Mushishi – episode 21

June 6, 2006 on 11:11 pm | In Mushishi | Comments Off on Mushishi – episode 21

“The Cotton Hat”

Hard to believe that Mushishi was only two months ago, isn’t it? It seems longer because in the time between episodes I have watched roughly 177 episodes of other shows. Which, now that I’ve done the calculations, is pretty effing insane. Where the Hell did that time come from?*

Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is that Ginko is back with a vengeance, and he’s not going to let your peasant sympathies get in his way. Ginko is a placebo for the world, who can tell someone one thing while meaning another. As long as his deceptions are not discovered, there are no problems.

Ginko visits a couple who have a child called Watahiko. Watahiko is beginning to turn green because he is, in fact, the tendril of the mushi watahaki. Watahaki is a “mushi that wears the skin of children”, and Ginko sees only one solution for this problem … one that no parent could like.

“The Cotton Hat” is a story that leans more towards Mushishi‘s horror side, and it is quite freaky in many places. I would say that this is largely due to the theme of children and the dedication that a parent has towards what they at least perceive to be their own, metaphorical, flesh and blood. Ginko takes a practical approach to the situation initially, and this is precisely where he falls down and, well, gets stabbed.

While a parents’ love for their child can be unconditional, sometimes a child doesn’t feel any love at all: they can be manipulative little fiends if they want. What better way to take control of someone than by appearing to be the fruit of their labours? Ginko initially thought that the watahaki gained the ability to think over time, but it is a wily creature from its very inception. The analogy of “protecting seeds at all costs” versus “protecting children at all costs” was well played and quite accurate.

There was a further theme, in that words can take away a natural intelligence: before the Watahiko (you see, there are five of them) could speak, they knew exactly all that there was to know about their existence. The irony came from the fact that they had to rediscover themselves through the scrolls that Ginko carries; by adapting, they had forgotten how they adapted in the first place.
I have long held the opinion that words define our intelligence, and that by increasing vocabulary as well as facts, we can become better people. I can now see the virtue of the theory that words can limit our consciousness and perception of our world. What may have been natural becomes overly complex when we have to explain it to another. Words create, but they can also destroy.

I was shocked also to remember how beautiful this show is, and how interesting its character camera angles are. Aki barely ever received a direct focus, because she could never hold the gaze of anyone. The Watahiko were frequently faceless, because they were not human in any fashion; the world that they lived in was frequently represented with a pure white, giving the story a feel of isolation. On top of that, one must not forget the angst of the fire and the range of human emotion on display in the subtle animations.

Mushishi came back. A lot has happened in the two months since then, with a certain girl taking on the world, but you can’t beat down home Mushishi cleverness.

*Further calculation reveals this to average at an hour a day, which isn’t nearly as crazy as initially thought. But back in the olden days, the thought of there being 177 episodes of anime was mind boggling!

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