When Yen Press announced Mieruko-chan as a manga, I admit… I was drawn in by the cover artwork. Then I read the synopsis and felt that this would be a highly interesting series to read. Then, I saw it was getting an anime adaptation and I became a typical manga reader and decided to check it out while holding my breath in hopes that they didn’t mess up the adaptation. What I saw was…
Miko is a girl who can see ghosts; however, these aren’t your cutesy shounen-style ghosts. These are straight-up Junji Ito-level ghosts. This ends up giving the show a polarizing contrast between shounen art style and seinen style; however, once you see the first episode, you can kind of tell where this show is going.
To be honest, there isn’t much of a story to Mieruko-chan. Well, there is, but the show didn’t get far enough in the manga for the story to really take off. What we are left with are the simple day-to-day adventures of Miko as she does her best to not pay attention to any of the ghosts she is seeing. Along for the ride is her well-endowed best friend Hana, and her new, reluctant friend, Yulia (or Yuria as she’s known in the manga).
Aside from going shopping or dragging Hana along to every food place in the city, some story elements come into play when they visit a shrine and are saved by two spiritual shrine maidens. They tell Miko that she only gets three saves which comes into play later on in the series. Hana can’t see any of this so the running gag of the show is that Miko needs to come up with excuse after excuse to move things along without alerting the ghosts that she can see then nor alert Hana of the same thing. Things do get a bit easier once Yulia enters the picture because she can see the ghosts, too; however, she can only see the small ones, leaving the big and more gruesome ones to Miko.
As we get closer to the end, Miko gets a new homeroom teacher as her current one is gone on maternity leave (which is a really touching moment in the episode where they announce that!). Zen is possessed by one of these massive spirits and we finally get a multi-episode story revolving around him and cats. The conclusion of this story arc serves as the stopping point for the series.
She is our main character and, apparently, the internet can’t get enough of her. During the run of this show, not only was the anime voted #1 amongst viewers in Japan, but Miko has made best girl of the Fall Season multiple times. I can see why, though. She’s cute… reserved… and goes through enough trauma to where anyone would just love to scoop her up in their arms and protect her. On the flip side, she’s not just a ball of gloom and sweat, though. She has breakthrough moments that really show her cute side… such as when they went to a haunted house so Hana can score from free donuts.
Here, Miko ended up showing off a ton of personality. There was a ghost in the haunted house but because there were so many workers around trying to scare her, she found the perfect excuse to say to the ghost what she had been wanting to say to all of them this entire time without making it look like she was talking directly to it. It acted as a bit of therapy for her but it also showed that she is just another normal girl and wishes that she could be just that. She is definitely a fun and loveable main character!
Hana acts as one-half of the comedic relief for the show. To put it simply… she’s an airhead… who loves to eat but there’s a very important reason why she wants to (or needs to) stuff her face. I’ll withhold the spoilers but outside of this… I can’t really say that there is too much to this character. She seems like the standard tag-along friend that’s there because Miko needs a plot device to get her out of situations. I mean, she’s sweet enough and is likable enough to not be annoying or anything but there just isn’t much depth to her at all.
I don’t know if you can really consider her a third character in full just yet. Her appearances are rather sporadic; however, with her ability to see ghosts, it leaves a lot of room for development later on down the road. She is more prominent later on in the manga but here in the anime, she’s the third wheel and even more comedic relief.
Her comedy comes in the form of completely misunderstanding Miko. Because she knows that Miko can see the ghosts, she mistakenly thinks that she has some ultra-powerful abilities to cause them to disappear. She considers her on the levels of some sort of holy sage and practically worships the ground she walks on without actually doing so. In fact, she even mistook simple words as a threat to kill her at one point! Yulia is completely out of her mind and that’s okay because she brings a unique aspect to the show.
If this were just the Miko and Yulia show, I don’t think much would change which speaks a lot about Hana as a character; however, I guess Hana balances out the three of them.
While there are other characters, none of them really play much of a role for now. I will say that if Mieruko-chan gets a second season, go back and rewatch the scenes with the fortune teller. She will have a much bigger role so it’s best not to forget about her!
Art, Animation, and Sound
What stood out most in this show were the character designs. I really loved Miko and Yulia’s designs while Hana just felt like your basic slice-of-life background friend. The only thing Hana had going for her was her oversized bazongas which because the focal point of several fanservice moments. Yulia’s two-toned hair looked pretty cool but Miko’s overall color palette was just perfect for her character. I really loved the contrast of her amber eyes with her long, black hair!
Background art was about as standard as it gets for a modern anime; however, we can’t talk about the artwork without mentioning the ghosts themselves. There was a nice attention to detail with them and even though their artwork was such a far cry from the rest of the show, they blended in and meshed with the world perfectly to where they didn’t seem out of place in a bad way (aka… Bad CG). They stood out for all of the right reasons and they were completely creepy! Everything from their black smoke/auras, to their rotten green breath, to how they are mostly gray with some touches of color just to make them accented and pop off the screen… I loved it!
Animation-wise, the show was pretty average with nothing really standing out. You would think that the ghosts would be given extra-special treatment in this department; however, they didn’t and that’s actually the best course to take here. Having them animated in the same way helped them blend in with the rest of the show. In fact, giving them special animations would have ruined them because their artwork alone was enough to make them stand out and be the centerpieces that they needed to be.
As for the music. I think this OST is a hard pass. The music didn’t do much for me. Even during the “tense” moments where Miko was face-to-face with a ghost, it didn’t really draw me in because you knew that she was going to ignore them in the end and that everything was going to be okay. The ghosts can’t even interact with her or anyone else for that matter so that kind of took away from the suspense aspect of the show.
Not only that but the OP and ED songs were definitely not to my liking. I found them highly annoying and I ended up skipping them every single time. I will say, though, that when I did listen to them all the way through, they do represent the duality of the show between horror and comedy so, I guess they do their job… I just personally hate this style of music.
The show got off to an odd start as a manga reader as the first episode was mainly anime-original material. I can understand why, though, as following the manga to the letter would have probably turned a lot of people off. The show did degenerate into a stale pattern of day-to-day encounters with the ghosts and Miko did everything she could to avoid or ignore them without letting the ghosts know that she can see them. The running gag got stale after a while in the manga but, thankfully, the manga is heading in a whole new direction.
The anime, on the other hand, didn’t get that far and so we were left with a bit of a mundane experience. There were some nice story elements thrown in with Zen and the Shrine Ghosts which kept things interesting but it’s a shame as the anime stopped before it got to the really good part of the series.
Even though I am griping, it’s not a bad show by any means but I don’t think it’s the best show of the fall season like the polls are claiming that it is. Miko carried this show on her back and helped produce some great comedic moments as well as some touching ones. Once you get past the episodic routine that the show falls in and you look at all of the small details that happen in those episodes, you’ll find a lot of good and a lot of reasons to watch.
I’m pretty sure this will get a second season… it’s just a matter of when.
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Mieruk0-chan features a cute and lovable girl named Miko that can see ghosts and does her best to try and avoid them. That’s about the gist of the series. She takes this journey with her friend Hana and newly acquired friend (and apprentice) Yulia. While the show’s premise remains flat and linear, each episode adds nice moments and hidden gems that make it worth watching.
Miko and Yulia as characters
Great attention to detail with the ghosts
Small moments in the show that are interesting to see