The Spring 2022 Preview Guide
Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost
How would you rate episode 1 of
Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost ?
Community score: 3.5
What is this?
Fushihara is a woman who is a "slave" to her company. She meets Yūrei, the ghost girl who wants to help her.
How was the first episode?
So, here's the question of the day for you all. Does this episode—and perhaps the entire anime—count as a dead baby joke? Because I've been wondering that since the moment I started watching.
This episode is built around the joke that working at your average Japanese company is more terrifying than ghosts. Shachiku is a hard worker and is thus exploited by her lazy boss who forces her to do all the work he can't be bothered with. This results in late nights working all alone. And even when faced with a supernatural being coming to kill her, she simply works on. Or to put it another way, it's only a matter of time until she wakes up reincarnated in another world.
Enter our innocent baby ghost. She doesn't want Shachiku to die and is hoping to find a way to help her. Of course, the best help would be forcing Shachiku to go home and sleep, but when that fails, our little ghost turns to massages, tea breaks, and loving hugs to help the overworked woman power through. It's all very cute—but that's not enough to keep the episode interesting.
This is made worse by how the episode is directed. We see the same scenes (lunch time and Shachiku's first encounter with the ghost) several times. Sure, sometimes it's from Shachiku's point of view and sometimes it's from the ghosts—and sometimes it confusingly switches between them in the same scene. It gets repetitive and boring. And honestly, I found the show more depressing than funny or cute due to the premise alone. Overwork is still a serious issue here and I've seen more than a few friends overworked into depression.
In the end, this show lives or dies on how much you enjoy the cuteness overload of the baby ghost. If that's your cup of tea, you'll be just fine watching it. If you need more than cuteness in your anime, however, you might want to pass on this one.
If I were to describe Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost in a single word, it would be “cloying.” If reviews have to be more than one word, I would calling it cloying, mawkish, saccharine, treacly, twee, sickly sweet, maudlin, insipid, and akin to chugging a gallon bottle of liquid sucralose. It has no flavor profile beyond sweet, no interests beyond making you say, “Dawwww, how pwecioush,” if you're not barfing in the corner from being force fed a pound of aspartame. You notice how I'm only comparing it to artificial sweeteners? That's because there's not a single real thing about this.
In case you're new here, hi, I'm Caitlin and I work in early childhood education with children from the ages of six months to three years. I have an extremely limited tolerance for fictional children that don't act even remotely like real children, and I gotta say, the baby ghost resembles a real toddler about as much as a maltipoo resembles a wolf. She exists to be cute and emotionally support Fushihara as she works late into the night upon the orders of her asshole boss, and really nothing else. Real children are to her as what biblical angels are to those naked cherub paintings they sell in Christian tchotchke shops.
This is ostensibly a comedy, but every punchline consists of, “The baby ghost does something and it's cute!” It lingers on her teary eyes, her tiny pigeon-toed feet, her blobby little hands, but it doesn't take much to realize that there was never an actual joke. The humor doesn't land so much as squirm about slowly about like those slugs that keep eating my goddamn pansies and sorry, what were we talking about again? Miss Shachiku is so agonizingly boring that my mind keeps sliding away from it like a slug sliding across the dirt to get to my pansies oops it happened again. Better wrap this up.
Don't watch Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost if you like kids. Stay away if you have even the slightest concept of what makes young children funny and weird and infuriating and a joy to spend time with. Skip it if you see children for what they are, as small humans learning about the ways the world works and also happen to act like tiny drunk adults most of the time.
Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost is one of those anime that we seem to get one or two of every season that forces me to ask one very simple question: “Why the hell wasn't this thing a short?” Within just the first couple of minutes, I was already worried that I wouldn't jive with this comedy's particular focus on overbearing cutesy-poo fluff, but when I saw that the episode was a full half-hour, my heart sank. And I hadn't even gotten to the second half of the premiere yet.
The main issue with Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost is that it isn't funny. At all. It doesn't even really have proper jokes, outside of the recurring bit where the titular ghost implores the titular Miss Shachiku to go home and sleep, rather than be worked to death, and Fushihara refuses because she wants to gush over how cute the ghost is. That's it. That's the whole premise. Every other potential joke is ruined by the episode's horrid pacing. There's certainly comedy to be mined from satirizing Japan's hostile workplace culture, dark as it may be, but Miss Shachiku seems content to have the little ghost make a bunch of baby noises for an interminably long time while its overworked protagonist gleefully rides the Overtime Monorail into an early grave.
