Here at Anime UK News, we’re always looking for something a bit different when it comes to anime and manga. Here to hopefully scratch that itch is Yen Press’ new debut: Mieruko-chan Volume 1. Does it prove successful? Let’s find out!
High-school student Miko has suddenly become able to see horrifying monsters in her daily life. Only Miko can see these creatures (or spirits as they seem to be), and she knows that if she reacts to them, they’ll only spend more time harassing her.
Now Miko does her best to ignore the monsters while going about her life, but getting no reaction makes the spirits restless and they soon start upping their game in a bid to scare Miko. On top of this, Miko’s best friend Hana seems to attract these beings (although she can’t see them), which only makes things worse for our young protagonist.
The premise of this series is surprisingly simple. All nine chapters included in this volume are fairly episodic. Each story revolves around Miko being haunted by a particular scary spirit and doing her best to ignore it. Sometimes this includes trying to explain her odd reactions to Hana, such as why she wasn’t standing in line with her to pick up a drink (when Miko was actually in a queue with a line of monsters).
Now and again Miko comes up with an idea to help rid herself of the spirits, including using salt or buying prayer beads. Surprisingly, she learns that perfume or disinfectant can help keep the monsters at bay! These small victories keep the series from falling into a depressing sense of normality, which I think is important.
One problem I do have with the manga is that it tended to be a bit too sexual in the first few chapters. This included spirits groping Hana or just generally focusing on shots of the girls changing clothes or talking about breasts. It didn’t need to be in the manga and I found it uncomfortable. The series was much better when it moved away from that, but it’s hard to overcome the unfortunate first impressions those scenes left.
Mieruko-chan is by mangaka Tomoki Izumi and is their first serialised work. Interestingly the series began life on Twitter, where Izumi posted the first chapter hoping to gain recognition like many of his fellow artists on the platform. This does explain the somewhat disjointed nature of the first couple of chapters before Izumi found a groove (and presumably was aided by having an editor to work with).
Despite being their first series, Izumi’s artwork for Mieruko-chan is great. The spirits are suitably horrifying (don’t read this before going to sleep!) and Miko is very expressive. I enjoyed watching her struggle to ignore the beings as each chapter went on and seeing her calm exterior slowly begin to crumble.
While I initially feared there wouldn’t be enough substance to keep the manga interesting long-term, the final chapter of this volume does indicate the mangaka has a plan in mind to prevent it from becoming stale. There are certainly a lot of things Izumi can do with the concept, including perhaps the inclusion of some ‘nice’ spirits which is something briefly touched on within this instalment.
As previously mentioned Mieruko-chan Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Yen Press and has been translated by Leighann Harvey. The translation reads well with no problems and there are some translation notes, although these are oddly placed after Chapter 1 rather than being at the back of the book as usual. The series is on-going in Japan at 4 volumes and Yen Press have Volume 2 scheduled for release in February 2021.
Overall, Mieruko-chan has a fairly interesting concept but a disjointed first volume leaves me struggling to recommend it. If you’re particularly taken by the synopsis then it’s certainly worth a look, but otherwise, there are too many issues for me to tell you to run out and buy it.