The Incomplete Mieruko-chan

Of all the anime to not yet have some sort of upcoming second season! Especially after that ending!

Mieruko-chan is a horror and a comedy as it follows the ordeals of a young Japanese girl named Miko. Which, if I understand correctly, means “priestess.” It would be something of an apt name, as she one day wakes up able to see the unseen spirits of the dead, as well as other specters and apparitions. Quite nearly all of them are freakish and unnerving in some way, and possessed of a drastic desire for someone who can see and hear them. Exactly what they would do with this is not made entirely clear, but Miko errs on the side of extreme caution, and she has both the lightning-fast wits to pretend she can’t see them, and also the nerves of steel required to remain calm and composed in the face of virtually all of their ghostly antics.

Miko’s overwhelming fear of the apparitions might be wise and is certainly understandable at the start. However, the danger they pose is never explicitly spelled out, so much so that Miko’s continuing terror almost seems silly by the end of the season. It even gets to feel like a joke that they’re telling long after it’s played out, seeing her constantly wrestling to maintain her calm outer demeanor while she’s always on the cusp of screaming. Even when the horrid, ugly ghosts rage and thrash, nothing seems to happen. Even when they devour each other, growing ever more monstrous, nothing happens to the mortals around them. And yet, there does seem to be some sort of danger which they pose.

An old psychic lady mentions in an inner monologue, but does not explain to Miko herself, something about specters that would come for her and her friend, Hana. Hana is ignorant of the ghosts and spirits, but she has a spiritual aura that’s practically like the sun, which one spirit uses to barbecue another, much smaller spirit, before eating it. And another friend they make, Yulia, is a would-be exorcist that knows a little more than Miko, but is largely blind to the spirits around them, a factor that results in a great number of hilarious misunderstandings. People like Yulia probably wouldn’t even bother wanting to exorcise ghosts unless they posed some sort of risk to others. And, finally, there’s a local deity and its spiritual shrine maidens, all of which are clearly powerful and dangerous, and which intervene to protect Miko several times. Why bother protecting her if there is no danger? …and yet, it may be those deity-like figures which ultimately pose the most danger to Miko.

That goes into one ongoing theme of the anime: things are often not what they seem. It is a truth which is both fascinating and unsettling to contemplate.

A prime example of this is a particular substitute teacher. They have a first encounter over a cat which they are trying to find a good home for. This handsome, neat-looking man shows up, looking all right, but Miko sees the darkness of screaming, tormented animal souls clinging to him, and ghosts scream straight into his face, leading her to distrust him immediately. Miko ends up entrusting that cat to a guy who looks like a gangster, but which has two happy feline spirits riding on his shoulders, showing him to be more trustworthy with a trusting little kitten. But the handsome man returns as their teacher, and Miko (alongside the audience) suspects him of doing very bad things. However, the darkness around him is eventually proven to be that of his mother’s spirit, who strives to keep him miserable and has haunted him so persistently that her influence has corrupted the feline spirits which, on their own, would be quite happy and loving around him. Indeed, he’s a Good Samaritan who both rescues cats off the street on a frequent basis, and also patrols, looking for some recent malcontent that has been doing cruel things to the unfortunate strays in the area.

Thus, a man who looked decent and attractive but seemed like a villain was actually an unsung hero. Things are not what they seem.

That held true for the teacher, for the delinquent, and for the lady next door who apparently was doing something to the food she gave the teacher only to find out that he never ate a bite of it. This probably holds true for many of the ghosts as well, such as one which terrifies Miko but does not harm her or anyone else as it drags some specter out of a lady on the subway.

Which brings me back to the deity and to why I want a second season of the show. There is a communication barrier so Miko cannot understand it, but it seems to be benevolent, albeit extremely brutal and disquieting as it outright devours an evil spirit. It manages to tell Miko, “three times,” in which its servants appear in Miko’s defense. But after the three are done, it clearly wants something in return. Miko is unable to guess what it desires, but a terrifying dream she has – or did she? – would indicate that it wants to devour her, and it might be capable of doing so. Certainly, it’s still following her around at the end. Leaving us on a surprising cliffhanger, not knowing if this… entity… is truly good, or the true evil of the story. (at least, not without accidentally finding out courtesy of google!)

All in all, it dragged a bit in the middle, and got repetitive with Miko always being put in a state of fear, but it’s a much more riveting story than I had been expecting, especially with the intimation at the end that, yes, the danger of these supernatural beings is very much real. The details are left unexplained, but the threat of being consumed is substantial enough without details, isn’t it? And with the threat established, the show is free to be spooky and scary as well as funny. It’s a ghost story where the ghosts may not always be able to bite, but that doesn’t mean none of them can.

Oh, and yes, there is unquestionable fan service, but I may have not noticed it that much.

Rating: 8 stars out of 10.

Grade: B-minus.

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