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Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 13, 2007 to Sep 28, 2007
Duration: 22 min. per episode
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 8.571 (scored by 17587 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsdrama horror mystery supernatural
Dec 10, 2013
Before we embark on Mononoke's journey one may first need to understand the very concept of Mononoke. One of the basic types of Ayakashi (tl. "unnatural spirit") is formed from the soul of a living or non-living material. Oftentimes, regret causes this, and when an Ayakashi is merged with strong human emotions such as vengeance, sadness, or fear, it develops into a Mononoke (tl. "hostile spirit"). This is the foundation for conflicts in each story and what typically stems from each Ayakashi's backstory.
The story itself follows a Kusuriuri (tl. "medicine seller") who travels from one place to another exorcising each Mononoke he comes across. The anime presents five standalone arcs. Each one consists of 2 or 3 episodes, which may sound as if there is not enough time allocated to serve each story properly. Fortunately, this uncertainty is untrue. Each arc is thoroughly interesting, bizarre, and complex; viewers will be astonished by the profound impact each short story relays.
Every arc meticulously refines its pace in order to provide characters enough time to adapt to their roles. Once the primary conflict is staged and the Mononoke is revealed, Kusuriuri puts himself to the task of unraveling its Katachi, Makoto, and Kotowari (tl. "Form", "Truth", and "Regret") — the three requirements for him to release his "Sword of Exorcism". What makes Mononoke a highly commendable work is its highly structured format, as well as its exploration of every character's motives. Kusuriuri simply can't draw his sword and exorcise the Mononoke until a predetermined set of conditions is followed. Moreover, whilst watching Kusuriuri reveal a Mononoke's Form, Truth, and Regret, we come across a saddening tale of how it came into existence. Mononoke does an excellent job in attracting viewers with its harrowing tales, and its precisely carved narrative makes it an unforgettable experience.
Aesthetically, Mononoke is one of the most finely detailed pieces in existence. From vibrant and colorful backgrounds to highly detailed characters and costume designs, Mononoke has crossed every barrier in this field in order to achieve excellence. The pasty color palette may seem an odd choice for a horror anime, but make no haste; it merges perfectly with the setting and culture of this work. The backgrounds are perforated with different textures all of which that complement each standalone narrative.
Generally, Mononoke can exist in any form and in this anime they are designed explicitly (and sometimes intentionally vaguely) in order to vary with respect to their arcs. Toei Animation has done a wonderful job in designing every character intelligently and distinctively in correspondence to their personality. Kusuriuri's design in particular manages to stand out on every frame. Moreover, his climactic transformation remains one of the most excellent aesthetic achievements in anime: it produces such a profound form and with fantastically surreal animation.
Matching the astounding art, what makes the characters so memorable is how they are portrayed. Not only are they emotionally distraught and relatable, groups of them often form a well-represented allegory. Mononoke is also an eclectic social commentary, ranging from remarks on corruption within governmental policies to more localized analyses of vengeance and despair.
One role which continues to outshine all others is the recurring character Kusuriuri. Unnamed, unrevealed, and from beginning to end an unknown, this enigmatic figure is the lone consistent tool from story to story. He breathes ambiguity, and his role always wedges into the plot should it ever begin to stale. He also does not share any form of development, and yet his indecipherable status always mystifies viewers in order to keep Mononoke's harrowing atmosphere at its greatest.
The Opening and Ending themes may seem peculiar, but they are certainly stylish, and as unhinged periodic pieces, they imperceptibly suit the series' direction. However, what marks Mononoke is not the music but the sound effects. Each opportuned implementation pervades the room with mystery and sheer awe. Mononoke also takes inspiration from kabuki plays, which is an interesting spin as much of its presentation follows panelwork very typical of this theatre current.
Perhaps above all, Mononoke is an experiment on convention. Its presentation offers a instantaneous, visceral reaction, and its story takes great efforts to rely on its atmosphere to tell the tale. However, it allow follows a highly structured narrative, which roots its foundation in order to prevent stories from becoming too insane. As a waltz through the Ayakashi mythos, Mononoke is one series never to forget.
This review is the final product of a team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The writers were:
Editing was done by:
nil- read more
May 2, 2008
Story: This anime is broken into five different stories lasting about 2 to 3 episodes each. Every one of these stories features a different supernatural spirit; many of them rooted from Japanese folklore. It is up to the Medicine Seller to uncover the Katachi (shape/form), Makoto (truth), and Kotowari (reason) of the spirit. Now, this sounds like your average, spirit-of-the-week sort of deal, doesn't it? But it isn’t. That's one aspect that makes this series so great. All the stories are unique and do not feel like a rehash of the same story as the previous. Even by the final arc, I was still shocked and entralled by its revelations. So yes, there are unexpected twists in every arc. Each tale also holds very thoughtful themes. You would expect a series about supernatural ghosts to be about the, well, dead spirits, but that's also not the case. Most of the stories are quite deep and to some degree disturbing. In fact, Mononoke is very thematically based on human nature, since it's the humans and their actions that transform the spirits into these vengeful mononoke.
