Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 – 06

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“I’ll give you $20 if you jump in”

This was certainly an interesting episode to watch while I was home alone and stuck inside my house all day. I feel you, Izumi. It’s so comforting, I don’t want to leave either!

The base concept for this episode’s mushi (which isn’t really a mushi, but Isei or “sparks” from the light vein) is an interesting one. It causes Izumi to basically flip into an alternate reality that’s connected to her original one. She is unable to be perceived by or to perceive her family, but they can interact with each other indirectly by moving objects in the environment. Mizuho moves her doll around the house to give Izumi a fun past time in a house with not much else to do, and her mother sets out food every now and then to satiate her hungry. Without this indirect contact, this world would be far less comforting and much more imposing. Obviously, she’d starve because no one was feeding her. Less obviously, she’d starve for human contact. When you have nothing, even something as slight as a doll being moved around by a “mysterious being” is more comforting than having nothing.

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I’m immediately reminded of the movie Interstellar, which also has the same sort of indirect communication. Don’t worry, no spoilers here. The daughter of the main character insists that a ghost is moving books on her bookshelf in order to communicate with her. She diligently records the order the books fall in to try and decode whatever message they’re sending her – if they’re sending any message at all. Now, most people wouldn’t be so pleased about books unnaturally flinging themselves from shelves – especially connecting that to the prospect of something moving them. It’s the start of almost every single horror movie and it never ends well. But Interstellar’s Murphy and Mushishi’s Izumi greet these moving objects with pleasure. They’re so happy that someone is trying to communicate with them, and they gladly play along. These are some of the few cases I’ve seen something so poltergheist-y be treated as a good sign.

To be honest, I wish this concept was explored more in depth. I wanted to see more of how Izumi passed the time in her shadow world and how she managed to find makeshift ways to communicate with her family. She didn’t know it was her family doing all this, but regardless of that, she formed a connection with the “God” she assumed was looking after her. That connection and the way it gives Izumi a piece of mind intrigues me. Put most little girls in an empty version of their house in a world where it’s always pitch black outside, and I don’t think you’d find many of them taking it as well as Izumi. I can only imagine that she panicked at first, but was slowly comforted once she realized she wasn’t as alone as she thought. The neatly-plated meals that appeared at perfect times and the playful hide-and-seek with her doll were small gestures that made a big difference. How did that change her opinion of this place? Or is the answer more boring because the light vein’s influence just automatically made her feel comfortable? If it’s the latter, then it wouldn’t matter if she had contact or not, which makes the whole situation a bit of a futile exercise. It would be more interesting, to me, if she was content to stay there because she was happy to have a long distance relationship with someone. It’s less of an intriguing anomaly when it’s just explained by crazy mushi magic making her want to stay no matter what happens there.

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This question is important to me because the ending makes it a bit ambiguous if Izumi is actually happy to be back. Maybe life with only limited contact is good enough – and sometimes better – as long as you don’t feel lonely. That being said, I still think she is happy to see her family. But she seems to also miss the alternate version of her house. Why would she miss a copy of the real thing when that copy was so utterly lacking? I think that for the next while, Izumi will wonder if she should have come back. The trees and the sky will seem dull in comparison to her home in the well. She’ll feel more anxious than normal too. For a while, I feel that Izumi will actually feel more out of place in her “real” home than she did while lounging around her magical one. In time, she’ll forget about it and learn to love her world again. But for now? The fact that she goes out at night to check on the well says it all. She’s going to miss the comforting darkness.

I think this episode wanted to focus more on familial bonds than the inner-workings of the other world. It makes sense, especially coming right after last week’s very family-based episode. But I’d rather look at long-distance inter-dimension relationships than seeing families hug it out. That’s just me though. The sappiness was alright, but when I think that it could be replaced with the sisters finding cool new ways to talk to each other using household objects, I feel kind of cheated. I’m also disappointed the sea of stars didn’t look as breathtakingly pretty as it could have been – especially after comparing it to the planetarium scene in Sora no Method. It’s sad when a teenager’s homemade planetarium looks better than an “otherworldly sea of stars.” Sorry Mushishi, this wasn’t your best episode.

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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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3 Responses to “Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 – 06”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Not the eeriest entry the series has produced but it remains interesting nonetheless. I understand both yours and Izumi’s sentiments. I enjoy the feeling of being home alone. Better when the day has nothing of obligation forcing you to move around. It’s really comforting because it’s peaceful with no one else around.

    First, one had to be wary of puddles in Mushishi. Now caution must be taken with wells, also. Just about anything can trigger contact with a mushi. Izumi was less disturbed of her situation than I thought. I guess with a unique, unexplored place, her imagination and sense of freedom kept her from despairing. From my point of view, she enjoys her solitude in equal measure as being with her family. Mostly because it didn’t seem as though she was desperate to get out. There was no such feeling.

    Since I know you’ve played the game, the setting of alternate realities yet some interaction can happen is a lot like the crossing between Earth and Limbo in DmC: Devil May Cry. For example Cat creating portals for Dante to get in and out. More of an example, like the stage when The Order’s hideout was seized by federal agents and Cat, while still on Earth, was conversing with Dante who was still in Limbo but both were more or less in the same room at the same time. A troubling thing if you can see one world that’s right next to you but you’re trapped in another watching from a distance.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Can someone help? Spammy’s at it again. Also, I’m hoping for my comment count to get regulated as it’s not matching with the top 20 list.

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