The Morose Mononokean – Preview
The Morose Mononokean:
Original Air Dates: July 3rd, 2016 – ???
Synopsis: Ashiya is excited to be starting high school, but there’s just one problem: A Mononoke, or Yokai has attached itself to him and seems to be sucking his life force away! As Ashiya spends each of his first seven days at school in the infirmary, he realizes something has to be done before this little monster kills him. Through coincidence Ashiya discovers the phone number of someone looking for exorcists to hire. Calling the number in hopes of finding help Ashiya ends up meeting one Abeno Haruitsuki, a man who helps Mononoke pass on to the next world.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: As introductory episodes go, Mononokean’s works pretty well. It sets up a problem that leads directly to Ashiya’s engagement with Abeno and the supernatural Yokai world. The episode progresses at an excellent pace, keeping things moving with new information and surprises. That said, the humor is a little uneven. Ashiya’s mother has a running gag concerning presenting flowers to people to express her emotions. It’s mildly amusing the first couple times, but continues thorough out the episode even after it loses its charm. At other times the humor provides a slight chuckle here or there, but it’s more subdued than other anime comedies. Instead Mononokean is a comedy that doesn’t hinge so much on its humor, but rather the emotional beats that cap things off, making the story feel poignant and human.
Linny: The story is cute, rather silly at times but also manages to be touching without feeling too hammy. When I checked out the manga last month, the summary immediately made me think of XXXholic when I first heard of it, and while the resemblances may be limited, the vibe feels very familiar. Like XXXholic, you are going to be dealing with regular exorcisms and spirits who each have a story of their own; often sad or melancholic. There’s a lot more to be said, but I’ll save it for the full series review depending on how the show adapts material from the manga. Oh, and the mother and flower expressions gag is a lot more exaggerated than it was in the manga so for anyone who didn’t find it that funny in the manga, it gets worse in the anime.
Tom: Ashiya is maybe a little one note as leads go, but likable all the same as he grows frustrated with his situation, eventually coming around once he realizes he’s always had the wrong end of the stick. Abeno is less endearing. He’s pretty standard supernatural character fare: prickly, unfriendly, but a good guy at heart. There isn’t much nuance here to set him apart from all the other characters covered under this lose archetype. I’m really hoping he gains a more distinct personality as we get to know the characters.
Linny: Visually both our male leads have been clearly designed to appeal to fans of moe and bishonen characters. Heck, even their personalities are staples of those genres. You get the weak but determined moe and the harsh but caring bishonen.
Tom: As a final note before we wrap up, I was actually impressed by Mononokean’s CGI used to portray the Yokai. It actually blends fairly well with the traditional animation and, thanks to the quirky designs of the creatures, doesn’t stand out at all.
Linny: Having read the manga beforehand, there’s very little I disapprove of from the anime adaptation. While the repeated mother x flower jokes wore out their welcome, everything else felt like it did a great job of portraying the world and story of The Morose Mononokean. While it may not have the most original characters or plot, it is a heartwarming supernatural comedy perfect for an unwinding watch.
Tom: The Morose Mononokean seems like it’s going to be a fun series, even if Abeno never moves beyond this rather bland and all too common characterization. Ashiya makes for interesting enough a straight-man and the Yokai/Mononoke are cute. I don’t have high hopes that this’ll ever become a season favorite of mine, but I’m fairly confident it’ll remain an enjoyable little comedy.
The Morose Mononokean is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.