「天人五衰の事」 (Tennin Gosui no Koto)
“Five Death Omens of an Angel”
Adapted from the novels by Natsuhiko Kyougoku, Mouryou no Hako (Box of Evil Spirits) involves a series of gruesome, dismemberment murders, in a myterious, riddle-filled story that begins with two girls. After watching the first eposide, I was confused as to where the story was going, but soon realized that it was because of all incomplete information out there failing to give a proper representation of what this series is about. Seeing how this is also the case in the English-speaking anime sphere, I decided to look into the story more, which I found has the makings of a really good horror/detective mystery.
Similar to Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro yet devoid of silly comedy, Mouryou no Hako thus far comes off much creepier with only its seemingly tranquil, but completely ominous presentation. With living human heads stuffed into boxes, human souls entrapped in dolls, haunting memories about deceased soldiers, and a binding of existences that traverses death itself, I’m “quietly” disturbed by what I’ve seen. The dialogue is key here to experience this effect in full, so watching it with a semi-competent understanding is not recommended. Visual-wise, MADHOUSE does an excellent job here as they typically do, which critics harsher than myself should appreicate. Being one of the six series that they’re working on this season, Muryou no Hako doesn’t seem to suffer from any shortcomings, and also features characters designs by the female mangaka group CLAMP, who worked on the insanely popular CODE GEASS. Backdrops are lush when they need to be, and eerily dark when they don’t, giving off that surreal yet frightening contrast. So what exactly is this series about?
Beginning with a girl who has no friends and issues with her mother, the story shows how Kusumoto Yoriko (Takahashi Mikako) befriends the beautiful, prodigy student, Yuzuki Kanako (Tomatsu Haruka), who soon starts claiming they’re an existence that’s one in the same. Despite being confused by her words about Tennin Gosui (Five Death Omens of an Angel), Yoriko continues to spend a lot of time with Kanako and decides to go to a lake with her one evening, catching the last train back. On their return trip however, Kanako inexplicablely goes onto the tracks and gets run over, much to Yoriko’s shock, especially when she notices Kanako’s smile as she’s taken off in a stretcher. Riding onboard that last train was Inspector Kiba Shuutarou, who happened to experience a frightening World War-like nightmare just prior to the incident.
While the first episode concludes there, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Kanako, whose presence in the overall story is probably the most mysterious aspect of it. At the hospital later, Yoriko runs into Kanako’s older sister, Youko, who’s been living together with her younger sister because their parents supposedly didn’t want Kanako. Yoriko however is immediately suspicious of Youko, an actress who Shuutarou seems to have a thing for. Being the daughter of a family with a high social status, Kanako is taken off to some mysterious extensive-care facility and disappears from everyone’s sight at that point. After that happens though, successive murders involving dismembered victims start occuring, which a girl named Chuuzenji Atsuko (Kuwashima Houko) starts investigating, leading to her working with various detectives in an attempt to unravel the mystery behind them.
Music-wise, the opening and ending themes are both performed by the visual kei band Nightmare, whose songs were also featured in Claymore, Death Note, and the aforementioned Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. Given their type of music and track record of series it’s been used in, it comes as no surprise that their songs are here. While I’ve never been a big fan of their appearance, I actually find their music pretty good, which “Lost in Blue” and “NAKED LOVE” are good examples of. Cast-wise, we have a plethora of big and experienced names, which I’ll defer to the notable cast list below. I will point out that Tomatsu Haruka put on an awesome performance as Kanako though, which actually had me thinking it was Inoue Marina at first. She once again continues to display the range she has, making me confident that Haruka (who’s only 18 years old right now) will become a much more prominant seiyuu in the future.
Horror mystery in a MADHOUSE production with a long list of veteran seiyuus, Mouryou no Hako comes your way Tuesdays.
– Chuuzenji Akihiko (中禅寺 秋彦) : Hirata Hiroaki (平田 広明)
– Sekiguchi Tatsumi (関口 巽) : Kiuchi Hidenobu (木内 秀信)
– Enokidzu Reijirou (榎木津 礼二郎) : Morikawa Toshiyuki (森川 智之)
– Kiba Shuutarou (木場 修太郎) : Seki Takaaki (関 貴昭)
– Toriguchi Morihiko (鳥口 守彦) : Namikawa Daisuke (浪川 大輔)
– Aoki Bunzou (青木 文蔵) : Suwabe Junichi (諏訪部 順一)
– Kusumoto Yoriko (楠本 頼子) : Takahashi Mikako (高橋 美佳子)
– Kusumoto Kimie (楠本 君枝) : Tsuda Shouko (津田 匠子)
– Yuzuki Kanako (柚木 加奈子) : Tomatsu Haruka (戸松 遥)
– Yuzuki Youko (柚木 陽子) : Hisakawa Aya (久川 綾)
– Chuuzenji Atsuko (中禅寺 敦子) : Kuwashima Houko (桑島 法子)
– Sekiguchi Yukie (関口 雪絵) : Honda Takako (本田 貴子)
– Mysterious Man (謎の男) : Furuya Tooru (古谷 徹)
– Amemiya Noritada (雨宮 典匡) : Hiyama Nobuyuki (檜山 修之)
– Masuoka Noriyuki (増岡 則之) : Miki Shinichirou (三木 眞一郎)
– Policeman Fukumoto (福本巡査) : Ueda Yuuji (うえだ ゆうじ)
– Sasagawa (笹川) : Koyama Rikiya (小山 力也)
– Inspector Ishii (石井警部) : Ugaki Hidenari (宇垣 秀成)