What’s it about? Hitori is the most perfect child a rich older couple looking to adopt could ask for: sweet, dutiful, and seemingly tireless in his desire to please. It’s a lot of work to be a perfect child, which is why Hitori is actually a pair of twins, Migi and Dali, constantly taking notes and switching places.
My pre-episode nosing into Migi&Dali’s production team was a bit of a mystery. Its director, Mankyū, is pulling double duty as the series composer, which often indicates a passion project. But flip over to their resume, and you’ll find almost exclusively short-form comedy series. What could draw someone like that to a show with such serious promotional imagery?
Then the premiere opened on blood blooming from a woman’s head with “Claire de Lune” absolutely blaring on the soundtrack, the camera zooming out to show that not only is she DYING, ALONE, but also it’s CHRISTMAS OUT THERE, PEOPLE.
And I understood.
Migi&Dali is, how shall I say, a rather specific taste. Its aesthetic is sinister and gothic, opening theme heavily reminiscent of SHADOWS HOUSE’s memorable instrumentals. Its premise is written specifically for me, one of the five people who adored Dead Ringers. And it loves to lean into a po-faced embrace of its own absurdity, ramping up those strings as the twins combine all their Death Note-esque cunning monologues to….give their adopted father a good back massage. There’s a sinister miasma that never comes to bear, making it feel much closer to a quality Ito Junji production than the two actual anthologies.
And then it will puncture that tension with the occasional loud clap, like the twins’ sweet, gentle adoptive mother suddenly yelling “SHIT” in English at the top of her lungs when the lattice on a cherry pie refuses to weave together right. It’s abrupt like a gunshot, an easy punchline that hits harder because so much of the show’s comedy relies on the conceit that nobody is noticing these very obviously sinister goings on, nor do the twins take on even the most mundane task with anything less than deadly seriousness.
Once you’ve cottoned to the joke, it’s easy to notice how tight the comic timing is, walking a tightrope to keep any of its broad tones from becoming too exhausting. It’s well-executed work, which makes it all the more heartbreaking that Sano Nami (Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto) passed away mere months before its premiere. This was only her second series, and it’s a painful reminder that we lost a talented artist with a unique vision way too early.
The biggest question hanging over the series is how it escalates from here. The post-credits sequence hints that the twins are somehow connected to the woman from the opening—I’d bet a dollar that this is a “tragic murdered mom” setup–so there is an actual plot at work beyond the gags, but it will need to evolve the premise lest its “doing mundane things very seriously, with sinister emphasis” bit start to become stale. There is a bit of thematic meat on the bones in the premise’s assertion that being the perfect dutiful child is in fact two people’s worth of labor, but I’m hopeful that it keeps building.The female characters are exclusively mothers, dead or otherwise, but I do at least appreciate that while the twins’ mother is an absurd character, her fatness isn’t played for grotesquerie. This seems like a fairly tight story, but hopefully there’ll be room in it for some non-moms as we go along.
I’m sure that in such a packed season (one of the biggest ever, for better or worse) this little oddball is going to go overlooked by many; I, at least, am here for no fewer than three episodes.