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Mysterious Disappearances
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Mysterious Disappearances ?
Community score: 4.1


What causes someone or something ordinary to transform into a supernatural being? Interestingly, at least two different series this season are exploring the topic. However, I'd argue that Tonari no Yōkai-san is doing a better job with its nekomata character than Mysterious Disappearances' two-episode tsukumogami storyline. But that's more down to the different goals of the two shows: one is a thoughtful slice-of-life exploration, and the other is a fast-paced supernatural action series. And despite not reaching the same level of meaningfulness as its cousin, Mysterious Disappearances still does manage some pathos with the conclusion of the Yorumun plot, especially if you or someone you love is dealing with a progressive disease – honestly, I'd be tempted to make a deal with a potentially vengeful supernatural being if it would stop and/or cure my dad's Parkinson's Disease. And Yorumun turns out not to be particularly evil – she's motivated by what appears to be an actual desire to help the human who created her.

That makes this episode stand out from most of the others. While there was a caring component to the story about the girl in red, this one is fully rooted in it. Minamo originally created Yorumun and became a Vtuber as a way to fulfill her dreams of being an idol after a degenerative disease (which sounds like MS or ALS from the way she talks about it) made it impossible for her to do traditional dancing. Yes, a more daring show would have embraced the idea of an idol who used a wheelchair; their approach instead allowed for the use and combination of various traditional folktales and legends. Yorumun isn't just a digital tsukumogami, she's also a specific mermaid variant called a jinja hime - a snakelike creature with the head of a human woman, with the alternate name of hime uo, which is Yorumun's family name. An 1819 story about this sea yokai involves her coming ashore to warn people of an impending cholera outbreak and to tell them that if they hang an image of her in their homes, they will be spared. It's this tale that the episode pulls from: Adashino calls jinja hime a creature who can cure illness, hypothesizing (correctly, it turns out) that Yorumun's entire goal in manifesting is to provide a cure for her creator. Her version of "hang a picture of me in your home" is to take over any and all internet broadcasts, ensuring that her picture is in as many homes as possible, thus enabling her to cure Minamo of her disease. Revenge isn't her motive – in fact, it's entirely the opposite.

But no matter how pure her intentions are, Yorumun is still part of the parasocial relationship between people and their internet idols. We see that clearly when Nodoka meets Minamo: she screams at the woman that she doesn't want to hear Yorumun's voice from her. This captures the issue in a nutshell – it's not Minamo speaking with Yorumun's voice, it's the other way around. But Yorumun is more real to Nodoka than Minamo, and in her eyes, the human is killing the Vtuber, even though it's the human who's dying. Nodoka's inability to feel empathy or even sympathy for Minamo feels like a snapshot of idol culture: she cares about the product, not the person who embodies it.

Honestly, I wish this had been covered in more depth. It's a fascinating angle on the whole "pure and perfect idol" phenomenon, one that could hearken back to Perfect Blue with enough time to develop it. I can't blame the show for not going there, however, because that's not its point; it's much more interested in how Sumireko and Uname-sensei use their Curiosities to help Adashino and in Adashino's quest to return Oto to her world. And that's a perfectly fine story. If this doesn't go as hard as it could, that's ultimately okay, and hopefully, someone will take the thought that was started here and expand upon it in another story.


Mysterious Disappearances is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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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