Art: I’ll say it now. The art style may put off some people, especially based on first impressions. I thought the art was absolutely gorgeous, fitting, and unique. Mononoke uses an art style that resembles the Japanese "ukiyo-e", filled with vibrant and colorful backgrounds, textures and designs. Because of this two-dimensional, almost paper cut-out appearance, the anime uses a lot of camera movements and symbolism. This is why a few of the stories may need multiple viewings to get the full meaning of everything. In this way, I feel Mononoke uses its art to its full potential to present the story. I also loved how the style in each arc deviates just a bit so that each story distinguishes itself from the others.
Sound: Sound plays a very important role in this series. Because the art style somewhat limits what it can show on screen, sounds are used to reinforce that. It sets up the tense atmosphere, adding suspense and leaving you anticipating for more. The voice acting is very well done, especially hearing those screams of terror and shock. Other than that, I didn't really like the opening and ending songs. I actually liked the Ayakashi OP and ED better.
Character: There is only one reoccurring character in all the stories and that is the ever-so-awesome Medicine Seller! Yes, he is nameless and simply known as “Kururi-uri-san/sama/insert other honorific” or medicine seller. Although not much is known about him, I think it's very fitting since it adds to his mysterious nature. He does, though very subtly, develop. In all honesty though, I found it incredibly enjoyable watching him make deadpan comments while the other characters are freaking out over the weird happenings/hauntings. Lastly, the story-only-characters get a good deal of development despite each story being 2 to 3 episodes in length.
Enjoyment/Final notes: I finished the series in 2 days, meaning I watched about 6 episodes per day. So yeah… I enjoyed it a lot. And as mentioned earlier, some arcs may take a second or even third viewing to get everything. I know I will watch it again. It's such an excellent anime and was so worth the watch.
9.6/10 easily rounded to a 10/10 for my list. read more
May 15, 2014
To expand on that last point, Mononoke is not what you would you call a terrifying show to watch. It would be more accurate to describe it as “startling.” It doesn’t try to disturb you with its overly-bombastic imagery, it instead wants you to seek out the subtle artistic prowess that it has to show before it then starts to suck you in to the horror by surprise. The execution of all of it feels very right and nicely paced out so that they feel less tedious and uneventful to go through. Many horror anime, and especially horror movies today, think that if it throws in any kind of ominous or thunderous music, blood splattering gore, or your every day horror cliche left and right that they can call their show a true horror show. In reality, they make it the opposite of their intention because you’re already used to it after the twentieth time it has happened half way through.
Mononoke proves that you don’t have to use any of those aspects in a horror to define yourself as one. The one thing that almost everyone can agree with is that the true source of horror is the “unknown.” The fact that you can’t see something, yet you feel a presence within your surroundings can be one of the most truly terrifying things to experience in real life or in film. Things of this nature was put into full effect when H.P. Lovecraft first based his stories around this concept. You can see, quite clearly, that Mononoke does the same inflections of some of the stories Lovecraft put into his short stories, and does them to brilliant effect. The only obvious difference is that Mononoke actually shows the supernatural entities whereas Lovecraft never did.
How the show is set up is by the obvious inclination that this is a separate story based off of the character, “Medicine Man,” from one of the short stories from Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales. Before I discuss how the show structures its plot in each of the arcs, the one important notion to mention that really makes Mononoke a truly unique experience is how much creative detail it gives to the setting of historical Japan. Along with House of Five Leaves, this is definitely one of the closest that anime has gotten, in recent memory, that truly captures the pure essence and atmosphere of what Japan was like during its later modern period. Obviously, without all of the supernatural elements to it, the artwork that is put on display feels like an ancient painting done by past painters from Japan that really strengthens the atmosphere and its impact on the creativity put into the horror. Not only the artwork, but also the little tidbits they put into the show that include various Japanese folklore that they tell us at the end are very inspiring and fascinating to experience.
Onto the plot arcs themselves, they are, unfortunately, not the very highest point in terms of interesting storytelling. With about five different stories put into one show, only two of them stick in my mind as completely memorable or thought-provoking. The one that can be considered great is the first one because of how it introduces us to Mononoke’s world and its concepts of the Mononoke, and is definitely a great introduction into the show. The second arc consists of a very gripping story about each individual’s goals of getting out of the mess that they have been brought to and each of them have this really detailed back story makes them not just this throwaway character that our main protagonist steals the show from. Unfortunately, the rest suffer through, what I would call, overused tropes from the previous two episodes. Of the three last arcs, two of them both involve a group of people that Kusuriuri, our main protagonist, tries to investigate concerning the disturbance of Mononoke. It is almost as if the writer could not think of a new kind of formula he could put into his stories so he decides to reuse similar tropes to his previous stories and put in a completely different spin on that original idea. It doesn’t matter if the plot is completely different from the previous one, it still follows the same formula and it feels repetitive and almost predictable.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are “terrible” to go by, not at all; it just feels mediocre compared to the previous ones. With that said, what really makes the plot worthwhile to experience, for better or for worse, is Kusuriuri, or the “Medicine Man” as he’s typically called. Similar to how great Ginko is in Mushishi, Kusuriuri has this aura around him that makes him very attention grabbing. The only difference is that you don’t really know much about Kusuriuri’s personal life, but only what he does in his job. His smart, fast-moving mind makes him a competent protagonist to root for only by how calculated he lays out his plans in getting the Mononoke and helping the people that need his help the most. It is one of the rare instances where the lack of personal development of one character doesn’t hold back the quality of the character and just from how much he views the world from his own eyes and gives us his take on the mysteries involved in the plot. The unknown archetype adds to his depth and characterization so much more than almost any of the characters in Mononoke, who also have well-developed characterization.
