Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 – 04

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“Ugh, maybe if I had a motor boat I wouldn’t always be late for school…”

I’m leaving to go on vacation for a few days, but thankfully everything I’m blogging airs riiiight before I have to leave. So I can blog this week’s episode on time and when I get back I won’t have missed anything. Perfect timing! Now I can write about the ever-calming Mushishi before flying away to a bustling city…

It’s almost absurd how calming Mushishi is. Maybe half of this effect is fueled by my expectations. Whatever the case, all it takes is a few seconds for me to completely fall into a spell of relaxation and peacefulness. I heard the gentle sounds of water lapping at the hull of a boat and birds chirping and that was it. My entire mood shifted and I was completely in tune with what I was watching. It still amazes me that this show has that kind of power over me, despite the fact that it often rips my heart out with despair-inducing mushi and the most depressing of bad endings. Even so, I come into each episode thinking that it will be calming. This is one of those episodes that is entirely soothing without any undercurrents of creeping terror that make you wonder in a fit of panic if you’ll die alone. Mushishi has the power to do this, but sometimes it’s nice to just fill an episode with pleasant things and give us a bit of a break.

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Yura (another good name since yura yura is the sound of flowing waves and generally means “wavering”) is a sickly girl who has no friends her age. Her only friend is a nanny named Sumi who used to look after her. However, she hasn’t really tried to make other friends since she deemed Sumi’s company to be enough, so her lack of companionship is partially from a lack of effort on her behalf. The other part of the problem is that it’s difficult to move around to the point where you need a boat just to get to your neighbour’s house. It’s not impossible for her to just ask her dad to ferry her around the village, but it’s not as convenient as talking to Sumi is.

Given her options, Yura chooses the lazy route and abuses the power of the Kairogi mushi granting her telepathy. Why bother going outside when you can see and hear your friend without moving, right? It makes sense, but Ginko quickly explains that the continual use of this psychic Skype will eventually cause her to lose her consciousness altogether. However, Yura thinks that she would rather run that risk than have to deal with her heart palpitations without Sumi’s support. The comfort of companionship takes precedence over her own safety. So the problem is not so much figuring out what to do about the mushi, but more about changing Yura’s mindset so she doesn’t rely so desperately on Sumi’s support. The Kairogi is easily cured with medicine, but things won’t be truly set right until Yura changes.

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Dear Yura, please find someone else to stalk with your creepyass mind powers. -Sumi

The interesting thing here is that I initially was just rolling my eyes at Yura and wanting her to just stop talking to Sumi. Her father was right – she had to grow up! So I imagined the story would end with Yura gaining independence and learning to either be alone without feeling lonely or making new friends. But that’s not how it goes. To the very end, Yura continues to rely on Sumi and she doesn’t stop using the Kairogi for communication. That made me realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with Yura having a best friend to rely on and talk to. In fact, that’s a good thing, and it was wrong to suddenly rip her away from Sumi. The extent to which Yura was dependent on Sumi was extreme, but not so much that it should have been handled the way it was. This happy ending where Yura reunites with Sumi is not one that grants her selfish whims at the expense of her maturity. It’s one that shows how there is nothing shameful about relying on others. Furthermore, it’s possible to rely on others and still learn to be independent. Although Yura still very much likes Sumi (and probably only Sumi),  she still appears much more autonomous and proactive than in the beginning of the episode. Now she boats herself over to Sumi whenever she wants – without the help of anyone else. She is in control of when and where she meets Sumi.

The difference before is that she was forbidden from seeing Sumi entirely. That’s like quitting a drug cold turkey. Of course she’s going to go in withdrawal and become so desperate to see her that she’d risk her life using some voodoo mushi magic to telepathically contact her instead.  It’s this treatment of Yura’s relationship with Sumi as a bad thing that’s the problem. Because it’s a good thing! Having a friend is great! She just needed to learn balance, and there are better ways to do that than taking away the one friend your daughter has.

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Ginko’s such a background character in his OWN SHOW that it’s funny

It’s hard to say exactly what Yura learned from this whole exercise when not too much has changed in the status quo. I think the best summary I can come up with is “not relying on convenience.” Befriending your nanny is extremely convenient because they’re always there. Talking via telepathy, likewise, is the laziest thing ever. So is not trying to even go outside and make new friends. All of these things lead her to rely on a very dangerous mushi and nearly get killed. She changes once she stops relying on the most convenient, easy way out of things. By having Yura actually exert effort when she wants to see Sumi, it shows that is she is capable of taking initiative and being less complacent. It’s a tiny change, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s certainly better than having her consciousness separated from her body from using the kairobi too much.

I’d say this episode was more sweet and serene than terribly deep, going by Mushishi’s standards. Not that it was bad, of course. I really enjoyed this week’s offering. I especially liked that the village looked like it was made specifically to showcase the kairobi. The analogies between the ether streams and the actual streams of water were nicely done – and created some wonderful imagery. The beautiful lighting during the day mixed with the muted colours of the foggy, ether world were wonderful. I say this every week and I’ll say it again: Mushishi is a masterpiece.

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If you don’t hear from me in a few days, it’s not because I drowned in a river with some mushi (HOPEFULLY)


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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One Response to “Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 – 04”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Have a nice and safe trip, OC!

    Mushishi has to be the most quiet yet alluring anime I’ve ever seen. Nothing big or over the top to gain attention. It’s just there and you enjoy watching it. If anything, the series deserves an award for beautiful animation and scenery.

    A fair story of naivety and childishness that has a sense of innocence to it. Funny using Skype to reference the Kairogi. It is pretty much that without the use of technology and would prove to be a very valuable ability. Her attachment to Sumi started from a young age. However, her lack of companions may also be because she doesn’t like to be crowded and finds one to be enough. She does seem to like keeping to herself. Nothing’s wrong with that in my opinion. If it’s one or two friends now and again, it’s not so bad. A whole heap isn’t needed. I’m glad she decided to move about on her own. If you want something, you have to go get it.

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