We’re a bit into Fall 2021 at this point and we’re getting a good idea of what this season is going to be about. And really, it’s pretty solid so far. Better than last season, at least. I’m enjoying doing episode reviews for both Komi Can’t Communicate and 86, and watching other stuff for fun.
One series I almost did episode reviews for was Mieruko-chan, based purely on the fact that it seemed insane. Ultimately, I gave it to 86 since I didn’t think I’d be able to talk about it as much. Well, I was wrong, but 86 is turning out good as well. I still wanted to talk about Mieruko-chan, though, because, as you read in the title, it’s weird. Really weird, and I love weird.
Why is it weird? Well, it has a lot of death. So much death. Dead people doing dead things. Dead people being dead. Dead people and death all around. And Miko is part of that death but not in the dead way. She can actually see the spirits of the dead, which all take horrifying forms.
The plot is simple. In order to keep her sanity, Miko will pretend that she can’t see them. No matter how much they scare her, harass her, etc., she will stay strong and keep calm, so they will eventually leave her alone. This is a horror series, which I really didn’t expect. I thought it would go for a more comedic approach, but when dealing with the actual monsters themselves, they’re all terrifying and are handled in a very creepy manner. The atmosphere of the series is pretty good. During some of the moments, you genuinely feel tense.
I get on edge watching Miko slowly reach past a horrifying, multi-headed afront to god to get the quarter she dropped. It seems stupid that she would grab it, but the whole thing is she can’t let them know she sees them because the harassment would be a million times worse. She needs to act normal in terrifying situations, and it really makes you feel for her. You’re on the edge of your seat watching.
And then you’ll randomly get a close-up butt shot of Miko in tight clothes or an extended bath scene with as little convenient censorship as possible. Her hair is just long enough, let me tell you. It’s an odd series. On the one hand, it is super fanservice-heavy. Seriously, there’s a lot of it. A really strange amount for what it is. I mean, it’s about a girl trying to keep sane as she’s constantly harassed by the haunted spirits of the dead. Odd series for that very same girl to have the camera practically shoved up her rear. It’s odd.
But despite that fanservice, it still has a really good atmosphere and remains incredibly tense. It’s honestly hard to believe that they’ve managed to do that. The fanservice should drown out the horror, but it doesn’t. Would it be better if it wasn’t there? Probably. But does it detract? It’s hard to say. I don’t think so.
I’m really curious as to why this is. Everyone reacts to fanservice differently. Some people enjoy it, some don’t, but generally speaking, most people would find it very out of place in this type of series in particular. But it somehow feels less shoehorned in than in a romance anime, for instance, where you would actually expect some.
I was planning to just talk about the series a bit and give my thoughts, but I think taking this into a discussion about fanservice is more interesting, so let’s do that. My complete thoughts on the series thus far are this: It’s creepy, with great, terrifying imagery, and I recommend it, even with the fanservice.
With that being said, why does it work here? In truth, I think the series is just good enough, and the atmosphere is creepy enough that the few fanservice moments don’t outweigh the whole thing. But that’s boring, so let’s try to get into it deeper.
There are different types of fanservice. You have intrusive, in your face fanservice, and subtle, it’s kind of just there, fanservice. I’m, and I think most people would agree, not as big of a fan of the first one. There’s a place for it. In fact, there’s a genre for it. But there’s a big difference between a random accidental groping happening in an ecchi series than…well, pretty much anything that isn’t ecchi. It can work in comedy and romance, but it depends on the specific series.
Mieruko, in a way, has this kind of fanservice. There is a ghost that goes around doing nothing but groping girls, and even takes a liken to Miko’s friend, Hana. And by “liken,” I mean attaches himself to her like some kind of pervert spider and creeps me the hell out. She only releases her once another girl with bigger- I mean, a lady more well-endowed shows up.
This is very in-your-face fanservice in a horror series. There are a lot of questionable shots, a bit of fondling not only from the demon but Hana too, and the whole thing is treated as a joke by the end. You could take this in any direction and decide to make a glorified groper. Any other series that randomly has a groper would be an immediate turn-off and make me question what the writers were on. Yet, here, it’s really creepy and makes me hardly question what’s actually going on.
You then also have the far more abundant, subtle kind. You know the ones—butt shots, bare skin, sucking on straws, tight clothes. Take your pick. Those are all over the place in Mieruko. Miko’s terrified, looking for something in the dark? Perfect time to show her butt. Chatting with Hana about ghosts? Oh, she needs to be in her underwear for that. Need a random scene in school? Gotta show her getting undressed to use the bathroom.
You have scenes that, if done in almost any other series, would feel completely out of place. And you would assume in horror of all things, it would take away from the atmosphere and ruin everything. But for whatever reason, Mieruko is just as good because of it. Honestly, you could argue that it’s better.
And this comes down to one main thing, the atmosphere. I already mentioned that this series is creepy as hell. There’s this constant sense of danger, wondering when Miko will see her next ghost, what it will look like, what it will do. You’re pretty much on edge for the entire thing, and it makes these scenes feel different.
Some random groper ghost goes from being weird to absolutely horrifying when you think of the fact that Miko’s the only one seeing it happen. Hana could be attacked by 12 demons at once, and she would never know. They can’t actually harm her physically, but the thought of being fondled constantly by invisible demons isn’t my favorite thought in the world. It’s an interesting and realistic thing the demons would do.
Even the bath scene, which on the surface seems like an excuse for some nudity, and does plenty of camera angles to ensure that, becomes instantly terrifying when a dead person pops out of the bathwater and stares Miko down. She isn’t safe anyway. Not in bed, not at school, not around town, not even in her own bathroom, naked, when and where she’s most vulnerable.
It has the same vibe as the other bathroom scene from earlier. Miko sitting on the toilet trying to relax and do her business is a very vulnerable state, just like being naked in the bathtub. She’s already falling apart at the seams slowly. But she continues to stay strong and pretend nothing’s happening. That makes it all the more unsettling when she’s attacked in a place she’s supposed to feel safe.
With how disturbing everything is when you really think about it, all these scenes that could seem random and out of place become some of the best moments in the series. The same can be said, though to a lesser extent, about much of the subtle fan service. We’re all tense waiting for something to jump out on unsuspecting Miko, just to suddenly see a close-up as if something’s creeping up behind her. And hey, it doubles as a butt shot. Ok, that’s stretching it, and I can’t explain sensually sucking away on a straw.
Do I think any of that was the actual point of the series? No. I think they just found some way to sneak in a little fanservice. But at the very least, the major fanservice has all been used to make really interesting, horrifying scenarios, and the more subtle ones aren’t enough to detract anything.
It makes Mieruko not only good but also a really interesting series to discuss. It’s odd in a lot of ways, as you would expect from something that is horror, slice of life, and comedy. That’s a combination, alright. But to my surprise, it’s really quite good. I look forward to more ways this anime will use fanservice and more ways it will creep me out. I enjoy being uncomfortable! Really!
Thank you very much for reading
What do you think of Mieruko? Does the fanservice ruin it, make it better, or what?