Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 09-10 [END]

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We’re lighting up the Christmas tree for the finale!

I chose a bad time to fall behind on Mushishi. I didn’t realize that episode 10 would be the finale and I’d end up having to squish two posts together when I’m already likely to be racking up a hefty wordcount just looking back at the season. This what happens when you’re busy with both Christmas shopping and Chanukah, I guess. My family needs to learn to just celebrate one holiday at a time… Anyways, it’s not quite the end since much like with the first part of Zoku Shou, the final 2 episodes (11 and 12) will be released later in the form of a movie/OVA thing. Hooray!


09 – Mud Grass

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Chia pets: fun for the whole family!

Just in time for the holidays, we have the most creepy and terrifying episode of Mushishi to date. If Mushishi ever wanted to be a horror anime, it would easily be the best horror show. Ever. I believe Mushishi is so good at invoking terror precisely because it refuses to follow the usual routes most horror anime take. Most horror anime take great pains to make the creepy thing in question – a monster, a shadow, a loud noise in the distance – to be a big deal. They draw as much attention as they can to something scary and convey the horror through exaggerated reactions from the main characters. As such, there’s lots of screaming, crying, chases, and lots of fast-moving cuts and camera tricks. It works, but it conveys a different kind of terror from that of Mushishi.

Mushishi treats monsters as just another part of the scenery. In the case of malignant mushi, they’re nothing more than organisms trying to survive. They’re not evil monsters trying to terrorize humans. It’s hard to hate something that isn’t actually intent on hurting you. But that makes it all the more terrifying, because you can accidentally get your body warped to the shadow realm just by stepping on something you thought was safe. It can happen at any time. There’s just so much frankness in how Mushishi bluntly shows you everything and refuses to let you look away. It’s the kind of slow fear that makes you hold your breath and shiver.

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Just look at the murder scene at the end of the episode. The uncle is about the cleanse himself and move forward from his terrible crime. Then just like that, everything goes wrong. The uncle is about to try and kill his adopted son and then suddenly slips and drowns, just like that. It all happens so quickly, and yet it’s shown to us so plainly. No crazy camera angles, no jump cuts to weird close-ups, and no looking away. The man dies before your eyes so easily that it’s hard to believe it even happened. In real life, death is quick and actually quite boring since humans are so fragile. There aren’t explosions of blood unless something truly terrible happens to you. The way Mushishi portrays death as just another part of life is scary because it reminded me of how close we all are to death.

The added significance of the mud grass growing so profusely on the uncle because he was a murderer just tied it all together. The story could have been told without the mushi being involved, but I feel that in the end it really added a little bit of something “extra” to push the story to greatness. It’s sufficiently creepy so that the image stays with you and just looking at people with little sprouts on their legs is disconcerting.

Also, it really made me feel like shaving. :/


10 – Tree of Eternity

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Ginko the tree whisperer

I felt some major Ghibli vibes from this episode, largely because of the big environmentalism push. To me, Mushishi shows the good and bad sides of nature so equally that it’s hard to get a pro-environmentalism message since half of the time it makes me too afraid to even go outside. But this episode really embraced the importance of humans and nature respecting one another. The tree was revered as a God and it’s that dedication to the tree that allows the village to survive. There’s still the inescapable fact that horrible natural disasters like earthquakes and fires and unstoppable, but the underlying tone seemed to be more of awe and admiration for this magnificent tree. Afterall, listening to the tree did save them from those disasters in the end.

Most Studio Ghibli movies tend to romanticize how wonderful nature is so they can portray it as nothing short of pure magic. It’s pretty amazing how much life and personality they pour into plants, stones, and bodies of water. There’s also generally a strong “protect forests” and “go outside for once you filthy animal” sort of messages in there. At least, that’s what I feel. On the other hand, Mushishi does not try and sugarcoat what nature is really like. Nature is beautiful and extremely dangerous. Sometimes both at the same time. It’s this brutality that makes it possible to create these dark, dark stories every week for us to both respect and fear nature. However, this episode was an exception to the Mushishi rule. This is one of the few times I’ve actually felt like “yeah, nature is kind of nice” after watching a Mushishi episode instead of “holy shit that plant wants to kill me.”

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I loved the whole tree-worshipping thing, and how utterly crestfallen Kanta was when the tree he’d been dreaming about was completely gone. That disappointment at seeing the huge stump instead of a grand, old tree made me feel empty. That same feeling was repeated when we saw how the villagers came to first chop it down. Knowing that the tree allowed itself to die in order to save the village just twisted the knife right in. I never thought I’d feel this bad for a tree.

It was one of those rare opportunities where Ginko is allowed to have a bit of a monologue. Usually he keeps his thoughts to himself, letting his clients decide what they think is best instead of pushing his medicine on others. As a result, Ginko very rarely gives voice to his inner thoughts about mushi and the way of the world. It was nice to hear him talk about plants and how the tree protected the village. Sometimes I wish he would be less humble and just burst out with these lovely bits of philosophy intertwined with mushi biology more often. He knows so much about the world, and he keeps it all in his head. This is why the episodes that have Ginko alone are such a treat, and I kind of hope the movie ends up giving us more Ginko time as well.

