Category Archives: Mushishi Zoku Shou

Mushishi Zoku Shou [98/100]

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This is my 299th post and what better way to end this here than with my final review of Mushishi‘s second half Zoku Shou.

There really isn’t a single series out there like this one.  This show is awesome!  What anime series lack in characterization Mushishi more than makes up for in its wide cast.  This is certainly a show that blows just about every other anime out of the water by focusing on people individually.  A big applause to Yuki Urushibara for writing such etherial and sometimes relaxing stories!  A lot of the episodes come across being really deep in its settings and themes but what really sets this anime apart from the rest is the atmosphere it gradually maintains–  luscious forests and even snow scenes with glowing mushi allows for this series to come off quite beautiful visually!

The extra is how strong the music is.  While the stories about people being afflicted by mushi in some form or another tackles japanese folklore and legends its very much in the way of its soundtrack that delivers the authenticity that this show is known for.  It sets itself up nicely for the viewer.  Toshio Masuda,  I’ve mentioned him before in Kamisama Kiss’ recent episode post and how well diverse he is getting to be as a composer.  Without a doubt Mushishi still stands as the best work he’s ever done and without it I do not believe Ginko’s tales would have been so effective.

When Zoku Shou got announced I was rather worried because there are times when series do come back for a sequel and some of the staff doesn’t return;  which can greatly hinder the differences between seasons drastically for the viewer.  A fine example of this was last season’s Psycho-Pass 2 in how the writer and production studio changed.  With Mushishi,  just as the stories are authentic it strived to adapt the manga with so much heart it had to have just about every staff member return.

Director Hiroshi Nagahama most known for helping conceive Revolutionary Girl Utena‘s animated work hasn’t done much but what he has achieved has been incredible.  This guy has done wonders for this series, to be able to maintain such consistency in every keeping the high standards the first season had set after having such a large gap between seasons 1 and 2 is an amazing achievement in itself!  One of my favorite series that he actually created was Simoun.  As for the animation I personally think its some of the best we’ve had of 2014 and Studio Artland pulled it off once again!  Mushishi isn’t flashy and doesn’t like to show off but more importantly what it aims at is whether or not it can tell a solid narrative.

This second season I think may have had some of the best chapters adapted.  It’s also one of the few anime series that has animated every single chapter a mangaka has ever done!  We start off with a sake brewer and his connection with his father’s wishes to be the best there is to episodes like Komori E and Koten no Hoshi that bring families even closer together by shifting the focus away from Ginko and using the mushi as the mediator to point things out.

Then there are some really dark stories that come off even better than the light-hearted ones!  Stories where people disappear into nothingness, chopping off heads to keep a woman alive, getting frostbitten, a fish-like boy turning into water to people killing each other out of rage–  these were episodes that were definitely on another level.  While they weren’t cruel they just put humans in ethical predicaments.  The mushi for the most of Zoku Shou remains a principal string that ties these episodes together into the genre of supernatural so well.  It’s because of that this anime is also able to develop these minor characters into the grand scheme of things.  The reoccurring theme of survival and what comes with it.  The life-cycle that is represented in a lot of Mushishi episodes conveys a strong message about morality and what kinds of customs the characters of this series follow and sometimes don’t.

Mushishi can make us laugh and cry within a single episode while pondering so many questions about human connections and even teach us about Japanese traditions.  A powerfully moving anime that invokes a spirited presence with stunning visuals and an enriching collection of ideas about our existence and the people that we connect with that can make it a fulfilling life.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [98/100]

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Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 20 [END]

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Ancient trees are somewhat of a popular culture among Japanese stories.  According to legends, kodama are considered to be gods [kami] that dwell inside of trees.  Many believed that kodama never stick to one tree but can travel through forests by clinging from tree to tree.  In reference to Japanese animation kodama have been used in numerous Hayao Miyazaki’s films most notably in Princess Mononoke.  What makes this story of Zoku Shou especially engaging is how it takes these collections of legends and builds up from it using atmosphere, the conventional and sometimes awe-inspiring music of Japan and wraps it around a simple story about a village making sacrifices for one another.

Sentimental would probably be the best way to describe this episode.  The basis for a lot of Mushishi episodes even back in season 1 has been about Shinto–  an action-centered religion that focuses on ceremonial practices based on one principal idea:  to be diligent.  More over the fact that its a religion based around searching for connections between the present time and the past in order to secure a strong future.  Much like many episodes that Mushishi has had this one developed strongly with its episodic cast through its intertwining flashbacks around the giant tree and the fruit that Kanta eats from it.

