The Morose Mononokean Volume 5 Review Discussion
The Morose Mononokean:
Reviewed by: Linny
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):
This volume starts with a most unusual client. Instead of the usual demon clientele, the Mononokean has human clients who needs their house exorcised. The first chapter sets up a storyline that illustrates the dedication that Ashiya and Abeno have not only to their jobs but to the demons they exorcise. It also shows why Abeno has been described as being more attached and concerned with the health and happiness of the demons rather than humans even though he is a human. While it wasn’t hard to see why Abeno is so jaded with human customers, the story seemed to really lay on the drama as the older lady who had contacted their service then proceeds to repeatedly mock and deride their service. It’s a little puzzling as to why she is called them in the first place when she repeatedly seems to deny the existence of demons and the need for their services. While she does claim to have been pressured into calling them by her mother-in-law, she also seems to display some manner of fear towards the said accursed room and the whole situation. She then proceeds to give Ashiya an earful about how this job will lead him down the wrong path and how he should quit it at once…all the while interrogating him about demons and his abilities. For someone who is meeting them for the first time, it felt a little weird to have her grilling him about it so intensely. But of course, I am sure many of us have met people in real life who just love to dish out warnings and advice whether you ask them for it or not so maybe she’s just one of them. I was also a little disappointed that we never get to see the demon Abeno supposedly exorcised from the house and I would have loved to find out more about how or why this possession happened.
Seeing as how the previous volume had ended on a shot of the young daughter of the client standing in front of the door and putting up the talismans, I was expecting to get some deep story about her and her connection with the demon. She just ends up being a bit of a joke character as she is shown to be a bit of a loony character, one who is apparently obsessed with demons and her dialogues just seem to be set up as the rantings and ravings of an ignorant teenager who treats demons like the latest fad to be into, so that felt disappointing to me..but I guess I will give the author points for completely subverting my expectations. Could she possibly be making a reappearance in the future given how obsessed and insistent she seems on meeting and mingling with the underworld?
So that chapter only reinforced why Abeno is bitter towards humans and that Ashiya is so golden-hearted that even when berated, he walks away with a friendly smile. Not necessarily new information, but more of an exercise in character exploration. It wasn’t the most cheer filled chapter but it could be a nice break for those who were starting to tire of all the chirpiness in the series.
The next three chapters are spent telling the tale of a demon who is unknowingly causing harm to other demons. While the story does try hard to make you empathize with the demon, it also lacked quite a bit of logic. For one, it never explained why the demon’s personal problems had the exact effect it did on other demons. After some lengthy musing, I came to the conclusion that their inability to move or be moved was similar to his personal issue of being unable to leave. Feel free to correct me if I missed something in the volume as my conclusion is complete speculation to discuss with anyone who might have wanted some sort of explanation and I would be happy to find the actual reason, if there is one. Next, the cause of a fire in the story is shown to be a rural looking man casually tossing his cigarette into a field…which had me immediately questioning the wisdom of tossing a cigarette into a field with flammable crops unless it was on purpose. You can dismiss my complaints if you so desire, they do seem insignificant when viewed on a larger scale..but as they won’t stop nagging me, I wanted to voice them to help warn or connect with any other readers who might feel or felt the same way.
If you are a jaded jerk like me, you might also have been questioning the logistics of this story a lot, something I hadn’t done even once before not necessarily because the previous stories all made perfect sense, but more because they managed to impress or distract me with comedy or sentimentality. The idea of the demon getting so attached to a clearly non living object could either come off as endearingly idiotic or simply idiotic. For me, it was more of the latter as I struggled to feel empathy for someone that had trouble telling the difference between living and non living objects as it made the loss of said object feel rather hollow. There is of course a clear depiction of just how traumatizing and tragic the experience is, and I’m sure that it will feel so for some readers but if you’re like me, you might feel like this story lacks the emotional punch of previous volumes.
And now before you start to question why I am still reading a series that I seem to be mostly complaining about, the answer is that I am a sucker for protagonists with personalities like Ashiya, and also because stories like the one in the last chapter of this volume keep sucking me right back in. We all know this story is always going to end on a happy or hopeful note, no matter how much danger seems to be looming on the horizon. Still, to watch the event play out in the last chapter was a gripping experience especially if you have gotten attached to the characters. Of course, I personally am not too worried about how bad this all might turn out thanks to how everything always gets fixed in this series but I still think this was one of the more shocking and tragic events in recent volumes. It felt like one that could have some serious implications, and regardless of how quickly it gets sorted out in the next chapter, it made for a very strong ending, one that is sure to leave an impact on readers. Who knows, maybe this may be the one time the author puts the readers through hell by integrating some heartbreaking events.
Volume 5 is the last officially compiled and released volume in the series so from next week, i will be covering loose chapters in groups of 4-5. We’ve almost caught up to the concurrent chapters and hopefully keeping up with the manga has you anticipating the upcoming anime adaptation. I have had an enjoyable time reading this series, and though I am disappointed by how light hearted things always seem to turn out, as long as one picks up this series knowing and expecting that it never has serious permanent repercussions (so far) , they should be able to enjoy this playful supernatural comedy for exactly what it is.
The Morose Mononokean is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.