Whether you want to call the animation, provided by the most lauded Toei Animation, “experimental” or “classic art,” it nevertheless feels very dynamic. Toei has always wanted to stick to original roots when concentrating on their animation skills in most of their productions and this is by far one of their best. The fluid motions of how the characters move, react, and illuminate feel very human-like and provide a significant degree of hard-work put into each frame of animation. What is even more fascinating is how the animators put a lot of creativity into the actual Mononoke, which is evidently influenced by Japanese folklore. Even though you don’t see them for more than, say, five seconds, those five seconds will be burnt into your memory for years to come.
Mononoke is a different breed of horror that many anime have not attempted to replicate even in the past. There hasn’t really been a horror film or show that never makes you scream out in terror, yet in your mind, you feel almost as if you had gone through a night terror that you don’t remember screaming, in sheer anguish and fear. While the show never really compiles to a significant detail of groundbreaking story, it surely is a sight to behold in grasping what can be done with an absolutely gorgeous setting with beautiful sets of animation to go with it. Let it be said; when it comes to creating great horror, there should never be boundaries that restricts what it wants to show in terms of true fear. Otherwise, it would not be horror, one way or the other.
Nov 2, 2007
The artistic styling of Mononoke is truly one of a kind, the colours are amazing and with HD encodes it truly shines. Each new environment is unique, colourful, and captivating. The colours and use of quick camera movements add to the suspense. The animations themselves are intentionally very stiff at times but as the action speeds up they become very fluid and top notch. The backgrounds are rarely stationary, but appear as though you are observing a painting at the same time. Often times the animations of common things such as snow or water are displayed in a very unique way that makes you simply want to get lost in it.
The sounds of Mononoke are fantastic. There is often times complete silence, but that only adds to the suspense. The OP and ED are very nice, nothing exceptional, but nice. The use of sounds, such as screams, thumps and other such frightening sounds are extremely realistic. I hate to admit it but I was genuinely frightened at certain points.
Apart from the Medicine Seller, each arc sees the introduction of new characters. Each character usually represents a different Japanese stereotype. Samurai, priests, monks, government types, children, and many others. Kusuriuri's alternate self, I won't give anything away, is almost worth watching the story for on its own. The Medicine Seller is a very sarcastic person and often times at a very serious moment he'll crack a joke that is totally absurd and you can't help but laugh.
At only twelve episodes Mononoke is well worth the time and although it is very, very Japanese in respects to content, it doesn't take away from the enjoyment in the least. As I mentioned before, Mononoke is excellent at generating fear out of the simplest of situations with very little audio. The characters are all very genuine and are often times in tears and losing their minds in a very believable manner.
I've wasted enough of your time, now go watch this show. You definitely won't regret it. read more
Jun 23, 2008
Ok, so it’s not like Die Hard at all then. Well, actually...
They both involve antagonists, usually out to terrorize or for revenge, who force the hero to hole themselves up in an interior location with troublesome civilians, while using their wits and skills to battle to an explosive and emotional resolution. See?
Here's where Mononoke carves itself an identity to make itself stand out from John McClane’s frolics with Euro-trash in cramped quarters: (we're all ignoring the 4th instalment, right?)
Mononoke is a visual splatter of psychedelic imagery that's like the creation of a prodigious savant child born from Stanley Kubrick, or Darren Aronofsky, take your pick. The colours just jump out at you no matter where the scene is or what's occurring, they're alive and part of the narrative.
A narrative that’s kept lively through snappy editing. Scene and shot transitions flow, snake, and leap all over the place, using every cinematic method available. There's even flip-book mimickery; character reactions told through pages turning one after another furiously, for no reason other than to jar the viewer and emphasise the stark dialogue being delivered.
Our hero, the medicine seller with ears from Middle-earth, surely has stark delivery. Only willing to speak when he has a reason to, if only more anime characters were like this. There's no filler to be seen in this show, whether it's absent from the dialogue or story.
But for a show so dependant on scaring the viewer witless through bizarre imagery, narrative coherency isn’t so important, mood is. The use of colour is actually a really smart way to affect our mood, because scenes that are so bright and vivid actually work in a way that you wouldn’t expect.
"Why am I getting freaked out by this empty room, even though it’s decorated so colourfully? Oh wait, because Yasaharu Takanashi's score is making creepy noises and I thought I just saw an Oompa Loompa in that corner for a moment but it must have been my imagination..."
The set-up to each story arc is eerie, the climax visceral, and the resolution always emotional. Mononoke is a brilliantly written, edited, and directed Edo-period-and-beyond horror that is inspiring in its design and delivery.
