Mushi-shi Season 2 Episode 9 – “Valley of the Welling Tides”
As we open this week, Ginko is passed out in a cave during the middle of snowfall. Luckily for him, a passerby throws him over his shoulder and takes him home with him. He awakens to the faces of three children greeting him and a woman bringing him tea. He had a slight leg injury that was slowing him down, and will stay with this family while it heals. It was the woman’s husband Houichi who found him last night. Ginko’s stomach involuntarily growls, so the family starts getting a meal together. As one of the children opens the door to the house, Ginko sees a large green field – but it’s the dead of winter. Furthermore, at night he can hear the sound of a gardening hoe at work.
Not exactly sure what is going on yet, Ginko inquires the next morning if the husband has come home yet so he can give him his thanks. He is directed to the fields out back where Houichi is working, confirming that Ginko wasn’t hallucinating. Standing before him is a large, multi-ridged and rich field of rice paddies. Surrounding it’s borders is the snow, and the harsh reality of winter.
Houichi hasn’t done anything special to the crops other than working them non stop. Ginko picks up a sweet scent coming from the man – is kouki involved? Kouki is the “sake of life” from episode 1 and the often sought object of mushi-shi. As Houichi is talking to his wife, who is carrying an infant, Ginko realises just what is going on, his eyes wide in shock.
He confronts the grandfather (father of the husband) and asks how his own wife died. Ginko warns him that his son might be under the influence of mushi. However the grandfather doesn’t want to say anything towards the subject – and suggests that Ginko stay out of the family’s business. Even if Ginko says that Houchi and his wife could be in danger.
He tries to talk to Houichi next. We learn that the man has been toiling in the fields since he was a boy, and has been unable to get a good night’s sleep/rest for much of his life. His body always seems ready to work on the fields more. This prosperity might come at a cost, Ginko tells him. Before he can say any more the grandfather stops Ginko, saying it is not his place to do so.
That night Ginko apologizes, promising to leave in the morning, but not before giving the grandfather a “mushi purge”, for them to use or discard. All is not okay though, as while working that night, Houichi slips and falls unconscious. When he comes to, his father has a tale to tell him…
I’ve left out some clues from earlier in the episode, and will leave the conclusion of the episode up to you guys to watch. In true Mushi-shi fashion it’s got melancholy, suffering and joy. Despite the majority of this series episodes including these similarities, the structure doesn’t get tired, at least for me. I’m always intrigued to learn more about this world and the mushi that inhabit it.