Looking back would’ve turned you into a pillar of salt in the Book of Genesis, but in MUSHI-SHI, it’ll make a bridge cave out underneath you.
There’s perhaps a legitimate question of how Ginko can receive letters if he’s constantly wandering, but I’ll let it slide. Let’s just imagine that he’s got a P.O. box somewhere in this indeterminate feudal era. I did got an odd bit of pleasure out of seeing the poor girl’s mother berating him for giving her a diagnosis she didn’t want to hear. The “normals” are so often just awed by the mere notion of a Mushi master that it's refreshing to see one of them who knows their whole deal and isn’t impressed. Ginko’s excuse about not wanting to “treat her like a thing” doesn’t really hold next to the mother’s rather reasonable attitude about cutting the girl off so as not to prolong the misery.
It’s been a while since I’ve praised any story for making me feel bad, but this particular episode really got under my skin. The measure of a good tragedy likely lies in whether it can get you invested enough to wish characters were acting in their better interests, and I was doing that for Ginko’s particular patients here. The girl idling in some sort of living death for three years is a uniquely terrible fate to suffer. You wonder if it could’ve been prevented if her parents weren’t as controlling of her love life, because that’s what ultimate makes the boy suffer the same fate, too. Plus, it’s a terrible fear to have that you won’t have the strength of character to endure just a moment of testing. The kid only needed to hold it for a couple more minutes and he would've been spared twenty years of limbo.
So sad, yet so good at it.
Watch this episode “One-Night Bridge" below, decide for yourself and then read my comments on the previous episode here.