Mouryou no hako is based on an award-winning novel by Natsuhiko Kyogoku, who also wrote the novel which gave us Requiem from the Darkness. Some of the Requiem from the Darkness team has joined in the production of Mouryou no Hako, and I think it shows. Character designs come from CLAMP, filtered by the able hands of Asako Nishida (who also transmuted Carnelian’s designs in Yami to boushi to hon no tabibito and the equally-cherry-blossomed Touka gettan; and also gave us the breeze-tangled tresses of Simoun).
The novel is the second in a series that centers around an antique bookseller who gets involved in solving mysteries. It was adapted into a live-action film last year.
The show has a delightfully creepy beginning: an encounter between strangers on a train, and one of them has a talking, living head in a box — the perfect beginning for an October ghost story.
Much of the episode centers around the poetry and cherry-blossom-strewn moonlit walks shared by poor Yoriko (the daughter of a widowed maker of doll’s heads) and doom-laden Kanako (wealthy and mysterious). But this seems to be the set-up for the first of a series of deaths that will draw the attention of our set of detectives:
In this episode, we meet two of these fellows — the fellow on the left was the man who had the surprise encounter with the girl’s head in the box. The man in the middle is a Tokyo detective, who just happened upon the scene of, perhaps, our first crime. Before he did so, however, he had a vision, apparently harkening back to an experience he had during the war (I assume the invasion of Manchuria — this episode appears to be set in the 1930s). This scene is marvellously creepy, and coupled with the earlier scene on the train, promises a chilling horror series to come.
With production people associated with Requiem from the Darkness and Boogiepop Phantom, I expect this to be an interestingly chilling series, and am looking forward to more.