Mieruko-Chan continues to find ways to use its formula to engage the audience with episode 9 split into two distinct parts. The first focuses on Miko trying to ignore the ghosts in the school and finding the challenge nearly overwhelming. The second part has Yulia, Hana and Miko go through a gimmicky haunted house where Miko realises she can finally cut-loose and react.
The contrasting conclusions to the two parts overall combine to make this a pretty solid viewing experience.
Mieruko-Chan plays into expectations with just enough novelty to keep it entertaining.
The conclusion of episode 8 of Mieruko-Chan saw Miko’s new homeroom teacher introducing himself and by the strange coincidence that is fictional writing he is the creepy guy that Miko wouldn’t let Hana give the cat to way back at the start of the series. That’s because he’s got a seriously creepy vibe, oh and screaming cat ghosts surrounding him.
Anyway, the guy so unnerves her, as do the other large ghosts hanging around that Miko is kind of on edge. For the most part, hanging out with Hana and listening to Hana contemplate her next meal is enough to distract her, but when Hana leaves her to go collect yet more bread we see just how fragile Miko’s calm actually is.
Mieruko-Chan does a great job sometimes of not-showing the horror so much as showing the effect of it on the protagonist and when Miko stands alone in the bathroom, as far from the door as she can get, looking so small and vulnerable, they’ve done a great job of showing our usually stoic lead girl as someone who is actually a little more fragile than we may have been lead to believe.
Follow that up with the monster that crawls out of the toilet before Miko finds Yulia eating lunch in the bathroom and drags her out to eat with her and Hana and really Miko is on her last emotional nerve. So naturally, before part one is over, Mieruko-Chan decides to snap it with fairly emotional results.
I think the silent tears rolling down Miko’s face, and her simple statement about getting a bug in her eye, still unwilling to freak out those around her or to show any outward sign of her inner turmoil, was a solid ending for this first half and it leaves us with the sense that Miko is very much on edge and doesn’t have a lot more reserve in her emotional energy bank after months of seeing and trying to ignore ghosts.
It’s moments like these that really sell Mieruko-Chan to me.
That and they don’t let the episode end on such a depressing note.
Instead we cut to Hana chasing free donuts and the way to get them is to collect a stamp from a haunted house.
While at first Miko is her usual stoic self as they navigate the faux horrors of the house, soon Miko realises that for once she can react. She can scream and shriek and run around because these are not real horrors. That realisation seems to open a lid on all the repressed emotions Miko has had for several months and she really begins to enjoy herself, smiling as the three of them run from axe murderer to werewolf.
It is such a cathartic release for the character and exactly what episode 9 of Mieruko-Chan needed to balance out the first half of the episode. The end result is emotionally rewarding for the viewer and honestly even the actual ghost turning up in the haunted house couldn’t really dampen the mood too much.
I wonder though if Miko will keep in mind what happened when she told all the horrors, both fake and real, to get away from her. Is ignoring the things she sees really the best way to deal with them? Once again Mieruko-Chan has the audience wondering though no definitive answer is to be found here.
Nope, the episode is inconclusive about the creepy teacher and about Miko’s sight as always but the answers don’t seem to matter as much as just really getting inside Miko’s head and honestly they’ve done a great job this episode taking her through the full range of emotions.
You can read the full season review here.
Images from: Mieruko-Chan. Dir. Y Ogawa. Passione. 2021
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