Random Curiosity

Mokke – 02

Mizuki falls asleep on the breakfast table, as a result of staying up all night studying for a test on kanji. Shizuru compliments her on the effort, although she expresses concern for her drowsy little sister. We also learn that wise ol’ grandpa is gone for two to three days due to work. Shizuru continues to talk about her concern for Mizuki, advising her to not fall asleep during the test; in addition, she mentions about the offerings for the nearby Inari shrine getting eaten up. She naturally alerts her younger sister to avoid passing the shrine as to not attract youkai.

Aki, Shizuru’s friend, pops up on the countryside road, and greets the girls. Shizuru hands Aki a notebook filled with lecture notes taken from the days Aki was absent from having a cold. Aki is pleasantly surprised with this, as Mizuki muses about how she wants to be able to help others, and how this desire brought her to the spirit introduced in this episode, the izuna.

Mizuki, like the episode before, ignores her sister’s warnings and passes by the Inari shrine as she makes her way to school – sure enough, the offerings are half-gone. She notices that only some of the food offered were eaten, and makes note that the culprit is probably not human (who would most likely consume all of it). Just as she wonders about this, a youkai jumps onto her back, as Mizuki regretfully thinks, “Oh boy, I did it again.”

The phantom spirit, invisible to Mizuki, introduces itself as Amenosumera ashuho no Mikoto (a deity). It claims to have been drawn to Mizuki, and offers to provide the young girl with spiritual powers and guidance – Mizuki is wary and completely unconvinced by the youkai’s proposal.

After the seemingly disastrous kanji test (where Mizuki refuses to accept the youkai’s help to cheat) the class is presented with a research project concerned with their town’s (Kamimenecho) culture. The students are enthusiastic at the announcement, as one of the projects will be included in the local newspaper. Mizuki’s group decides to write about the town’s numerous 蔵屋敷 (kurayashiki – translated as a medieval storehouse/storage of sorts). Mizuki looks around the library for reference books on the particular subject, and with the aid of the youkai finds several of them; she is starting to trust the spirit sitting on her shoulders now.

With school over, Shizuru notices the youkai, calling it kawaii and comparing it to a hamster. Being able to see it, she draws a quick sketch and recalls that the spirit on Mizuki’s shoulder is not actually a deity, but spirits collectively known as an izuna.

  • Technical note: Izuna are explained in this episode as youkai that a) devote themselves to a master and b) assist the master in various ways. The izuna that became attached to Mizuki was until recently wandering around for a new master
  • Mizuki quietly asks her sister if the izuna can remain at her side until their grandfather returns, which Shizuru permits. She tells Mizuki, however, that they should be wary of Mike-san, their grandparents’ cat, or any other cat for that matter, as they have a disposition to repel or even eat these particular youkai.

    With the izuna’s help, Mizuki brings her group along to finish up the cultural report. They visit the several kurayashiki in their area (taking photos and interviewing locals in the process) and make significant progress. The group stops by one particular kurayashiki that lies ahead of a dark tunnel. Before they enter, however, an argument breaks out between Mizuki and the two boys in the group, who accuse her of being a control freak and depart.

    Upset and puzzled at why her willingness to be cooperative and helpful backfired, Mizuki mopes around the Inari shrine. The izuna attempts to cheer her up, but only makes her more irritated, until a sudden whirlwind blows and whips up the surrounding leaves. Wondering about what can possibly happen now, Mizuki looks ahead and spots Mike-san (pronounced mi-keh, of course, not mike >.>), their cat. With a few meows, it repels (or rather, blows away) the small spirit away into thin air. It leaves a few select words of thanks to Mizuki before it is blown away.

    After this takes place -

  • Mizuki cries with the departure of the izuna and regrets her actions
  • Mizuki apologizes to her group and resumes working on their report
  • The final scene, where we catch a glimpse of Mizuki’s notebook indicates that her group’s article was chosen for the newspaper. Everything turns out quite well in the end. :)

    Preview:

    Thoughts: This particular episode turned out to be better than I thought, and for me a much better viewing experience than the one that preceded it (although this still doesn’t change the fact that this is a series that appeal to select groups of people). I particularly liked the countryside lifestyle depicted this time around, and it helps that Mizuki and her classmates act like kids – not miniature adults or children with one-dimensional personalities. It also turns out that the izuna was a helpful fellow with zero ill intentions after all; my continuous suspicion that this particular youkai will attack or trap Mizuki must have stemmed from all the years watching Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro and Gakko no Kaidan movies back when I was young.

