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Tony K.
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Joined: 18 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2014 5:47 am Reply with quote
I know I said I would be restoring/upgrading older posts throughout the past week, but I ate some food that didn't quite agree with my stomach and have been battling its effects pretty much the whole week, so apologies for not getting as much done as I had hoped.

As of right now, I've only gone through every post up to Episode 2's review, which actually isn't too bad considering that's about halfway through the entire thread. However, I will try to restore/upgrade a few more episodes this weekend, assuming my stomach gets better.

Anyway, here's the next one.

Episode 16: Daybreak's Snake (clicking this will take you back to the Index)
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Plot Summary

A young boy by the name of Kaji recruits Ginko to help investigate his mother's progressive forgetfulness. She was clumsy and forgetful enough as it was. But not too long ago, she started to forget things like her favorite snack, the particular kimonos she liked, and even names of her family. In addition, she seldom slept and spent most of her nights weaving till daytime.

One night, however, Ginko observes her and discovers that the cause of her memory loss is from a mushi called Kagedama, a type of parasitic mushi that enters through its host's ear, enters its brain, and feeds on its memories. The mushi itself can easily be repelled by sunlight. Although, if it actually does manage to infiltrate into ones brain and eat enough memories, it becomes impossible to get rid of and only continues to multiply from there. So in response to this problem, Ginko recommends that Kaji's mother try and make as many new memories as possible in order to retain as much of her old ones.

After hearing this, she decides to go on a road trip with Kaji to find her husband, who apparently had been traveling on the road as a salesman for a while, but hasn't written back for some time. The two of them would later find out, though, that her husband had actually left them and started a new family in the city to the west. This would cause Kaji's mother to shut herself in, until the Kagedama eventually ate the memory of her husband as well. However, when they returned home, they were able to make due with her condition and managed to get by just fine, afterwards.
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Comments

This episode seemed a little spookier and more bittersweet than most of the others. Memories are kinda' what define our experiences and expressions, which, in turn, make up a great deal of our identity. But when you start to forget all those things, it's sad and scary to think that any positive emotions or sentiment you had from said memories will suddenly be gone forever.

But as the old saying goes, sometimes ignorance can be bliss. In losing a memory we may have once held dear, perhaps rediscovering it over and over again would always make it feel new. Or in the case of Kaji's mother, maybe forgetting the fact that her husband had left them to start a new family could be a godsend in itself to spare all the pain and anguish of betrayal.

At some point, I suppose if one could figure out a way to manage living with the Kagedama in one's head, if all you had to do was keep learning new memories to prevent some of the old important ones from being lost, then maybe reading a really information-heavy book or publication would've been a good solution?

In any case, I really like how this particular episode didn't necessarily "deal" with the mushi (as in "catching it, curing whatever ailments it caused, and saving the person(s) afflicted") in the traditional sense like most of the other episodes. The Kagedama seemed to cause more of "chronic condition" and whatever the results ended up being were simply something you had to live with, which goes back to the whole "cycle of nature" theme that the series likes to emphasize.

In the end, Kaji's mother seemed to be pretty happy, regardless. It's like every single day from there on out would be a kind of rebirth. And all the things she would forget and re-discover would never make life boring and always full of surprises. I guess it just depends on what memories you're lucky enough to retain and keep close to your heart, while also being lucky enough to keep re-learning the new ones that will always be fun to have day after day.
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Hm.. another really late posting. Probably would've been a better review had I done this after I woke up, but oh well. I'll just use that time to go back and redo an older post, instead.
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Tony K.
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Joined: 18 Nov 2003
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Location: Frisco, TX

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:43 am Reply with quote
Okay, so it's been about 2 months since my last update. I ate something that threw off the bacteria in my stomach for about the first 3 weeks, which didn't leave me in as good a mood to analyze things.

But when I eventually felt better, I got so burnt out from doing Moderator duties every day, that I sort of became sick of this place and pretty much lost my buzz to do any more episode reviews for a while.

