Ginko arrives at a mountain town that’s plagued by partial deafness. He examines the townspeople and determines that they have an infestation of the “Un” Mushi that burrow themselves into a person’s ear and consume all of the incoming sound. Ginko shows the people that using salt water can rid them of the problem. But there is one more thing to take care of: the village chief’s grandson Maho who grew horns the same time he started to be able to hear sounds that no one else could. Ginko examines him and determines that the boy is infected with the “Ah” Mushi which eats the silence that Uns make. The only other case ever recorded had the patient eventually die of weariness from all the noise. Ginko spends some time alone with Maho behind a protective screen of smoke that helps dampen the noise. He explains that Maho can hear the sounds of Mushi because the Ah eats the silence that is normally present. Maho recounts that his horns grew one day when he covered his ears, shortly after his mother died of the same condition. He remembers her covering his ears before she died, but he can’t remember what she said. Ginko later asks the village chief about her daughter, and she says that her daughter stopped being able to hear the noises shortly before she died. As the days progress, Ginko tries to put the pieces together and find a cure. While looking for Maho in the forest, he realizes that in complete silence, you can hear even the faintest things, like a falling snowflake. To test a theory, he gets himself infected with an Ah, and puts Maho’s hands on his ears. Yellow goop starts to drip out, confirming what Ginko thought: the Ah’s weakness is sound of life from other creatures. Maho is finally able to remember what his mother told him that time: that the sound coming from her hands was like lava, dissolving anything. Maho is able to get rid of the Ah in him in this way, and his horns fall off. When Ginko leaves, he takes the large horns as his reward, but leaves the small ones with Maho. Maho promises that he won’t forget the beautiful sound that’s like his mother’s.
This week focuses on two types of Mushi: the Un and the Ah. Both are parasites that resemble snails, and both borrow in your ear and feed on sound (or lack thereof). I find the cure to be a little confusing, as is Ginko’s explanation on why Maho’s mother ended up dying if she got rid of the Ah (why it takes a year). The story itself is quite enthralling, though not exactly edge-of-your-seat. But this isn’t that type of series. Mushishi is turning out to be very folklore-ish, which I’m enjoying quite a bit.
I need this soundtrack so very badly. All of the ending themes have been hauntingly beautiful, and this episode is no exception. Like I mentioned back when I wrote up the first episode, the show itself doesn’t use many pieces of music, but the endings are amazing. Animation quality is still good, although I’m noticing that Ginko himself gets a lot less detail compared to the other characters.
Next week’s episode is called 「枕小路」, or “The Pillow Lane,” which should be about one man’s dreams.