The Historical Japanese Anime On Streaming With The Most Unique Look Of All Time

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

mononoke anime

When you watch a lot of anime, it can be difficult to find a series that really blows you away. That’s why we were so happy to revisit the Mononoke series on Crunchyroll. In addition to having a cool historical setting, this Toei Animation production has a startingly original look that you won’t soon forget. The show is both beautiful and ambitious, and you can see what the fuss is about by streaming it today.

While we think new fans would be fine simply jumping right into Mononoke, you should know that this show is actually a spinoff of an earlier anime series called Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales.

Mononoke is an anime currently streaming on Crunchyroll

That show was designed as a spooky anthology series, and it’s perfect to watch around Halloween or anytime that you could use a good scare. One of that anthology’s stories introduced us to a medicine man character, and that character is the primary focus of the spinoff Mononoke.


When it comes to the plot, you could say that the story of Mononoke is built right into the title. The word “mononoke” refers to unnatural spirits that haunt the Earth by binding themselves to extremely negative human emotions.

And while the show has a charmingly picaresque quality in which the medicine seller wanders, Shane-like, from town to town, every episode has a common theme: he must eventually destroy one of the spirits haunting the area.

Mononoke refers to unnatural spirits that haunt the Earth by binding themselves to extremely negative human emotions

In case that sounds like it would get too repetitive, don’t worry…the Mononoke show manages to keep things fresh and exciting because the titular creatures aren’t that easy to kill. Before the medicine seller can dispatch them, he must learn three things about these spirits: what their shape is, what their truth is, and what their reasoning is.

Once he has this key knowledge, he can get to the fun part where he whips out his sword and performs the kind of exorcism that not even Linda Blair’s possessed Exorcist character would be able to withstand.

As we noted, part of what makes Mononoke fun to watch is that our main character is always encountering new characters and new challenges. That helps keep things exciting, and it’s the same formula that has helped One Piece attract multiple generations of anime fans across more than a thousand episodes.

But if the idea of watching all of One Piece makes you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry, Mononoke clocks in at only twelve short episodes (all supernatural killer, no supernatural filler). Meaning that you could binge the entire series over the course of a weekend and still have time to spare.


And whether you love it or hate it (we’re betting it will be the former), we feel confident in saying that Mononoke looks different than any other anime you have ever seen. Instead of looking like traditional Japanese animation, this series is animated to look like art tapestries have suddenly sprung to life.

Kind of like watching a Spider-Verse movie for the first time, it can take a moment to get used to the animation, but we found ourselves falling in love with the show almost right away.

And we aren’t the only ones to fall in love with Mononoke. Over the years, many critics have praised the series for its bold and experimental style as well as how the format weaves itself into the historical Japanese setting (it takes place between the end of the Edo period and the beginning Meiji era). Critics similarly praised the great storytelling and how it mixed historical and horror elements to create something unique.

The Mononoke movie is set for a 2024 release

Assuming that the creative team sticks to their new schedule, this is also the perfect time to watch the Mononoke series because a follow-up film may be right around the corner. The movie was originally going to premiere in 2023, but after some unexpected delays, it is now set to release in 2024.

By checking out the original show, you’ll be in a prime position to appreciate the continuing adventures of the medicine seller when he hits the big screen.

Ultimately, Mononoke is an anime show with a clever premise, great stories, amazing direction, and fearlessly unique animation. Throw in the historical and supernatural touches and these episodes have a bit of something for all of the genre fans in your life. Of course, you won’t be able to tell them all about it unless you stream Mononoke on Crunchyroll today.