Content considerations: Depictions of depression and overwork. Also, I mean, technically this is a show about a dead toddler, although nobody ever brings that up.
What’s it about? Fushihara, a weary shachiku (corporate drone), works overtime one night and discovers her office is haunted by a toddler ghost. But instead of trying to curse her, the little ghost just wants her to get her work done so she can go home and finally get some sleep.
There’s probably a 10-minute version of Miss Shachiku that works as a chill-out series, albeit a somewhat dark one. The first five minutes of this premiere start out well enough, featuring some amusingly bleak humor about an office worker who can’t worry about the spooky voice telling her to leave because her boss is far scarier than some rinky-dink ghost.
Fushihara will likely resonate with a lot of viewers: overworked and depressed, her shitty boss piles on the overtime and she feels like her life is pointless because she’s so busy working that she never has time to develop meaningful relationships. Then she meets an adorable ghost who really, really wants her to take care of herself. The ghost’s cuteness and encouragement give Fushihara the strength to finish her work in record time and even have fun doing it.
The problem, folks, is that after the first five minutes, that’s the entire episode. Ghost Girl wants to help Fushihara. Ghost Girl does A Cute. Fushihara is happy. Rinse and repeat for 20-odd minutes.
Which means that instead of taking notes about plot or characters or production, I wrote “oh no I’m bored” at about the 11-minute mark and started overthinking the implications of a show about a depressed, overworked woman whose life is given meaning by the sudden appearance of an idealized “toddler” (with toddler in heavy air-quotes, because this uwu angel is about as similar to a real child as I am to a cheese wheel).
So who is this for, and what is it accomplishing? Is this a chill-out fantasy series for overworked adult women who like the idea of a
pet child but not the reality of one? Except the manga runs in a magazine for teens, so maybe this is another Abenime Baby Propaganda series, here to help solve Japan’s declining birth rate by convincing Today’s Youths that children are sweet selfless bundles of joy who will totally cure your depression?
Is it suggesting that women need children to feel fulfilled while also completely ignoring (1) the fact not every woman wants kids and (2) the double burden faced by many Japanese women who do want children but either can’t or don’t want to quit their jobs, and feel like they can’t do both because they’re also expected to take on the vast majority of child-rearing duties and domestic labor? Or perhaps it’s implying that late-stage capitalism is Totally Fine Actually and the problem is your lack of Babby to give your life meaning, not a toxic work culture that expects you to owe your soul to the company store?
…I mean, no, probably not, or at least not intentionally. Probably someone thought “work tough, kid cute” and that was the end of it. But this is what happens when the second half of your premiere is a regurgitation of the first half, Miss Shachiku! Your reviewer starts Getting Ideas About Things!
Boredom-induced over-thinking brain-spirals aside, this actually wasn’t the worst premiere in the world. Fushihara is Hashtag Relatable in a lot of ways and the central premise of “what if a ghost wanted you to practice self-care” is delightfully strange. There is something ever-so-slightly creepy about the random male voice that interjects about how cute Ghost-Girl is, as well as the way Fushihara very nearly drools over the kiddo, but it’s more a potential concern than a flag at this point, which means there aren’t any significant content warnings for this one yet either.
In a weaker season, I might consider sticking around for one more to see if the series’ pacing improves once it expands the cast, but this is a strong Spring already and we haven’t even gotten to the sequels yet. Aharen-san is a funnier laid-back comedy and Deaimon is a more substantial found-family show. Sorry, Miss Shachiku, but I’m gonna follow Ghost Girl’s advice and get while the gettin’s good.