Mouryou no Hako: Bliss found in Madness

July 4, 2009


Because most of you have not yet seen all of Mouryou no Hako, I won’t be talking about the mystery aspect of the show. All I have to say is that, most likely, you will be disturbed and blown away by the end. Aside from its absorbing and disturbing mystery, Mouryou no Hako has something else to offer on the aesthetics side, and that is beauty of madness (kyouki bi 狂気美). Here is what Wabisabi once said about kyouki bi in relation to Mouryou no Hako:

“The strange and demonic beauty of madness, lunacy and all manner of mental infirmities, usually accompanied by an intense yearning or obsession for some delusional concept of ‘purity’, ‘perfection’ or ‘ideal’, refusal to compromise with ‘impurity’ and ‘imperfection’ and a readiness for death and destruction.”


"Only under moonlight (luna-cy?) can all living things flee from being bound to life" - Kanako

If you’ve seen the first few episodes of Mouryou no Hako then maybe you can see its relevance to Yoriko’s state of mind. In many ways, the things Yoriko say, and the things she starts believing in, are completely delusional and insane. But, they are more alluring. You have seen it, how radiating Kanako was when she danced under the moonlight. You simply want to be seduced by it, to be enveloped in its beauty. The last thirty seconds of Mouryou no Hako‘s first episode was one of the most beautiful and captivating moments in anime.

Without spoiling anything too important, you will later find that there are few more characters under similar demonic influence (or mouryou), who have surrendered to the beauty and bliss found only in realms of madness. I somewhat regret that their madness aren’t as beautifully expressed as Yoriko’s. More disturbing and twisted perhaps. But not as beautiful.


I have other minor complaints as well, which are all preventing me from rating this show higher than 8/10, but I would need to spoil the mystery for you to justify them. Once the subs are out and my honoured readers have finished watching them all, I would be more than delighted if some of you would come back to this post to discuss.


Mouryou no Hako 01mouryoumouryoumouryousnapshot20090704202022mouryou


26 Responses to “Mouryou no Hako: Bliss found in Madness”

  1. psgels Says:

    I’m curious about what made you rate this series so low. I’m one of those who watched the finale raw, and I was indeed blown away by the ending and really loved the whole series. It’s hard to discuss this series without delving in major spoilers, though.

  2. gaguri Says:

    Hey psgels. I am well aware of how you rate shows, but for me 8/10 is not a low score. In fact, many of my favourite shows I have rated 8/10 before, including Lain, Boogiepop Phantom, Simoun, etc. It’s just that I think there were rooms for improvement.

    Without spoiling anything, for example, I think some of the middle episodes were bit monotonous, shifted emphasis on the central mystery to origins and meanings of the word mouryou (which were interesting, but I think it didn’t need two full episodes and it deterred the show’s momentum. Although my biggest regret, as mentioned before, is that the mad characters, other than Yoriko, weren’t given as much attention. So what they did, and believed in, were twisted and terrifying, but the impact is more of surprise and being disturbed, and wasn’t as sublime as the moments involving Yoriko and Kanako.

    *I actually rated it 9 at first, so I guess it’s somewhere between 8-9. I don’t really want to put too much weight on numerical values, all I can say is Mouryou no Hako is an amazing mystery, is beautiful, twisted, and absolutely unique and absorbing.

  3. Martin Says:

    I’ve watched as far as #9 if memory serves, but even taking my sporadic viewing of recent episodes into account it did feel as though it got bogged down partway through with all those long-winded explanations.

    I’m just glad someone else is watching this! I’m hoping the final few eps do get subbed, because it’s especially disappointing to get so far into a mystery story and not find out how it ends. Some shows are strictly episodic but I strongly believe that this is one you really have to see through to completion in order to appreciate it fully. I suspect I’ll end up rewatching it from the beginning too.

  4. gaguri Says:

    I strongly recommend watching from beginning again before continuing with the final few episodes (if they do get subbed in the first place). I marathoned the series in 2 sittings, and having early episodes fresh in my mind helped keeping up with the series (and the amazing final episodes probably benefited from that too).

