Giving other writers a say in a certain universe is a risky business. You acknowledge that their interpretation of an established plot might not be precisely what fans of the original series are searching for, even as you ask for their opinion on it. Best-case scenario, you get something akin to the Sasaki and Miyano Official Comic Anthology, which is mostly accurate to Shō Harusono’s art and captures the spirit of the parent series. The majority of the stories in the Mieruko-chan Official Comic Anthology feel a little more like fanfiction than anything else, so while it’s not horrible, it also doesn’t quite reach those levels.
Fanfiction is perfectly acceptable, of course, and in certain instances, the original perspectives are quite effective. The most famous of these is Fright of the Fitting Room by Michiru Noroi. After reading their work here, I must admit that I feel like buying up their exclusive anthology, The Horrors of Noroi Michiru, which is published in English by Star Fruit Books and features more of Noroi’s style of horror. The story by Noroi does a respectable job of adhering to the fundamental idea of Mieruko-chan, putting the reluctant ghost seer in a clothes store fitting room. After that, the narrative takes a surreal turn, putting Miko in a frock that is very tight and incorporating some familiar horror motifs. According to Noroi’s following remark, their work is evidently inspired by the original manga’s admiration for the way it combines several horror subgenres. It is a pretty well-realized horror short story on its own, even though it doesn’t look or feel exactly like the original manga.
Similar to this, Yakan Nabeya’s work, One Who Knows the Girl Who Sees, somewhat modifies the original’s core concept and structure. This story, which examines the possibility that perhaps the monstrous enjoys watching Miko, is told from the perspective of the spirit rather than any of the human girls. The ghoul, in spite of his gory look, genuinely cares about Miko and helps her in her efforts to ignore the strange beings all around her. It lacks the bittersweetness of those pieces, but it implies that not all ghosts are scary just because they look scary, which makes it seem like it was inspired by Miko’s father or the cat ghosts (who also get their own story by Goumoto, whose work has appeared in English in the Syrup yuri anthology series). It should be noted that Nabeya drew a very well-drawn monster; his eerie blush is truly wonderful.
The pieces that are either too brief to have a significant impact or that appear to have overlooked the series’ departure from its fanservice origins are considered to be the weakest ones. Though short novels like Yoshiyuki Nabei’s Seeing Things is Rough lack the space to leave much of an impression, flash fiction can nonetheless have a significant impact. Although it’s one of the longer pieces in the anthology, Aki Mizuki’s Bath Buddies is arguably the poorest because it hinges on how much you adore Hana’s enormous (and poorly drawn) breasts. It’s probably not what you’re looking for in an Mieruko-chan story, but if that’s what you’re looking for, then this feels like just another way to draw Yuria, Miko, and Hana being naked.
Thematically, it’s intriguing that two different stories center on Yuria and Rom (although they both go in the same manner), and several of them use the premise of the nude little male ghosts. The most enjoyable of these is Little Old Man Day, held by Shikiji Sorakura. Miko, Hana, and Yuria are shown visiting a brand-new bakery café that Hana has her eye on. However, two of the three quickly discover that the establishment is populated by strange, diminutive men. Highlight of the book, the novel deftly combines light terror with silly fun and some delicious sweets. The small old men are also used by Imari Arita in Forgot Something as a lighter aspect in the plot, playing with Miko’s interpretation of the ghosts she sees. Interestingly, neither artist seems to be able to agree on how to draw Hana’s hair, even though she appears in almost every piece in the book. In a few instances, it would be difficult to identify Hana if Miko or Yuria hadn’t mentioned her name.
More than anything else, the Mieruko-chan Official Comic Anthology is a mixed bag. The diversity of the painting styles is obviously a big lure, and the stories are compelling when they’re on. However, not every contribution seems to understand the original series completely (or do and don’t care, which is their right), thus this is more of a book for superfans or completionists than for those who are just interested in Mieruko-chan.