Fictional characters who can see spirits, ghosts and all manner of monsters are pretty common particularly for people like me who watch a lot of supernatural stories. Despite that Mieruko-Chan still managed to feel not entirely derivative and delivered an interesting enough first episode as viewers are introduced to Miko, a seemingly calm high school student, who we learn throughout the episode is able to see some fairly grotesque creatures.
Actually, Miko kind of reminded me of some of the flash-backs we have of Natsume (from Natsume Yuujinchou) when he’s in middle-school and trying to pretend he doesn’t see anything because he’s kind of grown up enough to realise that people won’t believe him anyway and it just draws attention to himself.
Mieruko-Chan delivered a measured first episode.
Despite the comedy tag attached to Mieruko-Chan, this first episode seemed very grounded as we were slowly drawn into Miko’s current situation. I loved the opening with the girl running in horror and the ghost emerging from the fridge before we get a blood-curdling scream and then realise we’re watching a TV horror special. Though points to whoever provided that scream because that was one nicely delivered shriek.
Much of the rest of the episode has Miko going to school, eating with her friend Hana before walking home. It’s kind of at that point the episode decides to switch things up. Until Miko returns to the school realising she’s lost her key-chain, we had some atmospheric elements like a potential handprint appearing on a mirror and crows cawing loudly but nothing that really indicated a true supernatural presence.
After Miko leaves the school, this changes entirely.
What sells the scene at the bus-stop where the audience becomes very aware that there is in fact a supernatural element at play in Mieruko-Chan is Miko’s reaction. Her initial shock at the phone hijinks is quickly masked by a cool and calm expression but after the apparition apparently gives up asking her if she can see it, we realise Miko’s internal freak-out.
There are three further ghostly encounters before the episode end and Miko remains solid as the protagonist as she becomes increasingly rattled but tries to maintain her calm-exterior.
Its an interesting premise and you have to wonder whether Miko can maintain her pretence of not seeing or what the reaction of the creatures will be if she continues to ignore them. There’s also another girl at school who appears briefly and was in the promotional images who will probably get involved or know something about the ghosts when she does join in with the main group.
However, as much as I liked the premise here and really enjoyed the main character, so far the comedy element is either lacking or is a female supporting character with physics defying breasts supposed to count as comedy? Or is it the fact that we get three separate scenes where the camera angle focuses squarely on Miko’s legs/thighs/butt as she bends over or walks away.
As much as horror and sexualising female characters have kind of gone together forever, in this first episode of Mieruko-Chan the scenes seemed out of place and more like an after-thought. Or perhaps as though they weren’t convinced that an intriguing premise and interesting female protagonist wouldn’t be enough to carry the audience’s interest if we didn’t also see her butt wiggling in the air as she fished her key-chain out from under the teacher’s desk.
That said, there’s a lot to enjoy in this first episode and a lot of potential for Miko and Hana as characters. I’m looking forward to what Mieruko-chan does next.
You can read the full season review here.
Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021
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