  5. Kitsune Says:

    Hidetoshi Kaneko is an excellent art director, but the art alone was not enough to make me finish the series.

  6. gaguri Says:

    Oh, but you have to finish it! I know what you mean, but the final episodes make it all worth it, trust me on this!

  7. Kitsune Says:

    I trust you, so I watched it 🙂 However, lack of subs makes viewing more difficult, so I had to read some summaries to pick up what I didn’t understand. Well, what can I say… It is a very twisted plot… Also they brought up brain-mind, human-non-human issues there…

    Overall, the series is impressive, but I didn’t enjoy it much because mystery genre is not my favorite.

  8. gaguri Says:

    Ah my apologies, I assumed you could understand enough Japanese to watch raws. Well probably you can for most series, just that the conversations in Mouryou is so wordy and sophisticated (even with subs it was confusing).

    As for me, I love a good mystery so the final episodes were more than enough to satisfy me ^^

  9. Shadowmage Says:

    Wait, there are subs for this?

  10. Flash Sword Irene Says:


    There was actually a sub file released for episode 10 of the Blu-Ray raws and I have yet to watch it due to the fact that I am too lazy to go get the file for it. Problematically, episode 10 is only part of this batch torrent of RAWs and worrying about whether or not there will be more subs for the later episodes in that particular set is not worth it. But, episodes 1-9 have been subbed thus far and not much other then that.

    @The actual article itself:

    Personally, this is a series that I would rate a 9/10 which is a rarity since I have only given like 2 other animes that honor thus far. I actually didn’t mind the conjecture in the middle episodes since it seems to be laying down some good groundwork for some clever red herrings and a killer plot twist or two down the road. Still, MnH’s production has been pretty saavy and intelligent (Imo) which makes it one of my favorite mystery animes of all time. Of course, I have yet to finish this since I do need to wait for subs and all. But, I am sure my patience will be rewarded once this becomes a finished project.

  11. gaguri Says:


    If you’re ok with Korean subs, let me know and I can PM you where to get/how to play sub files via MAL. Then you can be the first one to review it
    (*omg they changed the bloody wordpress emoticons)

    @Flash Sword Irene

    Hmm well, the middle episodes talk about lot of intereting stuffs, but they had little relevance to the actual mystery. More conceptual than playing vital roles in ‘piecing the puzzle’ at the end. But, the plot twists are indeed killers, and totally worth the patience.

  12. Shadowmage Says:

    Ah, I should have known.

    I’m tempted to see the Korean subs, but since my vocabulary is not very strong for the language, I think I’ll pass. Shame this is not some shounen action anime or a series I don’t care about.

  13. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    Ah, well that is still no prob for me since its not like my enjoyment and appreciation for it will go down. Especially after viewing episode 10 where that conjecture did not necessarily go to waste. I do have to say, episode 11 seems like that is where things really must get interesting after what happened at the end of 10.

    Currently, the only hope we may have right now would rest on Aoi-Hana fansubs since they actually did an official release of episode 10 today. These are the same people who graciously picked up an anime I thought would be lost in Genji Monnogatari Sennenki. They do a plausible enough job, so at the very least that pans out minus some nitpicks here and there.

  14. gaguri Says:

    imo it’s episode 12 that really really gets tense, and it’s episode 13 that becomes really f*cked up, but yea 11 is pretty good too i guess : D

    And hey, it’s the new english subs, what a timing!

  15. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    You know, my feeble brain got smacked around while viewing episode 12 which came out yesterday. The surprises were just that well placed since I thought things were pretty fucked up while viewing this. If episode 13 outperforms this one, then I must tip my hat off since I am waiting to get smashed with more twist(s) now. This show is one hell of a ride from start to finish and it is refreshing to me.

    MnH is definitely one of the best animes I have seen in the past few years since Monster or Casshern: Sins. It is just that awesome.

