Two cartoony kids,
Grotesque spiritual horror:
Mood whiplash abounds.
So episode 1 of Muhyo & Roji’s Bureau of Supernatural Investigation depicts a touching and complex set of human relationships. At the heart, it’s main theme is the human need to belong and to be accepted. You’ve got the two girls who bond because they are both outsiders at school. Then they fall in love, and become the target of heteronormative bullying. After a time, one girl gets scouted by the volleyball team: Suddenly she is accepted, praised, welcomed into a group. The other girl resents the new demands on her time, and the new relationships that don’t involve her. When she dies in an accident, her regretful ghost hangs around longing for her partner. It’s a story portrayed effectively in a very short amount of time, and shows the problems that arise both from social ostracism and from unhealthy attachment in a relationship.
… And it would be so much more effective if it weren’t framed within the actions of our two protagonists, a couple of boys ripped straight out of Phineus and Ferb. I have a great fondness for that show, but that’s partly because it knows what it is. It wouldn’t work if you sandwiched an episode of The X-Files in the middle of every installment. Even the art style is jarringly dissonant between our “heroes” and the serious parts of the show.
It’s as if someone told the studio execs about Gegege no Kitaro, and the execs thought, “Aha! They just mixed Disney channel goofiness with some good horror. We can do that!” and then farmed the actual writing out to a screenwriter who would rather have been working on the next Citrus.
Or rather, it’s as if they were making a spiritual successor to Citrus, and at the last minute fired the entire anime team, then replaced them with the writers from Ace Attorney and the artists from Bleach.
It’s not bad, mind you, if you can look past the jarringness. You may enjoy it. Just remember that YMMV.