9 CommentsMushishi / By Scamp /

Mushishi season 2 episode 8 – Snakes hate second-hand smoke

Mushishi Zoku Shou - 08 - Large 23I’m starting to get worried about Mushishi’s production schedule. I had heard before the show started that it would be one of those split-cour shows where the second half airs in Autumn. But there have been two weeks where they hadn’t finished in time and had to delay it a week. Not a great sign for more episodes. I hope they do go ahead because I am really enjoying this season and would eagerly gobble up more.

There was that moment in this episode where Ginko warned the kid not to whistle at night. Which in typical Mushishi fashion is such an innocuous thing that will inevitably bring about widespread destruction and terror into his life, ripping apart the very fabric of his being, casting both his life and the life of those he cares about into great peril. All this from whistling at night. Normally in other stories you would have to sacrifice 15 babies for karma to bite you back as hard as it does in Mushishi, but a constant running theme in Mushishi has been nature not giving a shit about what you think and how hard it will fuck your life up if you happen to look at it funny.

Mushishi Zoku Shou - 08 - Large 32Except in this episode that’s not strictly true. In an interesting alteration to the usual formula, this was very much a man messing with powers far beyond his control. He developed the power to control the wind and was able to call tornadoes on his foes if he whistled right. But because he didn’t do it properly and didn’t take heed to what sort of horribleness his powers could bring about, he sunk his ship, poisoned his family and eventually blew it down by effectively blowing at it. It’s a bit rich of Ginko to lecture someone on using mushi for their own gain. He’s the one who uses silkworm cocoons with alternate dimensions inside them for something as mundane as delivering a letter.

While this episode didn’t leave as strong of an impact as some previous ones this season have, Mushishi hasn’t really had an off-episode and this one is no exception. It’s a well told interesting story with creepy snakes burrowing holes in your walls. Now who else tried whistling to conjure up some wind?

Inushinde

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I’ve always found the total vagueness of certain myths to be the worst killers of believability. Case in point, the whole whistling at night thing. Being told that night-whistling summons pestilence snakes that also cause terrible property damage would be a far better deterrent than somebody just telling me “hey, you shouldn’t do that.” I feel that Ginko should know this, and probably should have specified that night-whistling would fuck up this poor guy’s life. In a way, this entire episode is Ginko’s fault for drumming up interest in night-whistling, without giving a clear reason why it shouldn’t be done. Can’t fault somebody for doing so when you don’t specifically mention any consequences.

If Mushishi weren’t so deft with its characterization, I would have mistaken this entire episode for a dark comedy, intentional or no. Our character wants to do something nice and share his whistling gift with the world, but he finds that it only causes trouble and summons creepy black snakes. He wants to bring back something nice for his family, but they ask him to sell it because he accidentally sunk the ship he crewed for, and therefore wasn’t paid for his work. And when he’s able to undo all the trouble, it makes his house implode. For the rest of his life, he’s stuck using his whistling to either blow sails, or to destroy the livelihood of his family. It’s amazing what a little bit of context does to defuse unintentional comedy.

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This episode has more in common with themes of the first season than those that have thus far been incorporated into the second. There’s a greater emphasis on people accidentally harming themselves or others without realizing, thanks to the mushi, than on mushi being peripheral figures. It’s an observation that’s neither here nor there quality-wise, but does manage to showcase Mushishi’s effortless variety. It’s always worth pointing out that Mushishi is good.

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9 Comments

  1. Shadow
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    This episode highlights human idiocy at is best.

    The episode in itself shows what happens when you press the “Do not press” button and its consequences.

    Also goes to show that when Ginko *the voice of reason* tells you not to do something, you better don’t do it.

  2. Gan_HOPE326
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    So, about Mushishi. So.

    I have never gotten around to watch Season 1. I know roughly what it’s about. I’ve watched the recent OVA as an introduction to the series, like you suggested some posts ago.

    And I’ve found it to be… nothing special? I mean, not bad by any stretch, but yeah: “problem solving” guy episodically goes from place to place solving people’s trouble with spirits/demons/yokai/whatever. Not the newest formula ever, and I didn’t see anything especially compelling about the way it was executed there either. So, is there something wrong with me, was that a bad starting point, or what?

    • ANON
      Posted June 9, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      mushishi is one of those shows that you either get the first time or find boring at the start. Some people push themselves through it, finds nothing of value in it, then says it’s a waste of time. and then there are those people who goes through it, and then the show grows on them like a mushi, and then they find something profound in it and then praise it like it’s the best thing in the world by giving it a score of 9 or 10 on MAL.