12 episodes. One medicine seller. The odds are against Kusuriuri. That’s just the way he likes it. read more
Oct 23, 2007
The team at Toei Animation accomplished something quite unique - they brought a painting to life. The stationary, ever-present texture of marbled paper, reinforces the illusion of a canvas across which the characters move, in all their watercolour glory, somewhat reminiscent of Ukiyo-e prints. The art is highly stylised with its unique character design and rich, breathtaking backgrounds. This visual feast should be savoured and experienced again - it's hard to soak in every detail, particularly if you have to read the subtitles at the same time.
Perhaps having a peculiar taste for darker stories, where the horror is implied rather than shown, here paired together with exceptional style of the animation enabled me to tremendously enjoy this series. And, hence the high scores I gave. read more
Sep 28, 2013
The first thing that'll stand out when you look at Mononoke is the art. I'm not going to mince words: Mononoke is the best-looking animated show I have ever seen. The art is styled after traditional Japanese art, which means it's brightly colored, detailed, and everything feels kind of flat. I can't say enough about how amazingly gorgeous the art and color is in this series. It's used to maximum effect too, because the series is filled with all kinds of surreal visuals to let the art really stretch out.
Conceptually, Mononoke could be thought of as a really sinister version of Mushishi: The Medicine Seller shows up at a place and deals with some sort of haunting by a spirit, a Mononoke. Whereas Mushishi trades in a sense of tranquility though, Mononoke is effectively a horror mystery series. In order to exorcise a Mononoke, the Medicine Seller needs to figure out the spirit's Form (what it is), Truth (why it's here), and Regret (what it wants). Of course these are always tied into the secrets of the people the Mononoke is haunting, so each episode is an attempt to figure out what bad thing the characters did that caused the Mononoke to show up in the first place. Sounds formulaic, but each arc (which consist of 2-3 episodes) puts a new spin on the search for truth, and the show never repeats itself.
The only persistent character in Mononoke is the mysterious Medicine Seller. A strange fellow who looks like a Final Fantasy character in the middle of feudal Japan, he's... uh... enigmatic. He's also kind of an asshole. Unlike Ginko in Mushishi, The Medicine Seller isn't really made out to be a truly sympathetic or relatable character. He's mysterious and sinister, and it frequently seems like he cares more about vanquishing the Mononoke than the safety of anyone involved. Not to mention everything about him is left up to interpretation, there's no expanding on his character or history at all, although his personality does get some subtle development (such as in the Incense arc when he reveals a bit of a sense of humor). This isn't really a criticism though, he just plays a different role in the story than you might expect.
All of the other characters only show up for an arc, but they tend to be well-developed. After all, the stories pretty much all concern the character's histories and actions, so it's natural they'd be pretty well developed. They also tend to be the more relatable characters for the audience. They're the ones who are confused and freaked out by all the scary stuff going down, while the Medicine Seller remains constantly cool and mysterious.
The music is pretty nice, although there's not that much in the show itself. The opening is a nice piece that's less ominous than you might expect, and the ending is a fairly typical ending ballad sort of thing. What really does stand out though is that the sound itself is absolutely fantastic. Visually, Mononoke isn't actually that creepy. Oh sure it has it's moments, but an enormous amount of the tension comes from the sound design. When the creepy ambient noises pipe up you know something creepy's gonna happen. Or maybe not? When's it gonna happen? Tension!
Mononoke is an absolutely outstanding series, and definitely a new favorite of mine. The stories are great and the art is dazzling. It's not for everyone, some might be put off by the slow pace, but it really is a great show. read more
Feb 7, 2012
The strength of this show is the stories so I'll start with that. As much as I like an over-arching storyline all five of the stories in this show were memorable and strong stories on their own part. Each story is given enough to flesh out character motives and back story while also giving us quite a great deal of action when in reality they are only ever move into a few rooms. For a Japanese-style ghost story collection it requires not a lot of knowledge of Japanese culture, which makes it more accessible. (Just maybe wiki Genji Monogatari before watching the Nue episodes.) All the stories are well-paced and have satisfying conclusions. The only one I can think of which perhaps I did not enjoy as much as the rest would have to be the Sea Monster one. But even then I was fascinated by the concept of the hollow boats and the fact that one of the supposedly one-shot characters actually questioned the Medicine Seller's motives. This is probably just me being hard on it because I loved the rest so much (particularly the first and the last one.) (9)
The sound design of this show is very well done. In short, it replaces any type of body horror they could show, and somehow that is more creepy than actually showing it. For example, in episode two at an especially creepy moment, not to get too far into spoilers, they show cracked daruma dolls and strips of cloth. That image itself is not scary, symbolic, but no enough to get goosebumps over. However, with the sounds that go on during that sequence you actually feel violated in a way because even if it is just symbolic representation on screen the noise is enough to make you not want to look. (9)
It's a shame though, if you close your eyes. The art style for this show is very unique and the sheer amount of detail they put into their backgrounds is lovely. This show is probably one of the most screencap-able ones as it is fashioned to look like a painting in every frame. Also, symbolic representation is something you don't see very much in anime nowadays. My only complaint is that sometimes the characters look a little, shall we say .. off? Sometimes facial features aren't consistent and there are these odd rare cases where the characters move a little unnaturally especially in the mouth without any reason in the story to do so. It can be a little jarring, but it doesn't happen often. But, when this anime does movement well, they do it very well. I remember being really taken with is one shot of the Medicine Seller's feet while he's running through a train car on geta. (8)
