Passione’s 2021 anime adaptation of Tomoki Izumi’s manga proved to be a big hit and deservedly so. Central character, high schooler Miko Yotsuya, has to be one of the most hard-done by kids in anime. Her endless sorrow grabs the audience’s sympathy from the get-go. The way such a lovely girl can withstand the daily horror of her visions shows her incredible stoicism. Normally anime depicts high school girls as being so easily emotionally triggered – much like real life. Yet Miko endures a daily torture of seeing dead spirits all around her – both malign and otherwise – yet she pretends that she cannot see them in order to protect herself. So, she keeps her poker face yet she cannot totally ignore what she sees. Much of the story is not fully explained because we see everything through Miko’s eyes and she doesn’t understand it. She struggles to come to terms with the madness she is experiencing. The story is a simple one and depicts her trying to come to some understanding about what it is she is seeing and why. Many of the spirits seem to take an interest in her, some of these can do her harm, some want her help, whilst others can help her. There is also a strong suggestion that some of these spirits cling on to the living and possess them in a way that impacts their behaviour. Miko learns that she cannot always judge a person by the spirits that linger inside them.
The animation here is spot on. The regular high school life is much as you would expect but the spirit world is over-laid on top and has its own distinct look. The distinction between the two is very clear. What is also quite incredible is the animation of Miko’s face. The depiction of her anguish is quite harrowing. She is such a wonderful character yet her pain is very visceral. She is not alone. She has a very wonderful friend in the shape of Hana Yurikawa whose bright, carefree personality helps Miko through her day. Hana has a very bright supernatural aura that is powered by the bottomless-pit of her appetite. Then there is little Yulia Niguredou, a fellow high schooler, who can also see spirits but not the larger-more-demonic ones that Miko can. Yulia wishes to develop her power as she isn’t scared of the apparitions she sees (for obvious reasons). The story is not obvious with a linear beginning, middle and end. Some episodes are simply standalone with the only overall story arc concerning Miko’s suspicion that her new substitute teacher Zen Tohno is a cat killer. Don’t expect any cliched story threads here. It defies expectations and happy endings. The episode with her dad is especially touching. It is just an examination of a young girl’s journey through hell and how she has learnt to cope. It is difficult not to feel strongly for Miko and sympathise with her torment. A great show. Even if you are not normally a fan of the horror genre this show has a lot to commend it as being something a little out of the ordinary.