First Impression – Mushishi Zoku Shou 2

When nature strikes back

It feels a little weird to do another first impression post for a series that just took a break between seasons. This isn’t really a “first episode”, but a natural continuation of the adventures of Ginko. Assuming we haven’t forgotten about mushi, this opening episode just dives right into Ginko’s backstory. And it’s kind of nice to just go back in all familiar-like as if we never left the place.

What a nice feeling to re-enter the world without lengthy flashbacks or explanations. Mushi are nebulous by nature, and the act of trying to explain them diminishes that air of mystique. Just knowing they’re “mushi” and that not everyone can see them is good enough. As such, I think starting off by actually rewinding things and explaining more about Ginko’s past is a clever move to kickstart this “new” season. Anyone who skipped out on season one (I don’t know why anyone would) should really go back and watch the One-Eyed Fish episode to find out what Ginko’s lost memories were regarding how he got his silver hair and green eye. There’s no point in me summarizing an episode – it’s not something that should be conveyed with words alone.

Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 004

He’s missing out on a golden opportunity to wear a cute eyepatch and live the chuunibyou dream

Anyways, Ginko is left to wander by himself since he has the eerie habit of attracting mushi. The only company he remembers (thanks to the memory-eating Tokoyami in his eye socket) are money-grubbing mushishi who use his abilities just to lure mushi to towns and then get some villagers to pay him to expel them. They abandon him when his ability to attract mushi exceed their skills at getting rid of them. So his only contact with humans isn’t very pleasant. He’s living a very depressing existence that has an uncanny similarity to episode 11 and 12 with the soulless Kumoda. Both find their lives to be lonely and without meaning…but both come to extremely different conclusions at the end of it all.

You would think that Mushishi has run out of ways to talk about isolation and loneliness. It’s striking to me that they manage to stay so close to this theme without anything ever becoming repetitious or boring. I think that may be because loneliness is such an integral part to being human. We crave the company of others, and therefore just about everyone knows what it’s like to be lonely. It’s such a common thing, but also such a terrifying thing. Mushishi hits the nail right on the head with this one: being alone is essentially the same as dying. Without any human connection, both Ginko and Kumoda find no reason to continue living. It’s a harsh reality that Mushishi plainly and unabashedly tells us over and over again.

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Tears of blood and tears of…relief? Fear?

But not all is doom and gloom. Unlike Kumoda, there is so much hope residing in Ginko. Afterall, he does not give in. Kumoda has no hope because he has no soul to allow him to find any appreciation for life. Ginko may not be the luckiest kid in the world, but he still has a soul and a healthy mind. Just before Ginko wades through the Light Vein to take his own life, he is “saved” by the mushi in his eye. Even if he felt no desire to live, the mushi inside him did. That was enough for him to think twice about throwing his life away.

In an odd way, the Tokoyami is his companion through all of this. Not the best of companions, that’s for sure, but it’s better than nothing. Ginko realizes that this thing in his eye socket isn’t just an inanimate object that makes him look weird, but a living creature with certain desires. This whole experience not only teaches him that he deserves to live and that he belongs, but that mushi are creatures who want to live just like any other human would. We see this lesson carry on into his adult life as he greatly respects mushi and their desire to live, despite the fact that many of them harm humans. That respect never delves into foolish kindness though, as he has been tempered with the knowledge of how devastating mushi can be when they take you over. It’s amazing how just 20 minutes show us the entirety of what made Ginko who he is today.

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The only time you should sincerely listen to words of some scraggly guy who lives alone on a mountain

It’s amazing what important lessons he learns in such a short amount of time. The mushishi who takes him in tells him that he always has somewhere to belong in nearly the same breath as telling him to get lost, but it seems like the advice really changes Ginko’s perception of the world. Now although he is still as alone as ever…he isn’t as lonely. There’s a world of difference between being alone and lonely. We know Ginko eventually takes this advice to heart, because a lifetime of traveling alone hasn’t made him bitter like Kumoda. Ginko is pleasant, kind, and has a handful of close friends he visits as often as he can. We see him alone each week, but never do we get the sense that he’s suffering because of it. However, before Ginko met this mountaion-dwelling mushishi, his travels seemed lonely and absolutely depressing to watch. It wasn’t an adventure for him, but a struggle to survive.

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Ginko learned to accept his abilities, the mushi in his eye, and traveling alone. He also learned a lot about mushi and how to simultaneously admire and fear them. It’s really yet another fantastic episode in the series that has everything I love all in one place. Visually, it’s as beautiful as ever. I took so many screenshots that I didn’t know what to do with them. I also think the hiatus paid off really well as the animation looks as smooth as ever. I love how when characters move, it’s languid and slow as if they’re doing everything underwater. This just adds to the serene tone they’re going for. Similarly, the complete silence as Ginko stared into the Light Vein and pondered over suicide was perfect. It’s rarely the case that I’d prefer no music to music, but this worked perfectly. from start to finish, Mushishi is a masterpiece. It’s always been one. I’m just so glad it’s back again for me to gush over it every week.