The story of Tokoshie no Ki here with Kanta’s curiosity to travel across unknown lands brings this season 2 to a close quite nicely.  What’s great about these episodes are how individual they are.  It certainly did not feel like Mushishi was ending here but rather delivers exceptionally strong based on how much we’ve seen of this world.  This episode might recall some relevance to season 1’s Kago no Naka episode.  Setsu being unable to get out of the forest which turns out that he has a familiar family connection with the bamboo tree.  Here though it’s Kanta’s curiosity of the world that pushes him even further into the tree to the point of disabling his legs literally!  Love the scene where Kanta recollects how he knows of Ginko when he was a boy and the elderly mushishi when he was but a child as well.  Its the sudden flashback that gives off the mushi’s influence by the tree that gets this story going with a bang.

While both season 1’s episode 14 and this final episode shows a tree getting cut down they both exploit shinto in different ways.  Kanta getting his feet stuck  while becoming one with the tree was a strong visual indicator that he really has been a part of this tree all along.  Not to mention all the memories he’s collected:  550 years worth!

The flashback with Isaza and young Ginko was awesome because we get to see how long this Satorigi has also been around for.  The earthquake the elderly man mentions from 550 years ago where the first bloom occurred depicts the sacrificial aspect of this tale really well.  The villagers healing it, then trying to cut it down and finally to the point of praising it as a god could not have emphasized this better!  I like how this episode uses the various villagers as storytellers about what the tree has caused within their village over time.  The glowing sap after the tree had been cut down once again reintroduces the Light Vein we’ve seen in past episodes and the strength it lends to its hosts.  Which in this case is Kanta.

Ginko offers medicine to the ailing Kanta and I like how he sends out messages in hopes for a cure really settled down the atmosphere here.  A calm before the storm.  In order to save the villagers from a coming threat he has them escape from an earthquake.  That was an incredibly well-animated scene during that earthquake!  It’s not until the end here that Tokoshie no Ki delivers a really strong message!  And that’s this idea of humans bonding together with mushi to learn from each other on how to live.  A theme that seems to flow throughout every episode of Mushishi:  survival.

At last!  We are finally at the end of Zoku Shou.  I’m actually quite sad this series has ended and I hope that there will be more in the future.  Good thing that there will be an animated feature film coming this summer to adapt the final two chapters of the manga.  I can’t even imagine what the budget will look like for that!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 19

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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

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 18

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This was the complete opposite of what the last episode had been in every single way and it still turns out absolutely amazing!  As stand alone as these tales of Ginko’s travels can become I don’t believe I would have enjoyed this episode as much as I did without seeing the previous one about a nurturing mother and her insistent affection and worrying onto her son Yuuta.  However, this is where it turns out to be extremely reversed especially when it comes to establishing maternal relationships, as we are finally given this view of a dysfunctional family rather than a close relationship between family members that we’ve seen in most of the episodes of Zoku Shou!

Reki cries and the thunder comes crashing down–  quite a reflection into how he feels about his own mother here.  Can’t accept him as her own because of the arranged marriage set up by her own mother:  this is where she puts all of the blame on Reki.  Whether the family kept the umbilical chord or not touches on a set of Japanese traditions that have been subtly put into the manga quite well.  According to Japanese culture its common for families to keep the umbilical chord in a wooden box known as a ‘kotobuki bako’.  ‘Kotobuki’ meanning in a sense a celebration of marriage, childbearing, and is a sort of charm for japanese people to live a a long and fulfilling life.

Reki’s father is torn by the fact that his own wife can’t bear the sight of her son and it’s the past scenes where Reki being shocked by lightning numerous times under the tree that allows for this idea to take effect.  Ginko portrays more of a mediator this time between the family–  considering how the mother feels that Reki is angry with her for not loving him honestly and that is why the lightning strikes down.  Calling the lightning as even Ginko refers to it means that Reki is trying to get his voice heard for once in his life and its this episode that uses the Shouraishi in order to tie together the bonds that are broken between this family.  It’s this point that also uses the tree as a protective barrier in developing Reki’s motives with a twist.  I love the reaction his mother has upon hearing this possible idea that Reki is calling down the lightning away from the house in order to protect the family he’s always cared about but has never really shown it.

