Have you ever found yourself pretending you have something you don't? This happens often with a lot of things, especially those on the intangible side: bravery, intelligence, clout, happiness, and so on. Each of us, when this happens, live out our own little fantasy. Hardly a high crime.
But it's important to remember that at the end of the day, it's still a lie.
"Pretense of Spring" is, as can be inferred from the title, about falsehoods. But it's the nature of those falsehoods and the ways that we let ourselves be fooled by them that stand at the core of the episode; those are what I want to talk about here.
|For instance, I live of the lie of thinking that if I watched enough Bob Ross videos I, too, could apply Titanium White so artfully.|
All three protagonists - Ginko, Suzu, and Miharu - each have their own "false spring" to contend with. Miharu's is the most obvious; it's literally a blossoming winter glade that lures in, traps, and feeds off creatures seeking a respite from winter.
The impetus for Miharu to continue pursuing this glade is. . .somewhat murky, I admit. Especially so, given that he knows it effectively robs him of months of his life. When things get really rough in the winter, he goes to the glade to collect plants - ostensibly food - and then enters forced hibernation until spring. What's confusing is that he never brings back very much of whatever it is he finds in the glade, be it food, medicinal herbs, or something else; it's hard to understand how such amounts are worth the associated costs.
Perhaps it's more likely that Miharu is doing this for his sister Suzu. It's unclear what circumstances led to their parents not being around, but whatever the case it's just the two of them living together. There is some clear struggle on their part to overcome the hardships of life, and based on their interactions it seems likely that Miharu is doing this to show his sister he's independent and alleviate some of her burden. That is the lie he lives - strength. Whatever his intentions, Miharu is too naive and self-centered to realize his goal; he tries nonetheless, and it only ends up causing pain to those around him.
Suzu's "false spring" is more borne from hope than from naivety. She wants Ginko to stay and complete their family, in a sort of way. He offers both friendship and wisdom, approximating the roles of both guardian and confidante, exactly the sort of person you'd want around while attempting to become a fully-autonomous adult.
|I feel you, girl. It's a scary thing to take on alone.|
The thing is, Ginko is neither a friend nor a guardian - he's a traveling doctor. Suzu knows that, and. . .to her credit, she handles it pretty well. Her half-hearted attempts to get him to stay betray her realization that it is a fantasy, and at the same time set her apart as the more mature of the two siblings.
Ginko is the truly interesting one here, however, because once again we gain insight into his desire for "place". The lie that Ginko lives - or struggles to not live, as the case may be - is the greatest of the three, and the focus of the episode. He wants his lie of a place to belong, a place to teach and to be accepted. To Suzu he is a calming presence, and to Miharu he is a mentor. With them, he is accepted, he has value, and he has purpose.
But it's still a lie.
The core reason Ginko can't stay with people hasn't changed. He's still a mushi attractor. He still poses a danger to others; that's the reality he has to live with, and the truth he can't allow to be lost in fantasy. It's also one of the more tragic elements of his character. Ginko does what he can. He metes out semi-regular visits to his clientele, he helps people and fulfills his role as a healer and mediator as best as he's able (however temporary it might be), and maintains psuedo-friendships and meager relationships with those that he can afford to, like Adashino. But that's it. That's as lofty as his ambitions can go before they start to become a fantasy.
To overcome limitation, to find acceptance, and to be able to afford intimacy. That's Ginko's false spring.
The rest of the episode is standard fare (i.e. gorgeous), at least as Mushishi goes - Ginko uses his considerable expertise to solve the crisis before them, and in the end once again fails to succumb and acknowledges what is real and what is fantasy. But it serves as a harrowing reminder of the conflict that permeates his journey nonetheless. I really enjoy these little telltale signs of his internal strife; they add a certain flavor to his character that just isn't there otherwise, and they establish a much richer narrative backing to the series than most people give it credit for.
Ginko is basically an asymptomatic carrier, with the "disease" being mushi. Discuss.
Ginko x Anyone is the OTP of Mushishi. He's the Guile's Theme of anime; he just goes with everything.
What do Miharu and Ginko eat while they're hibernating?