Well, only one episode after Mieruko-Chan convinced me teacher Zen was going to be the big bad, episode 11 of Mieruko-Chan turns our assumptions on their head in a way that this story has done before but usually within the same episode. In this case though, from the moment we met Zen back when he appeared to adopt Hana’s stray cat find, he’s been framed as bad news.
I must say, this twist played out better than expected because as this episode rolled on it made me think back over everything we actually knew about Zen and what we’d just assumed. Admittedly, when a guy is surrounded by black screaming cat spirits, one could be forgiven for drawing the obvious conclusion.
If I’m honest though, this episode started feeling a bit shaky. we began with a flash-back to Zen’s unhappy childhood where his mother was putting unreasonable pressure on him and was clearly emotionally manipulative. For a moment I kind of thought we were just going for a sad back-story to somehow justify or provide a motivation for Zen’s actions. Fortunately, Mieruko-Chan had thought this through.
Though Mieruko-Chan is definitely giving a nod to poor parent tropes, tragic back stories, and pretty much every other cliché in the book, once again this anime takes what we expect and gives it just enough of a twist to make it feel freshened up. It really does understand the narrative elements at play here and what audiences expect from them and knows just how far they can bend it without losing their audience.
However, that isn’t the best part of this episode.
The best part is seeing Miko actually taking action. She’s scared and uncertain and she knows she hasn’t really figured out what to do but as she says to herself, she wants to help Hana. This is a motivation that rings true for her character because this story has done the ground work in establishing a real friendship between the two girls. So Miko following Zen down alleys seems somewhat justified even if I was kind of willing her not to walk into the tunnel.
Naturally things go a bit awry and in the end Miko grabs the cat and bolts.
Like with most scenarios set up in stories, if Zen and Miko had talked this out, things may not have escalated but because the story needs to happen both characters in Mieruko-Chan go in armed with their assumptions and the situation therefore plays out ending up with the usual trope of cat running across the road just as the one and only speeding car races toward it.
Seriously, why is there always one speeding car just as the cat runs across the road? This is almost as overused as ordinary Japanese person getting hit by truck in the first episode of an isekai story.
But I guess that is because it works. If someone asks “Why did the cat cross the road?” my answer would be “If it is in an anime it happened so someone could save it from getting hit by a car.”
Fortunately, rather than dragging out the revelations, we do get a resolution by the end of the episode with the misunderstandings cleared up and Miko having used her final protection from the shrine god. Which does leave me wondering what she is going to do now given she’s seemingly no wiser as to how to deal with the ghosts.
At least though Mieruko-Chan has pushed Miko to a point where she does need to deal with them. Pretending they don’t exist and she can’t see the things she can is no longer an option.
One episode to go and I’m very curious as to how they will end things.
You can read the full season review here.
Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021
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