Well shit, Scamp and I slipped up last week when it came to actually writing something about Mushishi. Though I have to admit that I was getting kind of tired of the same old simple, well-told story about humans coping under the overwhelming might of nature—as tired as I could possibly be of something that manages to be of consistently high quality, anyway. Sometimes, it’s nice to focus on the awe-inspiring power of nature, without the human element eating up valuable screen-time. We all know that Mushishi does the human element well, so sometimes it’s nice to see it develop its incredibly strange world of giant paramecia and snow-conjuring turtles.
I always enjoy when the series shows mushi that exhibit sentient thought, because, more often than not, the thought processes are fascinatingly convoluted and without any regard for not scaring the shit out of humans unfortunate enough to be caught in their machinations. For all of his experience and knowledge, Ginko is still led blindly by Mountain Turtle into giving up his entire stock of kouki, nearly drowning in the process. For all of his extensive knowledge of how mushi work, he still can’t quite place the purpose of the mountain’s unending winter, and his place in it. The world, for how aware Ginko is of it, is still full of surprises.
Humans and mushi, though they can communicate, do so from different planes of reason, to the extent that one’s actions will absolutely not make sense to the other. Having most likely existed long before humanity sprang into existence, the way that mushi communicate is fascinating in its apparent circuitousness, seeming at a glance to be wholly counterproductive—smothering a mountain in never-ending winter may seem like a shitty way to spring the whole thing back to life, but it’s a small sacrifice to obtain Ginko’s small stock of kouki.
This is everything that one of the non-somber episodes of Mushishi should be– fascinating, with an interesting dynamic between mushi and human, where both parties benefit. The human is no longer trapped in a swirling vortex of frost, and the mushi gets his life juice. Everybody wins.
Scamp: This is what the world cup does to me. Even one of my favourite anime of all time in Mushishi gets pushed aside as I watch Algeria vs South Korea. Would I prefer to watch the calm, beautiful brilliance of the horror-themed nature-inspired Mushishi or would I prefer to see if an unfancied North African side can progress to the group stages over a terribly dull Capello-led Russian side. I think we all know the answer to that.
Oh right, Mushishi. It was an odd episode in that there wasn’t a single other character. This was Ginko monologuing like he was the star of his own light novel, with the only other character being a pissed-off asshole tortoise who shoved Ginko into a swamp so he could steal his drugs. I found it personally amusing to interpret this episode as some sort of drug-induced halucination on the part of Ginko. He starts the episode by deciding to camp in the middle of a forest and piling his tent so full of ‘mushi tobacco’ that you could barely see through the smog. Hence Ginko got absolutely langered and woke up in a daze, wondering why he couldn’t get out of the mountain when all he was actually doing was walking around in circles.
Then, in his barely coherent mind, he started yelling at a tortoise, fell into a lake and then woke up the next morning with his wallet missing and with a tattoo of the name of a girl he’s never met on the inside of his thigh. It fits almost eerily well, especially when you consider the complete lack of other people in this episode. Consider that Mushishi is based off old-wives tales and folklore to describe unusual, inexplicable events to illiterate middle ages. The faeries have taken your baby and replaced it with a troll was used to explain down syndrome is such a case of them simply not understanding the concept. On the other hand, events such as a child being born white to a black mother was explained as being blessed by an angel rather than the priest being a dodgy motherfucker.
In this episode of Mushishi, it’s the story of the dad not really understanding the strange tobacco he took was hallucinogenic and hence explains it away by the mountain tortoise stole my juice. Hey, the first episode of this season was about people seeing strange floating creatures when they drank too much alcohol. It’s not as far fetched an explanation as it might sound.