Synonyms: Moryo no Hako, Box of Goblins
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Oct 8, 2008 to Dec 31, 2008
23 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.471 (scored by 6225 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
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SynopsisThe story follows a series of bizarre murders of schoolgirls who have been dismembered and stuffed into boxes. The private investigator hired by a missing daughter's mother joins forces with an antique book seller and others to unravel the murder spree.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Mouryou no Hako
Side story: Mouryou no Hako Special
Characters & Voice Actors
Have you ever wanted to be a private detective? Asking that, I beg to you another question. What is the degree of depth and detail that needs to be sought out to truly understand the complexity of a criminal mind? Perhaps this is out of my comprehension as an avid anime viewer but I'm sure Mouryou no Hako is not only scratching the surface of the true horrors of a criminal mind, but is inviting me to bathe in it.
Me and dialogue story-telling have never really snuggled up together on the mattress but being a person entirely aware of that, I can wholeheartedly say, "what a truly astonishing exercise in dialogue driven story-telling we have here". As I stated in the opening segment this show stands as a tribute to detail and the huge amount of research that is required in truly understanding the mind of a criminal, the component of this series that reflects this above all else is the dialogue. Each and every spoken word is like a work of art, each uttered letter is a moment worth savoring, whether it be the simple whisper of a future lover; the withdrawn complacency of an actress; or the intelligent observations of a detective, the essence of the dialogue's writing is phenomenal. All of these moments pervade the entire series that make this an intellectual feast for any sturdy and patient viewer.
As some would know, the Japanese meaning for Mouryou is Goblin and a Goblin bears resemblance to a picturesque description of madness, painting an image of its grotesquely alienating figure. This ideal crosses and intersperses itself in the eyes of its antagonist. What beauty is there, finding solace within the impurities of insanity? Mouryou no Hako answers this question with the act of deforming and preserving human ligaments, the act of preserving the human body after death, a fools hope, but an act that has been carried out by mankind for eons.
I would like to say that the whole story matches up to the quality of dialogue and the mass of clever metaphors within this series, but sadly, the actual story only just missed the cut. Mouryou no Hako follows a series of brutal murders carried out by an anonymous killer, and becomes a philosophical study of the condition of those deemed mentally insane, the series asks many questions about this fortunately never wavering to far from what it originally set out to do.
The negatives that I refer to would actually be the dialogue heavy story-telling. Now this might come across as unusual considering the praise that I have given the dialogue but even its phenomenal quality does not excuse the fact that spent too much time on too many details. There was a particular scene in the middle of the series that was a discussion that took place for two whole episodes. The scene in question though being necessary could probably have been a condensed a bit, as it can be argued very truthfully that it removes a lot of the tension that had been developed up to that point and the other problem with the scene is that while it was very interesting, it didn't contribute as much to the series as was probably intended.
Besides that point, I have little to no problems with the story as it is well made and knew how to keep me guessing until that final moment when the mystery was revealed, which brings me to say that the story is almost masterful in its execution and that alone can make it a true gem in the anime medium's detective genre.
It is not unusual for me to commend Madhouse studios in the art department for any of the series that they have released, but as it stands Mouryou no Hako's art is highly noteworthy simply because of its detail and intense elegance, which helps to accentuate and set up the mood that the series wishes to establish. There are two particular scenes that I want to take note of within this series, mostly because I believe that they capture the insecurities that lie deep within the characters.
Falling cherry blossoms are a foreshadowing of death, two girls dancing a careless waltz in the moonlight, a waltz of death amidst the ascending petals of these blossoms. This scene was almost painful to watch with its melancholy but at the same time it was almost impossible to look away with how truly mesmerizing it was.
The other scene that I would like to mention was a moment of disconnection, a scene of limbs moving without a body, it was highly ostracizing and highlighted a comparison to the feeling of having one's limbs removed from the body whilst in a state of consciousness.
These two scenes delved into what I believe are the true horrors of this series and the art and design of the scenes are what effectively achieved it.
Another aspect that I wished to mention is the attention to detail with all the characters actions, movements and display of emotion, they are fluid actions which have a realistic touch, I will delve into more of this in the character section.
The characters in this series are truly immersed in the story and that is a feat in and of itself. As I stated in the Art section, many of the characters in this have a divine commitment to insanity, and to properly highlight the insecurities that these characters have requires proper development, does Mouryou no Hakou achieve this, yes.
Much of the characters development is heavily influenced by the dialogue on display, and wastes little time in identifying the subtle animosity of one character, the worrisome plight of many observers and the subdued emotionally detached personality of a strong steadfast detective.
Dialogue isn't the only contributor to character development as the creators are fully aware that much of what is spoken is not spoken at all, the art department did well in identifying a realistic approach to the display of body language which is a leap away from much of the quirks of your average anime series. I found this aspect of Mouryou no Hako to be very interesting and in some way refreshing. A particular point that I want to identify is the moment that a girl grins at a friend of hers, that one small action contained an unspeakable malice driving pure fear into me as a viewer and it made me question much of the intentions behind such a smile.
The actions are thought provoking, like the detail and textures of the story the show is detailing, it offers an almost beautiful contrast and reflection of the richness of the series.
Not one character does not contribute to the entirety of the story, which is an excellent feat again, whether it be the man and woman casually preparing for work finding the detached limb of a murdered girl beautifully preserved, just that moment is acknowledged later in the series.
One problem I have with the characters is this, they are not memorable! Even though I commend the show for its detail in its characters and their actions, I simply cannot praise this series characters as much as I want to.
