The Morose Mononokean (不機嫌なモノノケ庵, Fukigen na Mononokean) is a fantasy series based on the manga by Kiri Wazawa. The first season, 13 episodes, aired in 2016, and the second one, 13 episodes as well, in 2019.
Hanae Ashiya is all excited about entering high school, but a weird (and adorable) fluffy creature starts haunting him, which makes him faint all the time. Thinking he’ll never get to enjoy high school properly, he calls a number he sees on an old poster, about an exorcist seeking to recruit someone. He is immediately taken to a strange, sentient tea room with a door that opens anywhere. Here, Abeno Haruitsuki, the rather gruff master of the Mononokean, who also happens to be one of Ashiya’s classmates, agrees to exorcise him but makes him work off his debt as an employee of the Mononokean. Their duty is to help yokai lost in the mundane world return to the underworld, whose doors only Abeno can open.
(Abeno and the fluffy creature)
I like this show a lot, first of all because it’s the very definition of heartwarming. The relationship between the characters is amusing, the creatures are cute, be they fluffy dog like yokai, or unruly fox deity small boys.
There is definitely some action in there, but Abeno’s, well, morose character is well balanced with Ashiya’s constant optimism and kindness. The story deepens as the show moves forward, most notably with questions surrounding the disappearance of the first Master of the Mononokean, the yokai who raised Abeno, and of Ashiya’s missing father, who may have been an employee of the Mononokean at one time. Apart from this, the biggest draw for me was the episodes that take place in the Underworld. The art style changes for this, and the setting is beautifully depicted in woodblock-print style:
The underworld is populated with interesting characters, among whom the three ruling powers, under which Abeno works as the Master of the Mononokean, the Legislator, the Justice and the Executive. While the Legislator, a lazy, drunken, charming type, is often on the side of the protagonists, the Executive dislikes the fact that they’re human and often proves a problem for them, especially Ashiya. The Justice, in between, is a sleepy looking youth who often turns into a sleepy-looking giant purple tiger. Those underworld episodes are, I believe, why this anime was chosen by the Musée Guimet (a renowned museum of Asian art in Paris) to be shown during its own anime worth watching cycle (the other anime they’re showing is Golden Kamuy).
To this, I will just add that the soundtrack is rather beautiful and peaceful.
In short, if you’re feeling down and want something beautiful and heartwarming to pick you up, this is the anime for you.
I guess it may be a bit too cute at times. Also, Ashiya is quite noisy (which is perfectly acknowledged by the show, one of his lines is “being noisy is part of my identity”)
Weeb level: 3/10 maybe? It’s steeped in Japanese folklore, but extensive knowledge isn’t needed, you can perfectly appreciate the show without knowing anything about it.
Fanservice: 0,5/10, maybe? This show is the purest thing to ever walk the Earth.
Quality: 8/10. It’s maybe a bit slow at times, but it’s just the perfect way to relax with a nice shawl and a warm tea. Or hot chocolate, whichever you prefer.
Where to Watch: Both seasons are on Crunchyroll, which also has the manga.