A neuroscience graduate, black belt, and all-around nerd. You'll either find me in my lab or curled up in my rilakkuma kigurumi watching anime.
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11 Responses to “First Impression – Mushishi Zoku Shou 2”

  1. CarVac says:

    This was a truly beautiful episode. I had tears welling up by the end.

    The first half of Zoku Shou was very entertaining, but it never reached the level of the best episodes of the first season.

    This one did.

    • Overcooled says:

      It was incredibly moving. I didn’t dare to breathe the entire time Ginko was at the Light Vein in case I broke the silence. Sooooooo good. I think this half of Zoku Shou might even surpass season 1 (although I’ll have to go back and rewatch it to fully remember the feeling)

    • BlackBriar says:

      This was a truly beautiful episode. I had tears welling up by the end.

      I don’t see how it’s possible not to feel any sentiment, especially towards characters enduring mushi encounters.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    I apologize for being absent lately. Hurricane Gonzalo paid my island home a surprise visit 9 days ago. Left me one day without power but the rest of the time up until recently with no internet. A depressing experience. I was only able to make a few comments a while back because I was abusing using a relative’s internet connection at their house. Now I’m back and going on a commenting rampage to make up for lost time! How good it feels to return to the site I visit religiously.

    Mushishi, the relaxing, eerie anime is here again. It’s only been one season’s break yet I feel such nostalgia seeing this show again. I wouldn’t call it second season per say. More like this is episode 13. Interesting they chose Ginko’s origin story to kick things off. All the time I’ve been watching him on his journeys but never stopped to wonder how he started out, what made him who he is as an adult. Ironically, as a kid, he’s just as heedless as the people he gives advice to.

    One thing is certain: the misery that comes with contact with the mushi hasn’t changed a bit. An embodiment of darkness that takes refuge in the eye… That’s got to be unpleasant. Can he even see with that affliction? That it consumes memories as well is equally troubling. Luckily, he ran into someone who had enough decency to play the Good Samaritan.

    Suguro’s voice sounds familiar. If I’m right about my assumption, his seiyuu is Wataru Takagi. Shounen fans know him as the voice of Naruto Shippuden’s Tobi/Obito Uchiha and fangirls at the time will recall him as Tatsumi from Shiki.

    • Kyokai says:

      Stay safe BB!

      Btw, for fun times, the kid version of Ginko was voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro like a baws.

      • BlackBriar says:

        Stay safe BB!

        I plan to stay that way.

        Yeah, I saw she was listed as the voice of young Ginko. She did well because I couldn’t recognize her. When I think of Miyuki Sawashiro, I imagine the voice she uses for Suruga Kanbaru/Celty Sturlson.

    • Overcooled says:

      Glad you’re okay! That sounds rather serious.

      It does feel more like a continuation than an entirely new season. It was a weird pause, but I think they needed it to catch up and keep the production values up.

  3. Kyokai says:

    Loved the return of Mushishi. What a nice way to start things by giving us a backstory. I loved everything about this episode and at least one of my curious questions got answered: Why Ginko smokes? Who knew that the scruffy dude was behind introducing him to mushi repelling smokes. Makes so much sense now.

    • Overcooled says:

      I never thought much about Ginko smoking mushi-repellant since it just made so much sense for his profession. He’s used it so well to protect himself and he has this scruffy dude to thank for it!

  4. Martin says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. Apart from the ‘One Eyed Fish’ episode, we’ve never found out much about Ginko at all: instalments like this are important to flesh him out as a character I think.

    The biggest surprise in following the ‘young Ginko’ is seeing him as not just young, but uncertain and fallible. We’re so used to the cool, calm and knowledgeable grown-up version that it was quite a shock to learn that even he was once uncertain, lonely and prone to making mistakes. I’m still mentally processing this week’s episode (Overcooled always seems to beat me to getting to the heart of each Mushishi outing! ;p ) but I have a strong feeling that it’s very important.

    Anyway. It’s great to have Ginko back doing his thing. UBW, Mushishi…this is a great season!

    • Overcooled says:

      They keep him as a mystery for the most part, yeah. I’m glad they gave us more.

      It is really nice to see that Ginko wasn’t always as calm as he was before. It probably took him a long time to get his footing. That makes him so much more genuine.

      Trust me…there’s a lot to process. I’m still processing it even now lol

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