The Morose Mononokean Volume 1 Review
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 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: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Readers who have been missing and mourning the end of the XXXholic series, or simply on the lookout for a comedic exorcist tale will most likely rejoice at the sound of The Morose Mononokean. It starts off very similar to XXXholic, with a young male high school student trying to escape the clutches of the spirit/s that cling to him. He stumbles into a supernatural building, well in this case, a room where he encounters someone who frees him of his problem, then promptly charges him an insane fee which forces him to become an underling for that person.
Chapter one of the series is sure to invoke strong nostalgic feelings for XXXholic fans as the similarities in story line and character personalities may be hard to shake off. Ashiya is as innocent and gullible as Watanuki was, making silly mistakes and easily falling under Abeno’s command. He is revealed to be a rather lovable dunce, with cute expressions and a tendency to be softhearted. If you like moe male protagonists, Ashiya seems slated to be a great one.
Abeno, on the other hand is no Yuko. He isn’t as playful as she was, nor does he constantly take advantage of Ashiya. He is, though, just as enigmatic and mysterious and as we move on to the second chapter, we find out several things about him that are surprising and amusing. We also further learn how Ashiya is a complete goody-two-shoes and unable to resist helping others when he can. And as we learnt in the previous chapter but Ashiya clearly didn’t, no good deed goes unpunished. The story continues to be packed with comedy with one of the best moments being his classmates’ reaction at finally meeting their erstwhile absent classmate.
Chapter three gets a little dramatic as we realize that all is not what it seems and that though initially reluctant and lost, Ashiya may be better suited to his new job as an exorcist than anyone else would have thought, Ashiya himself included. This chapter is much more emotionally charged and intense and also a chapter that might turn some readers off especially those who dislike stories that have a very convenient and simple last minute fix to a problem that was being lauded as impossible the entire time. We do get some explanation as to why said solution was only a sudden last option, but it all feels a little forced, especially so early on in the book. In chapter four, Ashiya sets off on his first ever solo mission. After all, it’s just recovering a lost mask, what could possibly go wrong? Any reader will immediately know that things are going to go as wrong as possible, but the curiosity as to how exactly is sure to keep readers invested.
Now, before people dismiss this story as just another XXXholic rip off, there are major differences between the two that make The Morose Mononokean a worthwhile read. The Morose Mononokean is more about the demons that are being exorcised rather than the people who are suffering from them. We get to see them being treated as actual beings with emotions, rather than just some evil entities that need to be banished at once. Predictably though, both Abeno and Ashiya have some dark secrets, heavily hinted at and mentioned, but neither even close to being explained in the first four chapters. Ashiya may feel a little unoriginal, thanks to his bumbling innocence and flustered mannerisms, but it’s a safe and standard formula that will appease those who like their protagonists cute, clueless and kind-hearted. Abeno plays the somber stereotype, being in parts irritated by Ashiya’s fumbles and foils and in parts, irritating Ashiya with his own quirks. They play off each other well as most odd couple manga set ups do so even if they aren’t especially unique, they’re still entertaining.
The Morose Mononokean makes for a filling read with each chapter being a good 40+ pages long, filled with jokes and emotions. The supernatural elements and themes are done well to attract fans who like mystical stories and the characters themselves are either adorable or intriguing. Add to it, some very beautiful artistic imagery of the characters at the beginning of the chapters and the volumes, and the series seems destined to draw in fangirls.
P.S If you love what you see here, the good news is that Crunchyroll has all of the series so far available in their manga library, and even better the anime adaptation is slated for a July 2016 release.
The Morose Mononokean is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.