The cinematography was jaw-dropping to me here–  the quick cuts into black after the lightning strikes when she hugs her son hoping for death just as she was when she tried to drown herself.  A great contrast to what happened to Yuuta’s mother in the last episode.  Also these small cuts provides a nice transition into the satisfying ending–  the Shouraishi gradually flowing out of Reki’s belly to with this surprising look on his face.  Heck this had some astounding imagery with the almost flower-like mushi depicting the pain he’s felt ever since he was a baby not being loved by his mother as he’s covered in the scars by the lightning.  The bruises and pain he’s had slowly vanishing away from his body as he’s at last getting a second chance with his mother and father.  A classic example of showing without telling anything.

It will be extremely sad for me to see this series’ departure as this is one anime that is in my Top 10 Best Anime Series of 2014.  Hands down.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 17

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I couldn’t believe the voice I was hearing.  Rukia Kuchiki of popular shonen series BLEACH?  Wow.  This is definitely a step up for her than some of the roles she has taken on in the past–  Lady of Devil May Cry and Shizuka from Vampire Knight.  Lately she’s picked a lot of more subdued roles and it’s paid off really well.

Yuuta’s mother is really naive in believing that her son is going to get better after receiving the medicine from Ginko THAT quickly.  This proves up-close how the people throughout this series are unaware that mushi can harm someone close to them.

I really like the relationship between the mother and the son here–  Yuuta having this delayed speech on top of having a calm demeanor goes to show how different he is from the very woman that raised him.  The struggle isn’t that he’s able to swim incredibly well and not able to run on land, that he gets thirsty all the time and has webbed fingers by the mushi’s desire to live but that he is farther away from his mother than he ever has and it’s Ginko that emerges this fact to her.

Family relationships and how this can make such an impact on a story–  if I recall I might’ve mentioned this before about a previous episode of Zoku Shou.  It is these personal connections like Yuuta and his mother here that make for a devastating blow to the viewer by the ending.  This was not a happy ending at all–  as we’ve had a lot of them of the course of Zoku Shou.  Mushishi often times doesn’t stray away from telling a dark story around light-hearted visuals.  The backgrounds were some of the best this series has to offer–  especially towards the second half of this episode where the rainstorm arrives and Yuuta wants nothing more than to be a part of it.  Two aspects here–  the curiosity of a child that wants to belong somewhere and the second being the guidance of the mushi Uko.

Mushishi constantly excels at not only being genuine in its atmosphere but its development in the characters.  Without a doubt this episode chose set the focus onto the mother and her own personal issues–  she mentions how she doesn’t want trouble and this is due to losing her husband that ultimately started this entire mess with her unborn son at the time.  She doesn’t want Yuuta to drown like she did years ago only to relive the pain that she felt after the death of her husband.

I’m not sure who the episode director on this was but they did a phenomenal job at placing the past segment about her near-death experience at the end.  Especially since Yuuta has already disappeared–  which isn’t exactly explained how but the aftermath was powerful here.  She regrets what happened and blames everything on herself for losing Yuuta, but in actuality this reflects what this episode was trying to say.  In the middle of this story, there is this touching moment between her and Yuuta where they have this discussion about where rain, clouds, and the sea comes from–  she responds with how they may look different but they are the same.  Amazing parallel to what Yuuta truly is–  as Ginko describes if an Uko goes within a embryo than it becomes more than a frog or a newt than a human.

The last few lines were bittersweet in that she slowly is coming to terms with her son’s disappearance and that he has become one with water–  part of the sea, the clouds, the river, looking different and not there physically by her side but will be remembered as just like the other kids.  That the huge underlining truth that this episode was progressing towards here is that Yuuta will always be her son.  He lived.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 16

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The animators at ARTLAND did wonderfully at creating the mirror-like world that Izumi is lost in.  The Light Vein makes another return here and it was just as beautiful as it had been before in previous episodes.  However, it’s used in quite a different way than when young Ginko encountered it previously.

Izumi locks away her memories and rests in the light vein and when Ginko arrives in the mysterious world this slowly gives the viewer the occult detective perspective this slow-paced story needed to lift off.  For in regards to the house, the doll among other aspects of her being are gradually getting realized to the viewer that things are out of balance or rather in this case misplaced literally and figuratively.