Also—and this may be my leftover hangover from Heroines Run the School talking—we need to have a conversation about these shows that try to get away with forcing their voice actresses to make the most insufferable toddler sounds imaginable for thirty minutes straight and passing it off as comedy. I'm not going to pretend that I was jazzed about the core concept of the baby ghost to begin with, since I was turned off from the moment that I realized that the subtitles were going to have her say things like “Pwease” for the whole show. Outside of the ghost's voice and mannerisms, though, there was nothing outright offensive or unbearable about Miss Shachiku. It was mostly just slow and unfunny, which I could tolerate for a few minutes.
Then the second half of the episode kicked in, in which we see the events of the first half of the episode from the ghost's perspective, and all of it was so utterly pointless and unnecessary that I actually started getting mad. Did we need to really need to watch the ghost putter about and talk to herself about things that we already saw her say and do in the previous half? The gag of the ghost using a little speaker to sound scary was the closest that the opening came to a decent joke; did the show really need to kill it by overexplaining where she got it and how she decided to use it? Did somebody on the production committee just want to play a cruel prank on project No.9 by forcing the staff to animate four times as much as they needed to for this thing, and then they decided to keep it all in the show to add insult to injury?
I don't know. All I know is that Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost was the exact opposite of a good time, for me. There are better slice-of-life anime, better workplace comedies, and better Ghost Stories out there to have fun with. Don't let this one haunt your Spring Season.
I almost feel badly about giving this show such a low rating, because it's clearly trying its hardest. There's a sort of earnestness about the whole thing that ought to make it more appealing than it is, a sort of well-meaning cuteness that's clearly intended to soothe the tired soul. But there's a fine line between “soothing” and “boring,” and I'm afraid that Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost crosses it with wild abandon, trying its best to be as charming as possible without actually understanding what makes something sweet.
Mostly that's because I felt a bit talked down to by the episode. Our protagonist, Fushihara, is being overworked by her boss when a baby ghost (or a ghost baby) starts telling her to leave the building. The ghost is just concerned for Fushihara's well-being, and also thinks she's paying the woman back for the “offerings” of onigiri; meanwhile we know that Fushihara and the other workers have been wondering who keeps stealing their lunches. It's almost too deliberately adorable to actually be cute, and there's a real sense that we're being hit over the head with things that we're meant to find warm and fuzzy without them being that way naturally. Things like the baby ghost laying out a futon for Fushihara and then falling asleep in it herself reek of the sort of manufactured little kid behavior that not many real kids exhibit, as if the ghost was written by someone with an academic idea of toddlers without ever having interacted with one.
Of course, it's a show about a ghost (and a nekomata, a fox, an oni, and a teeny tiny maid, if the opening theme is to be believed), so realism isn't necessarily something it needs to adhere to. But the saccharine nature of the episode is just off-putting, to say nothing of the uneven nature of the storytelling, which relies on both the baby's cuteness and hopping back and forth in time, neither of which quite work. I'm probably being too nitpicky here, but all the manufactured sweetness in the world couldn't quite hold my attention with this one.
Whenever we get one of these shows, I can't help but feel kind of depressed about the whole thing. They're not super common, but the past few years we seem to always get at least one of these “soothing” comedies about a criminally overworked office worker getting some supernatural assistance from a cute little spirit creature. But it's never in helping the lead character find a new job or learning to value themselves enough to not work themselves into an early grave – the spirit is always just there to offer some basic comfort and support to make the rise & grind slightly more bearable. That's a premise that just can't be very fun, especially not with a show as slow-paced and repetitive as this premiere.
Because “slow” is the word for this entire episode. Jokes come with the speed of a sleepy tortoise, extending the setup for every gag well past the breaking point, for a punchline that nearly always amounts to “aww, isn't this lil ghost girl just pwecious” and little else. And that's before we get into the back half of the episode, which is just a retelling of the previous events from said ghost girl's perspective, and adds very little besides a couple of equally dull gags. In total it feels like a premiere that was planned to be an 8-minute short, and had to suddenly scramble to fill 20 at the last minute. That belabored timing pretty much strangles any chance of comedic timing even if the jokes were conceptually hilarious.
So we're left with a show that's depressing when it means to be heartwarming, and either boring or annoying when it's meant to be funny. That's a certified death knell for any show, and especially one as slight as Little Baby Ghost. I don't think I'll ever find one of these shows endearing – something about getting a fairy sidekick to make 18-hour workdays slightly less soul annihilating just tastes like ash in my mouth – but this one is far from exemplary.
discuss this in the forum (309 posts) |
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history