Anime: Mouryou no Hako


Mouryou no Hako is an adaptation of a book by famed mystery author Kyougoku Natsuhiko. It was adapted into a manga as well, but I haven’t had the opportunity to read it. The character designs were by CLAMP which for me is LOVE! In short the story is intriguing, and develops very well. A gripping, psychological mystery.

It’s a ‘period’ mystery, I’m not entirely sure when it was set, but probably just after World War 2. It’s essentially two mysteries rolled into one. The first about a girl who was kidnapped and the second about girls being dismembered. The actual episodes doesn’t follow the chronological order of the plot, and because some of the characters are authors, some scenes depicted are from their books, adding to the confusion.

Slowly but surely the mystery develops and unravels before our very eyes. We begin to understand, and although at times explanations can be lengthy and a good deal of the supernatural are thrown in, the symbolism is not lost. If there was a way to describe the plot, it would be neat. loose ends are tied up well, and everything is linked to each other, much like the anime Monster which I loved as well.

The art and background are comfortable and ‘watercoloury’. It suited the slow-moving pace of the plot as well as the feel of the settings and era. The things that stood out, were important to the plot. One does have to take the time to pay attention to all that is happening, to sit through almost an episode worth of what the word mouryou means, but it is all worth it. Especially if it interests you as it does me. I guess the feel of the show is similar to Mushishi, quietly moving forward.

The psychological aspects are done well, the main character of Sekiguchi provides most of this. He seems to be the most emotional of the lot, as well as the one asking the question on the viewers behalf. I won’t say there is character development per se, but I think as the characters back stories are related to us, we understand each character much better and boy are the back stories interesting! Bits and pieces at first to tease the viewers, but at the end when everything is revealed, there are still some shocks to be had.

Some parts can be a little creepy, we are looking at a psychological mystery after all, but nothing too gory. The beginning of the show has deceived many into believing it had shoujo ai themes, but it does not. The background music goes well, but nothing outstanding either.

It really is a cross between Monster and Mushishi. and being the second book in a series, I kind of hope they would adapt the rest. Although since it’s been so long already, I doubt that they will. Maybe I’ll read the novels, if they get translated to English, but I think only the first has been translated. Oh well, we’ll see.

A very good anime, I would wholeheartedly recommend to serious mystery lovers.

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  1. […] supernatural harm at the end of the book. I mean, he is the Japanese mystery author that brought us Mouryou no Hako. And is probably the author who really makes me wish I knew how to read […]



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