“The Warbling Sea Shell” 「囀る貝」
This week’s lesson – if you had to choose, who would you protect? Your own or others?
Before I go on with this week’s review, let’s listen to the OP for Mushishi Zoku Shou first. As with the first season, an English, slow, folksy tune is chosen for the OP – “Shiver” by Lucy Rose. It’s beautifully emotive, with lyrics that capture the essence of Mushishi’s message – human beings and what it means to live right as one. Brilliant for the 24-year-old’s debut album. I’m usually the type to skip OPs and this is the first time (apart from Hyouka‘s first OP which I just simply loved too much to ever skip) I find the need to actually listen to it before watching the real show, because this song just sets you in the mood like a cleansing ritual. In that 1 min and 30s, Lucy Rose lets you calm yourself and get ready to take in the beauty of Mushishi so do yourself a favour, close your eyes and listen to the OP, then open your eyes to learn Mushishi’s lesson for the week.
The warbling seashell is a type of birdsong singing mushi. While it hides to protect itself, it continuously sings to spread the word of any danger to its brethren so they can seek shelter for protection as well. But when a human comes into too close contact with it, the human looses the ability to speak. The only cure is to be around people and hear their voice so you can remember yours.
Do humans do that? If you were in danger, would you tell others or rush to protect yourself and your family first?
That’s what Sakichi chose. Ginko tells him that the presence of the mushi means there’s impending danger at sea and that Sakichi should warn the rest of the village about it. But an incident 10 years ago left Sakichi to choose to lead a closed off life with his daughter Mina, from the village. His wife was diving off the village elder’s boat together with the elder’s wife when a shark came and attacked them. The village elder chose to pull his wife out of the water first, resulting in Sakichi’s wife’s demise. It’s a difficult decision for anyone to make and there really was nothing anyone could’ve done otherwise. But Sakichi blames the elder and himself for not being on the boat. It’s easier to grief when there is someone to blame. This explains Sakichi’s attitude towards others especially when he teaches Mina that, ‘no one will protect you so you have to protect yourself’. Even when Mina listens to the warbling seashell and loses her ability to talk, Sakichi refuses to let her go to the village to be among voices. He’s lost complete trust in others but can you blame him? Can you blame the elder? No, you can’t for both.
The elder has always lived in guilt over the shark incident and he knows Sakichi blames himself too. But with Ginko’s warning, the elder goes to tell Sakichi, at the same time attempting a reconciliation, asking Sakichi and Mina to come back to the village which, Sakichi of course declines. When the red tide comes in and kills all the fish, the village is plunged into turmoil as its livelihood is gone for at least the next couple of weeks. Everyone witnesses the red tide and it reminds Sakichi of the red from his wife that dyed the sea that fateful day. That’s when he realises there really was nothing anyone could have done for his wife, just as how nothing can be done about the red tide. Mina had dived earlier and found a precious pearl from one of the shells in the sea. Sakichi’s idea was for Mina to keep it all to herself so that if he’s not around anymore, she can at least still survive by selling the pearl. Witnessing the red tide made Sakichi have a change of heart and instead of keeping quiet to protect themselves, he offers to sell the pearl and split the money so that everyone can survive through the disaster.
In times of need, will you offer a helping hand to others? Or will you choose to protect yourself? If it were a split-second decision, how would you choose? This is the power of Mushishi. Each episode features a story that really gets you thinking. It reminded me of the difficult choices made during the tsunami 10 years ago – do you flee to higher ground or do you run around telling others to flee, at the risk of not making it yourself? This was yet another consistently beautiful episode of Mushishi (the art is gorgeous, not on a Shinkai Makoto level though because Mushishi does not have the budget of an OVA/movie per episode but the reference explains the level of gorgeousness I’m going for). The music is again enchanting and leads into the instrumental ED so so smoothly. There’s really nothing to complain about Mushishi at all – zen.