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Torkuitsu's In Depth Reviews: Mononoke
Not to be confused with the movie Princess Mononoke.
I'm also tired of adding that damn disclaimer. You know my standards by now.
My initial impression of Mononoke was literally, "...". After giving it a chance I am glad that I wasn't quick to judge and saw it through. Mononoke is a collection of short stories revolving around mysterious spirits/creatures known as, from the title, Mononoke. The writing and directing of the series are excellently done and really immerse you in the story itself. Each arc is a new story with new characters that are well fleshed out in the beginning of each segment. The Medicine Seller, Kusuriuri, is the only recurring character and is mysterious as always with each new arc.
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.
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.
Last edited by Torkuitsu; 07-18-2009 at 10:19 PM.
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