Written by TheBigN
I’m surprised at the relative lack of coverage that Mokke‘s getting from people here in the blogosphere, as I think it’s a pretty solid show. After that first hiccup of an episode which apparently tried to show off Mizuki’s (the possessee) and Shizuru’s (the person who can see the possessors, among other things) abilities/burdens, as well as how dangerous things can be for the two sisters, the show’s been hitting it’s stride well. If you watched more episodes of the series, you could see why the first episode didn’t work as well as the probable intent of the show. With a show that feels sort of like a combination between Kamichu and Mushishi in both pace and feel, the danger in the first episode was presented way too urgently, which contrasts drastically at the slow pace that Mokke‘s more comfortable with, and it ended up not having the impact it should have (course there’s the whole “introducing the characters” think that didn’t work out quite as well either). And it also didn’t show off what I think is the series’ strength; that is, a nice showcase of the human condition.
Each episode, we get introduced to a different spiritual entity that Mizuki, Shizuru or both have to deal with during their everyday lives, which are much happier than most probably would think. In every case, that entity comes to/from a person and reflects something that a person is dealing with, often exacerbating what a person is “suffering” from. From feelings and characteristics such as jealousy, inadequacy, pride, luck, an inquisitive nature and so on, depending on the person affected, the results can be positive or negative as long as the person has the spirit. Though considering how mysterious the spiritual world is in addition to the associated fear of the unknown, the results tend to be negative. Often in order to rid people of or change the nature what possesses them, they have to be presented with a new viewpoint or shown the error of their ways, whether if it’s to stop searching so hard for things, to buck up, or to not let the influence get to them, as Mizuki so often has to do when she’s being possessed. Every episode of Mokke usually works like clockwork in this manner, and provides a monster-of-the-week feel that slice of life shows usually provides us (thanks omo).
We also get insight into how our protagonists deal with the “powers” that have been given to them. As someone who’s easily taken over by entities, we see the immediate effects first hand as Mizuki deals with them. As with most things, we can’t really be too certain is this ability is a gift or a burden overall; while many of the things that possess Mizuki do help her out in someway while helping her grow as a person, she seems to worry a lot about what can happen because of her capabilities. Even being away for a little bit from Shizuru and their grandfather poses risk for her, and though Mizuki is a very easy going person, the anxiety always seems to be there for her, and there also sometimes seems to be what sounds like a desire to not have had her ability in the first place. On the flip side, as Shizuru can see what possesses other people, there’s always a question about she should get involved with that person’s situation, or remain on the sidelines as things take their course (here’s wishing that Sawaki faces this dilemma in Moyashimon :P). Even though it isn’t really her fault that she has that ability, that feeling of having the responsibility to do something with it remains ever present. Here, the problem is knowing when to do something about it, as it’s unknown what might happen if she tries to help out without knowing the nature of the beast (figuratively, and sometimes literally).
What makes this show work for me is that while we have the supernatural aspect which is very prominent in Mokke, the show is still grounded in reality. That means that I can relate with the situations that occur in the show (there goes that word again :P). For all intensive purposes, aside from their abilities, Shizuru and Mizuki are pretty normal people, and the situations that they and the people they interact with are thrust in every episode are things that we all can understand. We all know what it’s like to feel fear and pride in trying to remain above other people in matters like academic standing, to feel burdened by doubt when you don’t think you can do something, etc. We also know how it feels when you’re “more special” than others, and some of the conflicting feelings that can result because of that in our real life, whether if it’s being an otaku, having a medical condition, or other real life experiences. How these cases are presented, despite the paranormal basis, are all things we’ve seen and can feel; the ethereal only really serves to present these scenes in a unique and entertaining means.
If you want to draw a parallel to this, Kino’s Journey serves as another means of presenting the same process. As Kino and Hermes travel, each town the duo visits represents an aspect of human nature, albeit over exaggerated to the point where it’s almost comical. This concept doesn’t seem to consist of “this is what happens when some we can have goes too far”, but rather “this does exist in ourselves, and it’s a good thing to take notice sooner rather than later”. Mokke seems to follow that same idea, though its execution is much more subdued and lighthearted than what’s present in Kino. While it seems like the towns that Kino visit, for good or bad, are destined to remain the way that they are, the people that Mizuki and Shizuru interact with in Mokke, as well as the heroes themselves, can change, and that’s also human nature.
Of course, if you’re not interested in thinking about the human condition, the show is pretty standard school slice-of-life fare, and it is still entertaining regardless seeing the adventures that the sisters face. Some of the secondary cast of characters are fun to watch and to get to know, and it’s nice to just sit back and enjoy the scenery, as a lot of it is beautiful. But if you want more than that, I believe Mokke contains a lot more substance than it looks (even if it isn’t what I’ve said here), and I hope more people check this series out. I’d like to say it’s one of the more underrated series of this year at least. :3