Mushishi – episode 20

April 2, 2006 on 4:39 pm | In Mushishi | 3 Comments

“A Sea of Brushes”

I miss Ginko already. He’ll be back in May for six more episodes, so it’s not all bad.

Ginko visits the library of the Kibusa family: a library where tales of mushi extermination are kept. To gain access, a mushishi must offer a mushi tale of their own. The tales are recorded by Tanyu, a woman born with the charcoal mark: she has a forbidden mushi sealed within her body and she quells its rage by writing down stories of mushi murders.
While Tanyu hates the idea of disharmony between humans, animals and mushi, she adheres to her duty.

Tanyu’s life was very heavy, and not just because she couldn’t walk. Having to spend all of her time listening to stories of death amongst what she considers living beings weighed on her and, because she had no first hand experience of the mushi, people felt that she was not able to judge the situations described.

Ginko, of course, is a different kind of mushishi. There seem to be three kinds: exterminators, collectors, and Ginko – both a restorer of natural balance and a mushi profiteer. That idea never really seemed contradictory as he knew when to leave well enough alone and when a mushi was far too dangerous to survive in its environments. The fact that he does not see things in a myopic, polarised world view allows people to accept the concept of mushi far more than they would otherwise from a man with a wild beard.

Through Ginko, Tanyu has learned to cope: not everything in this world is flawed, and if you can cling to hope and the love and respect of your caretaker, then you’ll be just fine. The fact that Tanyu understands how to harness the joy of life while still aware of the heaviness of her existence and the task laid before her is definitely an inspiration.

What a conclusion. It’s apt, but doesn’t really hint that this is the end of things. The travels of a mushishi like Ginko never end, I suppose, and so there can be no final frontier for such a story (and, indeed, there won’t be: this is simply the end for now).

All in all, Mushishi was an excellent series. Every episode had something to say about the “human condition”, but it never hammered in its messages like some shows are so often wont to do. Through interesting experiments with colour and many and varied stories, we got a little bit of everything. May can’t come quickly enough.


  1. It’s interesting that the animators chose this story to end the initial 20 — in the manga, this was the seventh story. It is sort of an odd episode.

    Comment by Chris — May 11, 2006 #

  2. mushishi only have 20 episode?

    Comment by Alif — May 12, 2006 #

  3. You mentioned something about Ginko returning in May. Does this mean that the series is continuing? I love the series.

    Comment by Shoun — May 24, 2006 #

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