If an anime protagonist suddenly gains the ability to see restless spirits of the dead, you’d think that they would try to find some way to fight them, help them, or at least figure out how the power manifested in the first place. That’s not true for the timid Miko, however—her strategy is to ignore them and hope that they go away without hurting her. Eventually, though, she’s going to have to face her fears... here’s our review of Fall 2021’s Mieruko-chan!
Seeing Death in a New Light
One of the most interesting parts of Mieruko-chan is how it emphasizes that, even though many of the ghosts are terrifying amalgamations of twisted limbs and bulging eyes (expertly animated to be as disturbing as possible), they’re still the souls of real people who really existed. They linger around places that meant a lot to them in life and repeat mantras over and over—this can take the form of something as simple as schoolgirls chattering on the bus or as heartbreaking as a man watching over his dementia-ridden wife while mumbling the combination to the safe she keeps trying to open.
Once Miko catches on to this, she’s able to subtly make the world a better place by granting the spirits’ requests or encouraging them to stop haunting people. One of our favorite moments comes when she sees a tiny spirit circling around her pregnant teacher’s belly. She’s worried that this means the teacher will have a miscarriage, so she tries to warn her to be careful, but the teacher reveals that she already had a failed pregnancy before and is taking every precaution with this one. A tiny hand reaches out from the spirit towards the new life taking form... it’s the first baby, doing its best to protect its little sibling.
Moments like this are where Mieruko-chan truly shines. It lets you connect the dots yourself with visuals and music instead of belaboring the point with dialogue, and it makes us happy that all of Miko’s suffering is actually worth it for the sake of the people she helps.
A Bit Disorganized
Unfortunately, these moments are broken up by a lot of unrelated filler and plot threads that kind of don’t go anywhere. Why did the old fortune teller and her apprentice get so much screentime when they didn’t contribute much to the plot? Why were there so many ecchi scenes early in the series, when they mostly disappeared later and felt extremely out-of-place to begin with? And, while we enjoyed the subversion of our expectations, why spend so long setting up a certain character to be a Yoshikage Kira style murderer-in-plain-sight if their purpose in the story ends up being completely different?
This anime, or rather its source material, feels like it was written by the seat of the author’s pants. It occasionally hits on something amazing, but keeps getting distracted before it can become truly great. If there’s ever a second season, we hope it hones in on what it’s good at so we can really sink our teeth into this story.
Mieruko-chan could’ve been a lot more polished and impactful, but it’s still an entertaining watch and you can get a lot of emotional depth out of it if you know where to look. If what we’ve talked about has piqued your interest, we encourage you to give it a try!
What did you think of our review? Did you watch Mieruko-chan this season, and do you agree with our analysis? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!