Original Run: January 11, 2018 - March 29, 2018 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Slice of Life Based on the Series Created By: Kakeru Utsugi
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for How to Keep a Mummy. Reader discretion is advised.***
Sora Kashiwagi (voiced by Mutsumi Tamura) has learned to be wary whenever he receives an item from his world-traveling father. These so-called “gifts” often lead to giant headaches, as well as leave behind the occasional curse. Therefore, you can imagine Sora’s hesitation when an enormous package from Egypt arrives at his doorstep.
To his great annoyance, Sora had been given a large casket. The note attached asked Sora to take care of the thing that laid inside – a real-life mummy. Ready for the absolute worst, Sora opened the lid and to his immense shock, out rolled a small, pudgy, doll-like creature wrapped in rags (voiced by Ai Kayano).
Sora has no earthly idea what he should do next. However, unlike all the other presents he has had to deal with, this one doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, no matter how you look at it, this tiny mummy is downright adorable.
Almost instantly, the little guy starts following Sora everywhere, and the two become inseparable. Although not entirely sure how to keep a mummy, Sora is willing to try his best with his new friend, who he affectionately names Mii-kun.
This show was as straightforward as they come. There was one thing it did exceedingly well, and thanks to that one thing, this series was consistently fun.
How to Keep a Mummy was cute as hell.
Almost immediately, How to Keep a Mummy unleashed a heavy bombardment of unabashed adorableness. Mii-kun had me the first time he started tearing up (then things turned utterly ridiculous when the little punk began barking like a needy puppy). If Mii were sold as a stuffed toy, I would buy him.
Japan and Japanese anime know how to do cute. There are countless shows which rest their entire weight on big eyes, squishy bellies, and derpy faces. When being as darling as possible is the only goal, then it isn’t hard for a series to accomplish what it sets out to do. However, this type of success, even if achieved, is mostly superficial.
When a show can only melt your heart, that isn’t the same as it moving your heart. That’s not to say a series which does the former is terrible; it’s just…not much.
To How to Keep a Mummy’s credit, it operated at a slightly higher level from merely the inherently cute. On their own, yes, Mii-kun and the other teeny, chibi creatures seen in this series (believe me, there were a lot) could have been enough to get by. The reason this show went much further than the minimum was due to the amount of effort that went into giving these characters actual personalities.
Mii-kun had specific mannerisms which dictated how he reacted to situations. The path from point A to point B wasn’t as basic as coming up with silly things for the miniature mummy to do. Instead, this series was careful to create circumstances that made sense for Mii to be in.
Instead of making Mii-kun accident-prone and calling it a day, How to Keep a Mummy had Mii be clumsy because he was still learning. He was a child trying to figure out how things worked, and not some bumbling airhead who didn’t know any better.
On top of that, there were instances when Mii-kun didn’t fail. He would attempt a task, and after some difficulty, he would succeed. Seeing this little guy do his best and have it pay off was far more charming than it would have been had he kept failing. Thanks to his never-give-up nature, it was much sweeter when Mii worked his hardest and handed his best friend Sora a letter – written in crayon – which read, “Together Forever.” Mii not being a loveable doofus was what made him endearing.
Besides, How to Keep a Mummy didn’t need two dingbat characters. The pipsqueak oni child Connie (voiced by Ai Kayano) filled that role nicely. Also, between you and me, Connie had the perfect amount of harmless mischievousness which made him one of the best things about this show.
Incidentally, the actual best thing about How to Keep a Mummy had to be the dragon Isao. If you don’t fall in love the moment you see him, then frankly, there’s not enough sunlight on Earth that can warm your frozen heart.
Some of the most interesting moments of this series were when Mii-kun and his other mythical friends were together doing their own thing. They didn’t need the support of the human characters. That said, it was the humans of How to Keep a Mummy that were the most surprising.
Sora and his friends — Tazuki Kamiya, Asa Motegi, and Daichi Tachiaki (voiced respectively by Keisuke Komoto, Himika Akaneya, and Seiichiro Yamashita) — could have easily been forgettable accessories to Mii-kun and his group. In actuality, the humans had much more to offer.
None of the humans felt unwanted. Each of them had their fair share of screen time, and this allowed their characteristics to develop beyond just a face and a name. Sora and Tazuki, in particular, had a ton of history behind them. They were not newbies to this show’s fantasy world.
To round this section off, How to Keep a Mummy knew how to complement its characters — no matter the species. This show focused on Sora and the humans enough to make them feel relevant. Mii-kun and his fellow creatures, in turn, had plenty of stuff to do; they were more than low-effort gimmicks. If nothing else, there was a genuine bond between everyone. It was that bond that allowed this series to be as good as it was.
How much cynicism do I infuse into this section?
If we consider How to Keep a Mummy as part of the “cute” genre of anime, then through that merit alone, it was a success. On the other hand, seeing this show as cute – and nothing else – would ignore many of its more glaring faults. Some elements of this series were silly, unneeded, and even irrelevant.
For instance, I’m fairly convinced How to Keep a Mummy didn’t know what a mummy was.
The one mythical creature in this show that didn’t belong was Mii-kun. After all, Mii wasn’t Egyptian mythology. He was a walking ball of poof that made funny faces. Compared to Connie (a Japanese oni) and Isao (a dragon), Mii really had no business in this show despite it having the word “mummy” in the title.
This is pure speculation, but if I had to guess, the original creator of How to Keep a Mummy, Kakeru Utsugi, scribbled a goofy looking character on a piece of paper one day and then decided to retroactively tell a story around it.
To put it bluntly, Mii’s entire purpose was utterly meaningless and out of place.
A counterpoint to that: So, what?
Mii and this series did precisely what they set out to do. How to Keep a Mummy was a ton of fun. It usually wasn’t necessary to go deeper than surface level with this story.
Unfortunately, there is one problem with what I just said.
It was unnecessary to go deep with How to Keep a Mummy except for the times this series decided to force in depth.
This show had a horrible habit of never following through with itself. There were a ton of details that got introduced but never went anywhere. Major character traits were glossed over and had no bearing on anything.
For instance, Sora’s aunt, Kaede Kashiwagi (voiced by Ai Kayano), was usually quite down to earth, if not a little overly-stressed. However, her entire personality would drastically transform whenever she wore a pair of glasses. Why this series chose to include this, I haven’t a clue, and yet, for some reason, I know it was a thing that happened.
Most details aren’t interesting if they only exist to exist. Adding why a character does something brings out more of who they are than simply mentioning a character does something.
What’s worse, How to Keep a Mummy took this problem even further.
As I said earlier, Sora and Tazuki were familiar with this show’s fantasy world. Each of them had plenty of experience with the supernatural and the otherworldly. Too bad some of that experience was also downright horrifying.
Both Sora and Tazuki had gone through some incredibly dark periods when they were younger. What happened with Tazuki was especially terrifying.
Given the rest of this show’s happy-go-lucky attitude, it was extremely off-putting whenever this story decided to take a turn.
To be fair, these bleaker moments allowed Sora and Tazuki to be better-rounded characters. Them going through hardships wasn’t the problem. No, the problem was How to Keep a Mummy not exploring these hardships.
What this series got “wrong” was mostly trivial. There was plenty of stuff this show got right that made up for its occasional questionability.
This was a cute-style anime that went much further than it had to. Thanks to that, it managed to stand out far more than other series like it.
This show had one goal in mind: Be adorable. If that is all you are looking for in your next viewing session, then this is a no-brainer.
I am more than happy to recommend How to Keep a Mummy.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning How to Keep a Mummy? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.
Post Editor: Onions