Anime Review – Mononoke
Mononoke is NOT Princess Mononoke, before you begin to question why I’m talking about the classic Studio Ghibli film on Halloween week. Instead I’m talking about a TV series that came out far later (2007), an anime series which spanned 12 episodes and was about a medicine man who peddled his wares. Don’t worry, this series is damn spooky but is it spooky, or is it just another cough? At least we have a medicine man to help us through this one.
As far as I can tell, the story of Mononoke is seemingly about a class system and a medicine seller who seeks out Mononoke, or Yokai (demons/monsters to those not in tune to Japanese folklore) to destroy them. In the episodes I saw, which appeared to be two self-contained episodes with a beginning, a middle and an end, the medicine seller was helping to get rid of a Mononoke that was haunting a pregnant lady.
The lady called Shino took shelter in an inn from heavy rains. She pleaded, demanded that she was given a room so she could hide from killers and raise her baby. Although the inn are reluctant because they are already at maximum capacity, they begrudgingly let her stay in that room. It turns out the inn used to be a brothel that the innkeeper ran… And this is where the horror sets in. In order to keep the women working at the brothel, she got them to, you might have guessed it – Abort – any unborn children… And so, needless to say, the yokai that Shino is visited by is in fact a baby.
This isn’t a jump scare, or a gore, or anything like that. This is a psychological horror, with some unsettling themes and scenes.
The audio is great, the opening music is really interesting, with the right blend of fun and intrigue. As is typical of anime, it’s an incredibly unfitting song for the series that’s about to unfold in front of you (Weirdly, the last theme that I felt was truly fitting of it, was Bobobo-Bo Bo-Bobo‘s theme!)
Most importantly, the voice actors in this are great. They make you feel uneasy when they need to and there’s plenty of emotion in what they say.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes of this series so far but it’s worth a look at, especially if you’re looking for something that is a little visually unsettling. It’s not exactly the best, nor the worst in terms of its presentation and the animation is truly lacking for me (especially for a series that came out in 2007). What it does have though is an incredible sense of style. It’s very unique and therefore it made for a highly entertaining (albeit odd) viewing session. The animation style, to me, feels lax, but I’m unaware of the techniques they employed to make it… However, this is clearly an experimental piece.
So if animation is what you’re there for, you may or may not be slightly disappointed, depending what you’re looking for. If you’re there for a deep story, it’s… Certainly got a lot going on so that should keep you entertained, but it appears stories are going to be separated out throughout the 12 episodes. The voice acting is great and the overall theme is quite interesting. I’d recommend having a look at the very least! Have you seen Mononoke? What do you think about the heavily stylised art? Let us know what you thought or are thinking about it in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.