Annotated Anime: Mushishi episode 4


The mighty hunter falls.

Gather round, little ones, it's time for another dark tale of mystical creatures and people getting involved with strange things they don't understand. Thankfully, we have a guide to help us understand all the mushi we encounter: Ginko! Yes, his skilled hand and expert advice will guide you through the tough and bewilder land covered with mushi, all for the low price of $19.95!

Actually, it's just the price of a Crunchyroll subscription.

Episode four! We're already past the "3 episode" hump that people often use to gauge anime -- do you think those first three episodes were enough to hook folks? I think so, but then again, I am already a huge fan. But I'll leave the meta-commentary for another time, let's jump into the episode itself.

The episode starts with a threat to Ginko himself, as a mysterious hunter (that stalks his prey by immobilizing them with a sweet and rotten scent) almost ensnares him. Ginko is then driven by his hungry stomach to the village in search of some meat. He meets a young boy Usuke and his older brother Tatsu, who has an eye-like mark on his hand that -- you guessed it -- lets him hunt by luring in animals with the sweet and rotten scent.

Ginko prescribes kouki, and has to leave for a month to get some. During this period, against Ginko's recommendation, Tatsu continues to use his ability, which further corrupts him. He now hunts just for the sake of it, leaving a trail of dead animals in his wake. When he's accidentally shot by another hunter, his arm no longer works, and the animals of the forest come to get their revenge. Birds, drawn in by the scent, feast on his arm. Thankfully, after this horrific event, Tatsu gets his life on track, but it's still sad it had to come to that at all.

There's a lot of great visuals in the episode, from the consistent color scheme (a sickly yellow-green hue covers everything), to the black silhouettes of the trees that seem to encroach on everything. All the animals also have glowing yellow eyes, giving them a supernatural feel. I also particularly enjoyed the gorgeous background art of the mountains and forestry; their highly detailed nature really caught my eye.

I wished to note the visual poetry as well. The most obvious one being Tatsu patting Usuke's head with his infected arm first, making Usuke uncomfortable (and also representing Tatsu's unwillingness to drink the kouki and lose his abilities). However, at the end of the episode, he once again pats Usuke's head, but now uses his other hand. Granted, he doesn't exactly have his other arm anymore, but I feel the meaning is still there.

Sometimes we see people die in Mushishi, sometimes we see them lose a limb, but no matter what there's always a consequence for their actions. It's very deliberate. In fact, you can use that word to describe the entire show: everything is deliberate. And, of course, it's all covered in a warm blanket of beautiful art and mystical creatures. Another fine installment in the series -- bring on the next one!

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Ben Huber
Ben HuberContributor   gamer profile

I'm the managing editor of Japanator by day, and a roving freelance graphic designer by night! /  more + disclosures



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