Mushishi’s ability to pick such simple pieces of nature to focus on is remarkable. It’s like a top-drawer crowd-pleasing comedian’s ability to nail the exact everyday occurrences that frustrate people. This episode is about rain. How friggen basic can you get than rain. It’s a remarkable thing really, rain. The sort of amazing power it holds between life-bringer and life destroyer. I did find it odd that Mushishi’s version of rain destroying someone’s life was to make them develop anime sickness. The eternal dangerous disease that means they get short breath and need a wet flannel placed on their forehead. I thought anime characters got that from falling off buildings, but apparently they also get it from rain. Perhaps this comes from me living in flood city, but surely you could have had the village be flooded as your natural disaster caused by ceaseless rain?
That odd gripe aside, this episode was absolutely fantastic and got to me in a way that rather took me aback. The moment specifically where it really hit me was when it finally started to rain after several days of stubbornly refusing not to. History was about to repeat itself and kill a person she cared dearly for, but this time it was because she wasn’t able to make it rain rather than because it was raining too much. She had spent her life running from the rain, learning to live with its destructive capabilities and force it into working for her. She was living a lonesome life, much like Ginko, but had found a way to live with it. For a moment though, she thought it had gone. She was no longer causing rain. Right at the moment she needed it most, she thought she had been saved from the rain following her.
And then it rains. She can’t decide whether to cry in relief or despair that the curse still followed her. In a rare admittance of his inability, Ginko confesses he doesn’t know how to cure her problem. So she’s left continuing her wandering journey. But right when she’s getting to leave, the guy who she obviously cared for and maybe had a bit of a crush on came rushing to her to thank her. Right at that moment the two conflicting sides of her emotions crashed together. This man was alive thanks to her power and was beyond grateful that she did that for him. However in that moment she also saw the shadow of the brother she inadvertently killed with her power and knew they could never be together. The rain did more than rob from her the capacity to cry. It robbed her ability to love.
That got to me. More than quite possibly any other anime ever. That single scene fucking got to me.
I don’t think I was quite as enamored with this episode as Scamp was, though that’s not so much the show’s fault as it is the heat. I think most of it just has to do with how self-contained it is, even by Mushishi standards. It’s a story that wraps up neatly, but doesn’t really add anything to the cohesive whole, aside from another solid entry. It doesn’t need to do more, but I like episodes more that try to build on the greater world of the mushi.
What it does well is show the struggle that she has—being cursed by a mushi that saps moisture, but also using it to help others. It had become such an integral part of her being that when she couldn’t conjure rain, it was like a reluctant painter losing their ability to keep a paintbrush still, or a disgruntled potato farmer losing their ability to ingest potatoes. Though she may not like it, it is something that only she can do, and it does have a positive effect that I’m sure she’s taken great notice of.
Mushishi once again manages to craft an engaging story with engaging pathos thanks to understated storytelling and a different perspective on certain natural phenomena. It’s about as bog-standard as the show gets, but bog-standard Mushishi is still leagues above most other shows at their best.