  16. gaguri Says:

    My personaly recommendation would have been to watch episodes 11-13 together, but I suppose watching them weekly has its charm too. And yes…if you thought 12 was shocking, 13 is going to mess with your head around a bit…

  17. press editor Says:

    Oh God, I totally agree. The start of the anime series is completely insane for me, especially with the blending of detective AND supernatural. I’m at episode 7 now which is a full episode explaining the mechanics of onmyouji and mouryou which almost totally lost me. That is just so crazy. But I love teh whole blending, suffice to say, I too am seduced by the mouryou!

  18. gaguri Says:

    Yeah those long talks can be bit confusing.

    And wait until you get to final episodes…total mindfuck i would say…

  19. […] but it might cause you to confuse it for reality later, when you try to figure out the killer. Ha Neul Seom has an interesting post on the aesthetics of madness, which quite important to this […]

  20. press editor Says:

    Oh god, I’m almost done. I’m still missing my final episode and parts of episode 10, because its a b*tch to watch with megaupload. I’m so sorry that I missed it for one year since last fall, when it was just out. It would’ve been on crunchyroll then.

    Actually, I find that the later episodes are less of a mindfuck because the dreams get clearer and clearer. By episode 9, we can confirm that Kubo Shunkou is the killer and from there on, putting the pieces together gets easier.

    What I’m really hung up on, is that Eno and Sekiguchi gives Kubo a photo of Kanako and lets Yoriko go. Eno obviously suspects something wrong with Kubo, so how come he lets Yoriko go off so easily, to meet her death?

    I’m also hung up on Sekiguchi reading Kubo’s novel way before anyone does. This gives him an important clue to the identity of the killer in the “box” related case, but he misses it for being careless.

    They could have saved Yoriko, but then again, maybe Yoriko wasn’t worth saving since she killed Kanako. Correct me if I’m wrong but you blog on the aesthetics of animation?

  21. […] Ha Neul Seom writes about the ‘Bliss of Madness’ which is also another underlying theme of the series. […]

  22. gaguri Says:

    “Correct me if I’m wrong but you blog on the aesthetics of animation?”
    I don’t want to define what my blog is or what I blog about, but you may check out my other posts if you are interested.

    As for Mouryou, well, now I see that you’ve finally completed! Just dropped few lines your post, but I think it’s safe to say we share similar sentiments.

  23. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    Well, I did catch your post on NHRV over the ending of the anime and I just have not been able to tap into the powers of my brain to write a good/decent post. Although, I will generally say that the ending is so messed up and Kyougokudou is such an unrelenting genius that my mind was blown away. Granted, Kyoguku was more or less like Yagami Light when he stole the show in the end. The difference is that I actually like the elderly scholar as opposed to the brash, young S.O.B. whose act was tiresome before his respective anime was halfway over. (Not that it helped when L’s death was completely forced and ridiculous perfection that far exceeded any deus ex machina was his real opponent).

    But yes, I did thoroughly enjoy the anime enough to give it that rare 9 I hardly ever give out. I would also suggest Aoi Bungaku if you have not gotten around to watching it yet. The anime is a gem from 2009 that is just as smart and saavy as MnH.

  24. gaguri Says:


    Glad you loved Mouryou =D. Funny you speak of Aoi Bungaku, it was actually sitting next in line on my backburner!

  25. Flash Sword Irene Says:

    Considering that I don’t like the latter at all, I am very inclined to agree by a landslide. Well, I do suggest watching Aoi Bungaku since it is a creative piece of work that seems to do justice to each respective literary work it covers. For something off-topic I am surprised you ventured into the Giant Robo anime and I am glad that you enjoyed it from what it seems.

  26. gaguri Says:

    Giant Robo didn’t impress me at first, but oh boy was there something more to bite for the story.

    It’s interesting that many character designs in this anime were 100% COMPLETELY RIPPED OFF by a very well-known RoTK adaptation manga. I’m guessing the manga artist has some kind of connection to Giant Robo, it was simply hilarious to see Zhuge Liang being the mastermind behind the evil organisation…

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