As mentioned before, the real strength of this show lies in it's strong writing and atmosphere. When you are not being simultaneously dazzled and confused by the imagery, the sound is genuinely creepy (and well timed with the animation, I might add) but there is also our main character who is, in his own respects, unsettling as well, right down to the way he delivers each line. He has this genuinely odd habit of making long unnatural pauses in the middle of each sentence. His features are quite demonic even compared with the most unattractive members of the cast and his clothes aren't like what the rest of the cast wears. (Given, he does make a comment about this in one of the episodes but that was mainly to explain why he was dressed like that in that time period.) The only problem in the character department is that, given the format of the show, it can only develop a character other than the protagonist for a certain period of time. But they do do a good job with the time they have with these characters as finding out what their motivations are is essential to each of the plots. But, because the show needs to keep the protagonist enigmatic, they cannot have just one big episode where they explain his back story like so many other animes feel they need to do. While we don't have to sit through a long back story session, I do feel a little disappointed that we don't learn more about the Medicine Seller because he is, in fact, that mysterious. (7)
My enjoyment (10)
Objective score overall (8.5/10)
I'd recommend this show to, well, anyone actually. Even those who are not considered 'anime fans'. Mononoke is Japanese horror storytelling at it's finest. With impressive art and sound direction and the strength of the writing to tell very Japanese tales without having to have a PhD in Asian studies. Whether it's for unique eye-candy or for the simple pursuit of a summer ghost story, it's a good watch. read more
Jan 20, 2009
Let's start from the beginning, the story. Being composed of five arcs, the anime doesn't really connect any of them, the main character appart, which is quite unique. The style changes from arc to arc, some of them are more disturbing, others are more laughable. The last one, however, has kind of an "end". And this is what made me give not a 10, but a 9 to the story.
If everything was so perfect and unconnected, why put an "end" to it? Let we tell ourselvesl the story continues forever! >_<
Now the art... Well, this anime's art is what I can really call Art! It isn't common, not at all, so if you like the traditional anime art, you won't like this. If you have a taste for something more artistic and unique, you'll probably love it as much as I did.
For the sound. It's perectly synched and everything. The sound AND the very lack of sound put you really in the mood of the anime. The voice acting is great, featuring some well-known guys, but what caught my attention was the fact that every voice in the anime fits it's character. Every single one. The voice of the main character is EPIC, it makes him too smexy. I'm saying this and I'm a guy, this character was really something.
Well, for the characters, I already said much about Mr. Medicine Seller, the mc of the show. He is misterious, sexy, has a sexy voice, and is very sarcastic. The other characters are perfect for their purpose: make the viewer feel sick of humanity. Almost every human in the series is particularly disgusting, what leads the viewer to feel pity for the Mononoke's fate, generally.
Enjoyment? I watched the whole series in a row, in one night, and wasn't bored for a second. I even wanted more, in fact, I need more right now, so I'll end this review and search for some similar stuff.
PrinceArthas read more
Oct 16, 2009
The art is, by far, the most impressive part of this series. An explosion of colour that reminds us of the artistical epitome of ancient Japan, intelligent use of mixed media and a careful design for each theme make of Mononoke a treat for our eyes. Each detail is worth of admiration, like a painting in motion. The animation is simply superb, constantly adapting to the new styles and themes that are used for each story.
The characters end up being a part of their background, in an almost absolute bidemensional existance. However, they are still highly detailed, especially considering all the intricate patterns of clothing and body styling that decorate their personality.
In continuation, the characters may be well designed in visual terms, but what makes this all unique is the way they were made emotionally. Each character has a distinct existance, even though some of them appear in later occasions. The characters of each art are truly dependable on the story they belong to, but would still make sense as indivituals outside of it. However, the astounding element from this crowd is the main and recurring character, Kusuriuri. Unnamed, unrevealed and, from the beggining to the end, an unknown creature. This mysterious man is the tool that makes the anime go further, within the same stories and from story to story. He does not have any kind of characterization however he appears to the viewer as the most palpable of characters. For some reason, he steps from an (eventual) imaginary or mistic being to someone that exists.
Kusuriuri, the mysterious medicine seller, moves from arc to arc solving strange occurances that assault the other characters. The only thing common between all of this is that every problem is provoked by a monster, a phantom or a spirit, something created to specifically haunt that group of people. As he discovers more about the occurances, the events behind the appearance of the haunting unveil themselves. And the result is, most of the times, something of extreme beauty. The narration is very basic in the sense that characters reveal their actions and the chronology of the story, but each story is treated with so much care that even the most simple event is turned into poetry.
The Opening theme and the Ending theme are less than memorable. However what marks Mononoke is not the music, but the sound. The use of the correct effects at the right moments give an effect of mistery and fear. In a sense, it may be inspired in kabuki plays*. It is original in this sense but, otherwise, rather average.
