Mononoke (TV Series)
Mononoke is a 12 episode anime that came out in Japan in 2007. It was a Spin-off of the Third arc of Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales that dealt with a character simply called Kusuriuri to the Medicine Seller.
Kusuriuri has the ability to draw the Exorcism Sword that can kill/purtify a Mononoke. He can only do this if he knows its form, truth and regret/reason of the mononoke.
Mononoke contains 5 arcs that aren't connected to each other but are all scary and deeply psychological. The intelligence and style of Mononoke makes it a great and enjoyable anime that unfortunately is underrated and largely unknown.
It has an America Release by New Video Group. It can out in July 2014.
How you Seen either Ayakashi or Mononoke?
Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales
How Mononoke got started
Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales is a 12 episode series that is made of three stories all based on traditional Japanese stories. Each story has a distinct look as the designers were different for each story. The third story, Bakeneko, has the most unique look. The character designer on Bakeneko was Takeshi Hashimoto. The look of the art in this story has this rice paper quality that is reminiscent of traditional Japanese art but there is a modern surrealism to it as well.
The story goes like this; As a young girl is leaving to be married she is struck dead. A medicine-seller (Kusuriuri or (Kusuri uri)) happens to be there and is accused of being the culprit but as the family's retainers start to die, Kusuri uri reveals himself to be a demon hunter and names a Bakeneko (Cat Demon) as the cause of the deaths. In order to exorcise it he must find out the it's Form (Katachi), Truth (Makoto), and Reason/Regret (Kotowari).
I won't give anyway what happens.
The character of Kusuriuri was just so awesome with his cold manner and his design that he was given his own show; Mononoke. The events of this story are referred to in the second arch of Mononoke briefly.
Volume 3 Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales
The Medicine Seller
Kusuri uri is the main character. He has no given name or backstory. He's very enigmatic. He refers to himself as an ordinary medicine-seller and a human, but watch a few moments of either Ayakashi or Mononoke and you don't believe him especially since the last arc takes place in the 1920s whereas the other stories seem to take place in the Edo Period. He has special paper wards which are barriers against the Mononoke, his mirror which he wears can reflect truth, and he can draw the Sword that can Exorcize the mononoke. After the sword is unsheathed he changes into an alter ego who wears a golden kimono, has golden make-up, black sclera(the white part of the eyes), red irises and yellow pupils. He also has a long grey-white hair. In this form the seemingly small sword looks like a huge flame.
He has a cold manner and he is always calm in the face of the craziness he witnesses. That's all part of his charm.
There are a few theories on the backstory of Kusuri uri. One is that he is an Ayakashi himself, and that the Sword of Exorcism gave rise to him. In the series it's explain that certain objects that highly coveted and are valuable can give rise to a Mononoke. So it could be. But Kusuri uri calls himself human. He could be a mononoke that was born from the Ayakashi of Sword of Exorcism that contacted with a positive emotion of neutral emotion. In the series this can also happen. This theory explain why he transforms when the sword is draw and why Kusuri uri is like a human vessel and why he is immortal. Another theory is the Kusuri uri was a human that attain enlightenment and is somehow charged with exorcising mononoke.
Kusuri uri's mystery is another aspect of his charm
The Sword of Exorcism is Kusuriuri main weapon. He uses it to exorcise the Mononoke and Ayakashi. The Sword can only be wield when Kusuriuri knows the Form (Katachi), Truth (Makoto), and Reason/Regret (Kotowari) of the Mononoke or Ayakashi. The Sword reacts when it's given the correct information but not when it's being lied to. When the correct information is given to it will close its mouth. The Sword also floats to Kusuriuri to witness the information. As it's being released it sometimes yell, it would seem that the sword is a living entity. When unsheathed the sword is long flame-like. Kusuriuri hints that the Sword is alive and guides him to his destinations.
Kusuriuri uses Paper Wards to form barriers to protect people and to keep the mononoke at bay. The wards look like blank piece of paper at first but they glow with changing red eye and black writing. Kusuriuri has an arsenal of these at his disposal.
Kusuriuri uses scale to determine where the mononoke is. The scale float and balance on a point. When they detect a monononke they go down as if they are weighing something heavy and they do this in the direction of the mononoke. The Scales are very beautiful and are adorned with little gems.
Kusuriuri wears a mirror around his neck. When he wears it he positions the mirror in the flip side and displays the back of it which is a a golden disc with a sun detail (can be seen in the picture). The mirror is sometimes use to reflect truth, shown in the third arch. And has been used as a barrier, seen in the second arc.
Official Release of Mononoke
Mononoke is made up of 5 Arcs. Most are 2 epsiodes but 2 out of the 5 arcs are 3 epsiodes. These are spoiler free.
Takahiro Sakurai voices Kusuriuri.
A young women seeks shelter for her and her unborn baby from both rain and her pursers at an inn. As there are no vacancy the owner puts her in a room that is haunted by a mononoke that is related to the history of the inn's seedy past.
