Miko Yotsuya sees ghosts, and is not at all happy about it, because they're hideous and terrifying, and she's afraid that if she even acknowledges their presence they would be free to work their malevolence on her (and, it turns out, some of them really ARE malevolent), so she must consciously suppress any reaction to these specters at all times. It doesn't help that her friend Hana Yurikawa, a girl of big boobs and small brain, has an aura that actually attracts the ghosts; nor that she also acquires the company of another girl, named Yulia (Yuria in the manga) Niguredo, who perceives herself to have more expertise in supernatural matters than she actually does.
"But there's still so much I just don't know." - Miko, near the end of the series
Call this a much darker take on the premise of Re-Kan!. The problem is that Miko's exactly right; she's spent 12 episodes stoically trying to ignore these charcoal gray-to-greenish, black-smoke-emitting, grotesque-parodies-of-humans at best, who "breathe" foulness at her as they stand inches away from her. These are NOT the pleasant, articulate ghosts of Re-Kan!; indeed, these ghosts, if they talk at all, typically just either repeat things the living say, or demand that Miko acknowledge their presence. And by the end of those 12 episodes, she's STILL found no more effective way to deal with them than just pretending they're not there. While she flirts with the idea of acknowledging at least some of them, the one time she clearly engages the attention of one of them it's a malevolent one, though fortunately in that particular encounter she had some spirit world backup.
In other words, this series doesn't really MOVE.
The sidekicks don't help. Hana, her cheerful (and busty) dimwitted friend who has nothing in her mind except eating (and shopping for underwear) has, as noted in the synopsis, an aura that attracts ghosts. The ghosts in the show generally fall into two categories: tiny ones that can be seen by Yulia (the would-be psychic) but which are zapped by Hana's aura (must be a moths-to-the-flame thing); and human-sized to gigantic ones that Yulia can't see (Miko, of course, can see ALL of them); those seem to not be injured by Hana's aura, and we see one actually groping her. (Well, she IS the most fanservicey character here, so I guess it's to be expected.)
Yulia is the classic example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the assumption that one has more expertise in a subject than one actually does. A short, blonde girl with pink highlights in her hair, Yulia eventually carries around in her head even more baseless ideas than the typical hard-core conspiracy theorist, including a belief that Miko is a great exorcist. (If Miko could perform exorcisms, her own life would definitely be more pleasant.) I never did understand why Miko, in one of her rare ghost-free moments, didn't straighten Yulia out about things (particularly, about the limitations of BOTH their psychic abilities), instead of resorting to purely physical means to manage Yulia, including, at one point, choking her into unconsciousness. (When Yulia runs into Miko and Hana after this incident, Hana, with typical tactlessness, comments, "Oh, the girl you tried to murder.")
The opening theme song for the show is as awkward as the relationship between the three girls; it's a bouncy, energetic song about how terrified Miko always is, so I'd say the melody REALLY doesn't fit the lyrics here all that well.
There's an uncomfortable scene (maybe more so for a Western audience) where Miko's strange behavior makes her adolescent brother Yousuke think she's got a boyfriend, so he resolves to peek at her in the bath for hickeys. This ends with teenage Miko (nude) washing the back of adolescent Yousuke (also nude). I know that family members bathing together is a thing in Japan, but even Yousuke is apparently beginning to feel that they're too old to bathe together, but I kind of understand Miko's doing it here; she'd rather not be left alone with the ghosts. (The siblings both watch a TV show about purported "true" encounters with ghosts. I have no idea how Miko stands it.)
The show's not without its virtues, though:
- Miko's little nuclear family is NOT exactly as it seems!
- I loved a scene where she "fakes out" some ghostly riders on her train.
- One time she cleverly conveys a message from a ghost without actually acknowledging the ghost's existence.
-There's one genuinely genius scene in the show, involving an axe-wielding ghost. Miko watches what's happening between the ghost and the other members of the captive audience she's in, but rightly wonders if her ability to actually see what's happening here will make the outcome different when it's Her Turn. It's an exquisite challenge to her tight internal control over her demeanor, and easily the most suspenseful moment in the show. It also suggests that there's something like- well, an intraghostal world, in which the ghosts interact with each other. THAT could have been very interesting, if the show pursued it a bit more.
I'm calling this an interesting failure. The situation is not without its fascinating aspects, but you usually like to see some progression in the protagonist's situation, and it's largely absent here. As of the time I'm writing this, I'm working on the review of another anime, Summer Ghost, which also left a lot of things unexplained, but since Mieruko-chan has a lot more time available to develop its story- and squanders that time- I'm inclined to be a bit harsher with it. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Fanservice includes some nudity (locker room, Miko's back, and Hana in general). The ghosts might be unsettling for a younger audience as well. Rightstuf rates the manga for 16+; I'm inclined to agree.
Version(s) Viewed: crunchyroll.com stream, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Mieruko-chan © 2021 Tomoko Izumi / KADOKAWA / Mieruko-chan Production Committee
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