What I Liked: Great depiction of Post-war rural Japan and it's cultural intricacies (no, seriously, BIG points for that.). Beautiful imagery, nice animation. Despite being designed by spaghetti-limb extraordinaires CLAMP, Madhouse manages to take the lovely character designs and apply them to realistic proportions. Nice exploration of concepts surrounding religion / spirituality and its relationship with human nature. The OP. Use of mystery elements and cliffhangers keeps the viewer engaged. Use of title cards effectively grounds the viewer in certain points in time.
What I Didn't: Quick-paced animation (e.g. dancing, sudden escape in final episode) looks shoddy. Pacing slows to a crawl half-way through for a couple of episodes and then slows AGAIN in the final two. Suffers from information dump overload, especially considering Kyougokudou quickly becomes an exposition vessel after being introduced. The ED. Transition from Episode 9 to 10 was a bit jarring (until explained in a flashback).
Final Verdict: Mouryou no Hako is an intriguing blend of Japanese culture, religion and history with elements from the mystery, detective drama and psychological horror genres delivered in the style of the novel it was derived from. Unfortunately, in doing so, pacing suffers while some characters are reduced to mere exposition vessels - unfortunately not fully utilizing the animation medium to its full potential. When the series does decide to show and not tell (or show and tell), though, it truly shines.
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