3 Episode Rule – Mieruko-Chan

3 Episode Rule is a series in which I watch the first three episodes of a new anime and decide whether to stick with it or drop it based on those three episodes alone.

New season, new series of 3 Episode Rule, and we’re starting this season off with a banger. I know the manga this series is based on has been hugely popular in Japan, so I was super eager to see what this one was all about. And I should get into it because I’ve given myself a pretty big list of anime to look into this season for my 3 Episode Rule series.

The simply titled Mieruko-Chan stars the the titular Miko; a gloomy looking high school girl who finds herself able to see monstrous spirits that surround people in every day life. Rather than run or fight them though, she makes the conscious choice to ignore them like everyone else around her without the “gift” of perception she has. Which ends up putting her into some pretty awful situations on a daily basis.

This series is a strange bird. It’s a unique blend of cheerful slice of slice and pure horror. A combination that, no doubt, has been part of the reason this series has been so popular in Japan leading up to this adaptation. The visual element of the show is chilling in its depiction of the ghosts that seem to be attracted to Miko in her daily life, the show pulling no punches in making them seem as grotesque as possible.

The show isn’t all horror though, the lightness comes from her relationship with her best friend Hana: a girl who is a bottom less pit for food, as well as an everlasting wellspring of positive energy and cuteness. While Hana can’t see the ghosts herself, they seem to be especially attracted to her. Which leads Miko into putting herself on a headfirst collision with them to protect her friend.

And that’s where the slice of life aspect of the show really hits home. Miko is a very good friend to Hana, despite her fears and her constant need to just grit her teeth and face these monsters that constantly find themselves right in here face, uncomfortably invading her personal space. An invasion she constantly works to ignore the best she can.

Of these three episodes, I felt like the first one was the strongest. Simply because it did something a little different than the two that followed it. The first episode comes across much more as a straight horror. It provides a very slow build to the reveal of the first ghosts we see, using creepy music and a number of horror cinema tropes to build this sense of dread throughout the episode.

You know something is going to happen, but it holds off for the vast majority of the episode and builds to a payoff at the end that I felt was very well executed as a horror short. After this, when the cat is out of the bag the show becomes pretty liberal with showing the ghosts in detail and the focus becomes more on Miko trying to continue living her life while being haunted by all the ghosts of the worst people imaginable.

From here, the comedy/slice of life aspect of the show starts to bump up against the horror and this unique blend becomes much more of the focus. Stories become more focused on Miko encountering real people and getting some insight into their real personalities based on the ghosts that haunt them. This muddled between her having to do things like walk through an alley full of monsters and deal with jealous girlfriend ghosts that stalk creepy playboys.

One aspect of the series I wasn’t so hot on, which probably won’t come as a surprise considering my past posts on this site, is the fan service. The camera lingers on the girls underwear or put them, unnecessarily into situations where we’re seeing their bras. Considering everything else going on in this series and how cool it is, being able to easily stand up on those things alone, the fan service feels pretty unnecessary about 75% of the time.

This is a thing that’s always going to bug me, and as I said previously on this blog; in a series that feels like it can easily succeed without any fan service whatsoever, it always takes me out of the moment and just feels like a forced addition.

Verdict: This is spooky, scary good fun.

This is a cool as show. It’s simultaneously super cute and actually horrifying. Just putting myself in Mieruko’s shoes for a moment gives me the chills. And seeing how she starts to try and protect herself in the third episode, to no avail, it makes it seems like her situation is going to get worse before it gets better.

While I don’t think the anime adaptations quite manages to capture the horrible detail that the art in the manga manages to give all the ghosts, making them so much more scary in the original material, the anime does a good enough that the effect still works. It’s probably the the more cinematic approach to how they’re presented and the music and sound cues that go along with them.

I feel like this is going to be one of the big shows of the season and am looking forward to keeping up with it.

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