Final Thoughts

Well…this is it. Mushishi Zoku Shou is over. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to see a 2-cour sequel to such a beautiful series. Honestly, Mushishi is one of the best anime out there and I would never have it end if it were up to me. The possibilities for new episodes are endless, and the variety of situations we’ve seen each week reflects that. While always tying back to a general theme of loneliness and the importance of human communication, we’ve been to sandy beaches, snowy valleys, dark forests, verdant mountaintops, and muddy swamps. The journey has taken us all over and treated us to many beautiful sights from both mushi and natural elements as well. I’m kind of in shock that it’s ending, actually…

This show has been a treasure to blog. Each week is fresh and I end up taking a million screencaps because it’s all so beautiful. I have very, very few complaints (if any) and a ton of praise. But I rave about Mushishi every week in every post so you guys already know how I feel about the show. I’ll be waiting eagerly for this movie because man…it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Seeya in 2015~


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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7 Responses to “Mushishi Zoku Shou S2 09-10 [END]”

  1. BlackBriar says:

    Sorry for being absent lately. Been having internet problems so I had to move out of my comfort zone to check how Metanorn’s doing so far. Even made me late on a few shows on my seasonal list. Both Christmas shopping and Chanukah? Double the fun, I guess. Probably double the hassle as well. 😉

    Episode 09: Was it only me or did this episode had a strange but familiar Shiki-like feel in its exposition? A rural village in a remote area surrounded by mountains, ancient traditions/customs, an unusual reverence for death and an incident between two brothers that ended in a “Cain and Abel” fashion and the older brother exposing the ugliness of human nature by giving into his rage which was given way by grief from the pain of loss of a loved one.

    It’s hard to hate something that isn’t actually intent on hurting you.

    Why does that sound like something Seishin Muroi would say? I’d definitely expect that kind of sentence out of his mouth.

    This is a story that could’ve fit in ideally for Halloween due to how creepy it was and the feeling never left whether it was daytime or nighttime. Overall, I was conflicted by the events. The older brother’s grief over the loss of his daughter is understandable yet at the same time, doesn’t give him permission to kill. Even worse, he tried to hide it. The difference between them was that his incident had intent behind it while the younger one’s incident was unintentional. It isn’t considered murder if there’s no intent to kill. Sound familiar, OC? Anyway, the manner of his end, that was karma catching up to him.

    • Overcooled says:

      Don’t worry about it! Hope your internet problems are fixed soon

      Shiki is one of the few horror anime I’ve watched to the end but yeah I definitely can see some Shiki vibes. It was a twisted episode about death and murder so it makes sense.

      I wouldn’t excuse anyone for murder just because they were mad at someone…Something just wasn’t right about him. Especially if it only took the right push to drive him to kill his brother and then his own (adopted) son.

      I think Seishin would be pretty friendly with the mushi despite them being dangerous, now that you mention it…

    • Alexandre says:

      Totally agree. Haven’t these latest Mushi-shi episodes being rather dark? I wonder what that would prefigure for the movie. The person in the teaser image looks like Ginko’s teacher that has been absorbed by the memory-wiping mushi, but I don’t think it’s gonna be a mere backward-looking story. Hopefully it will give us an in-depth look into Ginko’s mind.

  2. BlackBriar says:

    Episode 10: I had to re-watch this after nodding off the first time. A well-paced, eerie and thought provoking series indeed. A shame only a few apparently watched this because it’s a real gem from the usual stuff and makes one respect things often taken for granted. However, from watching Mushishi as a whole, I’m firmly sure I wouldn’t want to be part of such a world. So many dangers, known and unknown alike grabbing people, regardless of who they are, when they least expect it and by the simplest of means. So I feel for them. If everyone were aware of what problems can mushi can cause, intentional or not, there’d be mass paranoia.

    Agreed on the Ghibli vibes. What I got most with this was Princess Mononoke based on the idea of sentient trees maintaining the forest it resides and the humans systematically wiping them out for their own needs. Often enough, the balance between the two is upset. Like you, I wasn’t happy watching the tree cut down but at the same time, couldn’t ignore the reason behind the act. Even the tree allowed itself severed for a purpose. Such profound confliction.

    I eagerly await to see the movie. If it’s one last shot to see Mushishi again, I’ll take it with pleasure.

    • Overcooled says:

      lol you fell asleep? I’ve definitely done that before when watching anime late at night…

      I think Mushishi is a well-loved series, but not one to gather hype since it’s so chill. I get the impression (from anitwitter at least) that people are watching it, just not talking about it too much. Then again, maybe that’s too small of a sample size to draw from. I really would hope something as good as Mushishi would get more fans.

      I don’t think I’d want to live in a world where one misstep can ruin your life. It’s pretty harsh!

      I was thinking of Princess Mononoke too. It’s hard to know if the humans did the right thing by cutting down the tree because it’s so sad but then again…what else could they have done? I felt just as conflicted.

      Just gotta wait for this movie and the Psycho-Pass movie and we’re good to go. :>

      • Alexandre says:

        Just hope Akane is less idiotic in the move! As for Mushi-shi, it’s a jewell all around for me, from episode on up to now. Nothing compares to the first season, of course, but it’s still wonderful. The way it blends real-life’s sorrow with fantasy is just breathtaking and tearjerking. Ginko is a great character and just like my two favorite anime ever (Haibane Renmei and Evangelion), the highlight of the series are the characters, how much care and love goes into establishing them and giving them reasons to be what they are, so we can genuinely care for them and their fate!

        • Overcooled says:

          We’ll see! And oh man, I need to go back and rewatch season 1. I think I’ll like it even more now that I’m in the Mushishi mood. I need more Ginko!

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