The Morose Mononokean Series Review

Overview:

Ashiya Hanae picks up what he thinks is a bag on the side of the road, however it turns out to be a yokai who becomes attached to him (quite literally for awhile). Desperate to be free of it, Ashiya turns to an exorcist (who turns out to be a class mate). Now, Ashiya has to work to pay off his debt and in the meantime he is learning about the yokai who live in the world.

I reviewed this week to week so if you are after individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

It’s never fair to judge a show by comparing it to others. Mostly because even if it is not as good as another show, that doesn’t stop it from being a good show. Unfortunately, right from the beginning this show reminded me of a cross between Natsume Yuujinchou and Ghost Hunt and it didn’t really do either of those shows justice.

So, other than my disappointment that The Morose Mononokean didn’t follow along with my predetermined view of what it should be, what is there to say about it?

Ashiya and Abeno are both kind of interesting characters. Ashiya’s a little shouty at times and suffers from that affliction that hits so many protagonists of having to have everything fit within their narrow view of the world or fight against it (leading to awkward apologies when they realise that not everyone who isn’t following their moral compass is actually doing something wrong). Abeno on the other hand is a little too stoic and needs to try communicating occasionally to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. That said, the two together kind of balance each other out nicely and if the show had only had one or the other it could have been a train-wreck right from the get-go. Both of these characters are needed.

The problem is that both of these characters keep being set up to have an interesting past or some sort of secret and none of this is ever dealt with. We get a little tiny bit of Abeno’s history but we are still missing a lot of pieces and any foreshadowing that Ashiya has some sort of hidden power comes to nothing (though would have been actually kind of cool). Admittedly, if the story continues in another season then there is plenty of places to go but if that is it (other then a read that manga kind of finish) then the characters really didn’t go far in terms of development.

The yokai that are introduced are all kind of entertaining in a monster of the week kind of way, however as the show is obsessed with not actually villainising anyone or anything there is little to no tension in the encounters no matter how bad they try to make a situation look early on. After the first two or three false alarms you just kind of expect that there is in fact no danger and that it will all solve itself no problem. That said, Fuzzy is one of the most adorable characters I’ve met for sometime.

There’s also a raft of support cast (including class mates, Ashiya’s mother, the Legislator, etc) who are introduced but have so little screen time that their overall impact is pretty negligible even though some of these characters might have been really interesting to learn a bit more about.

I know I said this a number of times during episode reviews but it always felt like this show was keeping us at a distance from the actual story. It was as though they wanted to give us a taste of this world but then wouldn’t really let us get into it.

From a plot point of view it is very monster of the week. There’s the overall relationship between Ashiya and Abeno and Ashiya working for Abeno but otherwise they take on a job, run around a bit, argue a bit, and then solve the case (usually making a friend) and then they move. This is a fairly standard plot structure for these type of shows and it works well enough but every now and then an actual sense of danger or drama might have helped.

Visually it isn’t anything special but I found it kind of pretty and I liked the character designs. The underworld particularly was quite striking and I enjoyed the scenes that took place there.

All and all, this is a watchable bit of entertainment but it isn’t particularly good or bad. My recommendation is to watch it on a rainy afternoon when you just want to relax and it will succeed at amusing you. That’s about it though.

 

Advertisements

The Morose Mononokean Episode 12

Review:

For the first time this series has decided to actually take a problem seriously and drag it out. While it almost seems certain that everything will be fine by the end of next episode, it was nice to see the characters we’ve met over the season rallying to solve Ashiya’s problem. And Fuzzy clinging to Ashiya toward the end was just kind of heart breaking.

What this series hasn’t done is given us any further information about either Ashiya or Abeno and maybe there isn’t anymore to these characters than what meets the eye but it hasn’t felt like that for most of the series so it really feels like we’re going to end this series barely scratching the surface of the mysteries that might have been. Not really fair to criticise a show for what it isn’t, but in this case the show just isn’t quite enough as it is. it is pleasant and enjoyable and the characters have been fun but there’s always something missing from the mix.