Mizuho was probably the best character here because what introduces her is the doll that connects both sisters.  A bond between sisters just like a bond between friends from the last episode we had, tons of parallels here seem to remain.  Great to see, because we now can get a glimpse at how far Ginko can go at helping humans.  To Mizuho, she is looking for her doll that has been moved by Izumi, in her mind she hopes of reuniting with her sister once again.

Incredible sound effects especially when Ginko materializes between worlds and when the family calls out to Izumi from the well and smoke flies upward.  Kiyotaka Kawada, sound effects engineer for numerous series including Nighthead GenesisAku no Hana and the most recent being Akame ga Kill!, however this series is miles ahead from any other work he has ever done.  Helps that there very strong story around a relaxing style of animation.  Also want to point out the sound effects from the rocks covering up the mushi in the well– such amazing sound right there!

If I recall from any episode we’ve ever had of Mushishi, there is a theme by the end of this that plays out from the very beginning of the first season of Mushishi and now this episode–  in order to save someone you have to have the desire or in the supernatural world this show has built itself around a belief that those that have been afflicted by a mushi can return home.

Powerful, because right at the get-go the father has a skepticism about Ginko’s methods and even his profession–  mushi don’t exist.  This did allow for a lot more drama to pull through and is what saves Izumi’s life and in an emotional sense Mizuho to believe what she’s been doing all this time–  hide and seek with the doll between Izumi–  very genuine.

A theme real quickly I want to point out here that I’ve noticed from this second half of Zoku Shou is ‘curiosity’.  Izumi returns to the well after having been stuck in a world that is not her own away from her family and at the very end gazes at the glowing mushi flying up from the well and out of the pipe.  Almost as if it’s a last glimpse at an obscure journey that has ended for her and one that she will talk about for the rest of her life.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 15

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Mushishi has always been strong with its pacing and this episode was no different!  THIS IS HOW to tell a story that switches time periods!  Starting off with a temperamental young boy Gen beating up kids bigger than him to a baby being nurtured by his ill mother, Yui and later on raised by his father.  The creators took this opportunity to adapt this chapter by Urushibara and escalate it.  Gen’s behavior depicts so much without outright saying it: he has some deep-ridden issues about his mother by not being allowed to see her.  As most of what he’s held onto turns out be some well-placed discoveries in the end. One part of this towards the beginning is where his father’s worries touches on a a pretty big idea here:  keeping secrets in order to protect both Gen and Yui from getting worse.

Punching the blanket and knocking things over on top of him discovers the curiosity that he has somewhat lost as a child and it’s the mushi’s influence during this first segment that develops a certain kind of mystery within Gen:  as he says he shouldn’t be allowed to see it and touch it.  Great follow up to circle the story by using Ginko’s introduction into this episode remembering how he gave aid to Gen when he was just a baby.  Ginko already knows that Gen has a strong affinity to the mushi and this ended up being a nice transition into the mother making the robe of a golden string a mushi string that is.

Very subdue story we had here and I really like what the development how the mother, Yui turns out in this.  She’s just as curious about the string as Gen was about the robe he found in the beginning:  her spinning the thread and the other villager being unable to see it really put this into perspective.  Her eyes glowing a tint of yellow illustrates this as well–  beautiful animation!  Yes!  Another episode where a mushi affects the personal relationships a family has with each other–  Yui being unable to tend to her baby’s health because she is ill sets into motion the feeling of regret she carries on through the present time.

The removal of the thread as Ginko describes as ether just as the previous episode had used Sumi, Yura and the stream to tie in visually a strong bond.  Good connection between these two episodes.  This thread results in what happens to Gen as he get’s older which we get a really good view at the beginning:  beating another kid up.  This emotional momentum that is pent up inside Gen finally breaks free when he hears the conversation between Ginko and his father discussing Yui’s situation.  Exposing the bigger picture that’s gradually unfolding within the family.

