The convoluted chronology. The discussion of spirits that lasted one and a half episodes. And, of course, Kyougokudou’s (Akihiko Chuuzenji) dramatic reveal at the end as the disparate components of the mystery finally flow together into a coherent, engrossing narrative. Those were the three things that stood out to me most when I watched Mouryou no Hako, one of the more underrated anime series out there for mystery/horror fans.
Mouryo no Hako ~main theme~
Not surprisingly, the music plays a strong role in making Mouryo no Hako’s storytelling an immersive experience. “Mouryo no Hako ~main theme~’s” quiet piano introduction brings out the undercurrent of tragedy and the sense of resignation that runs throughout the anime, as the characters find themselves drawn into a circle of fate forged by the past that none can escape from.
The melody, which starts after the introduction, features a slow tempo that reflects the speed at which critical information is unveiled. Nothing about the melody is complex, but it’s nevertheless captivating, drawing you further into the mystery and preparing you for the inevitable sorrow that materializes during the resolution. The sadness the melody depicts lingers, though there is a glimmer of hope that shines in to clear out the dust that obscures the skeletons in each characters’ closet. As their secrets come out into the open, the experience that unfolds is a cathartic one, as the weight of the past is lifted from each person’s shoulders, allowing them to move on with life.
That’s the redemption that the snippet of optimism in the main theme promises, and I assure you the scene itself is well-executed. Definitely not something I’ll ever be able to forget.
For those who do find this show’s premise combining a murder mystery along with Japanese supernatural elements to be an intriguing one and want to give this show a try, here’s some advice: make sure you keep the chronologies straight. The series does try to obscure things by messing around with the order in which they present events, and being able to figure out what happens when goes a long way in making this mystery/horror anime a little more enjoyable.