Aiko Hibi as Zashiki Warashi
Kouzou Shiotani as Tokuji
Rie Tanaka as Shino
Toshiko Fujita as Hisayo
Eiji Takemoto as Naosuke
Yasuke Numata as Young lord
On a ship Kusuriuri encouters a Monk, Genkei, who veers the ship off course so he can get to the Dragon's Triangle, a mysterious sea full of ayakashi. Genkei explains that it was the hatred of his late sister Oyou that attracted the ayakashi and created the Dragon's Triangle, as 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. However that is not the whole truth.
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
Fun fact- This arc has the return of Kayo, who was in Ayakashi Samurai Horror Tales.
Kusuriuri meets a young beautiful women named Ochou who confessed to the murder of her husband and his family. Kusuriuri doubts her story that she did it alone. He believes that she did with the help of a mononoke. A mononoke shows up wearing a Noh mask and fights Kusuriuri and takes his face away and the mononoke and Ochou escape the prison. However what the truth behind the murders, the mononoke, and who did Ochou really kill?
Houko Kuwashima as Ochou
Hikaru Midorikawa as Man in Fox Mask
Rin Mizuhara 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 Lady Ruri's mansion to participate in a competition of incense only to find that the fourth suitor is missing and that Kusuriuri 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.
Takeshi Aono as Oosawa Roubo
Eiji Takemoto as Muromachi Tomoyoshi
Masashi Hirose as Nakarai Tansui
Naoya Uchida as Jisonji Konari
Wakana Yamazaki as Lady Ruri
Set in a time period decidedly later than the previous arcs, implied to be in the 1920s, Kusuriuri boards a train with several other passengers. Unfortunately, the train hits a ghostly girl on the tracks, and six passengers and Kusuriuri are locked in the first car. Kusuriuri questions the passengers to reveal a dark connection between them, shedding light on the murder of a young, female newspaper reporter.
Eiji Takemoto as Moria Kiyoshi
Hiroshi Iwasaki as Jyutarou 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
Fun Fact - It's very strongly suggested within the story that Chiyo is the reincarnation of Kayo, as they look alike, same voice actress and Chiyo is oddly drawn to Kusuriuri and in turn he looks at her frequently and teases her a little.
At the end of Bakeneko arc Kusuriuri challenges the audience to reveal to him their Truth and Reason, vowing to continue hunting Mononoke as long as they roam the world.
What Arch is your Favorite of Mononoke
So what are Mononoke and Ayakashi and what legends is the show based on?
A Mononoke - is type of youkai. A Youkai is a demon, spirit, or monster. A transforming youkai is called a obake.
An Ayakashi - the Japanese word for a ghost appearing at sea during a shipwreck. In contemporary usage it is often roughly synonymous to youkai, or abnormalities in general
Zashiki-warashi - is similar to the Russian "Domovoi" (house spirits). The Zashiki-warashi is usually takes the appearance of a child about 5-6 years old. The Zashiki-warashi usually prefer well-maintained old houses and can bring prosperity. They also play harmless pranks.
Umibozu - is a spirit that capsizes boats of anyone who dares speaks to it. It's names is a compound of "sea" and "monk". This because their round head resembles monks' shaved head. Alternatively they are enormous Youkai that appear to shipwreck victims and fishermen. They are believed to be drowned priests, and exhibit the shaven head and typically appears to be praying. It is usually reported as having a grey, cloud-like torso and serpentine limbs.
Noppera-bo - a facless ghost. They are known primarily for frightening humans, but are usually otherwise harmless. They appear at first as ordinary human beings, sometimes impersonating someone familiar to the victim, before causing their features to disappear, leaving a blank, smooth sheet of skin where their face should be.
Nue - Japanese Chimera. It is described as having the head of a monkey, the body of a raccoon dog, the legs of a tiger, and a snake as a tail. Nue are supposed to be bringers of misfortune and illness.
Bakeneko - cat monster, A bakeneko will haunt any household it is kept in, creating ghostly fireballs, menacing sleepers, walking on its hind legs, changing its shape into that of a human, and even devouring its own mistress in order to shapeshift and take her place. When it is finally killed, its body may be as much as five feet in length. It also poses a danger if allowed into a room with a fresh corpse; a cat is believed to be capable of reanimating a body by jumping over it.
One of the strongest aspects of Mononoke is the art style. Mononoke gets its look from a lot of difference art style. From Traditional Japanese styles, Surrealism, Modernism, Cubism, Fauvism to name a few.
It's a very unique anime to watch with a bright color scheme and texture effects. However the style really does add to the tone of the show and works to make the story creepier and weirder.
Mononoke Opening and Closing
Note; the Ending of Mononoke show clips from the Next Episode, in the particular ending, it's showing clips from Nue Arc.
Sadly Mononoke has not gotten an American release. This could be that it just flew under the radar and being release in 2007 when Anime was going though a declining period didn't help much either.
If you would like to see released please Contact your favorite Anime distributor and demand it.