Mokke – 03
Shizuru’s ability to see spirits is innate, and this was a source of terror and anxiety for her back when she was young. It was her grandfather that decided to take her into his and his wife’s home in the countryside out of concern for his granddaughter’s special condition. We learn two additional pieces of information in this flashback – one, that Mizuki lived with her parents for a while before moving into the countryside, and two, that more malicious youkai reside in urban areas (at least according to their grandfather).
We return to the present, and see Shizuru transfixed at an oddly-shaped, bipedal yellow spirit following a young, gaunt man. Aki, Shizuru’s friend, comes out of the stationery store she was in and tells Shizuru that the man is none other than her brother. She calls out to him, but he fails to notice her and continues to walk on. Slightly disturbed at her brother’s lack of awareness, she tells Shizuru that all the studying he did for the dreaded college entrance exams probably got to him.
Back at home, Shizuru tells her grandfather about the stalking spirit, but he brushes her observation off. Mizuki’s suggestion to have the youkai lured and then expelled back into nature is met with a cold shoulder too, and he tells the two girls that casting away spirits are always a risky business – the situation may actually worsen, depending on the spirit they are dealing with. With that comment, he leaves the two behind as Mizuki cheers her sister up and offers emotional support.
Still worried for her friend, Shizuru accompanies Aki back to her house and stops by. Aki begins to talk about her brother – an excellent student who was generally caring and thoughtful until he scored rather poorly on standardized testing (zenkoku moushi/全国模試). Following this setback, Aki’s brother began to grow manic and isolated. The brother returns home amidst this conversation, and heads upstairs after telling his sister and Shizuru that he will be skipping cram school since he doesn’t feel too well. Shizuru is horrified to watch the bipedal spirit follow him with its jaws open wide, revealing large, sharp teeth.
Shizuru visits her grandfather in the fields next morning, being unable to ignore what she saw the day before. Grandpa this time takes her seriously, and explains about the two kinds of spirits that follow people – one that acts as a benevolent guardian, and another that feasts on the personality of the person it is following. Concerned with Shizuru’s statement that the youkai’s outline and form is thicker, he reluctantly agrees to help (not without a lengthy lecture, however, on confronting spirits and the give-and-take relationship between them and humans).
Aki brings her brother along to Shizuru’s place, and grandpa begins the process of extracting the spirit away from him. Grandfather has Aki’s brother reveal his inner conflicts and problems, and goes through a ritual to make the spirit visible. He achieves this by first lighting a candle made of sesame oil and dried wisteria. He then applies an elixir of cooled water and peach to the forehead of Aki’s brother and with some incantations, the spirit does in fact visualize. Aki’s brother is understandably freaked out, although grandpa advises him to calm down. He brings the spirit to submission with the smoke of a lighted cigarette – he encourages Aki’s brother to join him in respectfully repelling the spirit.
The youkai finally departs after these efforts. As Shizuru, Mizuki, and their grandfather sees them off, Shizuru muses if she would still help Aki even if she is unable to see the youkai that was the source of all the problems. Her grandfather tells her that she probably would, even if the method may have been different. Guilt and goodwill are not always enough to make a person take action, after all. Hoping that she can one day find the answer to interacting with others despite her supernatural ability, she goes back into the house with Mizuki.
Not a bad episode at all. Grandpa gives out truckload of wisdom and advice this episode for the ever worrisome Shizuru, who is still not fully used to her condition of seeing youkai both good and bad. What had me interested the most is the grandfather’s statement that balance is necessary between spirits and humans. Also important is that grandpa generally has high regard for youkai, and uses incantations that make use of archaic and formal phrases. This is in stark contrast to some supernatural shows where youkai are driven away violently or even purged completely, so this was a nice change (as the grandfather puts it, “Humans should be the ones bowing down to the spirits, not vice versa”).
Next time: Mizuki attracts a mischievous youkai that prevents her from expressing laughter. Mizuki, unable to laugh? This can’t be good.