The Winter 2019 Anime Preview Guide
The Morose Mononokean II

How would you rate episode 1 of
Morose Mononokean II (TV 2) ?



What is this?

Hanae Ashiya wanted nothing more than to be a regular high school student, until a fuzzy spirit that nobody else can see showed up one day, clinging to his back and cursing him with perpetual exhaustion. Luckily, he just so happened to make the acquaintance of Haruitsuki Abeno, the surly exorcist who travels in a sentient, teleporting base of operations known as the Mononokean. Haruitsuki introduces Ashiya to the wonders of the spirit world, but he's also a grouchy miser, forcing Hanae to pay back his exorbitant debt by assisting Haruitsuki in his work helping yokai. It isn't long before Hanae falls in love with the job, however, and thus his adventures with Haruitsuki and the Mononokean continue! The Morose Mononokean II is based on a manga and streams on Crunchyroll, Saturdays at 8:30 AM EST.

How was the first episode?

James Beckett

Rating: 3.5

Back when I reviewed the first season of The Morose Mononokean, I said that the laid-back fantasy anime was “worth a look for anyone who appreciates yokai stories, or for those who just want a no-frills buddy comedy to get them through a rainy weekend.” Going into The Morose Mononokean II, it doesn't seem like much has changed in that regard. Though the first season had plenty of recurring characters, along with some dramatic story arcs to raise the stakes every now and then, Hanae and Haruitsuki's adventures in exorcism mostly worked as standalone stories, and this second season premiere functions as a serviceable reintroduction to The Morose Mononokean's universe. Hanae is still a well-meaning dork, Haruitsuki is still a Grumpy Gus with a heart of gold, and Fuzzy is still fuzzy. So long as you know that our heroes solve yokai-related problems and work odd-jobs for humans and spirits alike, I reckon you can jump into this series either as a fan or a newcomer with few issues.

The first story of the season is initially as low-stakes at it gets. After helping out the spirited of a deceased pet, the boys are summoned by the Underworld's Legislator under the pretext of helping him out with a terrible injury. In reality, the lout is milking a minor hand wound he suffered after one of his many lovers ended up being a violent drunk, and he needs Hanae and Haruitsuki to help finish his paperwork and run messages to other heads of the Underworld. What follows is usual fare for the series: low-key jokes and hangout shenanigans, spiced up with the flavor of the supernatural. The show's production values remain average as well; the backgrounds have a nice but somewhat understated watercolor effect to them, and while the art and animation get the job done, they're nothing special. I enjoy some of the visual gags and quirks that come along with the underworld, like how the tadpoles The Legislator uses to communicate with Hanae function just like cell phones with bad reception.

Funimation is handling the SimulDub for The Morose Mononokean once again, and with the same crew so far as I can tell. It's interesting how my feelings on the dub have changed in the short time since I covered the first season – the background characters still sound flat, but I now actually prefer Aaron Dismuke and Jason Liebrecht's performances as Hanae and Haruitsuki, respectively. At the very least, it makes for an appreciably different experience; Dismuke's take on Hanae is a little less immature-sounding than the original Japanese, and Liebrecht's Haruitsuki comes off as slightly less aloof and more relatable. I'm not sure if J. Michael Tatum and Tyler Walker are still writing the scripts for the dub, but Season 2 contains the recognizable looseness that I always associate with Tatum. Phrases will be delivered out of order from the Japanese script, and occasionally lines will have subtle yet significant changes, but the spirit of the original dialogue remains intact. I don't know if I would feel especially compelled to keep up with The Morose Mononokean II on my own time this winter, but if you happen to find yourself in the mood for a gentle and moderately entertaining comedy, this series will likely suit your needs in either dubbed or subbed form.


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