a famous school in the arts of scents has to marry, and there are four guys after her hand. The lucky person will be determined by a game, where everyone needs to smell different scents and try to discern which are the same. The game is called Genjikou.

Basically, the fourth guy didn’t show up, the medicine seller takes his place, and later he ends up killed, along with the heir herself. It then seems that the heir possessed something that the three guys wanted even more than the woman herself: the Toudaiji. The clues we have is a strange dog which walks around, a strange girl, a strange stone carrying a kimono and the fourth guy brutally killing himself in the beginning of the episode.

The scent-game is quite interesting. It’s just like in the second arc, with the fish: a great and original way to develop the characters. Two of the guys are scent experts, and yet they turn out quite differently. Then there’s a samurai who doesn’t know anything about scents, and the best he can make out is the scent of horse dung. He ends up with the conclusion that all scents are the same.

Then there’s the game itself: every possible combination of scents, which refer to a story called the tale of Genji. One chapter tells about a woman with four lovers, though surprisingly the heir decided that all five scents used were the same. Why did she do such a thing? And why did she decide to use the Genjiko to begin with? Also, why did the fourth guy of all people die? Was he special? Did he actually love the heir?

What also should be taken into consideration is the art style: every single colour is washed out, except for when someone smells something and the medicine seller. But not only that: it only happens with scents that move them, and quite possibly make them forget about the Toudaiji. This can be helpful for the next episode: the bright colours simply symbolize something like genuineness or something similar. What should also be noted is that the old servant is also washed-out, just as the heir. The dog however, appears bright.

Posted on 24 August 2007 with categories: Mononoke


After this episode, I’m going to take a small break to wait for the subs to catch up. It was a nice idea to try and watch this raw, but this is just one of these series that I want to fully understand. Unlike series as Toward the Terra or Seirei no Moribito, who have a continuous storyline, Mononoke deals with stories of 2 to 3 episodes, so every detail counts. I managed to understand this episode in the end, but I was too busy figuring out what happened to really enjoy the episode. ^^;

Still, this episode was really good. It seems that the woman didn’t really understand that she killed her entire family. The family she was married to kept abusing her, and her only glimpse outside was through a barred window. She was caught between her love for her mother, who was the one who married her to her new family, and her desire to be free and play. Her mother may have thought that she did a good thing for her child, by educating her well and taking good care of her, but she never let her do what she wanted. That indirectly caused Ochou to go berserk.

Hence the masks. She put up so many different faces in front of everybody, but she never really had the chance to show her actual face. Until, of course, she started killing. The man with the fox-mask is another one of these faces of hers. If I had to guess, then I’d say it’s the form of her ideal husband.

I’m not sure how many of you remember, but Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi also featured an arc about masks. In there, the girl (I forgot her name, sorry) went berserk because she thought her evil masks showed her true face. Interestingly enough, the conclusion of that arc was that every mask was a part of her, and that there is not one true mask. This arc in Mononoke builds further upon that, and they show how things can go wrong, as Ochou didn’t even realize that she’s been putting up different faces.

Posted on 17 August 2007 with categories: Mononoke


Taking screenshots was quite hard for this episode, considering the raw file I obtained. It seems that Japan was hit by quite a big tsunami, which covered the entire east-coast of the country, and most of the second half of the episode had some warnings and information pasted on top of it. Let’s hope the damages were minor.

Anyway, this episode introduces the third story: Nopperabou. A woman has killed a number of relatives, and now she’s sentenced to death. The Medicine seller doubts this story, and suspects that a Mononoke is behind the killings, though the woman keeps insisting that she was the murderer. The Mononoke then arrives, in the form of a man, wearing a fox mask. The mask prevents MS from finding out the katachi, and the Mononoke uses this to erase the guy’s face.

The Mononoke flees with the woman, after which he proposes to her. She agrees. Later, we see that MS got his face back with the help of a Japanese ritual. He then tries to see the real face behind the Mononoke’s mask, and the episode ends. Luckily, the episode was fairly understandable again, but I must wait till the next episode to be for sure. If it’s again incomprehensible, I’ll wait for the subs for the last two arcs, unfortunately.

Anyway, I think that this Mononoke was the one who committed the murder, without the woman knowing it. The question is: where does he come from? It’s in any case clear that he’d do anything for her.

I’m a bit afraid, though. In this episode, I noticed some flawed animation for the first time. There were a lot of shots of people in the background, and a few shots of the medicine seller were just off.

Posted on 10 August 2007 with categories: Mononoke


Whoa, this quite possibly was the best episode of this series yet, but it’s also by far the hardest to understand. I haven’t been so confused in an episode since the episode in Seirei no Moribito where Barsa gets her spear fixed. If this series pulls such a stunt again, I may consider switching to the subs.

Thankfully wabi sabi is following this series as well, and he managed to explain the events of this episode. Basically, the Priest’s sister entered that cabin in place of the monk, in order to fend off an ayakashi that was plaguing that sea. She did this out of love for him, while he didn’t feel anything for him. When he found out her motives, though, it continued to haunt him. Hence, the priest is the Makoto. This also probably explains why he sexually abused the monk.

The atmosphere in this episode was awesome, though. Even though I couldn’t follow this episode, I loved it.

Posted on 3 August 2007 with categories: Mononoke


About the only thing that I was afraid of for this series was that there wouldn’t be enough ideas for a fully fledged series. With this episode, these fears also got shattered. Umibouzu is one of the arcs that take up three episodes, and this episode spends most of its time fleshing out the different involved characters. How? By showing for each of them their biggest fear, with the help of illusions. I must say, it’s a brilliant idea, and with this show, it works extremely well.

The owner of the ship is up first, and his biggest fear is seeing his beloved goldfish die. Quite the interesting fellow. He himself thinks that it’s losing all his money that’s his biggest fear.

Next up, the samurai. According to himself, he has no fears, though Umibouzu shows him that he’s being haunted by the countless numbers of people whom he slaughtered.

At this point, people are really starting to take Umibouzu (who appeared in the form of a strange fish with a Shamisen and the voice of Norio Wakamoto) seriously, since the owner went into OTL-position, and the samurai fainted. Our lovely servant from Bake Neko, however, is up next, though she can’t really describe her biggest fears. She originally thinks that she fears not being able to get into a great relationship the most, but Umibouzu shows her that she fears being unable to give proper birth. The medicine seller manages to bring her back to her senses by convincing her that everything is an illusion, and nothing has changed in reality.

The bard has quite a strange fear. Manju. Apparently, they make him vomit. ^^;

The medicine seller knows quite well what his fears are: a world without a Katachi, Makoto and Kotowari. In other words, void. It’s quite logical as his biggest weapon wouldn’t work, and the beginning of the episode already hinted that his life is linked to his sword somehow.

Then the episode starts focusing at the real story of the arc when it’s the monk’s turn. His biggest fear is the priest. He may be his devoted master, but he’s been acting strange ever since they went on board of the ship. It also seems that the priest was the one who changed the course of the ship, and not Umibouzu, like I first thought.

The priest seems to be the centre of this mystery, and he involved everyone in his problems. 50 years ago, something strange happened on that very sea. Umibouzu then uses strange ropes of fish to pull up a huge round chamber from within the tank of the ship. Inside seems to be a human, who’s rumoured to have been in there for fifty years!

I’m sure as hell anticipating the next episode, as something tells me that something really disturbing happened fifty years ago.

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