Despite that, however, this thread has still gotten hundreds of views since I last left it, so I thank whoever made the occasional visit or those who have remained hope-/faithful in my ability to keep it going, and I apologize if I left anybody hanging.

With my recent interest in cleaning/maintaining the Discussion Index, I think going through a lot of those threads got me back into the groove of things, so here I am.

And by the way, I updated the photo in this thread's Index. I ended up cropping it so it'd be the same size as the logo in the Encyc. entry, so it's a little cut off from the top omitting the kanji for "mushi" from the full pic, but I still think that's a really cool pose for Ginko; very sleek, yet mysterious.

I'm also gonna' go back and reload the screen-caps in jpeg format, as opposed to png to save on loading times, since my Internet is 2nd from the crappiest in terms of speed.

Anywho, here's the next episode.

Episode 17: Picking the Fake Cocoon (clicking this will take you back to the Index)
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Plot Summary

The episode begins with Ginko receiving a letter through a mushi mail system called Uro-san, which is essentially a kind of two-way portal technique that the mushi uses between given points, in this case, two cocoons. In receiving the letter, though, he notices a few things: 1) the letter isn't even addressed to him; 2) the letter is in bad condition; and 3) there's a secondary letter from the mail runner, Aya. Deciding he needs to replace his Uro-san cocoon, Ginko visits Aya, and we learn of why she continues to send these letters.

Five years ago, Aya and her older sister, Ito, were recruited because of their ability to see the Uro-san. Initially, Aya was to be the sole successor, but Ito insisted on following her so neither one would be lonely. Eventually, they both learned the behaviors and handling instructions of Uno-san; namely, that you should never close or open any enclosures that contain them, because closed spaces are what they use to create Uroana, a sort of "transit limbo" with very few open exits. Then one day, when Aya was doing laundry, Ito laid down, only to doze off and have a sheet cover her. But underneath the sheet with her was an Uro-san. And when Aya came back to lift the sheet, Ito had disappeared into the Uroana.

It is said that those who spend too much time in the Uroana eventually start to lose their memory. And since the day Ito disappeared, Aya had desperately been trying to send Ito or anyone that found her a message on how to get home. On one fateful day, however, a girl about ten years-old came bursting out of a silkworm cocoon, but with no recollection of who she was or where she came from. All she had was a note that said if she was found to return her to that village.
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Comments

This episode was a little bittersweet, but overall more "cheery" than some of the more recent ones. The past few were more on the melancholy or tragic side. In this one, though, at least Aya found her sister. And we can assume they were re-united and able to live together, again, even if Ito had to re-learn everything she forgot from being the Uroana for so long.

One of the big themes that stuck out was guilt, as in, Aya's guilt for lifting the sheet, causing Ito to be gone for so long in the first place. It was a completely honest accident, though, and there's no way Aya could've known an Uro-san had managed to sneak its way under there between the time took she walked to the storage shed and back.

But because she felt responsible, she held on to that guilt and spent the next five years sending letters every which way in hopes that Ito would turn up somewhere. Luckily, Ito did re-appear. And aside from her memory being wiped clean, she was pretty much A-okay, so that's even luckier, all things considered (like the fact that Ito could've starved to death or got eaten by another animal or mushi, etc.)

With that said, hope/faith is the other major theme. For all the (undeserved) guilt that Aya carried, she at least never gave up hope. And although it took five years, her sister was eventually "found and returned" (kinda' weird to say that, as if Ito were a possession, but given that she lost her memory, that will have to do). And in the end, we could also assume that they found a way to return things to the way they were.

