Ginko is at the home of a collector friend, Adashino-sensei, trying to sell the horns and the green cup from before. Instead of payment, Ginko requests a favor. When he was wandering through the mountains, he encountered a traveling swamp and a girl that seemed to be moving with it. At one point, he got a chance to speak with this green-haired girl, who pointed him in the right direction. Ginko spent the night there, learning about this girl and the swamp. She told him that it’s been on the move for a while – Ginko recognized that it’s headed out to sea. She herself was a village sacrifice to a god during a period of flooding. And although she thought that she had already died once, the swamp saved her and told her to live. While Ginko slept that night, the girl put on a red kimono and disappeared with the swamp.
Having listened to Ginko’s story, Adashino recalls a rumor that said a large green thing was moving towards the sea to die. Ginko wants to save the girl, so the two use some old maps to track the swamp’s movements, and they get the villagers’ help in setting up a large net near the mouth of the river. While they’re waiting for it to arrive, Adashino asks Ginko why he wants to save the girl, especially since it seemed like she wanted to be part of the swamp. Ginko admits that he feels guilty about what happened with Shinra and his grandmother. He allowed her to become a Mushi, but knows that being a Mushi will wear out her spirit little by little. And so, Ginko doesn’t want the swamp girl to die with the swamp. As the night drags on, something suddenly starts to stir up the water. The swamp has arrived, but despite the villager’s efforts, it gets through their barricade. Ginko catches a brief glimpse of the girl and finds her kimono caught in the net after it’s all over. Hope seems to be lost for her, but something strange starts to happen in the next few days: fish start to swarm into the area, allowing for bountiful catches, and one fisherman even catches a big surprise: the girl. Initially transparent, she regains her color as she recovers. She cries when she first wakes up, telling Ginko that the swamp was scared and sad to be moving towards its death. Soon the girl regains her strength and joins the village after being given the name Io. Ginko continues on his journey, and notes that there are many more traveling swamps moving towards the sea.
This is probably my favorite episode thus far. Not only do the animators once again uphold the quality level of the previous episodes, today’s episode also serves to tie those stories together, if even only a little. Aside from trying to sell Adashino the horns and the cup, Ginko also shows that he has doubts about if he did the right thing in Shinra’s grandmother’s case. Instead of allowing her to die normally, in a flash of pain, Ginko allowed her to become a Mushi, which would eventually wear her sprit out. This story is the final chapter of volume one in the manga, and also the key episode five of this animated series, so it’s good to see them bring some of the previous stuff up again, even if there’s still no real overarching plot.
Io’s story is rather sad, but she’s helped by a Mushi and her life saved (twice). Most of the Mushi thus far have been rather parasitic in nature, but this type is almost benevolent. And so Ginko ultimately isn’t responsible for her being alive, but he does manage to provide some solace to her when she’s crying.
Looking a bit further down the road, it seems that they’re not going to cover all of volume two before they move on to volume three. There’s more than enough manga material for a 26 episode series, assuming they keep at the one chapter per episode pace, but I hope that they don’t entirely skip some of these stories.