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Mononoke 

A mysterious man called the Medicine Seller travels along feudal Japan, uncovering and slaying evil spirits called "Mononoke".
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2007  

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Michael C. Pizzuto ...  Various Characters 12 episodes, 2007
Takahiro Sakurai ...  Medicine Seller 12 episodes, 2007
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Storyline

Mononoke follows a wandering, nameless character known only as the "Medicine Seller". The series is composed out of 5 story arcs, each featuring the medicine seller as he tries to solve the mystery behind the existence of various Mononoke, evil spirits that still linger in the human world. He combats them using his vast knowledge of the supernatural, but a Mononoke can only be slain after he uncovers its form (Katachi), the truth behind its appearance (Makoto) and the reason for its unusual behavior (Kotowari). Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-MA

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Toei Animation [Japan]

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese

Release Date:

12 July 2007 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Мононокэ See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Toei Animation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

 
The Best of Its Kind
10 June 2019 | by Shostakovich343See all my reviews

"Mononoke" (no, not the princess one) is together with "Mushi-shi" and "Natsume Yuujincho" part of a genre of semi-episodic series about a traveller dealing with a certain species of monsters. The three series take a slightly different approach and are all good in their own right, but overall, "Mononoke" is the best.

Noting that "Natsume Yuujinchou" is a shonen series, it should be no surprise it is slightly more superficial than the other two (though still really good, make no mistake.) But "Mushi-shi" too rarely goes beneath the service. That series reserves one 24-minute episode for each story; "Mononoke" takes 2 to 3, with a total of 12, and is still more varied and better paced than either of its congeners.

Initially, the series may be slightly disappointing, classified as 'horror', but suffering from the significant handicap of not being scary. Episode 3 (the end of the first tale) is rather unsettling though, and during the second story it will become clear that the scares lie not in the creatures fought, but in what human beings can do to themselves and each other.

It was smart to establish that the eponymous evil spirits are attracted by negative emotions, as this allows for smoothly inserted pathos. Indeed, "Mononoke" becomes more meaningful as it goes on. Every story digs deeper into human psychology than its predecessor, often building on earlier themes. The exception here is the penultimate arc, a relatively light-hearted (yet still unmistakably smart) intermezzo comfortably placed before the series' most hauntingly deconstructive part.

Not only is "Mononoke" deep, but also oblique. It is incredibly rare for an anime -- more than any other cinematic medium -- to leave anything open to interpretation. Take for example "Serial Experiments Lain" or "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood". Both are highly respected and have things to say; the latter is even entertaining, but neither is subtle. A point is extensively foreshadowed, then made, then rubbed in multiple times, preferably by means of flashbacks. "Mononoke" is the subtlest anime I have seen since "Neon Genesis Evangelion" in terms of its message, or even events. It is often debatable what exactly happened, let alone what it means, dealing with themes like ambition, sorrow, isolation, imprisonment and existential loneliness. The series may not always be easy, but has real substance and treats its audience with rarely matched respect.

This is not to say that "Mononoke" is heavy-handed. In fact it is highly enjoyable with its sardonic humour and prominent whodunit elements. Again the series' high point in this aspect is the final story, which feels like a combination of "Rashômon" and "Murder on the Orient Express".

The events are presented in a unique style owing heavily from Edo paintings, but using technology that is thoroughly modern. Wonderful as it is, this approach also has its vices. For one, the characters are coloured as prominently as their backgrounds (a flaw also found in the otherwise masterfully animated "The Thief and the Cobbler") which makes it often hard to distinguish them. And secondly, the animation features a technique involving movement drawn within the same frame, which achieves a kind of ghosting effect that was probably meant to be unsettling but mostly just hurts the eyes. Yet look at the vibrant colours, the bold character designs and episode nine's juxtaposition of surroundings. For every failure there are many moments of stunning beauty.

And a beautiful anime "Mononoke" is. Enchanting and unsettling; deep and inscrutable. A series fans of animation have to see, but should also be recommended to people who appreciate good storytelling. Sailing a sea of otaku, harem and run-of-the-mill isekai, "Mononoke" is a reassurance of the value of anime.


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