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The Spring 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Mysterious Disappearances

How would you rate episode 1 of
Mysterious Disappearances ?
Community score: 3.8

What is this?


Sumireko Ogawa is an aspiring novelist who loves mysteries and works at a bookstore with a boy named Ren Adashino. They pass the time with aimless conversations. However, Adashino has a secret that Sumireko does not know. Some of the ghost stories, urban legends, and modern-day ghosts that people talk about are real.

Mysterious Disappearances is based on a manga series by Nujima. The anime series is streaming on Crunchyroll on Wednesdays.

How was the first episode?

Richard Eisenbeis

It's funny. I feel like I understood everything that happened in this episode and nothing that did—and that's not a complaint.

This first episode is tightly centered around one character, Sumireko. Now in her late twenties, she is one of those people who found early success as a child. Unfortunately, she has basically turned into a one-hit-wonder and has never been able to follow up on it. She is unsurprisingly depressed at how her life has turned out. So when she is suddenly cursed to be a child again, she's able to write like she used to.

However, the trick is that, despite her physical appearance, it's all in her head. Only her body has changed—so her sudden lack of writer's block is purely psychosomatic. Of course, that also means an adult's amount of mass is being crammed into a child's shape… Well, it is a curse, after all. All in all, the episode is a tight little horror story about coming to accept yourself and your past—and seeing that mindset is more important than anything else.

Then there comes all the things I don't understand. Namely, Ren, his goals, his ability to seemingly teleport when off screen, if he's even human or not, the entirety of the cold opening, and the weird subway station with its even weirder shop. But as I said at the start, this amount of personal confusion is not a bad thing. Rather, it is a compelling mystery—a hook to keep us coming back. And being that I'm excited for next week, I'd say it does its job well.

Rebecca Silverman

I hope you're up to date on your ancient Japanese poetry forms for this one. It appears to use a particular collection of verse from the Nara period (710-794 C.E.) and its component poetic forms as the basis for its supernatural mystery. The book in question is Man'youshu, a multi-volume work thought to be one of, if not the, earliest poetry anthologies. Unlike other collections, this one doesn't contain only tanka verse, but also longer poems (choka) and shorter pieces that function as the precis for the choka, called hanka. And in the world of Mysterious Disappearances, those poems are spells that can do things like make someone's body seem to age backward. However, they aren't getting younger, just temporarily regaining their younger body – at a price.

It's an interesting conceit. In this first episode, struggling author Sumireko is busy lamenting turning twenty-eight, and that fiction just doesn't come as easily to her now that she's older. She blames her age, but what she's missing is that she didn't outgrow her creativity; she added adult responsibilities (like a job), which cut down on the time she had to write. It's easier, not to mention more comfortable, to believe that getting older is the culprit. Still, as she is forced to learn (or at least to acknowledge), the problem is that she's stopped making the time and found it easier to blame it on a society that tells her that her worth decreases with every added year. A precocious fifteen-year-old isn't regarded the same as a twenty-eight-year-old bookstore employee, and that hurts.

Sumireko's voice of reason is in the form of Adashino Ren, a younger man (boy?) who works with her at the bookstore. Adashino only talks to Sumireko, which is some sort of warning about him, and he's the person who realizes that she's fallen under the spell of the poetry collection and what that means for her longevity. Adashino is your basic Mysterious Young Man – his eyes are closed most of the time, his age is indeterminate, and he's got a connection to some spiritual or horror realm, one that regularly sells tickets to someplace called "Yami," which is almost certainly an underworld or land of the dead. Why else would the ticket agent appear as a noose dripping blood? Adashino also appears to have a younger sister, which gives this a bit of a Horror Collector vibe, particularly given the imagery in the ending theme. Although, given the impressive amount of focus on Sumireko's bosom, perhaps comparing the episode to a middle-grade novel isn't the best choice; this isn't necessarily fanservice heavy, but that makes her ludicrous character design and the occasional close-ups of her butt stand out all the more.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this episode. It's intriguing enough that I'm tempted to give it another episode, although the title of number two gives me pause. The use of the poetry compilation is fascinating, though, and there are enough questions that I want answered that it may be worth putting aside what this does wrong in favor of what it does right.

Nicholas Dupree

This episode is a bit of a roller coaster, vacillating wildly between genuinely interesting, character-driven horror and tiresome attempts at comedy and fanservice that left me feeling like I was watching a bootleg Monogatari episode. It's an odd, rather frustrating mixture that ends up evening out to a middle-of-the-road score, mostly because every well-done aspect gets undercut by something obnoxious.

Take, for example, our protagonist Sumireko. There's a lot to like about her. She's an adult struggling with the disillusionment of her late 20s, fighting to keep her creative passion alive as a writer while facing consistent rejections of her work. She has a menial day job to pay the bills but struggles with writer's block and berates herself for missing the days when she was a young prodigy winning writing awards. That's an engaging portrait to paint for our lead character. As the episode's supernatural twist seemingly grants her wish and returns her to her youthful days of creative fervor, it feels like it's building to something.

In the middle of all that, our secondary lead, Ren, keeps making comments about her body, and the camera keeps zooming in on her sizable bust and less-sizable butt (sidenote: we really have to get more artists in anime who can draw butts. This is getting dire, man). The OP is emphatic about the sheer size of her chest and even has a close-up of her unworn bra when Ren searches her apartment, complete with a comment about how he wishes he was there for "different circumstances." Later on, there's an extended gag about how the curse that's afflicting Sumireko only took effect because she's a virgin. It's just a weird, juvenile sense of humor matched with aimless fanservice, and even when it's not actively undercutting the tension of drama, it sucks up enough time that the resolution plays out way too quickly. Having some comic relief or T&A to pair with the horror is fine, but it's actively hurting more than helping here.

The visuals similarly swing between extremes. The designs are solid, and close-ups are generally rendered well. Wide shots struggle, and any scene set in the dark has a good chance of looking too murky to read well. The final scene is so dark it's hard even to see the spooky imagery at play. The premise has some intriguing ideas - the idea of a book with supernatural poems written by non-humans is fascinating. Taken together with the drama and comedy, it comes out to just a little less than the sum of its parts, and while there's still promise of an interesting supernatural mystery series, I've got a lot of skepticism.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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