The shoutout this week is to a reader named Missy, who saw the Legend Of Hanako-San story and felt like it reminded her of someone she had seen before…
I thought that Missy had a great observation, and reading her comment made me want to look into whether JK Rowling had been inspired by the story of Hanako-San to create Moaning Myrtle.
You might remember Moaning Myrtle as the extremely moody ghost from the Harry Potter series. She was a girl who had been a target of bullying by the other girls in her class. They liked to make fun of her glasses and the huge amounts of acne on her face.
I’ve always thought Moaning Myrtle was a fun character, the kind of ghost that wouldn’t scare you half to death if you met her, though you’d be driven away for other reasons (the whining, for example).
The ghost Hanako-San is a more frightening character than Moaning Myrtle by far. If someone calls out to her she will either slowly whisper a response or reach out to drag the person into the bathroom stall to try and kill them. Although some stories about Hanako-San do tell of how she will come to the aid of kids who are being bullied if they go to her for help.
Only JK Rowling would know, and a little bit of digging turned up this quote where she explains how she got the idea for Moaning Myrtle:
The inspiration for Moaning Myrtle was the frequent presence of a crying girl in communal bathrooms, especially at the parties and discos of my youth.
This does not seem to happen in male bathrooms, so I enjoyed placing Harry and Ron in such uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
—J. K. Rowling
So Hanako-San hadn’t inspired Moaning Myrtle, but instead they both came out of the same real-life phenomenon of girls running into bathrooms to cry things out.
And let’s face it, bullying is the number one reason girls run crying into bathrooms. Especially at school.