A series of amazing tales that touch every theme of the Japanese folklore, leaded by one of the greatest characters ever created and crowned by a truly original art. A masterpiece in artistic terms. Watching Mononoke is like reading a poem from the Heian time: small, sometimes even simple, but so rich in detail that we can't help to "let the dew wet our sleeves"
Jun 13, 2009
This series is a spin-off from the thrid arc of Ayakashi~Classic Japanese Horror, Bakeneko.
It is made up of 5 main stories, each spanning 2-3 episodes. All of which deals with the concept of mononoke, a spirit that combines with strong negative human emotions, becoming a malevolent being that creates trouble. The tone of the story is pretty serious, and usually manage to create the sense of tension desired. Most of the stories are very interesting, though sometimes confusing. But if you can take sometime to work out the flow of the story, it actually makes alot of sense.
The sound effects in this series are probably worth more than the actual music, because in most scenes it's the silence that does most of the work. An appropriate sound effect simply enhances the whole errie atmosphere. In terms of OP and ED songs, I can't say I liked it, but it somehow fits to the weird tune of the whole show.
Do not expect nice looking characters. Because most of the characters inside are, by general anime standards, ugly. But one main purpose of the stories is bringing out the ugliness in human nature, so the appearance of the characters actually serve to enhance the entire visual experience and well, it worked for me. The main character is certainly good-looking, but rather in the odd way. And the main attraction from this protagonist actually lies in his demeour, which is certainly unique whichever way you look at it.
Another main attraction factor of this show. The bold and imaginative approach towards the animation takes a big step away from the usual Toei animation style. In fact, it's pretty much different from almost all of the styles out there. The only similar one i can think of is gonzo's Gankutsuou, the count of monte cristo. But Mononoke takes the style further- it focuses a lot on the 2D elements, the job here is no longer making it seem realistic or even anime-like, but rather make it into a piece of art, with an abstract edge. The vibrant palette brings out the gaudy nature of the characters and story, while the animation experiments with pace, style and an entirely different form of art.
[in the end]
So, why should you watch this if you're looking for something different? Well, basically the style- the way of storytelling and the art in this show is simply different and a pretty risky venture. In the sense you'll either love it all or hate it. For me, it is one of my top horror shows, where you'll feel the tension and fear not from the usual black-shadow-at-the-back-and-blood-all-over-the-place scenes but rather from the oddly paced story and effective pauses in dialogue. And of course, not forgetting the weirdly vibrant colours, which at times seems gaudy, but seemingly fits into the picture just fine. Just watching this show for the effects of storytelling would be more than worth your time. read more
May 1, 2010
This is literally a piece of art, both in a literary and visual sense. Since the aesthetic effects are easier to describe, I'll start there. The art and sound follow a semi-traditional Japanese style, but with modern twists here and there. The art makes Mononoke something distinctly different from all the other anime in the world (except the last bit of Ayakashi, I suppose). It also really helps bring out the incredibly high level of disturbance that defines the plot of Mononoke.
The story of Mononoke is about a mysterious medicine seller with crazy but limited powers who goes around and slays demons known as Mononoke or Ayakashi. In order to do so, he must find the Form, Truth, and Regret of the monster (a very unique idea, in my opinion).
There are five or so plots, each about 2-3 episodes each, totaling to 12 episodes of Mononoke. What makes the story amazing also brings it down, though. The tales are very, very confusing, bringing the mood of the anime to an almost surreal sense. In fact, the more you think about it, the less answers you'll find. I don't know if what the makers have done is justified by "artistic license", because it frankly is very hard to follow and doesn't make much sense. That being said, the story also makes you think very hard to find some well-hidden symbolism, so it's definitely not a passive anime that you can just watch and be done with.
Overall, the story is really cool but confusing, the art and sound are unique and well done, and the medicine seller and his abilities are a praiseworthy concept. This anime brings a new definition to an old genre (horror) and I recommend that you go and see why that is. read more
Mar 10, 2012
The “medicine seller”, our mysterious main character, is never named, but always present. As each mononoke (a type of evil spirit) appears, only through him are the characters able to exorcise it, but first, our ‘heroes’ must find its form, truth, and regret. Each arc takes us through a new set of characters, new scene, and new mononoke, as the medicine seller calmly discovers the three aspects. From unborn babies to unearthly cats, each story entwines a unique set of terrified and utterly flawed characters with an equally disturbed spirit.
Mononoke is a curious series. On the one hand, its eccentric artistry and historical influences mixed with occult mystery makes for a wonderfully enveloping experience. However, I must admit that if one is looking to follow deep and complex characters, I’m not sure they’d find that here. Instead, we are given message driven stories, as if to produce a modern expression of ancient yet quaint Japanese myths and fairytales.
We certainly have a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The medicine seller’s mannerisms and dress make for a memorable character, and the search for the form, truth, and regret of each mononoke is deeply immersive. I found myself glued to the screen more than once in giddy anticipation as to how the mystery would unfold.
Add to that the gorgeous visuals, bringing such a powerful dimension with traditional Japanese artistry as the inspiration. The show easily spirits you away to a different time and place, away from the overdone landscape of the modern Tokyo area to a new envisionment of historic Japan, as if looking directly into an oriental tapestry.
