The real episode 11 starts off this second half of Zoku Shou with a backstory on Ginko. As the 1-hour Path of Thorns episode elevated the relationships he has with other mushishi, this one played around gently with that idea and what’s more important as to what this show is truly about: survival and what it means to become more an adult in this series. At last I’m at the beginning of the second half, the Fall Season of Mushishi and this was one of the most important episodes we ever could have had for Ginko.
The spiritual entity known as the Mountain Lord has returned here which if I remember correctly there had been a different lord in the form of a turtle in episode 10. Great way to tie in re-occuring supernatural elements between episodes here as this allows for a series that uses a random collection of tales to have a bit more edge to them. The placement of this worked out well because we finally dive right into the past as it recalls an event where a young Ginko learns from the veteran mushishi Suguro about the mushi, how to connect with others and what was most prevalent here– the natural order.
Ginko smoking cigarettes, his attraction to Mushi and his covered up eye [which we have seen just about every single episode since the first season] added a lot more layers to Ginko than what was left in the previous episodes towards the viewer. To put it simply the writing was done in such a way that we just accepted his small tendencies for the big picture to happen as each story unfolds. Great way to establish depth in his character: a set of minuscule acts that put a huge strain in where he goes for the end result. Following through in restoring balance between both humans and mushi whether good or bad things happen. I hadn’t really noticed that until this story came along.
I think what I enjoyed most about this was that Suguro was an anchor for the one being afflicted by mushi. In other word, where the roles are reversed: Suguro serves as the practical well-trained doctor and Ginko as the human succumbing to temptation of the mushi– this is where we learn a lot more about the main character than what is actually shown. His warnings to those that are exposed by the various mushi resonates in everything that Suguro here has taught him quite well. A great example of this in the current season is back in Episode 8 where Ibuki took advantage of the Torikaze in order to become a a full-time sailor as well as respected by the village’s people. Ginko knew something was off and gives warning of what may happen if he continues the whistling– sometimes the afflicted humans follow his advice and other times they do not.
The similarity with this here is that Ginko was drawn in by influence that consequently ended up avoiding Suguro’s order of staying right here he was. Something that illustrated this even more had to be in the animation. Ginko is entranced by the egg of the mountain lord so much that he is engulfed by it: we get a really beautiful scene where there are worm-like hands asking for the egg to become successor and the flames that become one with the mountain. That entire scene reminded me a lot of the themes especially the black ooze in Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. It’s this shining light from the egg that looked like hope to him in escaping from a place he wasn’t recognized but in actuality had begun sealing his fate as a mushishi. Quietly bringing us full circle to explaining the small nuances in each episode: the cigarettes and his continuous traveling throughout the lands.
Suguro putting Ginko under his wing to teach him how to think and act like a mushishi establishes a nice timeframe as to how he has been studying different kinds of mushi and the effects that have on each other and humans. It’s also pivotal in answering quite a huge question as to why he is traveling around so much. If there was another story that touched on this lightly it would have to be the Cloudless Rain episode as it depicted this parallel between Ginko attracting mushi and Teru’s vagrant lifestyle as she affects the rain patterns around her from the water-type mushi Amefurashi. It is episodes like these two that speak volumes about Ginko’s character that isn’t about blame but acceptance. And it is here that we finally get to see his first time recognizing who he is and where he belongs. Really powerful story!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10