      I will not say that you’re wrong, there are plenty of people who have the same opinion, but the closest thing I could compare the show to is … art.

      There are some who looks at a painting and just see a framed picture of something, and then there are some who see something more, mushishi is like that for me, although it’s not a static picture, and more like a moving painting.

      I don’t intend to demean anyone and becoming a hipster-like creature by saying that “you just don’t get it maaan” or something like that, I’ll just boil this already long rant into as few words as possible: it’s not for everyone.

      I for one was drawn in by how they finish every episode, that haunting feeling that it gives me is addicting, and the music they always use towards the end conveys that feeling very well.

      The closest series to this one theme-wise would be natsume’s book of friends, although that has more characters than just ginko. if you also find that one nothing special, then it just means you don’t prefer this kind of series :D

      • Gan_HOPE326
        Posted June 10, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

        I started watching Natsume Yujin-cho too, and well, it seemed to me definitely less artsy and more shojo-like than Mushishi, this much I can tell.
        Dunno. It’s not even that I have a problem with slice of life or slow series – I do enjoy some of those. As for this shinto-like kind of mentality that pervades Mushishi, I usually enjoy it in Miyazaki who makes ample use of it (only in his case the spirits are mostly benign or roughly neutral). I guess that something like this though has to catch me through either the style, the music, or some kind of serialization. But I don’t like the art especially, the music kind of slipped through discreetly (which I guess was the whole point), and I didn’t see any hints of serialization.

        So I guess the problem is that I’m not one for relaxing stuff. I can enjoy exciting, adrenaline-inducing shows, or I can enjoy slow shows that however weave together character arcs or complex symbolic stuff. Anything that challenges my brain, while Mushishi felt more like the kind of show that you’re supposed to enjoy with the heart, so to say – slow and emotionally charged, but symbolically straightforward. And that really doesn’t do much for me.

  3. Lirael
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    “But because he didn’t do it properly and didn’t take heed to what sort of horribleness his powers could bring about,”

    While i do agree he sunk the ship by accident, I thought it was kind of clear he was ruining his family on purpose. So much so even after Ginko fixed the problem and told him he was the cause he still continued. However, after his second talk with Ginko he regretted it and sent the birds there on purpose to fix it, knowing (thanks to Ginko) they’d eat the worms.

    Rather than yet another tale of people accidently messing with nature without any evil intent, this was about a boy that actually wanted the bad results he was getting.

  4. Nagisa33
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    A few scattered thoughts: This episode was one of my favorites due to the imagery and the ending. I can’t blame the boy for being pissed after his whole world came crashing down but hurting his family because of it is another thing. Even though he couldn’t bring himself to face his family again he redeemed himself. Ginko was not clear enough which I thought was quite silly. Ginko driving out the snakes reminded me of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. I thought that these mushi birds were the same from episode 2 but I guess they’re different.

  5. Kenjeran
    Posted June 9, 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Just want to say that I find this episode a bit too convenient. What with the mushi summoning whistle being introduced as a tool that often used by Mushishi to lure mushi, despite it never mentioned before, and that whistling at night thing which the boy conveniently do (accidentally) right after Ginko told him not to.
    Still, the overall episode is good, as always.

  6. Loz
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Pretty much every episode of this season has very dark undertones. In this one the lad didnt care if his stepmother died. It may have been accidental to start with, but he inflicted the snakes on her afterwards intentionally.
    He even said she will not acknowledge her as his mother or something like that. Its only when after ginko prompts him again that he made the choice to either become a monster or save whatever humanity he had left. Even so, his method of doing it was by intentionally destroying the house. He knew how to, earlier he said snd demonstrated earlier that he could control the birds to summon winds of differing strengths.

    I do however agree that ginkos warning was vague, but then we wouldnt have a story to explore if it ended at that point. Just like the hunter with the eye in his hand in an earlier episode. The mushi gift is can be both a blessing and a curse.

  7. Kotobuki
    Posted June 21, 2014 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Found this to be my favourite ep of Mushishi thus far. It has its flaws like what many have mentioned, of Ginko being vague with his warning, but it showed of an important decision that the boy had to make, “You must choose what manner of a man you will become.”

    He chose in the end to be a better person (though still wrecking the house of his family), he set off and continued his life as a sailor, using the positive side of the gift he has. I liked it because this ep had the progression of a character’s development, and choices we come across in our own lives: also the very big reason why I really enjoyed the whole of Ping Pong.

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