Sep 25, 2016
FireEmblemIke24 (All reviews)
The Morose Mononokean is certainly a hidden gem from this Summer 2016 season as I unfortunately made the mistake of overlooking it. If you’re a comedy fan, then this show would be a treat for you with its crude humour and running gags that are recurring throughout. Although, it did turn less comedic in the later half when things take a more serious turn to them.

Youkai, youkai, and even more youkai. These supernatural creatures are often viewed in a negative light in the anime medium, when numerous shows are based on the fact of exterminating them before they cause harm to us humans. Ashiya Hanae, the main character gets possessed by a fuzzy and white youkai on his way to his high school’s opening ceremony. This youkai is persistent on not leaving his side as its clings for dear life on his body, which in turn affects his mental state causing him to have severe depression as a result. This illness of sorts has left him recuperating in the nurse’s office, hence fellow students giving him the nickname of ‘Ashiya of the Nurse’s office’. He later seeks help through a notice board which leads him to his first meeting with Abeno Haruitsuki, who is more commonly known as the Master of the Mononokean.

The Mononokean is strangely a very large youkai in the form of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony room. The interior is fitted with all the tatami mats and other furniture making it look genuinely authentic. The best part for me personally is how the Mononokean communicates to its master and other guests, through the use of a wall scroll that hangs vertically on the wall. The Mononokean isn’t just some regular youkai guaranteed to give an answer every time but rather offers guidance to the inexperienced Hanae, who isn’t well versed with the world of youkais when he gets hired. The youkais mainly reside in the ‘Underworld’ which does not resemble anything like Hell or Purgatory for that matter. Although some youkai are prevented from returning to their homeland, as they have lingering regrets from their time in the ‘Mundane World’. The process of youkai being transferred to the Underworld is called exorcism which makes sense as they are getting rid of them from the Mundane world.

The series for the majority does follow an episodic structure as each episode involves dealing with a youkai (in the Mundane) with its unique set of problems. The show is paced very nicely to give us a brief but sufficient background on each client that arrives in the Mononokean. However, I am more intrigued in the events of the Underworld when part-timer Hanae makes his first visit alongside Haruitsuki to get some medicine. The Underworld is a place that is run by three powerful individuals called the Legislator, Justice and the Executive. The Legislator is the only person who makes an appearance, as he is technically the superior for Haruitsuki who was granted his title by that authoritative figure. The Legislator is very much interested in small talk and is keen to be informed on all matters regarding the Mononokean. The series being one-cour means there isn’t enough time for extra details to be explored, which is a disappointment as I’ll have to read the manga afterwards.

The series benefits from having a small cast of main characters and supporting cast. Hanae as an individual will not let supernatural entities ruin his day by being determined to make his way to school, despite all the difficulties imposed on him. He is also coerced into helping Haruitsuki as his understudy due to the fact that he was saved by him in the first place. The outstanding bill is used as a threat against Hanae but he does not let that dissuade him from doing youkai work. Hanae is a very unselfish individual who prioritises the needs of others over himself, evident in the fact that he cures people out of thin air… the man is Jesus I tell you!

Haruitsuki is more of a stern individual who is not forgiving of blunders and other mistakes by Hanae, the man is a secret perfectionist I tell you. The title of being Master of the Mononokean has its own responsibilities and duties which are compulsory for him. The title makes him a revered and feared individual in the Underworld making him a celebrity of sorts, I wouldn’t mess with him at all costs. Haruitsuki in the Mundane world is an uneventful individual because the majority of time he is seen sleeping in class right behind Hanae. This is not the case across the barriers where he has plenty of associates and acquaintances who you could perhaps call friends. At the end of the day he is solely focused on his job to the best of his abilities.

The show does lack interesting characters as all you’ve got left afterwards are Zenko, fuzzball and Yahiko the mischievous fox. Zenko makes her appearance in her plea for help regarding her father’s condition laughing condition, who then makes frequent cameos alongside the main duo. Fuzzball is the youkai possessing Hanae from the start and is known to be quite the loyal friend, making him resemble a strong dog as the creature is reliable. Yahiko is known to be a childhood friend of Haruitsuki’s which is reflected in his behaviour of constantly wanting to be play all the time, as a result of nostalgia I guess. There are other characters as well but mostly everyone barring clients is there for comedic purposes.

The art style is very generic to begin with as it is a carbon copy of the manga’s character designs. The backgrounds used in the anime are very plain but is not the main focal point of the show. The lack of detail for both aspects may be down to budget as its barely average when compared to other series. However, the colour palette is wonderful to say the least, as it can be bright and vivid during cheerful times but dark and sombre during more downbeat scenes. The animation truth be told is not spectacular and once again is making the cut-off to what is acceptable. CGI animation is used to depict some of the youkai which can be very jarring to look at and looks misplaced at times which can be unsettling. This is probably the worst aspect of this show personally as even fuzzball is given the treatment despite being a miniscule thing in size.

The sound what can I say, has some exceptional voice actors for its main roles. We have the great Yuki Kaji voicing Hanae which to me is a treat every time, using his experience to play his character adequately. We also have Tomoaki Maeno giving us an exemplary job for voicing Haruitsuki which to me is a perfect match as it complements his demeanour. The best thing about this seiyuu duo is the fact they pulled off the ending for this show called Tobira no Mukou, which is another highlight. The background sound composition and OST by Morishita Hiroto wasn’t extraordinary but did not really have any memorable tracks that are worth mentioning.

To summarise, this is a nicely balanced show with a strong main duo combined with great comedy and the supernatural. You won’t be let down, I assure you.