3.01.2012

Mononoke

When I started watching Mononoke (モノノ怪), I knew I was going to love it and recommend the anime to anyone. I was a fan of even before I watched the series due to frequent brushes with its fandom. What I did not expect was the reasons I'd be recommending it, reasons that I'll be highlighting below.

It is quite hard to get information on Mononoke due to its similarity with the popular Studio Ghilbi production, Princess Mononoke. Mononoke does not seem to be as popular as Princess Mononoke but I have to say that the only thing they have in common is 'mononoke', Mononoke the series is definitely more badass.


Mononoke stands apart from other mainstream anime series for several reasons. One is the art, which is beautiful and unusual. Then there is the theme and the entire mystery of the series. Several episodes can stand on their own due to the nature of the series. The deep symbolism present in the series. Mononoke follows a Medicine Seller who travels around hunting and killing mononoke, a kind of ghost/restless spirit. Before he is able to kill them, he has to discover their Form, Truth and Regret, only then can the Medicine Seller release the sword and gain the power he needs to cleanse the ghosts.

I was just surprised that in the first episode we had a clearly black character


This episode is set in the times when Tokyo was Edo by the way.

There are also a few tanned characters in the anime.


Another interesting thing is what happens when the Medicine Seller releases his demon-cutting sword. Either he 'becomes' a dark-skinned person or something else, (you see I'm not sure because Mononoke is the kind of work that confuses you, I can't tell if the events surrounding the release of the sword and the 'killing' of mononoke are an illusion or not). Regardless, when the sword is released, this dark-skinned person appears and the pale Medicine Seller disappears for a while.


I find this fascinating because it is a subversion of the infamous Saiyans from DragonBall Z who becomes paler, blonde and blue eyed as they gain more power. This has been discussed in a lot of 'racism in anime' essays. For example,
The main characters in Dragonball Z are a race of people called Saiyans. Physically, they don’t look different from any other Japanese characters on the show. However, Saiyans have the ability of reaching a superior state called “Super Saiyan.” As Super Saiyans, their physical appearance changes as they are grow exponentially more powerful than their previous human state. How, you ask, does their physical appearance change to represent this transcendence to a truly superior state of being? They turn from Japanese men (black hair, brown eyes, tan skin) to white men (blonde hair, green eyes, white skin). [Source]
I must mention that there are one or two characters in Mononoke with blonde hair and blue eyes. I say one or two because the only prominent character with these features I can recall is the pregnant woman from the first episode. The reason I'm bringing this up is because there's been some discussion here on blonde haired, blue eyed character having all the special treatment in anime and manga. I must admit that I don't see this in the anime I consume, and it is not present in Mononoke.

Mononoke is actually an off-shot of the Ayakashi horror series where the Medicine Seller appears in the last three episodes Bakeneko. I watched Bakeneko after watching the Mononoke series but I have to agree that it has the most complex plot. Speaking of complex plots, I'm watching Mononoke for the second time and I'm still finding new things. Each arch can be viewed differently, I made a friend watch some episodes with me and we actually had a discussion afterwards. It's been a while since anime raised some discussion for me!

You can stream Mononoke here, as for Bakeneko, you can find links to watch it here. They are both horror, so make sure you've got the lights off and earphones plugged in while watching.

~

If you're interested in anime aimed at grown folks, you should check out the noitaminA programming block. The series I've watched and really enjoyed lately are from that timeslot, including Mononoke and House of Five Leaves.

17 comments:

  1. I will happily be tuning in tonight.

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  2. I loved Mononoke especially the art. I need to watch it again and I did not know it was apart of another series.

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  3. I've checked out a couple of pics from the series, based on the description above and the pics (which are so pleasing to my artist eye), I think that I will be watching this.

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  4. I've heard of this series before. After reading your description on it, I definitely have to give it a watch. The artwork looks very unique, which I like. It's different from the average artwork you see in anime. Some artwork can be good and others are just weird/bad (ex. Shin Chan :|) I'll have to watch this whenever I'm not over swamped with exams and assignments from college, lol.

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    1. The old man who did Shin Chan (died before he could finish it)knew he couldn't draw but he could tell a story. Mainly his style was to prove you can tell a story regardless of your drawing skills. There are people who have mad drawing skills but cannot tell a story worth anything.

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    2. I actually liked Shin Chan, I just didn't care for the artwork ^^; However, I did not know about his death :( That is true, that there are people who cannot tell stories very well despite the artwork.

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    3. He went for a walk and did not come back. His family got the police to look for him and they found him later on. I think he fell down something.... I forgot it has been awhile. I think he planned ahead for the series so they will finish up to what he already had done. Love that series.

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  5. Fascinating! And I don't even care for anime!

    And I'm glad the Super Saiyan BS gets called out.

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  6. It took me a second rewatching and reading to realize just what he is.

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  7. OMFG i love this character. my daughter and i watched the ayakashi series a few years ago and our fave was bake neko, hands down!!! our cat's name is amanojaku, but he probably thinks it's bake neko lol. if you like this, you might also like "Ghost Hunt"( Akuryō Series ?)or "Kaidan Restaurant".

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    1. I watched Kaidan Restaurant. Some of those stories where freaky as hell. Loved them!

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  8. I'm late to this party, but I'll be sure to give Mononoke a try, EccentricYoruba. Anime usually comes on during the kiddie hours when I'm working, so I've never had time to get into them. If this series is complete, I'll definitely give it a shot. Thank you!

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    1. Let me know what you think about it! Anime on the noitaminA arc usually air around night time apparently (they are trying to target an adult audience). The series is complete and as always you are welcome!

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    2. I was bored and there were no more episodes in the series, so I started looking up other information on the series. And possibly found out a few things about the Medicine Seller.

      From one site TVTropes, the writer thinks he is possibly from the Ainu tribe because of the facial markings on his face. They are very similar to the ones the Ainu tattoos. Either he is or the "other self". Also that one of them maybe a kitsune becuase his facial markings are the traditional markings representing a kitsune spirit. I just assume it is both, because the tattoo on his upper lip does not go away.

      Links where I found this information...
      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Anime/Mononoke?from=Main.Mononoke

      http://www.larskrutak.com/articles/Ainu/index.html

      When I get really bored I research.

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  9. Thanks for this! Its so awesome. Ive been wanting to get more into anime so this was right up my alley. 'Im on ep 9 already!

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  10. Sorry, I realize this post is old lol. I just started watching it- I saw the style and thought it'd be interesting. I'm only half way through the first episode and I just can't get past how Tokuji's character is a complete buffoon! Even his character design resembles those old racist cartoons and they way they drew black people- exaggerated pink lips, bad teeth, "tribal" gold piercings. Yeah you could say it's just their style but I'm not gonna just chalk it up to coincidence. Did this bother anybody else??

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