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I have to give Mysterious Disappearances a lot of credit: it understands how folklore works. We’re still trying to solve the mystery of Tomoko’s vanishing, the apparently linked Taiwanese folklore of Hong Yi Xiao Nü Gui, or the little girl in red. (In last week’s episode review, I accidentally left out the “xiao.”) While trying to figure out how a ghost from Taiwan potentially took people in Japan, Adashino comes across an interesting bit of trivia. Generally, Hong Yi Xiao Nü Gui stories don’t involve the knocking component that’s so important in Tomoko’s disappearance, but one specific variant of the tale does. This variant originates at a specific Taiwanese university, and we all know that people don’t strictly attend universities in their hometowns or even their country of origin. That means that if a variant were to cross borders, having it originate at a college would make a lot of sense because if there’s one place where people are more likely to carry away retellings, it would be a school attended by a wide swathe. Add to this Adashino’s observation that the Hong Yi Xiao Nü Gui likely developed as other myths and legends were retold all over the country, and you have a pretty good description of how folkloric variants come to be. Oral storytelling is one big game of “Telephone,” which can result in interesting changes, either deliberately made to suit the teller or simply as the natural evolution of a half-heard tale.

The discussion is all part of the attempt to solve the mystery, and it works well with Sumireko’s more analog approach. While Adashino is pursuing the academic question of Hong Yi Xiao Nü Gui’s origins, Sumireko is at the library, doing good old-fashioned detective work – looking up missing persons cases and compiling her own database of local stories likely overlooked by the national news. She finds that Tomoko isn’t the first person to vanish in the rain. Over the years, there’s been a strange version of what Adashino terms a baton pass: someone goes missing, and the dead body of a previously missing person is found. The corpses are implied to be found in remote locations, like the urban, not-quite-legend of an eighty-year-old woman vacationing in Taiwan who went missing and was later found in a cave she shouldn’t have been able to access. She was found alive, which may have broken the chain in Taiwan; all we know about her is her age and that she was a tourist. If she was a Japanese tourist, we may have a plausible way for Hong Yi Xiao Nü Gui to jump to another country.

We don’t know who took Tomoko, but the name makes a convenient placeholder while Adashino and Sumireko try to figure out what’s happening. Oto doesn’t seem to care who the culprit is and whether or not they’re a Curiosity, though. She wants to find Tomoko, feeling, perhaps, like it’s her duty as someone who was very nearly taken herself. She will continue searching to see whether her brother will allow her to. Sumireko helps her to a degree, putting her in contact with Shizuku, but I don’t think either adult is aware of the degree to which Oto is willing to go. Perhaps they’re just not cognizant of how much pain she carries with her. She remarks to Shizuku that after Adashino saved her, they became lost, wandering in a featureless world before they ended up in the abandoned station. Oto may see that as her fault that in coming to rescue her, Adashino got stuck. She may see Tomoko as her chance for redemption: if she can find her and bring her back, she can forgive herself for getting her brother lost.

As for where they were lost, I’m still assuming that it was the banks of the Sanzu River. The more we see of their home, the more I question it being part of the real world, or at least the present-day version of it. What we glimpsed this week made me think it might be an old station used as a bomb shelter during the Second World War; why else would it have so many beds and lockers? It reminds me a bit of the old World War Two shelter I saw in Napoli, built in an ancient tunnel system, or photos from the London Underground in the same time.

Wherever they’re from, it seems like at least one dead girl wants to ensure that Oto joins her. This week’s cliffhanger marks the first time I feel anxious to continue this series. Since this episode also includes one of my least favorite tropes – flipping up a girl’s skirt and commenting on the color of her underwear – that’s really saying something.


Mysterious Disappearances is currently streaming on

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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Episode 6 – Mysterious Disappearances