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.

 

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The Morose Mononokean Episode 13

Review:

The episode is called ‘The End’ and while it certainly ended the crisis with Ashiya’s vision it didn’t really offer any other insight or resolution. That and they kind of just gathered every character together and used their emotions to solve the problem. Really? Anyway, the final episode ends much the way the show has gone all the way along. It’s as if we are just continuing to skim over the top of a much more interesting story but at the same time being given enough that we keep coming back. I haven’t heard any news of a season 2 at this stage so I guess we’ll just have to be satisfied with a ho-hum story of two human boys learning to find the balance between human and yokai.

The Morose Mononokean is available on Crunchyroll.

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 11

Review:

I feel this episode would have had far more impact if my internet connection hadn’t continuously dropped while trying to watch it. As a result, I saw the episode in 2 – 5 minute blocks with a lot of frustrated waiting and reloading in between.

The episode picks up from last episode and we finally see Ashiya face a consequence for being an overly kind nit-wit. The question becomes will this lead to anything resembling a real conflict to be resolved or will they just wrap it up nicely in the first three minutes of the next episode (if there were any hints after the credits, I didn’t see them this week due to lack of loading). I enjoyed this episode more than the last couple despite the interruptions but I still feel this anime hasn’t quite managed to nail consistency or engage me with the characters as well as I would have liked to be.

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.