Mushishi – episode 22

July 20, 2006 on 1:10 am | In Mushishi | 6 Comments

“The offshore shrine”

Another excellent episode of the show that justifies all anime love.

Ginko comes to an island like Heaven and discovers a case of nature versus nurture, and of mushishi versus the natural order of life. This is one of the more morally ambiguous episodes of Mushishi.

Spoilers within

Ginko comes to an island that he has heard bears the Uminaoshi, or reborn. The islanders are unwilling to discuss the issue with him except for one: Mio, who was forced by her father to give birth to her mother.

It’s difficult to discuss a series’ relativity when the episodes are as uniformly excellent as those presented by Mushishi. With this story we are presented a society where nobody ever dies because they can be reborn.

Mio agreed to give birth to her mother, Isana, on the condition that she not go by her previous name, Mana. To Mio, as it might seem to others, this was an unnatural request. Her husband had died and she either chose not to resurrect him or did not have the opportunity to do so. To have Isana, she wanted to have a child, not her mother.
As the years went on, the likeness of Isana to Mana became greater, as did the similarity of their personalities. This would be an incredibly difficult thing for Mio to confront, because naturally the relationship of a parent and child is different to that of a husband and wife. In the case of this island, Isana is the only provided instance of a mother being reborn to her daughter.
Ginko explains in the narration, then, that the issue of wanting to come back is not just at the discretion of the loved ones of the party in question, but also at that of the party in particular. The idea that they can come back is of great comfort to the people who let themselves drown at the dragon shrine. The reborn people have to be reborn at the normal human rate, so naturally Mio’s father could not have his wife back as his wife and Mushishi isn’t a title to bother itself with Lolicon: uminaoshi simply a bizarre way of comforting oneself in life and in death, to the point that this is a society that takes absolutely no risks and has no sense of natural progression.

Watching Mio having to deal with the fact that Isana is not just her daughter but also her mother is quite distressing, with many subtle animation cues helping us along the way. When Isana tells Mio the method of getting to sleep that Mana had told Mio, but had never seeped down to Mana, the tension was palpable.
It’s a relief, then, to see the way that the story turns out, and the decision that Ginko makes for the fate of the island.

When mother and daughter understand each other, when a mother can be certain beyond all doubt that her daughter is her daughter: that’s beautiful. One must never underestimate the value of time spent, and must forego comfortable facsimiles in favour of the truth.


  1. And yet, it is unlicensed.

    A shame.

    Comment by HC — July 20, 2006 #

  2. I really don’t think that something not being licenced means much any more. We’re past the days of cool little licences, when only certified gold can be guaranteed. It’s sad, but it’s true.

    That said, I peg Mushishi as a Geneon type of series.

    Comment by Alex — July 20, 2006 #

  3. I know that plenty of junk gets licensed – and, really, ’twas ever thus – but why must they pass such shows as this over in favor of aforesaid junk?

    Comment by HC — July 21, 2006 #

  4. I think the problem is that there isn’t really a “plenty” in this day and age. Licences are thin on the ground to the point of depressing me.

    Comment by Alex — July 21, 2006 #

  5. Licenses from the last two months:

    Beet the Vandel Buster; Guyver: The Bioboosted Armor; Super GALS; Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG; Cutie Honey – Live Action; Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: A New Translation; .hack//Roots; Gunbuster; Nerima Daikon Brothers; Pani Poni Dash!; Wings of Rean; Glass Fleet; Paradise Kiss; Spirit of the Past; Ah! My Goddess (second season); Disgaea; Zipang; Black Cat; Witchblade; Comic Party Revolution.

    That’s plenty of licenses, but name one of those that would be a better choice than Mushishi. Or Monster.

    Now that Gunbuster is out of the way, name another. It’s not that there aren’t any worthwhile licenses in that lot… they’re just rare – rarer than they need to be.

    Breaking it down by year, there have been 42 anime series licensed in 2006 so far. There were 53 in all of 2005. 119 in 2004. 80 in 2003. The dry year for licensing was last year; this year looks to be a rebound to a healthier state.

    But why must that rebound go to Beet, or Glass Fleet, another .hack, or Disgaea?

    Comment by HC — July 21, 2006 #

  6. I concede defeat: the underwhelming nature of the majority of those licences have caused me to block them out.

    Comment by Alex — July 21, 2006 #

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