    I haven’t mentioned it last time, but this show makes use of several BGM’s which contain pieces from traditional Japanese instruments like the shamisen, which helps in creating an appropriate mood for a show about the countryside, nature, and spirits. I still have no clue as to why the BGM inserted during the sponsor credits resemble a Harry Potter-jingle knockoff, though.

    Next time: Shizuru snatches away the spotlight from her sister, who had far too much screentime this episode. No trickster spirits are present either, and the youkai appearing next episode appears to be malevolent.

  • October 11, 2007 at 6:50 pm
    13 comments »
    • October 11, 2007 at 7:12 pmHinano

      is that cat farting >_>

    • October 11, 2007 at 7:55 pmGene

      That’s a leaf. xD

    • October 11, 2007 at 8:14 pmJuni0r

      This anime completely and utterly fails in all categories 2nd worse anime I have ever watched.

    • October 11, 2007 at 8:54 pmTerry-Kun

      doesnt look too bad…but its not my type of anime…>.>

    • October 11, 2007 at 9:11 pmmewmew

      that’s interesting, juni0r, because i can easily come up with numerous other series that are easily worse than this. :O

      no one is forcing you to watch this, and no one is forcing you to read about it either ^^; (although i have no choice if you are still unsatisfied after watching it…)

      oh well.

    • October 11, 2007 at 9:47 pmTaxy

      I think Mokke perfectly shows a japanese heart. It’s full of believe in the supernatural and spiritual world and it seems for me, that it perfecty fits the world, that I see when I visited Japan last year, especially rural areas like Kyoushou. If you want to see, how Japanese think of their shrines and temples, watch this series like you watched Kamichu.

      PS: Love your detailed blog for Mokke – please continue like that! :)

    • October 11, 2007 at 11:28 pmsetsuke

      Expecting for your もやしもん too mewmew would like too know what kind of story they can make for bacterias lol.

    • October 12, 2007 at 4:57 amvexx

      I’m more inclined to side with Taxy’s assessment. Watching Mokke requires some understanding or a willingness to learn about japanese religion/myth/animism. Viewers with neither attribute are likely to “not get it” and should move on. There’s a fair amount of “Totoro” homage in the setting and the two sisters… though I’d say the little sister in Mokke is less annoying.

      Moving past that, the show struggled a bit in the first episode, though this one seems to be paced a bit better. I’m just not fond of the character design of their grandma and their grandfather needs some personality fleshing out — very one-dimensional humorless version of the grandfather in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase. It would be nice if they could avoid the “youkai of the week” syndrome but we’ll see how it goes.

      The backgrounds and settings are still very nicely done and I like the mood evocations (particularly in combination with the music).

    • October 12, 2007 at 9:22 amAlly

      Hm…I think this show looks interesting. I may pick it up. :-)

    • October 14, 2007 at 12:34 amcloverminx

      I hope you keep blogging about this show because Mokke is about how humans cope with the supernatural. There’s a lot of real insights into the Japanese cultures and traditions that you don’t see often in anime, especially in a countryside environment. This show isn’t flashy and doesn’t astounds like Mushishi, but it still resonates with that quiet, slice-of-life quality. The opening song is one of the best I have heard so far this season. ^_^

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    • January 10, 2008 at 11:37 amWatanuki

      Nice and sweet fresh new series. Sort of like a less-darker xxxHOLiC with normal characters.

      Juni0r’s comment completely and utterly fails in all categories. He’s a retard. 2nd worse comment I have ever read.

    • February 24, 2008 at 4:47 amMatt

      lol@Watanuki. i wonder what Juni0r’s least fav is…probably Cowboy Bebop :p

      anyway, after watching up to 15, my favorite moment in the series is from this ep, when Mizuki has her head on Shizuru’s lap and is crying about telling izuna they aren’t friends :’[