So I guess the morals of this episode are "don't feel guilty over things you can't control," and "never give up on something." They're very basic concepts, really, and the kind I'm sure most people can understand, with or without the reminder from some Japanese cartoon. But then again, sometimes we lose our way and forget in the Uroana of life, and need a little hint to get back on the not-so-lost path.
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I will also continue to do reviews for the 2nd series on Mondays, as well. Thanks for reading and keeping up.
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Ignatz



Joined: 12 Nov 2012
Posts: 765

PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:23 am Reply with quote
TK, I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your work. Mushishi is one of my favorite series, and I find your comments about it very interesting to read. Thank you. Keep it up! Smile
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Tony K.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2014 2:01 pm Reply with quote
Episode 18: The Clothes to Embrace the Mountan (clicking this will take you back to the Index)
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Plot Summary

In a small village next to the mountain, a young boy named Kai aspires to become a famous painter so he can help his village. Years later as a young adult, he sets off on his journey to attain his fame, but not before a sendoff blessing from his sister in the form of a haori (kimono jacket), in which all of its materials came from the mountain itself. After spending some time as a mere apprentice doing mostly cleaning and maintenance duties, Kai decides to commandeer some extra paint here and there, eventually making a haura (painting on the backside of a haori) of the mountain by his home. Upon seeing this, his sensei decides to finally take him under full apprenticeship and teach him how to paint, leading to a very successful career.

Time would pass, and an endless amount of commissions would mount up, causing Kai to even burn some of the requests he received. But little did he know, one of those letters contained crucial information on the state of his village. And upon returning to the village, he would find it destroyed by a landslide, killing his father and causing the conditions to be terrible enough that his sister would later die after giving birth. Drowned in grief and sorrow, Kai would lose his will to paint, until Ginko tells him some very useful facts that could eventually bring the village back to fruition.

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Comments

I actually had to pick and choose the stuff I put in the summary, as I think it's much more impacting if you just see it for yourself. This episode had a lot of emotional weight to it, and really emphasized a couple of themes that haven't really been as present in previous episodes: ambition and greed. Ambition in itself can be a double-edged sword. Having a little bit of it can be a great sign of discipline and motivation. But too much of it leads to greed, and I think it's safe to say greed can lead to all kinds of bad situations.

From the beginning of the episode, you get a pretty good sense that Kai, at least, really likes to paint. So that's great: he's passionate. And somewhere down the line when he grows up, he mentions something about "one day, maybe father will forgive me," assuming us to believe that his pursuit of the arts was probably against his father's wishes or something. As apparent by the unfolding of the plot, Kai does, in fact, become a great painter.

But as has been the fault in many a great man, hubris got the better of Kai. After getting his big break, becoming famous, and painting who knows how many pictures in a span of years, he eventually got to the point of becoming a workaholic. And in doing so, he shunned off his family and village, which was only made worse by the landslide he didn't even know about till three years later.

He got greedy, plain and simple. Instead of relishing in the fact that even made it to the big time at all, he ate up the popularity, became more and more famous, and simply lost sight of what was once important. As a result, he lost his family, the village struggled mightily with its recovery, and all of that emotional clout delivered a huge blow to his psyche, essentially destroying his ability to paint, thereafter.

All things considered, though, as certain facts unfold in the story (particularly the revelations of the Ubusuna mushi and their importance to the ecosystem around the mountain), the situation took a turn for the best, after all. We can assume that with the natural regrowth of the mountain's terrain and the return of the Ubusuna, things would've re-balanced themselves for the village, its inhabitants, and even Kai and his nephew.

The moral of this story, however, is to remember where you came from. No matter how famous you become or what you accomplish, never let the success go to your head and over-inflate your ego. Ultimately, you may become so blind or obtuse to anything else, that it could lead to some devastating losses.

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EDIT: Proofread.
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Tony K.
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Joined: 18 Nov 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 6:37 pm Reply with quote
"Woah, look at that, a long-overdue Mushishi episode review from Tony!.." Yep, good ol' Father Procrastination and Mother Laziness got the best of me, yet again. What with all the new mods, now, I really shouldn't have any excuse to *not* be churning these reviews out a regular basis, anymore.

I guess the perceived lack of an audience is mostly what gets to me, even though the apparent fan base/following is probably out there, but just isn't very vocal about it. I mean, the themes and motifs in this show are so open for interpretation, pretty much any sound explanation can be acceptable. It just depends on what you're willing to look at.

But hey, only two volumes worth of episodes to go!

