I’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.
Except 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?
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.
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.