Type: Character Cliché
What made it popular: Japanese Culture and Folklore
Cliché Level: Medium
Where can you find it: Kannazuki no Miko, Oomamori Himari, Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, Ghost Hunt, Campione, Inuyasha, Nurahiyon no Mago, Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon etc.
Description: Miko( 巫女) are Japanese Shrine Maidens that are part of the Shinto religion, it is the eastern equivalent of a nun, but Shrine Maidens differ from Nuns in the way that they aren’t required to take vows of Chasity for life, nor is it something they do for their whole life. It is fairly common for the Modern Shrine Maiden to have it as a side job, and one can simply step down when another Miko has been found that can take their place. As far as jobs go Miko take care of Japanese shrines, this includes cleaning, sweeping, selling souvenirs to visitors, performing religious dances and partaking in other religious ceremonies when the need arises. In Japanese history and mythology Mikos had the same roles as fortune tellers and oracles who could predict the future of the various feudal lords or bestow them fortune charms and other magical items.
Why it’s bad: In anime Miko’s are sadly most often found within the Ecchi and the Harem genre, they are one of the most frequent characters to get sexualized in these shows. The reason for that is obvious and simple, they wear uniform and are supposed to be pure, so it is a nice fetish fuel to perverts who fantasize about corrupting Shrine Maidens. Sadly they are mostly just fap material and they are very shallow in the said harem anime, and even when they are not in such an anime they still come off as generic and lame due to the fact that in adventure stories Mikos essentially fulfill the role of an average magician in the team roster. In edgier and more action oriented anime Miko’s are also exorcists and demon hunters that chase after Youkai, which are basically the Japanese equivalent of demons. They are a common heroine candidate in visual novels and eroge, but they don’t seem to get much love in romance anime for some reason. I don’t think that I have ever seen an exciting or interesting portrayal of shrine maidens in anime. I find it sad that Japan can only degrade its own culture instead of putting it on a pedestal and elevating it.