Mieruko-chan’s 11th episode proved me wrong in such an interesting way by exonerating Zen from any suspicion of mistreating cats. But even if Zen hasn’t been killing cats and actually does more to save the neighborhood strays from being killed, he has a bigger problem on his shoulders (literally) as the ghost of his abusive mother continues to haunt him and remind him of his past trauma.
DOES A BUSINESS, BUT I NOTICE SOMETHING WEIRD
It was a clever bait-and-switch to have the audience perceive Zen as a cat-killer until we got the gist of his upbringing and saw him jump in front of a car to save a stray cat. Because we see the story from Miko’s point of view, it makes her a great example of a narrator who is unreliable only because she’s piecing together the rest of the story just as we are. We can only see the swarm of cat ghosts based on Miko’s assumption of them being his victims crying for vengeance rather than being attracted to his spirit because he’s been trying to avenge them.
It was also amusing to see the inverse was happening as Zen assumed Miko’s secrecy, her stalking, and her personal reason for refusing to have him take home a cat was because she was the neighborhood cat killer. It’s one of those instances where it would’ve been interesting to see from his perspective about this weird girl who keeps following him and suspiciously wants to keep him from getting close to cats he’s attempting to have adopted.
HIDE AND SEEK ALONE
Of the ghouls and ghosts that have graced Mieruko-chan, Zen’s mother has to be the scariest human that we’ve come across. Everything about her is ghoulish, from her imposing dead-stare to her temper skyrocketing to the point of murdering a stray cat out of jealousy. Getting an A on his test wasn’t even enough to avoid her wrath because it wasn’t an A+.
It’s difficult watching Zen go through having such a toxic mother as a kid, and it’s made all the more worse that she continues to torture him from beyond the grave. Not only is her lasting memory discouraging him from owning a cat of his own, choosing to have a friend raise them in his stead, but also literally haunts him as she screams at anyone who gets close to him. It’s such an odd detail considering how she’s possessive of him even while he’s a grown man, shouting at his students and peers to leave him alone.
What really shows how repulsive Zen’s mother continues to be is how it’s the one ghost Miko isn’t afraid to call out, face-to-face. It’s satisfying to see her tell Zen’s mother to leave his son alone, and then dart out of the hospital room to bait it into an encounter with her last holy spirit. Although it ends on a climactic note with the spirit holding off Zen’s mom, it’ll be neat to see how this experience gives Miko an opportunity to build up her confidence and better understand the spirits that surround her.