The Morose Mononokean Series Review – A Sweet (and sometimes dark) Supernatural Tale That Will Grow On You


The Morose Mononokean Overview:

The Morose Mononokean starts when 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.

Click here for more anime reviews.

The Morose Mononokean 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 or match up to some of my favourite supernatural anime, what is there to say about it?

Plenty really if I was to be fair given The Morose Mononokean takes awhile to get going but actually builds up a pretty compelling supernatural world and the characters are a lot more complex than you’d initially give them credit for. Certainly there were times during my first episodic viewing when I got a bit frustrated with these characters and the anime’s tendency to have a cliff-hanger ending only to resolve the conflict within about a minute of the next episode, but basically I quite enjoyed it.

Ashiya and Abeno both work in the lead roles despite starting out being very basic tropes. 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 The Morose Mononokean really faces 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 in this first season. 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, season two helps a little in this regard continuing on the development of these characters and filling in some of the missing pieces, but seriously it just left me needing a season three.

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 and honestly probably deserves a place on my list of anime that contain a cute monster character.

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. Basically, everything works and it is pleasant enough but The Morose Mononokean isn’t trying to impress with its animation.

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. Those who are particularly fond of yokai anime will get a lot more out of it, but The Morose Mononokean just can’t hold up to other titles that do very similar things.

Images from: The Morose Mononokean. Dir. A Iwanaga. Pierrot Plus. 2016

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 13 With Irina and Karandi

The Morose Mononokean Post Title

Here we are at the end of the season and it is time for one last chat with Irina about The Morose Mononokean (at least this season and fingers crossed that we eventually get a third). We’re over on Irina’s site today so to check out our full discussion about The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 13 hop on over and be sure to leave us a comment.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8 Review With Irina and Karandi

The Morose Mononokean Post Title

Do you know what the perfect show to watch this season is when you are not in such a great head space? Definitely The Morose Mononokean. While My Roommate is a Cat would run it a close second, I could feel my shoulders releasing a great deal of tension while watching this week’s episode of The Morose Mononokean and it wasn’t just because I got to see Fuzzy eating Fairy Floss (I guess I should also go American and I think that should be Cotton Candy?).

Anyway, Irina and I are back covering episode 8 of The Morose Mononokean. How are you this week Irina?

Exhausted. Work has been kicking my behind laely but it’s nice to feel like you’ve really earned your weekend, you know?

And I definitely agree that Mononokean is one of those weightless relaxing show that helps you drift away with the pretty colours.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

While I honestly loved how relaxing it was watching the episode this week, compared to some of the episodes this season, episode 8 is a little bit underwhelming. It does the job and it definitely hits the sweet relaxing tone it is aiming for as Zenko, Abeno and Hanae accompany Keshi to the festival, some great screen caps to be found in that sequence, but realistically we don’t get into the real meat of the episode until later on when Hanae actually calls Abeno on hiding jobs from him.

For awhile I was tempted to call this a filler episode but we actually got a few clues regarding what’s happening in the bigger story AND some very nice character growth.

I have to say, the fillerish first half did have me reflecting on the summer festival trope in anime and I’ve decided I quite like it. I’m not sure why but these very predictable and similar episodes always make me smile. This one was no exception. It was just sweet to see that little doll get her simple wish. And kitsune masks are the best accessory.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Do I just point out that this is probably Hanae at his finest this week. Sometimes he gets a little silly and he regularly is the one who has the big reaction to unusual things or the emotional response while Abeno remains stoic. However, this week, while he certainly still has his emotional moments, we see a more mature side of Hanae as he doesn’t whinge at Abeno for keeping him out of the loop but rather calmly points out that he is an employee and he’ll help out with any job.

Definitely. The interplay between Hanae and Abeno this week was a big step forward in their relationship.

THe Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

The problem is that Hanae and to a lesser extent Abeno, are rather underdeveloped characters all things considered. So although we can easily infer that Hanae’s recent experiences with the executor, his banishment rendering him unable to help and Abeno’s sacrifices have all served to force him to grow up and mature. It’s also difficult to truly appreciate this growth as he was sort of hollow to begin with.

This said, I’m a sucker for friendship storylines, this spoke to me.

I definitely have to agree about them both being underdeveloped characters. That comes back to last week where we were discussing how the yokai wanting to be human plot kind of felt like a Natsume episode but this show really isn’t comparable. I think it is the lack of development with the characters that really makes this one a far less compelling watching experience when compared. Every character in Natsume just makes me fall in love with them, whereas with this one I’m really fairly indifferent to the majority of the characters.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Moving away from comparisons though, there are great moments to be found in this episode, however I didn’t really feel that the episode flowed particularly well. Much like last week, I felt the transition between sections was a bit abrupt. I do get the connection with Abeno collapsing after sending Keshi back being the catalyst for Hanae to really put together the fact that he’s being left out of jobs, but still it was quite jarring to jump straight from that to the watermelon splitting (and the really are hitting all the Summer tropes with school camp, festival, and watermelon splitting even if we didn’t get to the beach to do it).

I don’t know. The transition didn’t really bother me. There was a connective thread and the tone remained constant.

The mid episode story change seems to be over this week in any case. Both threads wrapped up rather nicely. I’m willing to bet we are going to have another underworld politics episode next week.

But what did you think of this week’s Karandi?

