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Mysterious Disappearances
Episode 3

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Mysterious Disappearances ?
Community score: 3.8


I don't always, or even often, object to fanservice. It has its place, and if it doesn't interfere with the story or character development, my general feeling is that you should know that it's there and move on. Mysterious Disappearances, unfortunately, does use fanservice in a way that interferes with the unfolding plot. Mostly, this is in its insistence on shoving Sumireko's breasts in our faces when it isn't necessary – the scene where she held a severely injured Adashino on her lap in no way needed to show us that her shirt had once again burst open, nor did we need to see her in a too-small tracksuit to demonstrate that she had regained her adult form. I'll give them the pan down of her burned body because that shows the damage she took, but for the most part, it's just distracting.

It merits my complaint because there's so much that's really good about this episode. It picks up the story of the teacher who is far too invested in seeing bullies everywhere, this time going back to show us why she's so fixated on it. It's not surprising that she was bullied as a child and became a teacher to make sure that what happened to her never happens to anyone else; in fact, that's really believable. In my experience, most teachers want to do their best for their students, and finding a way to stand up for the victims is an authentic way to do it. But she's gone too far – rather than stamping out bullying such as she experienced, she's over-reading every situation, seeing bullying where there's none. It's true that one of the most frequent lines bullies whip out (especially in anime) is, "But we were just fooling around!" and yes, a lot of the time, they're not. But this teacher is so fixated on the idea that the kids are lying one hundred percent of the time about what they're doing that she becomes a bully herself.

It's easy to see how that could happen, especially if you've been a survivor of bullying in the past. The drive to prevent anyone else from going through that particular pain is intense. Manami is still reliving her trauma to the point where being in a school may be hurting her. Certainly, the measures she's using to curb what she perceives as bullying are beyond the pale, even if we don't consider the gross factor. (No one should be licking the floor in a school.) Good intentions can't always make up for actions, and unless I miss my guess, the girl in the wheelchair we see at the end of the episode may be one of the bullies Manami "stopped."

In some ways, this episode reminds me of Hell Girl. It could be due to the use of the phrase "curses always come home to roost," which I tend to associate with that show, but I think it's more the sense of "what goes around, comes around," which admittedly is a different way of saying the same thing. When Adashino confronts Manami, we see her crouched on the ground with multiple signposts coming out of her back, as if she's been impaled by the very curses she cast on the "dribblers." It goes back to the idea of her going too far and becoming what she hates most – the signs that marked where she inflicted pain are now weapons used against her. Adashino reading Oto Sumireko's book also works with this idea of full circle; Oto doesn't want to like Sumireko's words, but they touch her nonetheless, which validates Sumireko's desire to write again. The important thing is not to lose sight of what steps you're taking on the way to your goal.


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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