On a side note, I finally managed to spell the title right first go and now the show is about to end.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 10

Review:

Once again the ‘problem’ set up in the previous episode turned out to be not much and while Ashiya and Abeno did succeed at exorcising a yokai (helped him move on from past regret), the reason they went to the farm was actually not addressed in the end. As much as I like the look and feel of this show, from the point of view of the plot it isn’t really going very far. I do like the addition of Zenko to the group as she provides a little bit of a buffer between the rounds of Ashiya and Abeno bickering but because she can’t really see the yokai she isn’t involved at critical moments. It makes her a nice supporting cast member and I hope she hangs around.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 9

Review:

Humans doubt exorcists. There’s a revelation for Ashiya. In what was probably the least interesting episode yet, Abeno and Ashiya are called to a house by a girl who thinks her room is possessed. Turns out she’s right, but her mother is not particularly thrilled at her spending her allowance on an exorcism. Anyway, little is learned or revealed through the episode but the end then sets up the next issue for next week. As you can tell, I didn’t much love this week’s episode.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 8

Review:

This show has done this twice now. Set up a conflict at the end of one episode only to resolve it within minutes of the next making it more or less a non-issue. Abeno’s foul mood about the jobs this episode aside, very little happened after the issue with the fox was finalised. Yes, we did get to see a young Abeno (so cute) playing with the fox in what was probably a totally unnecessary flashback and we got to see Ashiya taking the initiative on a job, but really this episode felt like we were marking time.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 7

Review:

This episode brings back the girl Ashiya met at the temple and introduces a fox yokai that at first seems more annoying than anything else. I really enjoyed watching this episode as all the way through it there was a growing sense of unease. Shame the episode doesn’t resolve but it does leave off at an excellent spot if they want to make us wait for next week. Also, it’s kind of fun watching Abeno get flustered not once but twice this episode. Ashiya also get’s a moment where he actually uses his powers of observation. Anyway, great episode, a little darker than some of the previous ones, and now I need episode 8.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6

Review:

I really hope they are eventually going to explain Ashiya. Weird power last week that got cut off and then this week a strange ability to find metal things. Not that it isn’t cool, but an explanation would be lovely. This is a nice and simple fetch quest of an episode. Find a ring and return it. Turns out the returning brings up some of Abeno’s baggage about humans not really understanding yokai (not that he’s really bothering to try and overcome that hurdle on his own). It’s a pleasant enough story and has a lot of charm. My favourite moment though is the tease that occurs right before the ending and now I really want to know what’s coming.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 5

Review:

Ashiya is either getting more annoying, or my tolerance for him is dropping as the episodes progress, but this episode I was finding him particularly irritating. Although, in retrospect, that’s probably because we got this awesome glimpse of a different kind of Ashiya at the beginning after Fuzzy got hurt and then Abeno showed up and he went right back to usual wimpering Ashiya. That said, I liked the episode. We finally learned a bit more about Abeno and got some hints about how he became the master (actually we probably have enough to put most of it together now). I’m glad Ashiya reunited with Fuzzy as it kind of felt like that needed to happen and I was surprised it hadn’t happened earlier. Also, the introduction of the Legislator has worked well and he looks like he could be an interesting character (or failing that an interesting plot device). Looking forward to the next episode.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 4

Review:

So this is probably my least favourite episode of this show so far. Mostly because when you give any character a set of rules you just know they are going to break every single one so the whole thing falls into the path of beyond predictable. It’s paint by numbers and while the trip to the underworld is pretty it hasn’t been particularly enlightening so mostly we’re just hanging around waiting for Ashiya to get into trouble, which he inevitably does. And Abeno is going to be so annoyed when he catches up with him. Hoping things pick up again next episode.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 3

Review:

By the end of the season, I am going to be able to spell the title without checking it twice. Anyway, I am still loving this anime. This week we see Ashiya attempting to help a laughing priest by crying and we get to watch Abeno wondering if Ashiya is actually able to succeed. There’s very little that is subtle about this anime. Abeno spends a lot of this episode talking with a yokai about Ashiya and various observations are made about both characters. Meanwhile, Ashiya helps the priests daughter leaving us all with a shiny, happy feeling by the end. All and all it is a nice solid episode with a self-contained story while advancing the relationship between the two main characters. We also get to learn a bit more about the room itself this week. Looking forward to the next episode.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.