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Mysterious Disappearances
Episode 8

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 8 of
Mysterious Disappearances ?
Community score: 4.0

mysterious-8

Despite being a little disjointed, there's a lot to unpack in Mysterious Disappearances' eighth episode. The most crucial nugget is almost certainly the mention of tsukumogami - in Japanese folklore, these are items that have been around for so long that they develop sentience, and Adashino mentions that he'd be surprised if they still existed – or were being actively created, at least – in the modern world. His reason for this is that we live in a disposable culture: nothing is made to last anymore, so how is something supposed to exist long enough to become a tsukumogami? Those shoes you bought at Walmart aren't likely to be around in a century, nor is the spatula purchased at a dollar store. When physical items are no longer made to survive, does that mean that folklore like tsukumogami become extinct?

It's interesting to think about, and it's a question supported by Sumireko's memories of finding a mysterious bookshop in elementary school. She discovered what almost looks like a secret passage to the store while running away from a misunderstanding with her friends and is quietly welcomed by the only person in the place, a woman reading a book titled Charybdis. She offers to lend the book to Sumireko and invites her back to read more at any time, kickstarting Sumireko's love of the written word. But is she a real woman? Or is she a Curiosity, and is that why Sumireko was able to bond with the poetry book she later used?

Adashino isn't offering up any real answers. However, from his words, it seems more likely that the woman and the store are ghosts rather than Curiosities, or at least folkloric beings without the bite of a Curiosity. If this is the case, that implies a line drawn between plain old folklore and the more dangerous Curiosities – a Curiosity is a curse or an item imbued with one, while tales can contain monsters and ghosts, but they act according to their natures rather than in a uniform way. It feels important that the books the woman gives Sumireko all appear to have titles from Greek mythology – Charybdis is a sea monster, while the second book we see a clear title on is Europa, who in mythology is a Phoenician princess often described as having been raped by Zeus. Neither of the plots appears to have much to do with their titular myths, but the monstrous nature of the characters (because I think that can be a fair way to describe Zeus) is worth considering.

Mythology and folklore, after all, are stories that have moved from the spoken word to the written word. Although they don't technically fit the definition of a tsukumogami, they are good examples of how ideas can take on lives of their own. And suppose we pair that with Adashino's remark that digital data is treated with more care than physical items. In that case, I suspect that we have a clue about the next Curiosity Adashino and Sumireko will have to deal with. Oto's friend Nodoka is likely the next victim – her wish to be a YouTuber or a VTuber is something her father and the school is actively attempting to stymie, and as we've seen with the other Curiosities, human desire and anger often make someone vulnerable. Sumireko could easily have been trapped had the bookstore not been a mere phantom, and Nodoka may be well on her way to realizing that the online world holds plenty of dangers that the adults around her aren't cognizant of.

What's a digital tsukumogami like? I have a feeling that we're about to find out.

Rating:

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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