See this picture? Look at it. It’s the only thing that you’ll eventually remember. And one of these characters is a lie (he never actually joined the others).
Rating: R – 17+ (violence & profanity)
Synopsis: The story follows a series of bizarre murders of schoolgirls who have been dismembered and stuffed into boxes. The private investigator hired by a missing daughter’s mother joins forces with an antique book seller and others to unravel the murder spree.
This review is one of the hardest that I put myself to write; when I sat in front of the PC screen and tried to think about something to say about this anime, I was simply blank. Why?
In short, Moryou no Hako should be re-entitled “Goblin’s Box – Let’s sit down and talk! THE ANIME”.
I’m still not sure, to be honest. Moryou no Hako had this gimmick of having its characters say a lot of stuff, make a lot of references, when in reality 3/4 of it didn’t even seem remotely pertinent with the actual issue. At around episode 6, I just brought my hand to my chin in a thoughtful position and thought: “This anime is making me feel stupid for not being able to grasp the point of their dialogues”, then I just questioned: Am I really stupid? or is this anime trying to sound intellectual for the sake of being intellectual? Or, even worst, cryptic for the sake of being cryptic? Now, believe me, I really like mystery shows in all their glory, I also enjoy philosophical shows and I definitely don’t consider myself to be stupid, so then, what happened?
Answer: Moryou no Hako tries too much to make itself sound more “complex” than it actually is by inserting several elements and stories that might sound that they’re important, but in the end they’re completely ignored or have no meaning. As an example, the exposition episodes that spoke about the difference between mediums, priests, onmyouji and fortune tellers only served as nothing but background exposition that was in no way related to the actual story and sincerely, we could have lived without it or have the short version from each character itself. The drama behind the fortune teller ladies? Same. Useless. The story behind the box making? Useless. Kaiba’s supposed trauma? Err… The reincarnation theory of the two girls? ………. Do I have to say more?
Besides exposition, the execution and delivery of the shows fail a lot too. There isn’t even one moment when I felt enlightened, like “ooh, this is what happened!”. It simply didn’t allow me to. I just had to let myself pulled by their weird reasonings and conclusions till the last episode when somebody brought himself to solve all the mystery for us and enlighten those that were supposed to actually solve the mystery. Yay!…
There was really nothing to get tensed about, the revelation just fell flat and my reaction to it was something like a blank “oh”. The plot twists that concluded in that revelation had me give similar reactions; they definitely failed to do their job: to impress, maybe out of being so vaguely brushed to a side, that I was more than once left speechless wondering whether it was important or if it was some sort of revelatory turn that was portrayed in such a trivial manner as if they were talking about it over tea! Which they probably were for most of the show!
I would say (or somebody might assume) the slow pacing influenced my lack of “feelings” for this anime, but actually, I do like slow paced series when I think that they’re justified to take their time; usually they do to portray certain events and/or characters in certain ways to make ground for a justified development, but in this case, throwing exposition over exposition and reference to Japanese Shintoism over other references doesn’t represent “good slow pacing storytelling” since, again, most of them didn’t even matter.
On a lighter note, the conclusion was actually quite well made and I definitely understood where it tried to go, but 5 minutes of awesome in the last episode kind of looses “awesomeness” when put against all the episodes that lead to that.
And saying all this is a shame because overall it could have turned into a very interesting show if they only knew what to focus on, what to develop and when to throw in hints. The original idea was actually VERY intriguing, so I just feel sad for its failure.
Bland. If there was supposed to be any character development, I didn’t see it and the little that we actually have comes out of nowhere, definitely because they were busier talking and narrating rather than doing anything ( I know I’m repeating myself). If Eno could have just been on the screen for the whole time, I would have been happier and more entertained. Not.at.all.because.he.was.pretty.*coughs* Yes, I actually needed these shallow reasons to be entertained.
If it knew how to deal with the characters, once again, it would have turned into a pretty decent show. But sincerely, I wasn’t even able to remember most of the characters’ names, nor did I empathize or at least cared for anybody at all in their current states. Their expressions didn’t exactly help me figure them out either, since there was a lack of them overall. I question whether they were supposed to be viewed as humans or as “masks”.
Other, if not most, of the reasons why the characters suffered of bad writing could be copy-pasted from the Story section.
Art was fairly nice seeing that CLAMP worked on it, but I can’t say the same about animation. The close-ups were gorgeous, some background scenes like the cherry blossom trees scene were also gorgeous, or the “limbs” scene, but then you get the rest of the show… The characters were simply butchered in most scenes where the focus wasn’t their faces and sincerely there’s not much animation at all since most of the show happens as they sit in a chair and talk or sit around a table and talk. There was also this annoying rainbow filter smacked upon some scenes which it didn’t make anything look artistic at all if that was the intent.
I would like to point out that the manga had designs that would have worked far better for this story. All characters look VERY different from their anime counterparts; they’re way less “beauty-fied” and more “real” or made to “disturb” the reader or at least give them a sense of uncomfortableness even while looking at them. And actually, some scenes would have made more sense if the characters weren’t “glamored” up.
I really liked the opening and ending songs, but for the actual OST, it was limited and quite forgettable. Some of it didn’t exactly fit the scenes we were shown either.
I did not enjoy it. At all. Moryou no Hako anime is simply a waste of potential that I just wanted to finish and scrap from my list. As far as I know, the manga’s execution is considerably better, so I’d like to direct you towards the manga if you’re interested in this show. Or if you already read the manga/novels and want more, then yes, I guess you’ll be able to enjoy this.