Mononoke (TV series)
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Kenji Nakamura|
|Written by||Chiaki J. Konaka
|Music by||Yasuharu Takanashi|
|Network||Fuji TV (Noitamina)|
|Original run||July 12, 2007 – September 27, 2007|
|Illustrated by||Ninagawa Yaeko|
|Published by||Square Enix|
|Original run||August 17, 2007 – August 1, 2008|
|Illustrated by||Ninagawa Yaeko|
|Published by||Tokuma Shoten|
|Magazine||Monthly Comic Zenon|
|Original run||September 25, 2013 – November 25, 2014|
Mononoke (モノノ怪?) is a Japanese animated television series produced by Toei Animation. A spin-off of 2006's horror anthology series Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales, Mononoke follows the character of the medicine seller as he continues to face myriad supernatural perils. Mononoke takes place during the Edo Period Japan with the four class system, Samurai being the highest class and merchants (such as the medicine seller himself) being in the lowest class. Only Samurai were permitted to carry swords, which is why it comes as a shock to many of the characters that the medicine seller would be carrying a sword.
Produced by Toei Animation, the anime series was directed by Kenji Nakamura, written by Chiaki J. Konaka, Ikuko Takahashi, Michiko Yokote and Manabu Ishikawa. Takashi Hashimoto directed the animation and was the character designer, Takashi Kurahashi was the art director, its music was composed by Yasuharu Takanashi, and it was broadcast in Fuji Television's block Noitamina between July 2007 and September 2007, lasting 12 episodes. Siren Visual licensed it for Australasian region.
A manga adaptation of the original Bakeneko arc was published in Young Gangan between August 17, 2007 and August 1, 2008. The individual chapters were collected and released in two tankōbon (collected volumes) by Square Enix on January 25, 2008, and September 25, 2008. A second manga series started to be published on September 25, 2013 by Tokuma Shoten on its magazine Monthly Comic Zenon. The last chapter of it was serialized in Monthly Comic Zenon on November 25, 2014. The series was released into two volumes on July 19, 2014, and December 20, 2014 respectively.
Mononoke follows a wandering, nameless character known only as the "Medicine Seller" (voiced by Takahiro Sakurai). The series is made up of individual chapters in which the medicine seller encounters, combats and subsequently destroys mononoke. The "mononoke" are a type of ayakashi, unnatural spirits that linger in the human world.
The Medicine Seller always proceeds in the same manner, using his knowledge of the supernatural to fend off the mononoke until he can learn the spirit's shape (Katachi), truth (Makoto) and reasoning (Kotowari). Only then can he unsheathe his sword and exorcise the demon.
The English subtitles translate these three necessities as Form, Truth, and Regret.
The opening track is "Kagen no Tsuki" by Komatsu Ryouta and Charlie Kousei and the ending is "Natsu no Hana" by JUJU.
- Story arcs
While spending the night in a traditional inn, the Medicine Seller stumbles upon a strange phenomenon. A pregnant woman named Shino who is desperately seeking shelter at the inn is led to the last vacant room. The room, though, is haunted by a group of Zashiki Warashi. When the Zashiki Warashi kill an assassin aiming for Shino's life, protecting Shino and her unborn child, the Medicine Seller inquires into the origin of the mononoke.
The innkeeper reveals that the inn used to be a brothel, which she owned and ran. The innkeeper forced her prostitutes to abort their children so that they could continue working; eventually, she reserved Shino's room as an offering to the unborn children. The Medicine Seller realizes that the mononoke are attracted to Shino because of their strong desire to be born. The Zashiki Warashi want Shino to give birth to them, and she agrees, much to the Medicine Seller's dismay. She pulls the talisman warding off the mononoke off her stomach. However, the Zashiki Warashi, seeing the love that Shino has for her child, accept that Shino is physically able to only give birth to her own child and vanish.
At the end of the episode, the Medicine Seller seems to have saved both Shino and her child since she is seen with a big belly, knocked out on the floor. However, some speculate that the final scene after the ending credits implies that the child she is about to give birth to is the mononoke, having taken the place of her own miscarried child.
- Aiko Hibi as Zashiki Warashi
- Kouzou Shiotani as Tokuji
- Rie Tanaka as Shino
- Toshiko Fujita as Hisayo
- Eiji Takemoto as Naosuke
- Yûsuke Numata as Young lord
Traveling on a merchant's luxurious ship, the Medicine Seller and the other passengers drift into the Dragon's Triangle, a mysterious sea full of ayakashi. Among the passengers are Kayo, a servant girl from the Sakai house of Bakeneko fame, Genkei, a Buddhist monk, and Genyousai, a minstrel and spiritualist. Through the appearance of Umizatou, an ayakashi who demands that the passengers reveal their worst fears, the group discovers that Genkei was the one who set the ship off course. Genkei explains that it was the hatred of his late sister Oyou that attracted the ayakashi and created the Dragon's Triangle—Oyou took Genkei's place in an utsurobune, a ship made from a hollowed log, and set sail as a sacrifice to appease the ayakashi. The Medicine Seller discovers that Genkei is responsible for attracting the ayakashi; unable to accept that he had been joyful rather than guilty when his sister took his place, Genkei had allowed his darker emotions to separate from him in the form of a mononoke. The Medicine Seller exterminates the mononoke at Genkei's request and restores calm to the Dragon's Triangle.
