Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mononoke, episode 3

A spin-off series born from the Goblin Cat arc of Ayakashi - Samurai Horror Tales, Mononoke follows the same "medicine peddler" as he travels around Japan, exorcising and banishing dangerous spirits after exposing their form, truth and regret. Invariably this involves exposing the shocking, sordid histories and tragedies of everyone around him. People act suspiciously, he makes cryptic comments, a monster appears, someone dies brutally, everyone denies wrongdoing - only to confess before meeting their own brutal end. And then he kills the monster and the cycle repeats with a new cast of sinners.

Miraculously, Mononoke manages to be anything but predictable and stale, despite rigidly following a clear formula. The fantastic visual style keeps the viewer engaged, demanding constant attention. Nearly every shot could be framed and mounted on the wall with incredible explosions of color and patterns, all seen through a filter that makes it look like crinkled paper. The show looks like an animated shoji screen and shares a lot of elements with other recent titles like Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Christo and Hakaba Kitaro.

The show is also startlingly brutal and callous, pulling no punches with stories about torture and systematic abortion. Such powerful and revolting topics are made even more unsettling by the deftly subtle (and frequently surreal) visuals. We aren't show abortions or dead fetuses - we're show dolls and red cloth, and we hear the laughter of hundreds of children who were never born blend together into one voice overflowing with resentment for the living.

The meshing of expert visuals with brutal and despicable sin elevates Mononoke far beyond the traditional formula. The structure may not be new, but the blunt honesty and dark content certainly is. Highly, highly recommended to anyone who can handle the subject matter or has an interest in visual design, anime fan or not.
based on 3 episodes : ANN : Wikipedia

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