With the release of episode four, Mushi-shi is now a quarter of the way through its second season and while the tone of the stories has changed, the method and pacing remains the same as the first season. The first four episodes cover darker stories, all relating to the death of a person close to the featured characters. As a result, it seems that the themes of life and death and balance thereof are of particular note this season.
Episode two told an interesting seaside tale about a stubborn, grieving fisherman who had lost his wife to a shark attack and whose daughter is made mute by exposure to mushi of ill omen. The cure lies in exposing the daughter to conversation and the fisherman is forced to choose between holding onto his grudge and letting his village risk consuming tainted food or forgiving the community and helping it and his daughter recover. The third episode took place in the beginnings of winter, in a village where it is always snowing around a young man who had lost his sister to the frozen lake. His story dealt with a choice between the cold, and eventually fatal, mushi that has infected him but made it easier to cope with his loss and rejecting the mushi to embrace the warmth and life around him. Finally, episode four dealt with a hunter whose bloodline has been tainted - a taint that was responsible for his brother’s illness and his father’s death. The taint bequeaths the power to lure prey and kill with a touch, however, the hunter is made to choose between keeping his power and facing the same death as his father or accepting the cure and learning to cope with the fear of not being invincible. Each of these stories are darker than the majority of the stories from the first season and this exploration of life and death and choice is quite intriguing – there is room to understand whatever choice a character makes and this makes the stories all the more compelling.
As far as sound and visuals go, Mushi-shi continues to deliver. The backgrounds that grace the screen of Mushi-shi continue to be some of the most detailed and beautiful I’ve seen in any anime, and the contrast with the simpler designs of the characters wonderfully focuses the story on their humanity, though animation can be a bit rough in places due to this style. Music continues to be subtle but present, enhancing the ambiance of the scenes and strengthening the feel of a chill in the air or a shiver of fear in the dark forest. I mentioned this in the episode one update, but this series continues to be highly episodic and contemplative, two facets that may not appeal those looking for more action packed adventures.