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Mushishi, Volume 2 by Yuki Urushibara

Mushishi, Volume 2

by Yuki Urushibara

Series: Mushishi (2)

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Yuki Urushibara's debut manga series Mushishi is a work that is quite dear to me. I discovered it more by accident than anything else, but Mushishi quickly became one of my favorite manga when it was first released in English and it remains a series that I enjoy immensely. Urushibara has taken cues from traditional Japanese folklore and mythology, creating a series with a quiet yet creepy atmosphere and a subtle sense of horror that relies on the interactions between humans and natural powers beyond their control. Mushishi has inspired multiple anime adaptations, which are also excellent, as well as a live-action film. The series has also been honored with a Japan Media Arts Award and a Kodansha Manga Award. Mushishi, Volume 2 was originally published in Japan in 2002. The volume was first released in English by Del Rey Manga in 2007. It is now available digitally by Kodansha Comics, but I hope that one day Mushishi will be brought back into print.

Mushishi, Volume 2 collects five stories, some of which are among my personal favorites in the series. "The Mountain Sleeps" finds Ginko coming to the aid of a fellow mushishi who is feared to have gone missing. "The Sea of Brushstrokes" tells the tale of a young woman whose family has collected stories about mushi for generations, becoming the guardians of a vast library of valuable knowledge. Ginko travels to a remote island that can only be accessed once every lunar month due to the tides and currents in "They That Breathe Ephemeral Life." Back on the mainland, he joins up with a man wandering the countryside searching for a rare type of mushi in "Rain Comes and a Rainbow Is Born." In the final story, "The Green Veil," Ginko must convince a recently married couple to give up their children, none of whom are human despite their outward appearances.

Mushishi tends to be fairly episodic, though the stories do share similar elements. The individual chapters don't necessarily build directly on one another, but they do expand and develop more and more about the world Urushibara has created. What I particularly enjoy about Mushishi, Volume 2 is how it places Ginko within the greater context of the relatively small community of mushishi. He is only one mushishi out of many, sharing some likenesses with the others in his profession but also exhibiting personal differences. It is revealed in the second volume of Mushishi that one of the reasons Ginko is constantly traveling from place to place is that he attracts mushi; if he doesn't keep moving the area around him will become infested. However, as is also seen in Mushishi, Volume 2, some mushishi are able to make permanent homes for themselves. In some extreme cases, they even become trapped by their duties, unable to leave without causing great harm to others.

Mushishi, Volume 2 reinforces one of the most important themes of the series—the sanctity of life and the deep respect that it deserves—and emphasizes the need for humans to coexist with mushi. These concepts are explored in various ways throughout Mushishi. In the second volume, Ginko in particular is shown to give priority to human lives, but he also avoids destroying mushi whenever possible. However, some mushishi seem to take great delight in the eradication of the mushi they encounter. This lack of compassion and understanding by mushishi as well as other humans can be problematic; they try to exert their control over, manipulate, and use to their advantage these creatures which are frequently beyond their ken, often with tragic results. At times mushi can be dangerous if left completely unchecked, but just as dangerous is unrestrained human arrogance.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Mar 13, 2015 |
The Mountain Sleeps or The Sleeping Mountain
In this first novel of volume 2, an old Mushishi tells to Ginko the story how he became the guardian of the mountain.
The mushi is called Mugura and ‘are like the nervous system of the mountain.’ (p. 13) The old Mushishi cannot leave the mountain because of the dangerous mushi, and Ginko cannot help him.

The Sea of Brushstrokes or A Sea of Writing
A curse afflicts a family for generations: a birthmark the color of an ink stain means a new writer of mushi’s stories.
‘In the future ... we animal and plant life must live in concert with the mushi.’ (p. 59) In the past after a great calamity mushi’s separated from the other animal and plant, so started the curse of the ink birthmark.

They That Breathe Ephemeral Life or Those who Inhale the Dew
Mushi in called Biku and live in Akoya’s sinus cavity because she inhaled it from a flower. Akoya in a girl revered as a god and a boy asks to Ginko to investigate the case.
‘Once again today, the sun rises and sets again. The flowers that bloomed this morning begin to bow their heads.
Once again today, the sun will set and rise again. And when the sun hits it, the flower blooms, but it is a different flower from yesterday’s.’ (p. 93)

Rain Comes and a Rainbow Is Born or Raindrops and Rainbows
The fourth novel is the best of this second volume.
A boy travels looking for rainbows: ‘I’ve heard that treasures are buried at the ends of rainbows, but ...’ (p. 147)
Mushi is called Koda and means rainbow and snake. ‘The Koda ... are light ... and rain that has some Koki in it. ... (the Koki are) the stuff that is the basis of a mushi’s life force. ... they may have sources that cause them to start. But they have no goal. They live only to flow. They don’t let anything interfere.’ (p. 178)
Like Ginko’s travelling is without goal so Koda is not dangerous, they live only to show themselves.
‘In an area to the west where there’s a river famous for its flooding ... word is spread about a bridge that can withstand the floods.
When the river rises, they remove certain planks ... and they let the water flow as it well.
When the water level falls, they return it to normal.’ (p. 181)

The Veil Spore or Cotton Changeling
Ginko helps a family with strange children.
Mushi is called Watahaki: ‘they have the form of green cotton that floats on the air.’ (p. 195) Watahaki give birth baby with a short life span. Ginko has to burn the house with these mushi/children, but he keeps one for himself. ‘You are an inscrutable being.’ (p. 226) ( )
  GrazianoRonca | Oct 11, 2010 |
I think this was a good volume, very interesting, and I think it focused more on how Mushi live and exist than who Ginko is. My favorite stories would have to be the ones about the girl with the ink birth mark and the mushi that infected the pregnant woman. ( )
  Shebakune | Mar 28, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345496442, Paperback)


Mushi, a terrifying primitive life-form, take countless shapes–most of them deadly to the human race. Enter Ginko, a mushi expert, known as a mushishi. Though his laconic smile and soft-spoken manner don’t seem imposing, he represents the human world’s greatest defense. When a fellow mushishi disappears, Ginko must search for him on a mushi-infested mountain, putting his own life on the line!

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:23 -0400)

Mushi, a terrifying primitive life-form, take countless shapes--most of them deadly to the human race. Enter Ginko, a mushi expert, known as a mushishi. Though his laconic smile and soft-spoken manner don't seem imposing, he represents the human world's greatest defense. When a fellow mushishi disappears, Ginko must search for him on a mushi-infested mountain, putting his own life on the line!… (more)

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