“Specter; spirit; ghost. Mononoke is a very old word, now rarely used, that describes spirits who actively haunt or pursue a person or place. Though the spirit need not be evil, it does have somewhat of a dangerous connotation.”
Though it borders on pretentious, I’ve always wanted to kick-off an article with a word definition. Aside from its traditional Japanese meaning, "Mononoke” is a word synomonous with a certain Hayao Miyazaki blockbuster from 1997; immediately it recalls images of feudal Japan – an era when a fading mother nature was still capable of retaining her sense of mystery and magic. And so begins the 2007 series “Mononoke” with its distinctively Japanese take on supernatural folk-law.
For those who don’t read Wikipedia, “Mononoke” is a spin-off from the self-contained “Bake Neko” segment of 2006’s 11-episode 3-story anthology “Ayakashi”. Though I started watching fansubs of Ayakashi, the prolonged melodramatics and thick cultural references of the first segment (“Yotsuya Kaidan”) wrought such a soul-destroying apathy on my enthusiasm for the series that by the time I was aware of the striking visual style of “Bake Neko”; my fleeting interest in “Ayakashi” had all but expired. Jump forward to July 2007 and “Mononoke” started its run on Japanese TV. Having been seduced by its eccentric visual style and the positive word-of-mouth, this past weekend was spent haplessly indulging in seven episodes of Mononoke’s surreal feast. To you, I present these humble findings. (more…)