Trying to get through the initial impressions of the Winter 2015 Season and maintaining series that I’ve been behind on from the Fall 2014 season is a daunting task. This is one series that I would recommend to anyone looking for an intelligent drama series. Mushishi captivates its audience with the overall mood or even its style that it achieves in setting up each episode.
Most of the time there is a focus on the mushi afflicting humans in strange ways that Ginko arrives to mediate the problem. Sometimes he gets it right and other times very wrong. However, there are some episodes that encompass solely on the human side while keeping the supernatural aspect of it, the mushi as a detail. This establishes the characters into pivotal pieces to the plot so much more! Episodes that depict the nature of human beings. Especially when it handles themes of jealousy, rage, affection, and more often than not love.
Ginko arrives at a village where most of the people have warts covering their legs and sometimes hands. The tales each episode are vastly different as we’ve had frostbitten people, a family chopping off heads of women, his has got to be the darkest story of Mushishi of Zoku Shou we’ve had as it confronts murder with the mushi featured in this episode used as backdrop. The villagers have a ritual of funeral processions by returning the dead to the mountains– a common theme throughout this series is that mountains represent a life-cycle. What makes this interesting is these people hold within them a fear– which we see with this missing Yui at the very beginning and parasites that can harm humans going into the mountain.
The contrast here is that this fear of catching something which in this case is the mokurosou— a grassy looking mushi that affects any parts of the body causing paralysis. A sinister fear that overcomes the villagers slightly but more with one particular family. This family or rather its two brothers contain a strong motif here– brother Shinobu kills by accident which results in Yuki’s outcome prior to this episode and the other results from the other brother killing him out of a fit of rage due to the loss of his daughter. It’s these mokurosou unaffected by the medicine on his legs that disturbingly illustrates the lingering feelings of death he has so deeply hidden within his own heart. Where he is seen looking out into the sky reflecting on this shows a great deal of his character and just how more frightening humans can be rather than mushi.
The dream he has where a shadowy Shinobu apologizes to him depicts how much he wants to forget that he has killed his brother. I’m glad this episode set that death prior to this episode as well because it truly captures the mushi and this foggy aura around the village that points to this idea of a lingering collection of deaths wrapped around traditions so realistically.
The result is a very powerful confrontation between Ginko and the fearful brother– I really like how uninterested Ginko is in his personal matters and only focuses on the mukurosou. A reoccuring element about Ginko that shows up in this morbid tale is his offering of advice, cleanse yourself of any death that lingers on you. The end was perhaps the most intense scene we had in this entire episode! Self-absorbed by his own rage and wanting to keep his brother’s death a secret he decides on going after the son that he’s taken under his wing all this time. The mukurosou play a fitting role not as a supernatural focus but an idea that enriches the past– the feeling of guilt he doesn’t want to admit towards his brother, the constant lies to his nephew all amount to the weight he has carried on since he’s killed him.
It’s this collection of ideas behind the mud grass on his body that ties him down to the past resulting in him falling over and drowning to his death. What I think foreshadows this a great deal is towards the beginning where Ginko learns of the brother’s decision to take care of the nephew. The nephew very much wanted to be with his father in the mountains and its there where the brother says “All right, let’s say goodbye one last time” that points this foreshadow out to the viewer. It is also this revisiting theme of the life-cycle that has been prevalent in mushishi with its mountains, water and fire that provides a powerful force connecting families together even after death from the beginning to the very end of this episode.
In short, the brother wanting to forget killing his brother takes in the young boy to replace his own daughter Yui in hopes of being forgiven for his sinful act. The turnaround is that the young boy learns of the truth and ends up getting his life saved by the weight [mukurosou] that has been buried within the brother all this time. Which for this very scene was Shinobu [the brother] and Yui. Powerful episode!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10