Mushishi – episode 16

March 23, 2006 on 9:25 pm | In Mushishi | Comments Off on Mushishi – episode 16

“The Daybreak Snake”

The first episode of Mushishi with no real conclusion: a life lived a day at a time, and a meditation on the value of memory.

Ginko travels through spring, a time when people relax and are more likely to view cherry blossoms than work. Ginko meets Kaji, a boy whose mother Saigo is gradually forgetting everything. The only things that she is guaranteed to remember are her son, her house and how to cook.
Ginko tells them that the mushi responsible is kagedama, a shadowy fellow that sneaks into the brain and feeds off memories. There’s very little to do about it apart from constantly forging new memories.

That’s pretty much the episode; an incurable mushi. It’s terrible after a fashion, but the story surprisingly does not degenerate into hopeless bleak despair. Irreversible memory loss is a real issue, but Mushishi somehow softens the blow.
The ending offers no hope for a cure, but what it does offer is some scant comfort: Kaji takes solace in the fact that despite all that she has forgotten, Saigo has never forgotten him.

“The Daybreak Snake” is about the importance of a bond between people, and it’s arguably more valuable to Kaji than it is to Saigo; Saigo is horrified by the thought that one day she won’t be able to recognise that she has been forgetting things, but once she’s forgotten that she won’t have a worry in the world. Kaji is the one who would suffer, as he is the one left behind.
This issue is very similar to one that has surfaced in a recent anime about death, but Mushishi makes the point so much better I won’t shame the other series by naming it. The difference is that here Saigo recognises the issue at hand and chooses not to be selfish about it.

The uncomfortable lesson to learn from this episode is that a disabled regularity is better than none at all; that people have to endeavour to make the most of what they have and accept that their lot in life can’t get any better but could certainly get a lot worse.
As with Ginko himself, the resolve is pragmatism. That’s all that one can ask.

Postscript: Because I’m always covering what I perceive to be the “issues” of any given episode of Mushishi, I sometimes forget to comment on the incidental events that reveal something of the nature of Ginko himself. This episode begins with Ginko sailing down a river, talking to a man. This springtime reverie is a nice insight to the bond that Ginko shares with the people of Japan, even those not touched by mushi. It’s just another way of showing that Ginko is genuinely a nice, outgoing fellow.
The seasonal feel of this episode created a good deal of its atmosphere, and I’m sure the shed sakura represent something; if only I could pinpoint what.

No Comments yet

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^