Mushishi – 16

There is no skirting around the fact that episode 16 of Mushishi is a thoroughly depressing affair.
Every day a woman loses fragments of her memory, whether it be the definition of a sneeze or the identity of her sister, it’s a mysterious problem that only someone like Ginko can solve.
There are some things she never forgets though; the most profound things. Like her worried son, or how to cook, or to be sure to lay out a meal for her husband despite knowing full well that he will never return.
By now it should be clear that every episode of Mushishi begins and ends with a clear purpose, this one is a characterization of human despair. No matter how hard she tries to put her husband out of her mind, this broken wife has been cut deeply by her lover’s betrayal and even a mushi that eats memories can not erase her unwanted echoes of love. The saddest part is not so much how it affects the forgetful mum, more how it clearly depresses her gutted son. He has seen her go through it all and still, despite what his father has done, his mother still lays out a plate of food; a dinner never to be eaten, a broken memory of the saddest times.

Mushishi – 15

Having suffered through some heavy tragedy in the last few episodes of Mushishi, it was nice to see the show returning to it’s well established style of surreal, metaphorical story telling this time around.
Here we meet a chirpy young boy who like Ginko can not only see Mushi but takes an active interest in them too. Though upon talking with his older sister, it turns out that the kid is using some mushi magical powers to fall into hibernation every winter- he does this to releave the stress of back breaking house keeping on his only sister (their parents are long gone).
As is the case with most of Mushishi, this episode portrays a beautiful world. Snow flakes drop from blanket white skies and mountain tops punctuate the lonely background. Ginko discovers a hidden spring garden in the middle of a snow covered valley and it’s a wonderful sight- vibrant with butterflies, lush green grass and violet flowers.
Furthermore, this episode is notable for being one of the few that could possibly spark a Ginko romance. He pushes the woman’s advances aside with subtle grace, worried about her welfare given mushi have a tendancy to follow him around. Apparently, too many mushi in one place is never a good thing.
Of course, this is a fine episode, but not one that strikes me on such a compelling human level as the previous. Playing out more like a mythical piece of advice, we leave our snowy surroundings being told by our gravely narrator that in cold situations, warm shelter will always tempt us into quiting our journies. Naturally, Ginko keeps on walking. Mushishi is as philosophical ever. This was an episode about Ginko being tempted by love.

Mushishi – 14

It seems almost ridiculous to say, but every episode of Mushishi I see is my new favourite episode. Number 14 is an outstanding piece of story telling, possibly the most heart breaking yet and still, an ultimately uplifting and optimistic masterpiece.
Shades of green fill the screen as Ginko stumbles about a forrest. He bumps into a strange man who hasn’t been able to escape the forrest for years (possibly even decades). I won’t ruin anything for you, this episode is too good to let slip anything else but what transpires is both grotesque horror and a terrible tradegy, poetic in it’s hopeful conclusion.
Unlike episode 13, where romance is destoryed by mere accident, here it is a premeditated sacrifice in the name pure love that heart breakingly backfires thanks to some typically despicable human nature.
For those who have a sense for anime that tugs at our heart strings, Mushishi episode 14 is by far and away the most outstanding, understated love story I’ve come across this year. Recommended. If you aren’t watching this, you’re an idiot.

Mushishi – 13

As the is the norm for Mushishi, I left episode 13 with a mixture of emotion and intrigue. The two lead characters for this week are obviously in love but one of histories worst traditions, that of arranged marriages, again causes the kind of intense termoil that can only result in tragedy.
These kinds of episodes usually end optimistically. The soulless girl, having been possessed by a mushi, you expect would return to her usual self once vacated (ala The Exorcist). This doesn’t happen, but still her lover awaits her return for years in the blind hope that one day she will return as the girl he loves. When she dies, a part of him disappears too, perhaps he loses hope.
Needless to say, this was a darker than usual episode of Mushishi. I wasn’t gripped by the tragedy of it all; the murky atmosphere of this episode long seemed to suggest that bad things were lurking in the woods, but still- this is another comendable 23 minutes of Mushishi that look, sound and even feel as immersive as ever.