• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

The Morose Mononokean
Episode 8

by Rose Bridges,

How would you rate episode 8 of
The Morose Mononokean ?
Community score: 4.1

The Morose Mononokean followed a dark, surprisingly heavy episode with a lighthearted, cute one. That's nothing new for this show, which has shown a real mastery of tonal variety in its past seven episodes. So it's a little frustrating that this episode flubs in its resolution of the cliffhanger from last week.

In episode 7, we ended with Yahiko, a fox yokai from Abeno's past, accusing him of murdering Aoi, the former Master of the Mononokean. We've heard these accusations before from their trip to the Underworld; they seem to be common rumors among the yokai. Still, this forced Abeno to confront the rumors in a way he never had to previously. It's a face-to-face confrontation from an old friend, not hearsay from random yokai in the Underworld streets. It should be a highly emotional, cathartic moment, especially when we learn that (of course) Abeno didn't do it.

Unfortunately, that's not what happens. While The Morose Mononokean sets up a big climactic confrontation, what follows feels anticlimactic. Abeno dramatically repeats the rumor, then dispels it by saying he wouldn't do that to Aoi. And that's it? We don't get more about how this rumor originated in the first place? No, we just move on quickly to Yahiko being apologetic, taking the mark off Zenko, and promising to work at her temple for the next year to make up for it. At least we also get a touching scene of Yahiko and Abeno playing together when Abeno was a child. Still, that just serves to further undermine the confrontation scene, by building it up further in a way that didn't deliver. It feels cheap that The Morose Mononokean hinged so much on this moment but didn't make much of it. Luckily, the episode still succeeds on the strengths of its second half.

A new yokai confronts Ashiya, looking for the Mononokean before learning Ashiya works there. This little winged guy is named Jomatsu, and he works for Princess Anmo, who is currently holed up in a giant eggshell thanks to her latest heartbreak over falling for an Earthling creature who could not see yokai. (Apparently, this happens to her extremely often. One time, she even fell in love with a jet plane!) Jomatsu wants to get her out so they can return to the Underworld. It quickly becomes clear to both the audience and Ashiya, however, that Jomatsu's concern is deeper than it seems. He's actually in love with Princess Anmo.

Ashiya follows Jomatsu to the egg's location, but Jomatsu forbids him from breaking the shell out of fear that it would hurt Anmo. So, instead, Ashiya tricks her into coming out by threatening Jomatsu. It was pretty easy to see where this was going; Ashiya is not a violent or cruel person, and this gambit has been used in endless anime to get characters to admit their feelings. It seems to go alright, with Jomatsu finally attempting to admit how he feels, only to turn it into "I love flying with you" instead. Ashiya thinks this sounds like a proposal, so he's heartened when Anmo seems to accept—only to turn her love-crazed lens on Abeno as soon as he shows up.

This story is pretty standard heartwarming fare like we've come to expect from The Morose Mononokean's supernatural mysteries—except for the joke ending, which did add a fun twist to set it apart. The real significance of this adventure is it marks the first time that Ashiya has solved one of these problems all on his own. Abeno had his own case that day, and he was glib and dismissive about Jomatsu's problem. This seems a little out-of-character even for him—so maybe he was deliberately testing Ashiya to see if he could do it himself. It's a good thing that Abeno was right about his pupil, if that was indeed what he had planned.

This episode demonstrates how Ashiya is growing in strength as an exorcist, which makes me all the more curious about what exactly happened to Aoi to make him "disappear." Does Abeno have to watch his back now that he has a new apprentice—especially one as supposedly "dangerous" as Ashiya? That could provide an interesting twist on this story, especially as Ashiya and Abeno start to develop a grudging respect, not to mention plenty of shipping fodder. The Morose Mononokean clearly has several more twists up its sleeve.

Rating: B

The Morose Mononokean is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Rose is a music Ph.D. student who loves overanalyzing anime soundtracks. Follow her on her media blog Rose's Turn, and on Twitter.

discuss this in the forum (46 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

back to The Morose Mononokean
Episode Review homepage / archives