Malevolent Spirits: Mononogatari – Episode 1

By: ThatNerdyBoliviane January 10, 20230 Comments
Hyouma witnessing his siblings getting murdered.

What’s about it? When Kunato Hyouma was a teenager his older siblings were killed by a tsukumogami and has never gotten over his hatred of them.  His grandfather doesn’t want hatred to consume him (especially since he’s the future heir of the Saenome Clan) so he send him to live with Nagatsuki Bato who was raised and lives together with tsukumogami in order for him to learn how to dispatch them to the spirit world in a humane way.  

On paper this premise sounds interesting, but overall it felt underwhelming.  The entire episode felt like it was following a list of bullet points it needed to get through to set up the world and why we should feel invested over Hyouma’s struggles.  There isn’t anything wrong with following the standardized templates, but it needs to have some kind of spark for it to stand out in a sea of action-packed anime.  What’s surprising is that this is listed as a seinen series, and I usually love any titles from that genre, since it has broader appeal in terms of how it can discuss adult themes. But there’s very little here — not a lot to warn for, but not much that looks promising either.

Despite its stale animation the first few minutes did a good job using dark colors to convey the horrific memory of the siblings death.  It really captured  that sense of fear and dread that was sorely missed throughout the premiere; and perhaps if the episode was able to find a balance between its eerie tone and the normal lives of the characters then it could’ve been good.  Aside from that, the animation just felt lackluster and stiff with nothing noteworthy except the action scenes and the sealing ceremonies.  The lush colors of the sealing ceremonies were beautiful and I was surprised by how dynamic the fighting sequences looked, so props to the animation team for their hard work – especially since we know how underpaid they are 

Hyouma witnessing his siblings getting murdered.
I’ll admit, the design looks cool.

Hyouma’s character should’ve been the stand out of this premiere and I think it could’ve worked better if the episode allowed him to have more quiet moments for introspection about how he dealt with the traumatic deaths of his siblings.  Thankfully, Hyouma doesn’t come off as unbearably annoying because they could’ve easily done that in order to hammer home his internal pain.  Instead, he’s made to walk through the motions of living and makes his decisions based on “logic” even though it’s obvious he has a lot of pent up anger and aggression.  Beyond that, there isn’t much else to his character, which is frustrating because it feels like both his grandfather and the narrative are really downplaying the traumatic deaths of Hyouma’s siblings. 

The relationship between him and his grandfather is odd because he doesn’t seem to have any lingering sadness over the deaths of his other grandchildren.  Nothing about their conversation seemed genuine and while I know it wasn’t intentional; it felt like he wanted Hyouma to get over his trauma quickly so that he can perform his job better.  I think this scene could’ve worked better if they at least found common ground about how they view the tsukumogami rather than push him into a new living situation where both sides will clash.

Hyouma being scolded by his grandfather.
I wish this conversation was a bit more interesting.

The tsukumogami characters living with Bato have a decent rapport with each other, but I’m not sure that’s going to be enough to carry the entire show.  There isn’t much to say about Bato since she literally shows up before the ending credits so it’s hard to say what her potential role will be beyond healing our protagonist’s wounds.  

Lastly, I’m worried about the large cast of characters that will eventually be introduced because it can be hard to balance out different personalities and character arcs.  If we’ve learned anything from My Hero Academia is that sometimes a few characters will outshine the rest of the crew, and that maybe it would’ve been better to stick with a small ensemble.  

It’s just super bland folks!! I don’t think this show has enough staying power for me to see if it’ll get better.

About the Author : ThatNerdyBoliviane

ThatNerdyBoliviane was originally born in New York City and essentially lived there until the age of 17 when they had to move to Toronto for reasons. They are currently struggling to survive in this weird-ass world that does not celebrate awesomeness enough. They self identify as Queer Quechua (Mestize) Bolivian-American and are involved with social justice work of all kinds. Aside from that, they are an avid lover of anime, manga, cartoons, (on rare occasion live-action TV shows if it’s good), and having amazing discussions with other folks about nerdy things. You can visit their blog Home to my Bitter Thoughts or follow them on Twitter @LizzieVisitante.

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