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Mushishi, Volume 3

by Yuki Urushibara

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Mushishi (3)

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They live on the shadowy border between the possible and the impossible--ancient life-forms known as mushi. Rare is the individual who can see them, but those with that special ability, the mushishi, can counter the creatures' deadly effects on humans. After a young boy is orphaned in the forest, he is saved by a reclusive female mushishi. But the lake near the mushishi's home holds a deadly secret, and the boy must find out what it is before his only friend is lost forever.… (more)

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Mushishi, Volume 3 by Yuki Urushibara was originally published in Japan in 2002. The volume was initially released in English in print by Del Rey Manga in 2008. Although that particular edition is no longer available, Kodansha Comics did re-release Mushishi, Volume 3 digitally in 2014. I count myself lucky to own the entirety of Mushishi in print. I fell in love with the series after reading the first volume and so made a point to begin collecting it. Fortunately, Mushishi was being released in English around the same time I first started to really get into comics and manga and I didn't have a difficult time finding the series. To this day, Mushishi remains one of my favorite manga. I like its quiet yet often creepy atmosphere and its folktale-like nature. I'm not the only one who appreciates Mushishi. The series was a recipient of a Kodansha Manga Award and has also been the basis for a live-action movie as well as multiple anime adaptations and other media.

Unseen to most people but found throughout nature are mushi—creatures that are still very close to the original form of life. They can be benign forces but often their presence is a source of trouble when it encroaches upon the human world. Illness and disease and even seemingly natural phenomena can all be attributed to mushi. Some people with the ability to see mushi make their living as mushishi by traveling across the country, studying the creatures, and trying to return balance where disturbances have occurred. But there are also those who can see mushi who are not mushishi. Frequently they are unaware of what the creatures truly are, and many times the people around them don't believe them when they try to describe their experiences with mushi. This lack of understanding can cause significant strife, even within tightly knit communities. People who can see and are aware of mushi, whether they be mushishi or not, are treated differently, sometimes out of concern and sometimes out of fear.

While the previous volume of Mushishi seemed to place a particular emphasis on mushishi, the fourth volume mostly features stories in which Ginko—a mushishi and the series' protagonist—is dealing with incidents where people who can see mushi but who are not formally trained as mushishi are somehow involved. In "The Cry of Rust," the unique quality of a young woman's voice attracts mushi, bringing calamity to her village. "From the Ocean's Edge" follows a man whose wife has been missing at sea for three years after they both saw peculiar creatures in the water. "The Heavy Seed" tells the story of a village that has strangely bountiful harvests during times of famine. Children fall deathly ill in "White Living in the Inkstone" when they accidentally release dormant mushi while playing in Doctor Adashino's storehouse without permission. (Adashino is one of the very few recurring characters in Mushishi; his slightly antagonistic relationship with Ginko is absolutely delightful.)

Although during serialization it followed "The Cry of Rust," the final chapter collected in Mushishi, Volume 3 is "The Fish Gaze." The episode is particularly notable because it reveals some of Ginko's backstory. Even though it's a past that he himself is unable to remember—a rare example of a time when the reader is more knowledgeable than he is—this specific part of Ginko's life story plays a very important role in who he later becomes. Mushishi tends to be episodic, but elements of Ginko's character and personality have been revealed throughout the series. However, "The Fish Gazee" is the first chapter to really delve into his history. Like many of the other stories in Mushishi, Ginko's tale has elements of darkness and tragedy, but the emphasis placed on the ultimate perseverance of life in the face of death and sorrow remains. Mushishi frequently incorporates sadness, but the manga is not without hope; Urushibara seems to be able to navigate a fine balance between melancholy and wonder with ease.