The spirit that is shown flying around in the sky above Gen happens to be Yui and by the end here provides one of the happiest outcomes of the second half of Zoku Shou.  Yui held regrets and her illness getting worse, whereas Gen throughout this episode felt his mom hated him when in actuality its the opposite.  Bringing a mother and son together allows so much to happen in the final minutes of this episode.  Gen saves Yui’s life with the ether and dissolves the mushi from further becoming a part of Yui while she frees him from the loneliness he had been subjected to all this time.  The lashing out throughout this story emphasizes this point incredibly well, and I love that scene at the end where he’s seen running and laughing with the other kids.  Fantastic resolution for this mushishi episode!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 14

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The bonds that tie humans together are sometimes the best kinds of stories to have–  especially when this idea is used for an episode of Mushishi.  I love this series, and it’s a series that I’ve missed for a long time after having such a long absence between the first season.  Great to have this series back!  Not a series for everyone as anyone that is looking for action-based anime series will not find that here.  This is a calm and relaxing series that is ultimately rewarding by the end and the story here emphasizes this idea of human relationships quite well!

A young girl Sumi is able to feel the presence of her close friend Yura by the influence of a mushi.  Worrying her father embellishes the family relationship that this story contains in enhancing the small town around it.  Reflects a lot of the episodes we had in the first half of this series–  Mina and her father from episode two, the sake brewer story in the first episode.  Probably the strongest link to this episode has to be the special OVA from January about the two sisters and the sun-eating shade.  Tons of parallels across these widely different episodes gives the viewer a larger look into Ginko himself and how he understands mushi and the connections humans have with each other and the supernatural.

The stream that runs through the village illustrates the connection portion of this amazingly well.  The mushi, Kairogi living in the consciousness of humans that have ether.  Neat concept to use here–  the parallel here is that the stream conveys a message to the viewer visually that the Kairogi‘s host can send thoughts to anyone.

What I liked a lot about this episode is how it carries this weight that the Kairogi can affect Yura without much done on her part–  she doesn’t understand what Sumi is doing since she isn’t with her and while being apart turns out to be the main focus of this friendship she herself can still feel what Sumi’s thinking.

Yearning to sever ties with her for being stuck in feeling everything that Sumi’s feeling pushes this slow-pacing tale further.  By bringing in the father’s thoughts to Yura enveloping the entire connection through the whole town by using a set of dreams that villagers end up having at the very end.  Portrays this etherial side to the mushi that I had not really noticed until the fog scene at the end of this shows up.  Great imagery there to bring not just the villagers together but Yura and Sumi and the inevitable long-lasting bond they share.

This was a spectacular episode and it is really going to be tough on picking my Top 10 Best Anime Series of 2014, Top 10 Best directed episodes, and even best endings.  Great story here with stunning visuals and a soothing soundtrack!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 13

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Ringing in the new year with another Mushishi post.  I was hoping that I could finish up with the Fall 2014 season before January 1st but that does not seem likely.  However I do hope to at least continue on through these posts and once I get to a good stopping point I will discuss the Top 10 2014 Anime series and anime series that I will be covering for the Winter 2015 Season.  I hope that all of you are enjoying your New years and look forward to seeing what 2015 will bring us.

Mushishi is back again and week after week it continues to be one of the most surreal series I have ever seen.  This time with a young girl Akane having gone missing due to the confrontation with a shadow-like mushi that involves Ginko in a rather comedic turn of events at the start.  The music has also been strikingly different and if I recall this is the first time in Zoku Shou that presents itself with a light-hearted story about an older married couple and the relationship they’ve carried together for years including its deep secrets whether they can be remembered or not.

The previous story was about a man reliving his life through a winding tunnel mushi only to forget the most important aspects of his own life, and here is where the author’s point about forgetfulness comes across here in a rather vastly distinct style.  Mikage cannot remember a lot of her past from when she was a child but it’s Youkichi that bears the heavy burden of knowing in his heart that Akane the girl she loved from so long ago disappeared and now ends up spending his life with the suddenly appeared young girl Mikage.

Fast forwarding to the present brings us to  Youkichi’s discovery by Ginko about the Oomagadoki–  the featuring mushi of this episode that only appears at dusk and anyone that is sucked in by it switches places with its shadow.  This is the reason why Akane has lost her physical body and Mikage replaces her.  It took me two viewings of this to catch on that Mikage struggles with remembering her past about Akane ONLY at dusk which portrays an out-of-body experience traversing across time and space for the two of them.  The mushi throughout this  season especially have been able to establish a connection of strange occurrences within humans;  however this time around its more-so a reflection of the humans’  past that sway that ambitions or rather motives or these supernatural beings.  Also, I think it really helps that the animation has remained the same since the first season to get this huge idea across.

