Sunday, October 19, 2008

First Impression: Mouryou no Hako

I was pleasantly surprised by how this series (or at least the first episode) turned out.
Episode 01: The Five Death Omens of An Angel
OP: Lost In Blue (Nightmare) [4shared]
ED: Naked Love (Nightmare) [4shared]

A man wearing glasses find himself riding on a train with a stranger who shows him a mysterious box. But what's more surprising (and horrifying) is that the box contains the head of a girl.

Meanwhile, in some rural town, Kusumoto Yoriko and Yuzuki Kanako are classmates who share a close bond. Kanako claims that they are reincarnations of each other and that once either of them dies, the other will replace the one who died. Kanako also tells Yoriko about the five omens that shows a goddess is close to death. The final omen is that all happiness will be gone.

Yoriko's mother disapproves of their friendship. But despite this, Yoriko continues to meet Kanako, who later asks her to go with her to a lake far away. On the night they are supposed to take the last train to that mysterious lake, Kanako gets into an accident involving a train. The people believe it is a suicide attempt. Coincidentally, on board that train is a detective, who is a former soldier. He questions Yoriko about her friend's suicide attempt.
since it's by CLAMP, you can expect to find a lot of bishie, random or not

Mouryou no Hako is set in the Showa Era -- a period I know to coincide with Japanese ultranationalism, World War II, American Occupation and the bubble economy. I don't know which period this series is supposed to be. But if that brief clip of a war scene hallucinated by the detective is any indication, this could be right after World War II and perhaps even during Japan's bubble economy boom.
lol, head

History aside, Mouryou no Hako is yet another horror series by Madhouse. Interestingly, the other Madhouse-produced show that I plan on blogging is Kurozuka, another mystery-horror number. I'm also thinking of including in the list the following series:
  • Casshern Sins - even though it's mecha, the retro style is very appealing and I like the post-apocalyptic undertones
  • Ga-Rei - Zero - I just saw the second episode and OHMYGOD! The idea of introducing new characters every episode is an interesting storytelling technique. Don't know if it works but it would be interesting to see how it goes
  • Shikabane Hime - Aka - the second episode actually turned out good. I still have hope for this anime
As for the rest, I'm toying with the idea of either seeing them through until at least the third episode and then just outright abandoning them if nothing improves. Toradora actually isn't too bad. But there are far more interesting shows that I actually want to see this season. It's probably going to end up on my LIST OF THINGS TO WATCH WHEN I HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO.
gotta love these glasses guys

The character designs for Mouryou no Hako are by CLAMP so you can see their trademark style all over the show -- but amazingly enough, no stick-thin figures. At least, not in the first episode. The designs are more earthy in comparison to...say, Code Geass or XXXHolic where everything is extreme: hairdo, extreme rail-thin figures, impossibly long limbs, shoujo sweetness guaranteed to give you a toothache. In Mouryou no Hako, the characters don't necessarily scream CLAMP everytime they appear on screen. It's a relief.
oh my, is it...Sachiko and Yumi?

even Kanako's gesture is very Rosa Chinensis
lol where did the random flowers come from?

Oh and yes, there is some yuri involved. Not too blatant, though it's definitely there and not something you can just ignore, let alone miss. The admiration between Yoriko and Kanako reminds me just a wee bit of Sachiko and Yumi in Marimite, although Yoriko and Kanako's connection is a lot darker and perhaps more intense.
and some more gratuitous yuri

I mean, dude, they dance under the moonlight, saying nonsensical things about life and the meaningless of it all and how it's all good and I really have no idea what's the point but it's fun and it's yuri and there are lots of pretty colors to please the eyes.
because nothing says 'i love you' like a hand around your throat

And if that isn't enough, there is Kanako's general eeriness. She talks about reincarnation and death and killing Yoriko and taking her place....and Yoriko's all, oh yes, I believe you, kill me, kiss me, tie me up, tie me down, bondage. XD
random bloody handprints are the stuff of horror

What I'm saying, of course, is that the yuri is gratuitous at this point...although I don't mind it in the least bit. It's all very eery and I'm sure the two girls are going to be very significant characters later on. I wonder if the whole thing is just a flashback...because that head inside the box looks amazingly like Yoriko. Not to mention that ominous statement Yoriko's mother made when Yoriko fought with her about Kanako, saying that she doesn't want to become old and ugly. Her mother said that if she didn't grow old, she wouldn't be human, she would be an evil spirit. Is Kanako, therefore, an evil spirit? this is significant since it really appears like she's just manipulating Yoriko. And what does that make Yoriko's mother or Yoriko, for that matter?

Another interesting point is after Kanako explains to Yoriko the five death omens of a goddess, Yoriko wondered if her mother should have died the moment she was born. I don't know if she was merely considering the Five Death Omens as a metaphor but I guess she means that her father basically left her mother after Yoriko was born and that made her mother unhappy. Unhappiness spells death for a goddess, or some such.

The detective, of course, is another interesting character. He's obviously got he's involved in this ultra-strange case with Kanako and Yoriko.

I guess all will be revealed in the next episodes.

Series Info (Anime News Network)
WATCH Mouryou no Hako PV
WATCH Mouryou no Hako OP Clip