Experiments in Manga ( )
  PhoenixTerran | May 13, 2015 |
The Cry of Rust or The Sound of Rust
Ginko has to find out why a strange rust afflicts people and houses in a village. The village’s people think a girl is the cause of the rust.
The girl, Shige: ‘Whenever my voice was heard, the people around me would get patches of rust.’ (p. 17) But ‘This isn’t rust. It’s a Mushi called Yasabi.’ (p. 20)
‘Shige ... acted like a normal kid ... But her voice ... had a quality that attracted the things (Mushi) that caused the illness (the rust).’ (p. 34)
Ginko: ‘I wanted your voice to echo in the mountains surrounding the town. The Yasabi that gathered in the town wiil be dispersed into the mountains.’ (p. 45)
A voice could be heard in the village and the sea across a pass in the mountains.
‘But even now, they say ... that the people of the town ... can still hear a broken, husky voice with an odd beauty to it ... echoing softly through the mountains.’ (p. 48)

From the Ocean Edge or Where Sea Meets Man
Ginko is traveling along a beach where he meets a man looking for his wife (Michichi).
‘You’ve heard the term Umi-sen, Yama-sen, haven’t you? It refers to the belief that if a serpent lives for a thousand years in the sea and another thousand years in the mountains, it becomes a dragon.’ (p. 73) Mushi ‘there seems to be no difference between them and snakes. (p. 73) Mushi are linked to ancient beliefs (dragons).
Ginko decides to take a boat and with the boatman they go on the sea looking for Michichi, eventually they find her, but suddenly Michichi disappears.
When people are far from the shore, snakes (Mushi) and mist don’t allow them to return to the land, they cannot see the shore. Inside mist time is different from real time, when you look at what you wanted to see it disappears. Being (Sein) is linked with Time (Zeit): Michichi can live only living in the same time of her husband
One of the best episodes!

The Heavy Seed
In a village there are unusual harvests. Before harvests strange events happen: a natural disaster and the death of one of the village’s people.
‘The field of this village ... have always had a big harvest during natural disaster.’
‘On that year somebody always ... grow an extra tooth that autumn. When autumn comes to an end, the tooth falls out. And that person ... dies ...’ (p. 97)
‘Mushi are creatures so weak they can be carried by light.’ (p. 105) ‘They are closed to Koki, the liquid origin of Mushi. The light flow is the vein in which the Koki flows. You could call it - life - itself.’ (p. 106)
Mushi, light, Koki, life, and the heavy seed: manipulating Koki and seed ‘there are even ways to achieve immortality or resurrection.’ (p. 106)

White Living in the Inkstone or The White which Lives within the Ink Stone
Adashino is a collector of Mushi-related items. Some kids get themselves in trouble when they take one of Adashino’s Mushi.
‘So when ink was rubbed on it (inkstone), the Mushi came back to life ...’
‘It entered their bodies ... and is chilling them from the inside.’ (p. 148)
‘What is inside the inkstone ... is a Mushi called Kumohami (cloud eaters).’ and ‘... like clouds, they eat the water or ice, and give off snow or hail.’ (p. 165)

The Fish Gaze or One-Eyed Fish
This episode reveals Ginko’s origin: he is an orphan adopted by Nui.
Mushi ‘exist differently, but ... they aren’t completely estranged from us.’ (p. 193)
‘There are two types of darkness. One type is when you close your eyes, ... the other is ... endless darkness.’ (p. 196) ‘The ones (Mushi) that take the shape of darkness are called Tokoyami (eternal darkness). (p.; 198)
‘But if you ... can’t remember your name or your past ... that means that Tokoyami is near you. They say that if you remember, you can get away from it. And if it turns out that you can’t remember? Then find a name for yourself. It doesn’t matter what.’ (p. 202)
Darkness is where you don’t exist, ‘Fright ... and rage ... are things that blind one’s eyes.’ ‘Everything ... simply ... lives as it lives, that’s all.’ (p.230)
Ginko has to become a Mushishi and has to know darkness, so he must lose one eye. ( )
  GrazianoRonca | Nov 6, 2010 |
Finally, we find out Ginko's past in this volume. Of all the stories I'd have to say the most interesting one for me was the one about the "seed" mushi. But my favorite part of the manga in general was the story of Ginko's past. ( )
  Shebakune | Mar 28, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yuki Urushibaraprimary authorall editionscalculated
Flanagan, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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They live on the shadowy border between the possible and the impossible--ancient life-forms known as mushi. Rare is the individual who can see them, but those with that special ability, the mushishi, can counter the creatures' deadly effects on humans. After a young boy is orphaned in the forest, he is saved by a reclusive female mushishi. But the lake near the mushishi's home holds a deadly secret, and the boy must find out what it is before his only friend is lost forever.

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