The Morose Mononokean Volume 3 Review Discussion
The Morose Mononokean:
Synopsis: Hanae Ashiya has been suffering from bad health ever since a fluffy demon decided to attach to him. At the end of his rope, he stumbles upon an ad for exorcists placed by Haruitsuki Abeno, the owner of a tea shop named the “Mononokean”. Though Abeno does turn out to the solution to his problem, he then demands that Ashiya pay him a fee of a million en (en being the official currency of the spirit world) for his services. Being a broke school student, Ashiya is forced to work for Abeno and in doing so,explore the curious world of demons and exorcisms.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
For those of you who’ve been following the reviews but haven’t caught up with the volumes, we’re still in the spirit world that Ashiya and Abeno had entered in the previous volume and we finally get to resolve the dangerous situation that Ashiya had found himself in. While Ashiya does succeed in getting himself out of it, with some help from Abeno, the entire matter felt more like a set up than an actual resolution. It also feels unsatisfying due to the fact that the very method by which Ashiya gets out of the mess feels under explored and lacked impact when limited to still images. I think this might be The Mononokean’s biggest issue so far. It’s constantly building up the tension and danger, only to have it resolved in a manner that struggles to match the drama it built up. It’s constantly teasing the reader with potential doom, gloom and dangerous powers, but up until now we still do not have any actual exhibition of it besides some vague depictions and hints.
Comedy wise, the volume remains strong with several cute and quip filled panels breaking up the tense or emotional parts of the story. If you’re like me and enjoy having moe like male characters with the classic odd couple set up, The Mononokean continues to deliver. It certainly doesn’t do anything exceptional but if you have grown fond of Ashiya’s naive enthusiasm and foibles, and Abeno’s straight laced grumpiness, it’s likely you will enjoy their interactions.
Just as we are done with one scary situation, we immediately start another as Ashiya and Abeno are summoned by a mysterious new character. A good part of the volume is spent discussing this character and the big buildup makes one wonder if it’s going to be someone truly intimidating or if this will turn into yet another bait-and-switch situation. There is a long, and i mean long build up to meeting this new character and as I don’t wish to spoil too much for potential readers, I will just state my personal opinion of this new character and I am interested in hearing your opinions about him as well. Personally, this character was a bit bland for me, and all of Abeno’s description of him made him sound rather familiar. I’ve read and watched plenty of shows where people in power are described as sleazy and immoral and in my experience, this character turned out to be exactly as I had expected him to be.
Ashiya is truly the star of the show, being the ultimate source for comedy and cuteness. His constant stumbling into dangerous and awkward situations and his goodhearted intentions combined with his adorable expressions are guaranteed to set aflutter the hearts of readers who like male moe characters. He’s also a promising character to be adapted into an anime as his expressions and reactions are sure to look adorable onscreen. No matter what situation he is put into, the story keeps emphasizing his awkward manners and his kind nature, and is constantly using them for humourous effects.
Though we are 3 volumes in, the Morose Mononokean is still flirting with just how permanent Ashiya’s stint as a Mononokean employee will be. By this point, most readers must have come to the conclusion that his position is more or less permanent so when plot lines about him possibly losing his job or even his life are introduced, it’s easy to assume that these are empty threats. It’s also far too early for Ashiya to come under any serious harm, with each volume only being 4 chapters, and some stories taking up two chapters or more. Maybe the Mononokean might surprise us by finally putting our characters in actual mortal peril in the next volume, but for now the series seems more than content to remain light, with almost every story ending on playful note. It does enjoy constantly teasing us with the hint of darkness on the horizon and I am curious as to how it will execute an extremely dark story line given its light-hearted nature so far. That said, I would also not be surprised if by this point, some readers are tired of the constant teasing that hasn’t really delivered so far.
Just when you’re of the opinion that this volume is mostly dedicated to Ashiya’s first trip to the spirit world and the implications of this visit, the volume manages to squeeze in one quick demon related story. By demon related story, I mean them attending to their demon clients and in this case, it’s a two parter as they help a demon find a lost ring, and then debate on the best way to return the ring to its human owner without raising suspicions.
Unsurprisingly, this is the story that ends the volume on an emotional and cheerful note, but of course, also on a dark teaser. A dark secret that seems to be all about and involving Abeno alone which is a break from the usual “Ashiya is dangerous/not what he seems”. This secret probably has to do with what has been teased all over this volume as we finally got more clues as to why the demons in the spirit world are so terrified of the owner of the Mononokean. This whole act of mixing light and dark tones makes me think of its similarity with XXXholic even more and for those familiar with both or one of these series, it won’t be hard to see the similarities either.
For all that’s teased about something triggering Ashiya on the back cover, this volume still hasn’t actually addressed or explained it properly which could frustrate those who are dying for more than just throwaway lines. For those who simply enjoy watching Ashiya adjust to his new job and new life, the series remains a delightful read with some stories being comforting for their familiar formula, and the constant hinting at dark future reveals and events fanning the flames of curiosity.
Having read three volumes, I am still extremely excited for the upcoming anime adaptation as I think Ashiya will make for an adorable protagonist, and seeing his reactions and expressions come to life will make for some delightful sights. The series has managed to diversify its content by constantly jumping between sweet and emotional stories and dark secrets but it does seem to do it in a manner and rate that could frustrate some readers. It remains at heart a cute comedy, and one that is more likely to appeal to fans of the classic XXXholic. It’s also recommendable to those who enjoy odd couple stories and like their story characters to mainly be dreamy young men. If you’ve been keeping up with the series, I would love to hear your thoughts on it so far and also a non spoiler answer to if we finally actually get some actual reveals about all the dark secrets lurking about.
The Morose Mononokean is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.