Episode 6 Impressions: Mushishi Zoku Shou

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“It is said that ancient trees come to possess souls, and thus enthrall the hearts of men. Should the tree be beauteous in bloom, the effect is even more profound.” Thus is the foreshadowing of a truly tragic and twisted tail of beauty and foolishness.

e6mushishi1Synopsis
During Ginko’s travels, he comes across a huge valley filled with colorful cherry blossoms in bloom. After he realizes there is a famous large cherry blossom tree nearby, he seeks directions from a passing woman. Thankfully the woman is familiar with the tree as she’s heading that very same way to buy medicine for her loved one. She’s not from the area, but she notes that the doctor’s medicine can cure anything.

Upon arriving at the large cherry blossom tree, the woman parts ways with Ginko to see the doctor. However Ginko is surprised to find the tree completely without any blossoms, bald from tip to tip. As he notices an odd sap growing in its trunk, he also realizes the presence of a beautiful woman sitting beside the tree. However as he speaks to her, she doesn’t respond in any way.

The doctor from the nearby home approaches Ginko and asks if he needs to speak to Saho, the woman sitting beside the tree. He confirms that the woman is indeed blind and deaf to which Ginko asks if the woman has ingested the foam-like sap from the tree. Turns out the tree is inhabited by a mushi called Kodama which dulls the senses and can make one blind and deaf.

Ginko believes that the doctor has possibly been feeding Saho and his patients the Kodama, however he denies it and claims that his family is a simple gardeners that have created strains of plants that are resistant to diseases and decay.

That night Ginko manages to spot the doctor extracting the Kodama into a jar. While the doctor claims his family has produced a prescription from the Kodama, Ginko reminds him that it’s not a simple sap but rather a living thing. That it doesn’t cure ailments, but rather just dulls the senses. Which apparently seems to suffice for the doctor, claiming that many seek the relief of pain that it offers.

e6mushishi7This leads Ginko to question once again if the doctor has been feeding the Kodama to Saho. While the man still denies that he himself fed her it, he goes on to tell a very in-depth story of the woman. Beginning 80 years before.

The doctor’s great-grandfather Mansaku once found an infant lying in the belly of the trunk of that same large tree. The baby was abandoned and seemed to survive by eating the sap of the tree (which in fact was the Kodama). Taking the baby back to his home, they knew his great-grandmother could not produce milk for the baby and it refused to eat anything but the sap.

As the family grew older, they cared for the child as their own. However the baby remained an infant for over a decade, growing very slowly. Even 30 years later when Mansaku and his wife died, Saho was yet still a young girl. Though it was by then that Saho had already lost her five senses.

Ginko attempts to make sense of the fact that the Kodama has not only worked as a medical agent but also gave Saho incredible youth. Thankfully to aid in his research, the doctor allows him access to his family’s wealth of documentation kept in a room within his home. Though Ginko quickly realizes while studying the documents that most are written over several hundreds of years based on the decay of the materials.

While Ginko is discovering this, the doctor finds Saho coughing up blood. In response to this, he seemingly puts into play an obvious ritual that he has performed before. After drugging the woman who Ginko met the prior day, he attempts to chop off her head in order to give Saho a new body.

e6mushishi5Thankfully Ginko arrives to stop his foolish actions. It’s uncovered that after Saho began to finally deteriorate, his family began giving her new bodies to remain alive. This has occurred for longer than 3 generations as the doctor lied about before. But actually 8 generations and over 300 years. Ginko is shocked by this madness and questions just how many people his family has killed to keep her alive.

As the doctor continues his madness, he accidentally knocks over a lantern which leads him to carry Saho to safety while Ginko rescues the other woman. Once outside, the large blossom tree begins seeping large amounts of Kodama. While Ginko looks on in wonder, the doctor begins panicking as Saho reaches upward and seeps Kodama from the seam of her neck. As the doctor weeps, Saho’s body begins to rapidly deteriorate in his arms. After that night, both the doctor and Saho are never seen again.

Thoughts
Just when I was beginning to fear for this series, they manages to knock the show out of the park once again. This episode went from beautiful, to mysterious, and on into being just plain eery.

I absolutely loved the art work done throughout the episode, though this is partly because I just love cherry blossoms. However it also managed to take this amazingly beautiful plant and turn it into a very creative element of beauty, longevity, and ultimately withering.

I just wish we got more from Saho in this story. I was really curious afterwards to hear her side of her life. Granted the point was the Kodama’s toxic side preventing her from really existing, however it didn’t stop me from wanting to know more. Which I guess is a lot of the mystique to the story. Still a great episode and one for the top mushi list.

Episode 6: Floral Delusion

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IMPRESSIONS VERDICT:
Fantastic

Goods:

  • Beautiful setting
  • Clever and interesting writing
  • Dark and eery conclusion

Bads:

  • None

Impressions are based on a single episode and don’t necessarily reflect the series as a whole. Unless dropped, we will continue to give updates on thoughts and impressions of the series as time goes by.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.