Well, I have been going library mental recently. I spent Saturday in the library (and got very little reading done, which helped to give my weekend a very melancholy feel), and then I went this afternoon too. I felt a bit ill this morning, because I ate too many potatoes last night, and I was really um-ing and ah-ing over whether I should bother to go to the library or not. I managed to persuade myself to go, at least for an hour or so, and managed to stay for about 3 and a half hours! Keeeeaaaaaaaaano.
I think maybe I like going to the library because it makes me feel like I'm doing some work, even when I'm not actually.
Anyway, going to the library makes me feel much less guilty about spending my free hours during the weekend drawing fanart (click for big):
It's the medicine seller from Mononoke. I'm quite sad because the series has just ended, so I thought some fanart might cheer me up (and I wanted to draw his make-up). Mononoke is one of, if not the, best anime series I have ever watched. Seriously. It is brilliant. The horror/mystery theme of the show is very engaging (the kind of engaging where you can watch it twice and still not solve it), and the animation, while slightly funky, is beautifully directed. It's so intricate, and yet disjointed at the same time, which is perfect for a supernatural story.
And the medicine seller. The medicine seller is everyone's favourite. And there's lots of nice fanart out there too. Not only is the medicine seller more badass than a bucket full of ninjas, but he's enigmatic too. We don't even know his name!
I've got a theory about the medicine seller, which I'd like to expound on. My theory, let me tell you it:
1. The medicine seller isn't human. Well that's pretty easy to guess, what with the funny ears, the seeming inability to age, the ability to be two people at the same time, and all that. But he also doesn't act human. He doesn't seem to experience the whole gamut of human emotions like the other characters do. He doesn't seem to empathise with the humans or the mononoke, but then he doesn't seem to hate them either. We don't see him happy or sad, or even lonely. He might be very good at hiding these things, but I don't think so.
2. We don't know the medicine seller's name or backstory (and how great is it that we don't have to sit through an angsty backstory). I've a feeling that we would find out if they were integral to the story, but they're not. In fact, I don't even think that he has a name or backstory. I don't even think he has a reason to kill mononoke. He just is, and does, and that's all there is too it.
3. I think that the medicine seller is not actually a character, but a metaphor. Just as the mononoke themselves seem to be metaphors of negative human emotion, and the damage that those emotions can cause, I believe the medicine seller is a metaphor of the opposite, as it were. If a metaphor/realisation of the accumulation of negative emotion exists, it makes sense that there would also be a metaphor/personification of the dispelling of those emotions, which occurs through the determination and subsequent acceptance of the causes of those emotions (the truth, form and regret of the mononoke). In short, the medicine seller is a kind of elaborate personification of closure.
4. Therefore, the medicine seller doesn't actually exist, except in the morality tales that we see in the series; and that's why he doesn't need a name or backstory. I believe that the series isn't meant to be set in a large fictional world, but rather to be taken as a series of connected, yet discrete, morality tales, which relate the overcoming of negative emotion in its various guises. So the medicine seller doesn't need a backstory; these tales are his story.
Well, that was a bit confusing. But my main point is that Mononoke is amazing and that everyone should watch it (this goes to you Mariya, and also to myself, because I think I need to re-watch it at some point).
Comment from: vspirit Visitor
You are quite right in that you are missing out. If you liked Mononoke as much as you did, you would appreciate the beautiful simplicity that is Mushishi, as well. Do give it a try whenever you are able.
Comment from: Member
I’m quite glad that the medicine seller doesn’t have a backstory. The thought of, for example, a young medicine seller having his family killed by mononoke and then going on a quest of ultimate revenge, just cheapens the whole thing if you ask me. The show is beautiful in its simplicity.
I don’t know much about Japanese culture, so I don’t know if other characters like the medicine seller abound in the literature, but I get the feeling that there should be some somewhere. The whole thing feels so inherently Japanese, as if they were stories that have been passed down through the generations, and only now animated for our edification.
I’m afraid I haven’t watched Mushishi, so I can’t compare the medicine seler with Ginko, but from what I’ve heard about the show, I think I’m really missing out on something good.
Comment from: vspirit Visitor
I like your theory about the Kusuriuri being a personification of closure. And as long as he remains without a backstory, I think that’s as accurate and plausible a theory as it can ever get. Although a simple story of his earlier days would have pleased, one that doesn’t even have to be a backstory–in fact, I’d go so far as to say that it might even be better that it isn’t– I can’t say I don’t like it the way it is now.
Ginko has a backstory, told simply enough that it doesn’t become the story of Mushishi itself. I suppose him being obviously human does call for one, but I like how they executed it. And since Kusuriuri’s origin is ambiguous right from the get-go, not giving him one at all seems the way to go. And that works, as well. Although completely different characters, they do share a common ground with each other in the way that they act merely as guides in the stories they bring forth rather than protagonists.
Comment from: Member
It’s make-up. And for some reason, the fact that he’s got a red nose makes him all the more badass and mysterious.
Comment from: speeev Visitor
well he needs some factor 30 on his nose- he’s caught the sun.