The third volume of The Morose Monokean finally answers some long-awaited questions.
Title: The Morose Mononokean
Genre: Supernatural, Slice of Life
Publisher: Square-Enix (JP), Crunchyroll (U.S)
Artist: Kiri Wazawa
Serialization: Gangan Online
Translation: Mika Stifler
With a much shorter break between volumes this time around, Crunchyroll has put up another volume of Kiri Wazawa’s supernatural manga about demons and two high school boys who work with them. When we last left them, Ashiya and Abeno were visiting the underworld and Ashiya made the classic side-kick mistake of taking off on his own and getting into trouble. But readers already know Ashiya is prone to getting into trouble, the bigger question is what new mysteries and answers did this volume bring up?
Last time I talked about how the story seemed to create more questions than answers, but this time around we got a few more answers! Abeno is in fact human; considering he’s in a human high school this makes sense! It does look like the fact that he’s human is a bit of a secret in the demon world though, even if he is recognized as the Master of the Mononokean. Abeno inherited the title relatively recently, and while the side characters are saying, “Maybe he killed his predecessor, maybe he didn’t!” I’m going with my gut and saying it’s probably more complicated than murder, as that would honestly feel out of place here.
The story is equally vague about Ashiya; last time I wondered how he was suddenly able to see demons at all. I’m now fairly sure that ability is related to his first encounter with the demon in the first chapter, who I guess is now permanently named Fuzzy. There was also an almost-throwaway in hint volume 2 about how he could be dangerous — whether because he’s human or because of another personal issue, the reader doesn’t yet know — and this volume tip-toed with that idea for a panel or two here before leaving it for another day. Once again my gut is telling me that it isn’t just a red herring. Ashiya is able to do something; there’s a glowing-effect near his hand when he gets mad, drawing a comment from another character that’s worth noting. Since we honestly know more about how demons function than how humans interact with them at this point though, I’m not expecting an answer anytime soon.
There are still a few shaky things in the story; a new character, “the legislator,” has a pretty inconsistent introduction as a “shady” guy in one chapter and a friendly guy in the next — a big enough difference that Wazawa actually mentions this change in their notes. The art falls short in a few places too, namely when trying to show big, dramatic landscapes. They are a bit lacking in composition and shading/screentones that would best utilize the negative space, but overall the story as a whole seems to be settling into a pattern. The story seems content to have smaller, more character focused arcs rather than big ones with lots of plot elements. but it is introducing a few new ideas or characters in each chapter so it feels like progress is being made nonetheless. I honestly think that supernatural stories are one of the best fits for character driven, almost slice of life stories. With so many unanswered questions about the characters themselves, I can’t wait for the next couple of volumes!