- Yukana as Kayo
- Ryusei Nakao as Genkei
- Tomokazu Seki as Genyousai Yanagi
- Daisuke Namikawa as Sougen
- Daisuke Sakaguchi as Hyoue Sasaki
- Yasuhiro Takato as Tamon Mikuniya
- Eiji Takemoto as Goromaru
- Norio Wakamoto as the Umizatou
- Haruna Ikezawa as Oyou
A despairing woman named Ochou, wishing for freedom but unable to escape her oppression, confesses to killing her husband's entire family. The Medicine Seller doubts this story and visits Ochou in her prison cell to ask her for the truth, but encounters a mononoke in a Noh mask who fights the Medicine Seller and allows Ochou to escape. The man in the mask convinces Ochou that he has given her freedom by helping her kill her family, but the Medicine Seller pursues the two and reveals to Ochou that she had killed not her husband's family, but herself. Ochou married into a good family as her mother wished, but in her desire to please her mother, withstood abuse from her new family to the point of forsaking any happiness she could have gained from her life. When Ochou realizes this, the man in the Noh mask vanishes, and Ochou finds herself in her kitchen. It is implied that the man in the mask was an illusion conjured by the Medicine Seller to help Ochou escape—at the end of the episode, Ochou ignores her husband's orders and leaves her family, gaining the freedom she had long desired.
- Houko Kuwashima as Ochou
- Hikaru Midorikawa as Man in Fox Mask
- Ako Mayama as Ochou's Mother
- Eiji Takemoto as Ochou's Husband
Three men seeking to marry Lady Ruri, the sole heir to the Fuenokouji school of incense, arrive at her mansion to participate in a competition of incense only to find that the fourth suitor is missing and that the Medicine Seller has taken his place. During the competition, Lady Ruri is murdered. When the Medicine Seller inquires as to why the three suitors are so desperate to inherit the school even after Lady Ruri's death, the suitors reveal that the competition is not actually over the school of incense, but the Toudaiji, a piece of wood rumored to grant its owner great power.
Although Medicine Seller presides over a second incense contest, none of the three suitors win the Toudaiji, as all are killed. It is revealed that the suitors had already been killed by the Toudaiji, and that the Medicine Seller put on this act to make them realize their deaths. The Medicine Seller then asks the Toudaiji, the true mononoke, to reveal itself. The Toudaiji draws its sense of self-esteem from the fact that people value it so highly, yet in truth, it is nothing but a rotting piece of wood. The Toudaiji kills those who seek it, including Lady Ruri's suitors, perpetuating the bloodshed for its sake. The Medicine Seller destroys the Toudaiji, appeasing the souls of its victims, including Lady Ruri's suitors.
- Takeshi Aono as Oosawa Roubo
- Eiji Takemoto as Muromachi Tomoyoshi
- Masashi Hirose as Nakarai Tansui
- Naoya Uchida as Jissonji Konari
- Wakana Yamazaki as Lady Ruri
Set in a time decidedly later than the previous arcs—implied to be in the 1920s—the Medicine Seller boards a train with several other passengers. Unfortunately, the train hits a ghostly girl on the tracks, and six passengers and the Medicine Seller are locked in the first car. The Medicine Seller questions the passengers to reveal a dark connection between them, shedding light on the murder of a young newspaper reporter. At the end of the episode the woman's spirit has its revenge, the passengers are saved, and the Medicine Seller challenges the audience to reveal to him their Truth and Reason, vowing to continue hunting mononoke as long as they roam the world.
- Eiji Takemoto as Moriya Kiyoshi
- Hiroshi Iwasaki as Jyutarō Fukuda
- Minoru Inaba as Kadowaki Sakae
- Seiji Sasaki as Kinoshita Bunpei
- Yukana as Nomoto Chiyo
- Yoko Soumi as Yamaguchi Haru
- Aiko Hibi as Kobayashi Masao
- Fumiko Orikasa as Ichikawa Setsuko
The directing and art have been called "boldly confrontational." It blends a murder mystery structure with "twist of supernatural and a shake of historical, peppered with plenty of stylistic experimentation." It frequently achieves "the ideal - great directing combined with great animation."  The Mainichi newspaper said it could not be dismissed as a mere experiment, and that the story's themes were every bit as advanced as the digital animation techniques employed.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Official Toei website (Japanese)
- Mononoke (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia