Annotated Anime: Mushishi episode 5


Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

Time for another tale of the supernatural and humanity colliding, just so perfectly as to deliver a moral about life. Perhaps the best way to describe Mushishi is to call it a fable. The moral is always clear and directly tied to the mushi, but then again they don't beat you over the head with it like many other fables. Let's jump in.

We're introduced to Masumi, a young girl who was infatuated with a local man. He was a salesman, though, so he decided to travel to another town, leaving her behind. He also left some hurtful comments in his wake, resulting in Masumi being very depressed. She encounters a mirror lake, in which a mushi dwells (of course!), and it slowly begins to sap her life in an attempt to replace her.

Thankfully, Ginko is nearby and tells them the simple solution: use a mirror to reflect the mushi back at itself and it'll leave. Masumi has a mirror that her crush used to polish, and all she has to do is polish it herself. Obviously, this is her way to get over the dude, but she doesn't want to do it yet. She wonders if it'd even be worth it, if she's worth it. If you've ever been depressed or known friends who were, you know how difficult it is to deal with. People offer advice that's essentially meaningless, like "just stop being so mopey!" Thankfully, Ginko has better advice than that and convinces her to polish the mirror.

At the last moment, she thinks her crush has returned, and runs into the forest to meet him. He's not there, and now she's too weak to reach her fallen mirror, so the mushi creeps in close. At the last moment she looks it directly in the eyes and tells it off. And... it does! It saw its reflection in her eyes. Ginko happily uses this to reinforce his point that humans are stronger than you think. It brought everything back to the power people have. When you're feeling down, everything seems worse, but making it over the hill is worth it.

I especially loved the bookend scene in which Ginko encounters the mushi. He gently speaks to it and offers to lead it deeper into the mountain where it won't be able to bother anyone else. I love these little vignettes between Ginko and mushi -- they're nice little interludes between the human drama.

The art is solid as per usual. The mountain backgrounds, with the trees and brush were of particular note. The water, both for the lake and the mushi, was also well done. Once again, animating on the ones for the mushi helps drive home their supernatural feel, and this is highly evident with liquid effects.

We've had a few happy (or, well, mostly happy) endings so far. I wonder when we'll get a sad one? I almost thought they'd go there when she couldn't reach her mirror, but that wouldn't really fit in with the previous story's themes of paying a price for mistakes. Here, she didn't do anything wrong, she just needed to overcome her doubts and sadness, so it wouldn't have made sense for it to end poorly anyway.

This week went by fast for me. Now I want the oncoming week to go quick, too, so I can cozy up for another Mushishi episode.

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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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