Mushishi – episode 18

March 24, 2006 on 6:41 am | In Mushishi | Comments Off on Mushishi – episode 18

“The robe that embraces a mountain”

I’m not entirely sure how you can have an uplifting episode of Mushishi when there are so many deaths involved. Somehow, this is that episode. It deals with success, nostalgia, block, exile, acceptance and rehabilitation in an admirable fashion.

The episode begins with Ginko making a deal with a “sundry goods” salesman: the salesman wants to sell a kimono that has a mountain painted on it – a mountain that occasionally smokes. The story segues into the experiences of an artist who left his mountain village and became famous, and that is where the majority of the episode lies.

The character of the artist was the Mushishi protagonist with whom I identify the most. In him we are presented the idea of a man who once felt passionate about something and then became crushed under its unbearable weight, acting out of duty rather than dedication; that someone’s work can be technically magnificent but contain no heart. I think everyone becomes like that at a time.

The artist’s return to his village implied his lack of rational judgement after attaining fame, literally burning things first and asking no questions. The way that the village scenes were structured were an excellent show of hostility, tacit acceptance and, finally, complete re-assimilation. The relationship between the artist and Toyo was not explored in much depth but, like the kimono itself, the little girl was a more than adequate mcguffin.

The nature of the story means that the mushi, for once, is actually quite incidental. This episode is really about the artist and the way that he changed over the years into a husk. We’ve seen episodes before where Ginko was incidental, but none where the mushi were quite so marginalised as this. I would go so far as to say that there was very little supernatural about this – and what there was became Ginko hilarity of the highest order.

I also thought that it was really funny that Ginko thinks he has the right to rip off Adashino every once in a while – and unwittingly providing the episode’s moment of inspiration. Ginko’s a bit devious, but that’s why I love him: his inventiveness and quick wittedness always bring out the best in a situation.
There’s no OP, so this episode feels a bit special; I’m inclined to believe that it is.

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