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8

Despite some of my minor issues with the episode, I do have to admit it is continuing to keep me intrigued about the political situation in the underworld as well as wanting to know what the Executive is actually up to. Hopefully we’ll get some resolution on that by the end of the season otherwise it will be very frustrating as we wonder if a season three will ever come out.

There is enough time to reach some type of conclusion with the Executor I think but Abeno’s greater backstory will probably stay a mystery for a while. With my predicting capacities, they’ll tell us all about it next episode. That would be pretty cool actually.

Catch you next week for episode 9, and of course, I’ll leave you all with a cute picture of Fuzzy.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 8 Fuzzy

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 6 With Irina and Karandi

The Morose Mononokean Post Title

Hi Irina, we’re back again for another week of the Morose Mononokean. I am so glad we decided to cover this one together because it has so far been a lot of fun.

Surprisingly, ths season has managed to recapture the easygoing if somewhat shallow charm of the first and add in some actual substance. I’m quite impressed.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 - Abeno and Ashiya sending yokai home.

I was starting to get a little jealous of Irina given episode 4, which was the last write up on my site, was a little bit ordinary and then episode 5, on Irina’s, was amazing. However, episode 6 kind of made me get over that because wow that was an intense episode considering we spent most of it playing hide and seek.

I preferred it to last week, myself.

There was a really nice balance this week of humorous moments to the more serious. It was like this anime decided to showcase he best it could be all in one episode.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Abeno and Ashiya

This week, Abeno’s character was really interesting. There were moments where his concern for Hanae were really clear. I loved at the start how he tried to convince Hanae to have some time off and when that didn’t really work he decided to train him to use his detection abilities. I love that this is pushing the plot as well as continuing to develop the relationship between these two characters, plus it is kind of cool that Hanae can now detect yokai and not just find metal things (though I wonder if the two skills are connected).

There was a line towards the end of the episode where Abeno mentions that if ever Hanae is in trouble he should not hesitate to use his power and how he would need to protect himself once they were no longer together. This line stuck with me. Foreshadowing?

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Abeno reminds Ashiya to work on his detection skills.

Yeah, that worried me as well. Does Abeno know something we don’t? Is there some fallout from last week they are keeping us in the dark about?

I did worry a bit about this episode when they went on the photography trip and Yahiko came along to play hide and seek. I felt that this was a sure sign that we were about to diffuse the tension that had been building up after last week but then The Morose Mononokean just went for it. That scene in the inn between Hanae and Yahiko sent shivers down my spine and it kind of makes that situation in the underworld in season one make sense now. I particularly liked that even the next day, Yahiko seems to finally see Hanae as someone to take seriously and not just mock anymore.

This was a fantastic scene. It completely reframed both characters. Yahiko is occasionally a bit annoying but he is a very powerful Yokai that seems to have had a bit of a difficult past. The scene brought his hurt and vulnerability to the forefront, making his usual over excited mischievous nature much more endearing. It was also a great animation of fear. I really loved Yahiko’s stunned and hesitant mouvements. It really brought the point home.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Ashiya and Yahiko

On the flipside it also somehow manage to make Hanae believably menacing. I would not have thought that was possible.

Totally agree. Hanae’s growth as a character this episode was brilliant as well.  The obvious learning to use his detection power was cool, but so was his understanding of Abeno’s position and starting to realise that he wasn’t the only one affected by the events of last week. I’m hoping we keep heading in this direction and learning more about this power the boys have and maybe even why they have it at some point. I did feel really bad for Hanae when Fuzzy was hiding in the corner and seemed to be scared of him but it was kind of scary given Hanae wasn’t really in control of what he was doing for a moment.

Hanae is a bit of a ditz and as the point of view character, we never really got to properly explore what all the responsibilities and abilities Abeno has are costing him. He’s obviously isolated from both human and yokai in a way Hanae never was but this time, as Hanae’s own powers and experiences with the underground start to grow, he’s finally realizing that his friend may not have had it easy all this time.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Ashiya asking Yahiko not to scare him.

As much as I loved the ongoing motherly plot thread of Abeno taking care of Hanae, I was pretty touched by Hanae thinking of Abeno for once.

Of course, I’m now paranoid every single time I see a crow in this anime that it is the executive spying on them. The fact that it is most likely true doesn’t help. I’m sure there are some perfectly innocent crows somewhere but the ones that look pointedly at Abeno and Hanae probably are there to watch them.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Yahiko transforms into a giant crow.

I do find it weird that Hanae still has human friends given how often he blows them off. Even in this episode he agrees to go on the trip with them and then literally spends no time with them. He doesn’t sit with them on the bus, he runs straight past them when they are out taking photos. You have to wonder why they keep making an effort. Certainly some of the time it is his job interfering but on this trip he didn’t have that excuse so you have to wonder why they don’t call him on it.

I honestly had a flashback to Sanrio Boys and how horrible Kota was to his friends.

Anyways in my head, Hanae walks to and from school with them every day and they joke around and have a great time. Also they might be thinking he has a little thing going on with Abeno and are leaving them their space because they’re good friends and hopeless romantics.

The Morose Mononokean Epsidoe 6 Fuzzy

However, the best thing about this episode – more Fuzzy.

Did you notice him randomly blushing to the beginning of the episode?

This season is starting to show a very intriguing overarching plot thread. More than once they’ve had seemingly fluffy filler episodes get interrupted by rather serious consequences. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.