And by the way, I found a different source for these caps. Instead of using the 1080p BD encodes I had before, I decided to re-download the series in 720p because the video is up-scaled, anyway (i.e. not a true HD re-master or anything), and 720p saves a little more space on my hard drive.

Episode 19: String of Heaven (clicking this will take you back to the Index)
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Plot Summary

A young man named Seijirou and his family's nanny, Fuki, are out star-gazing one night, when Fuki notices a strange white string hanging from the sky. She grabs the string, is pulled into the sky, and disappears for a time.

When Ginko is traveling through the village's nearby mountain, he discovers Fuki, who has lost her memories, and decides to help her recover from a mushi-like state. During her recovery, Fuki remembers what happened before she disappeared. She returns to the village, only to find out Seijirou's family has hired a new nanny. Instead, Seijirou offers to let Fuki stay as his wife, instead.

After a while of trying to convince his father to finally have a wedding, however, Fuki disappears again...
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Comments

I thought this episode had much more of a "love story" feel than many of the other ones I've seen to this point. It also uses a lot of allusions to "love" or "lovers" as "stars in the sky," which I think is a pretty clever tie-in to the astronomy stuff. Granted, the romanticized gesture of being *that* in love may seem a bit exaggerated or far-fetched, but that's also assuming the gesture itself is used to the point of excess like a lot of conventional/mainstream stuff that don't do it as effectively. Then again, this franchise is anything *but* conventional. And because so many of the stories are usually weird or outlandish, it's kinda' refreshing to see a tale like this.

As for themes, I saw a lot of this episode centering around the power of belief (and it's opposition, doubt), and how one's determination can affect that balance. The "belief" is pretty obvious by the plot after Ginko explains to Seijirou that in order for Fuki to stay grounded, he needs to believe that she's there. In his efforts to convince everyone else in the village, though, Seijirou always has this thought in the back of his mind that she's not quite normal. This is what causes her to revert back to mushi form for a while, until Seijirou decides to live his life like she's actually there with him. And in doing so, she re-appears and stays for good by episode's end.

I've always seen belief as something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, too much of it can make you an extremist or idealist. But too little, and you become too conservative or pragmatic. In either case, too much of either can make you more close-minded. And what good is the journey of life if you aren't open to anything new? After Fuki disappeared a second time and Seijirou started his "belief" thing, it was said that the village thought of him as mad, and even began to ostracize him after a while. Needless to say, when Fuki finally reappears, all that effort in believing paid off. And he didn't seem so crazy, anymore.

I think the weird looks and ostracizing are the temporary prices to pay for sticking with your beliefs, kinda' how many famous/historical figures were laughed at or ridiculed for their ideas, which later turned out to benefit/change the entire way our civilizations think. But again, there needs to be balance, a little logical and a little *illogical*, because leaning too much towards the either will put you back in that trap of extremity. In Seijirou's case, he believed too much through his efforts with the rest of the village, but then doubted *himself* because he was too busy trying to convince everyone else. And in the end, convincing himself was, in fact, the key to convincing the village.

So to sum up the moral of the story, I suppose you could say that if you believe enough in something, it just may very well come to fruition. What and how you choose to believe is entirely up to you. If it's a goal in life or some realization you've yet to discover, just remember the whole "balancing" issue: don't go too overboard and gung-ho with your beliefs, but don't be so unwilling to accept anything else, either. And somewhere in the middle, you'll find what's "real."

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nobahn
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Joined: 14 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:15 pm Reply with quote
Tony K. wrote:
I guess the perceived lack of an audience is mostly what gets to me, even though the apparent fan base/following is probably out there, but just isn't very vocal about it.
I can believe that; hell, I haven't even seen the show. (Yet, anyway!)
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Elfen12



Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 472
Location: Bay Area

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2015 5:14 am Reply with quote
Tony, that is awesome you're still making these reviews. Like 5 years ago I used to post in this thread all the time. I say keep it up, each review is fantastic! Idea

-Elfen12-
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