Enjoyment, however, is only one side of the coin. To have memorable impact as a series, one hopes that the plot or characters touch us deeply, embedding seeds of wisdom deep within our minds, pulsing with sentiment. Mononoke is one such series that skirts the edge of this line. Each character and story holds close the potential to express something profound, but it takes at least a nudge of effort to come to understanding them. The dazzling displays and engrossing mystery within the series can actually be to the determent of the story’s moral trying to be expressed. It becomes up to the viewer to choose which aspect they’d like to gain out of the series, and perhaps with close enough attention, glean just a tad of both.
Easily one of the more unique offerings in the field of anime, Mononoke is for anyone looking for something just that much different, especially from the artistic perspective. read more
Jun 10, 2008
Personally I watched this before Ayakashi - Japanese Classic Horror which this is a spin-off from and you can go ahead and watch this without having seen it.
First of let me start of with that the art was really intriguing. I like animes with a more experimental approach to the art. Not nearly as experimental and artsy as Mind Game, which remains as my favorite anime-art to date. Sometimes the art just feels like stylized art with a filter put on it, which is pretty lame. Despite that this is one of my favorite arts to date. It goes very well with the stories and really raises the mood and atmosphere rather than just being a medium of information. Not recommended for fans of the stereotypical huge eye school anime style.
The soundtrack is good though it's fairly underused throughout the series. The sound effects feel fitting. The voice actors do their jobs as they should, it feels natural and synchronized with the animation, correct tone etc.. Onto the substance of the anime.
Mononoke is composed of five arcs, all of which are only related by the recurrent main character and similar plotline. The story follows a wandering medicine seller who combats malicious spirits. One gets to observe group psychology as unsuspecting humans confront supernatural as well as life threatening situations. Note that I said observe, one never really feels 'connected' and feels for the characters. It is the result of a main character with nerves of steel and a heart of ice, I'm not saying his character is bad though, it's a very intriguing and interesting one. I really like the main character, I fell in love with him the first episode, so damn cool ^^. This is one of those odd and seemingly emotionless types. There are a few moments where he gets a little too flat (for example in the last arc). You never get a background or introduction on the arc characters, it charges almost immediately into the story. The result is as said before, makes you more of an observer instead of feeling with the characters. This deems the horror part of the story pretty useless since you won’t feel their fear as a spectator. Or I don’t know, maybe I'm just hard to frighten? I hope I don't seem like too much of a "zomg-iem-totali-not-afread-off-anithyng" type :P.
The most important part of the anime are the mystery aspects, figuring out the not so understandable main character and of course the mystery of the Mononoke - the supernatural haunter - itself. The medicine seller needs to know a mononoke's shape (Katachi), truth (Makoto), and reasoning (Kotowari) in order to combat it, as he tries to figure this out you get to know the story of the mononoke as well as the story of the people involved. The mysticism remains truly thick throughout the series. Though each arc has its conclusion, but if you didn't really pay attention and didn't try to figure it out at least partly by yourself the conclusion might not be so clear. One of my favourite pleasures while watching it was the almost surreal symbolism playing mind games with me. It's not quite surrealism though, since surrealism holds no sense at all and most usually no symbolism. This is one of the most thought provoking anime titles I've ever seen. Though I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who have seen A LOT more thought-provoking animes than me, but I'd say that I've had my fair share, I'm pretty sure they'd agree with me anyway.
Here are a few pros and cons. I tried to write what others might consider as cons and pros.
3 Pros (if you consider these as pros):
- Interesting and realistic* group psychology scenarios
*Not realistic in the sense that nothing out of this world is occurring but in the sense that the characters react as real human beings would.
3 Cons (if you consider these as cons):
- Unscary horror
- Unsympathetic characters
- You may find the conclusions blurry
Mar 21, 2013
The artwork is traditionally exotic and breath taking. The story is very analytical and psychological. The music is excellent too. However if more info about the protagonist should be revealed.
Must watch for horror fans.
Nov 29, 2010
If you enjoyed Ayakashi, you'll love Mononoke, if you didn't like Ayakashi very much, but like the last arc, you'll love Mononoke ;)
Story (10): It's basically about this mysterious and laconic medicine seller that travels the world looking for mononoke to eradicate, yet, he has a very deep and thoughtful way of solving things, many times acting as an spectator and making humans around him unsure of his own motivations to act. Yet I most say it's not for all the public, it's stories show the worst of mankind and often talk about very morbid sides of it, so beware of many suggestive topics.
Art (10): Very unique, fits perfectly with the traditional horror feeling and the details and color are simply gorgeous. The charcters look very disturbing sometimes, but I think it's a great way to convey the temperament or feelings in each character, as well as all the details involved in each picture.
Sound (10): The music, sound and voices, just like in ayakashi, convey perfectly the whole feeling of the anime.
Character (10): Very original and well developed, specially Kusuriuri, got to say this guy is one of my favorite characters of all times. Sometimes he gives you the creeps, while trying to figure what's happening behind his eyes and other times, you have to smile for his soft, ironic or cool side.
