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Mysterious Disappearances
Episode 5

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 5 of
Mysterious Disappearances ?
Community score: 3.7


Depending on what you're watching Mysterious Disappearances for, this episode either lulled you into a false sense of stupefaction with its first half or took a sharp turn for the less enjoyable in its second. I think you can guess that I fall into the former category. Oto's classmate Mari may be important later on, and the opening theme may indicate that (my money's on the sultry image of someone sticking out her tongue), but the episode's opening storyline still feels like it doesn't trust its audience to stick around for a purely supernatural plot. It feels more like someone indulging in their fantasy of what girls talk about: each other's underwear. I recognize that my experience of girlhood isn't the same as everyone's, but I can say that I never observed, overheard, or participated in such a conversation; the only time underwear ever came up was if it was uncomfortable or ruined by a surprise period.

That may be the point, of course. Oto's response to the question about her undergarments (“cloth”) and the blonde girl cheerily pulling up her skirt to show her friends that black underwear is just underwear that happens to be black (as opposed to sexy) both could be indications of Mari's looming encounter with a Curiosity. Although most of her facial expressions and line delivery seem to lean towards her being funny, there's no denying that she's getting very, very close to crossing a line. Gender hardly matters when you're using your job as a bathhouse attendant to deliberately get an eyeful of the clients undressing, and Mari's actions are the bathhouse equivalent of Uname's anti-bullying crusade: with the potential to cause harm even though the people in question don't intend them to be harmful.

The main problem is that the underwear storyline doesn't appear to have anything to do with the second half of the episode, which plunges us back into the supernatural mystery element. While staying at Uname's apartment (something Sumireko is wisely a little suspicious of), Oto is awoken by the sound of someone knocking on the door and turning the handle, clearly trying to get in. When she opens the door after seeing a shadow move away from it, there's no one there – but another door is being rattled down the row. The problem? There's no one there, just wet footprints made by a ghost in the rain. This entire scene is done very well: it's creepy without being scary, and it raises a host of questions about what's going on, one of which is whether this is a Curiosity or a different sort of supernatural issue. In the post-credits scene, Adashino mentions Hong Yi Nü Gui (unless I read it wrong), a specific ghost in Chinese lore. This woman in red clothes is a vengeful spirit, as opposed to ghosts wearing white, and most tales from around the world depict her as someone who was killed or wronged in life and comes back to seek revenge.

That appears to be at least similar to what's going on here. The episode opens with two young women talking in the rain, and it circles back to them when the rain ghost manifests: one of the women vanished a year ago, answering a door that someone outside was trying to open. Her friend is now hunting for her, with only “girl in red” and “rain” to guide her, and she mistakes Oto for the villain. If she is looking for Hong Yi Nü Gui, that would imply that her friend did something terrible…or at least moved to the wrong apartment and became a victim of a twisted soul.

Adashino's appearance at the end doesn't support or deny that possibility, and I don't love that he also sucks all the tension out when he makes a crack about missing the bath scenes. Oto's enthusiasm for what Sumireko calls “granny snacks” may be a clue to her time and place of origin, as is her reaction to Uname's family shrine, but all of this gets a little buried by the first half of the episode. It's too bad that the balance isn't better here because when this show is on, it's on.


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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