One huge impact this has on this episode most notably is how the past figuratively can cast a long shadow onto this married couple and the feelings of remorse that acts as weight for the two of them.  In the literal sense, it’s Akane’s shadow that creates a rather physical meaning that rests in the back of Mikage’s mind and without question in the village.  Perhaps this is also why there is so much influence of mushi affecting the other villagers having ailments as we see Ginko curing them of old knees that ache.

Really like how Youkichi has buried deep within in his heart a set of tightened feelings of regret regarding Akane which right at the end here reaches its peak potential!  He visits Mikage’s grave after some time has passed and notices Akane’s shadow only to step on it as she’s running away from him so that she may live for all the time she’s lost.  This plays out spectacularly well because Youkichi has already lived a full life with Mikage and by removing himself from the physical world he will absolve himself of any blame he feels of living with the very woman that stole Akane’s:  giving her a chance to feel very much alive in the way that mushi do every episode of Mushishi.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 12

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I can think of a ton of series that uses time loops for the focus of their episodes–  Haruhi Suzumiya‘s Endless Eight arc, the rewinding town arc in D.Gray-man [miss this series a lot], the Nue arc of Mononoke and even in the oddball comedy Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita.  Last but not least is one of the best ones of the decade, Tatami Galaxy as the entire series throws its protagonist into picking different clubs at university level every episode.  However, for 2014 there were four episodes that stuck out with me really well:  Space Dandy‘s episode 10, Garo‘s episodes 7 and 8 and now this tale of Mushishi.

Normal people living mundane lives is how the man who Ginko meets describes the livelihood around the village.  The use of slow fading pictures and no sound effects as time was passing matched with the awesome relaxing soundtrack Mushishi is known for executed the premise of this so effectively.  Also loved how episode director Yoichiro Sohtome uses the same piece of music each time that time was gradually moving forward.

As Ginko arrives at a family’s home to seek shelter from the rain it unravels into an amazing slow start to Kaoru’s entire life:  as a child caught between seeing the tenacity of another child disrupt the production of sake up to being mesmerized by his future wife Iku, to having a family of his own and finally with his fated encounter with the cave-like mushi Kairou.  I had to keep track of everything that was going on here, because it liked to transition quickly to when he was older and recollecting his happy memories within the cave only to realize what was really going on.

This isn’t the first time a Mushishi episode has opened the door to the ideas of time passing by from the influence of the supernatural:  Episode 22 of the first season where Ginko discovers an island that contains a mushi that feeds on the time lived by humans simply establishes an idea of reincarnation.  As Ginko arrives at a family’s home to seek shelter from the rain it unravels into a somewhat strange feeling with familiar faces.  Ginko opens Kaoru’s eyes with the explanation that he might have at one point encountered a Kairou which was the cause of him having to re-live his peaceful life over and over again.

Regarding this story I found a bit of background information on the cast of this that made my jaw drop, that makes this episode even more amazing than I initially believed–  the seiyuu of Kaoru and his wife Iku in real life are actually married!  This provided some strong emotions not to mention genuine acting towards the scene where Iku falls off the cliff depicting Kaoru’s desperation in saving the woman he loved.

An aspect of Mushishi that may not outright say it is that there are many times where the previous episodes will paint a bigger picture for the individual characters in future episodes.  In more detail for this time-looping episode is the decision he has to make here: repeat time and save the woman he loves or stop traversing into the mushi’s power which will keep his wife dead forever.  This reflects the previous episode quite a lot:  young Ginko swayed by the mountain lord’s acceptance of finding where he belongs and refusing to accept Suguro’s words to stay just as he was.  The correlation to this episode that we are presented with is that Kaoru neglecting Ginko’s warnings and goes ahead at living an unremarkable life displays the selfishness in humans throughout this series but in two distinct ways here:  disrespecting a knowledgable traveler (Ginko) by evading his warnings and maintaining a life that he slowly has come to realize that he loves.

From the get-go Ginko’s meeting with Kaoru and the slightly varied dialogue between the two of them throughout this repetition of time illustrated a rather fine point as a whole for this entire episode.  It is a line that Ginko says at the very beginning that living a life uninteresting is the best kind of life to live.  Seeing what Kaoru went through as time was repeating itself poses a strong question to the viewer.  If you can have the means to repeat your life just as Kaoru had done which choice would you choose?  Keeping in mind that the underlining theme here in a sense is this idea of immortality.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10