Enjoyment (10): If you like mistery and deep reflexions about life and beings, and are not afraid of taking a look at the morbid side of people, you'll love it, I could hardly keep from watching it all at once. read more
May 3, 2013
First thing which you see is art. At start it can be difficult to watch because, to be honest, it's weird. For sure someone was hay or drunk. But it's very importatnt part of it. Colours, shapes and everyting... It's scary even when you don't think about plot. It's like in traditional Japaneese paintings.
Plot. In this anime are four or five short two- or three-episode stories, every one with diffrent characters, problem and place. The only one which you always see is Ksuriuri, someone whose aim is killing some kind of demons - mononoke. To kill them he needs to know how they were created, how they look and what happened in the past - than he can do something more. He's more a viever than anything else and he doesn't really participate in fights and problems till end. He's trying to find answers and persuade people to admit what happened.
It is a scary anime, so if you don't like stuff like this don't even start it. But it's a very, very good anime. Masterpice for me, fan of horrors. Oh, and if you don't like controversial (I hope I wrote it correctly?) topics you can omit first case. I can't tell what is it about, but at first it shocked me a bit.
I wasn't a fan of opening at start, but know I think taht it's really good (and even more insane that rest of it). I don't really care about music, so I won't tell much.
I've already spoken about Ksuriuri, so here I'll tell something about otehr characters. They seem to be real, they have feeling and you can really understand why they did something and how they did feel.
So I can honestly tell that it's amazing, and worth of spending time watching it.
Sorry for mistakes, but English is not my first language. Please, forgive me:) read more
May 30, 2012
The art is by far the best aspect of Mononoke. All the clothes, surroundings and sometimes even faces are covered with color. On top of that there appears to be a grainy texture covering all of it which also doesn’t seem to move, as if a colorful drawing were to be covered with a transparent sheet with multiple scattered smudges of white and grey.
When the story of an arc fails to be mind blowing, the art makes up for it as I get lost in the beauty of the visuals. It was much like Gankutsuou but it had a more dispersed variety of color.
The stories of every arc are simple and some quite common but are packed with loads of emotions. But what makes them so different and great? Well, that’s where the Mononoke come in. The idea of Mononoke and a lot of mythical Japanese creatures make it seem like it’s very unique and makes it stand out a lot. None of the stories hold back and are brutal, dealing with the ‘harsh’ truth and many depressing realities of life although in a very exaggerated way.
The downfall of this anime is that it tires way too hard to show it’s viewers that it’s outrageous and sometimes forces the viewers to feel the emotions that it wants them too. It repeatedly drags things out and tries to make them as dramatic as possible to be extremely dark. It told more than it showed. It would have been even better if the darkness was conveyed mostly through their actions and the plot but it has a habit of repeating things in the form of dialogues or random sound effects to make the matter at hand obvious to the viewer so they recognize the unbelievable situation.
Each arc was however quite different from the previous one and each has it’s own speciality. What was best about them was that they completely absorbed me into the intense story. Each arc was nerve wrecking and I wouldn’t be able to look away for even a mere second. It told simple stories in a very hyped, complexed and brilliant way. The beauty of it lies not in what it had to say but how it said it.
I enjoyed it to a great extent though. It was as if reading about ancient Japanese folklore and it had this sense of mystery and suspense topped with stunning art and it’s own way of doing things.
May 24, 2013
Story: So, the way the story works is that it centers around the adventures of the Medicine Seller as he travels around exorcising evil mononoke. The series is slightly episodic in that there's no overarching plot, so much as a set of five mini-arcs that are each about two/three episodes long. This might sound boring or not worth the time to those who prefer plot and long story arcs, but don't be mistaken: despite the mini-arc aspect, each arc is extremely interesting and each has its own unique plot with twists and turns the whole way through. It really keeps the viewer guessing right on the edge of their seat. Honestly, to me, it was excellent.
Art: I've seen some comments that the art is off-putting to viewers, but for me, I thought this was absolutely beautiful, based off of classic Japanese artowrk. It's a completely unique style that I've never seen before. My sister who watched the series with me said that it reminded her of a moving story book, and I think that this is quite accurate. Honestly, for me, the artwork was one of the best parts of the series, and I absolutely adored it. Even if it's off-putting at first for those who aren't expecting it, I think you'll come to appreciate it in the end.
Sound: The music, too, is extremely nice. Much of it is classic Japanese style, and it really aids in the development of the story and the suspense of the viewer. Really top notch; I loved it.
Character: Each mini-arc has its own unique set of characters for the most part, with the only constant being the Medicine Seller. That being said, I think that this helps to maintain the mystery surrounding the various stories, and despite the short presence of each of the characters, they go through almost as many changes as the plot does, so it's all very dynamic. Also, the mystery surrounding the Medicine Seller himself is very helpful to the story, because while watching, I often found myself wondering if he really was a 'good' guy. Just watch the series and you'll see what I mean.
I think by now if you're still reading this review, you can surely tell that I greatly enjoyed this series. I really wish that I had watched it sooner instead of putting it off, because I really think it's great. I pretty much found myself watching it all in one sitting because I couldn't bring myself to stop. Very riveting. Overall, I'm rating this one a 10 out of 10. read more
Jul 11, 2010