One thing that the OST of Mouryou no Hako has going for it is that it is simply relaxing to listen to, it's not a pumping soundtrack but is more of a sound that is grounded in the traditions of the theater.
There were many moments in the soundtrack that were like sweeping rustlings, carefully placed to build tension, a particular track that I want to commend is "Madoi Hito", that is an orchestration of string instruments that builds a spectacle, almost romantic display of the tension. These tracks seduced me into the moment, which does wonders for the series as the immersion exacerbates the constant build. This build made many scenes all the more potent especially in those moments of horror.
I do love a good murder mystery and Mouryou no Hako is definitely satisfying that sweltering itch but the best thing and most notable thing about it was that it scratched it in the most surprising way possible. That said, it must be said that much of the reasons why I have enjoyed this series have already been listed.
I believe a well made story can contribute to how much I enjoy a show and Mouryou no Hako certainly fits into that category with many twists and turns that constantly enlightened me on the depth that this series had. To its credit any series that can keep me so actively engaged with such heavy dialogue is worthy of being commended, and it is those many moments of dialogue that made this series an absolute delight.
However, I can only enjoy a series such as this so much, thankfully with my large attention span I was able to take in many of the details but on some occasions I found myself yawning during a very long bit of dialogue. Despite being remarkable, at times it just simply stretched out for too long but these moments are few and far between.
Would I rewatch this series? Perhaps. If I were to ever re-watch it, I imagine I would probably like it less because the mystery is so well crafted that I would probably catch on to every single moment when the culprit displayed an important piece of evidence.
Mouryou no Hako is a rare series that does everything (literally) to remove itself from the norm, I probably haven't seen a series so far removed from the norm for quite a long time and for that it gets some points in my book. It is not a perfect series either, with some questionable moments here and there but for the most part many of the scene changes were fluid and the series maintained a height of consistent quality on both a technical level and story-telling level that is rarely seen.
Unfortunately Mouryou no Hako is not a series for everyone and has a particular niche audience in an already niche medium, which is a pity as it is a truly excellent work in many respects that offers an experience like no other.
Overall 8/10 read more
Originally for me, Mouryou no Hako started off somewhat inconspicuous, seeming to be another average, maybe somewhat memorable show. I was certainly wrong for thinking that.
And possibly a quick warning for some out there.. one of the reasons I found this show refreshing was because it was intelligent. It was well-done. You had to use your brain a bit to understand it, even if you had subtitles. If I can put it into words, this series is like Death note, but is actually made for an intelligent audience. You don't actually know what's going to happen next in this show. When I make this comparison, I'm not trying to insult Death Note, but the styles are simply different. Mouryou no Hako is all about substance and less about flare, a refreshing and seemingly rare quality in newer anime.
There was a surprisingly deep amount of character development done in just 13 episodes. The pacing was skillfully done and made the conclusion all the more interesting, and depending on preference, satisfying.
The art was also superb. The sort of soft palette for normal scenes, combined with the brilliantly colorful animations used to portray other, somewhat abstract concepts, was very pleasing on the eyes. Some shows such as ef - A tale of memories are praised for their art, and I would say that Mouryou no Hako tops that standard.
All in all, this show was an interesting, "What will happen next?" sort of experience. It's not for some people, as it can get slightly gory at times, and is certainly a very dialogue-rich anime... but I would definitely recommend Mouryou no Hako as one of the best of 2008. read more
Classic Japanese literature adapted by Madhouse. Same sort of atmosphere and feeling, same director.
Same-styled novel adaptations from Madhouse studios. Both are provided with great artwork (CLAMP for MnH and Kubo Tite/Takeshi Obata/Takeshi Konomi for AB) and awesome story. Mouryou no Hako's director is also involved in Aoi Bungaku project.
Both series resolve around normal people that at some point start losing their sanity (Aoi Bungaku is more psychological, while Mouryou no Hako blames the change on evil spirits). Both have the similar, heavy atmosphere. And both mix reality and delusions. And last, both are based on literature (master)pieces, probably not very well known outside of Japan.
Both of the series are based on Japanese novels. Aoi Bungaku series, however, animates famous Japanese novels that are deserving of the title, "masterpiece". My personal favourite is called "No Longer Human", where the protagonist goes through various conflicts because of his inability to relate with other people. The general mood of the novels chosen is dark, except for "Run Melos", similar to "Mouryo no Hako".
The Ouryou Rikako arc with school girls being dismembered and their body parts being used for "art" immediatly made me think of Mouryou no Hako.
While the context is different, both of them have mystery, gore and profanity, Psycho-Pass being more action oriented, Mouryou no Hako more on the psychological side.
"Gore", that is presented as some kind of beauty is an recurring theme in Mouryo no Hako and also in at least one of the cases of Psycho Pass.
The presentation of a young female infatuated with another is also somewhat reminiscent of Mouryo no Hako.
The idea of trying to understand the culprits mindset or else the one trying will get dragged down the abyss towards craziness is also present in both, through in Mouryo no Hako not as strong a topic as in Psycho Pass.
Both have in common:
- A group of investigators/detectives investigating bizarre murders of schoolgirls who have been dismembered.
- The most beautiful/popular girl of the private girls school has a strong connection to the deaths and she is infatuated with another girl/girls.
- While PP is in a futuristic setting, MnH is in a past era. Both have wonderful artwork and visuals.
Opening Theme"Lost in Blue" by Nightmare
Ending Theme"Naked Love" by Nightmare
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