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Mushishi: Episode 16 Art Boards

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Akatsuki no hebi is translated "Sunrise Serpent" in the DVD release and "The Snake of Dawn" in the English manga. But I encountered it in fansubs as "The Daybreak Snake" and so for me it will always bear that English title. It too is a sad story, dealing with a young mother who sleeps in the shade of a dangerous cherry tree (whose blossoms traditionally carry the reminder of human mortality). A shadowy serpentine creature crawls into her ear and inhabits her brain, and she develops a profound and irreversible loss of memories.

The story is a variation on an internationally distributed folk legend, which folklorists call "The Bosom Serpent." In many versions of these legends, a folk remedy is found to tempt the parasitic snake out of the victim’s body, curing the illness. In others (like this story), the condition unfortunately is incurable. But, as in many of the series' episodes, there is an opportunity for partial healing, and so the conclusion, while sad, shows that some good comes out of the affliction.

The episode is worth screening for the powerful performance of Yuri Amano as Sayo, the forgetful mother. Amano has an impressive list of voice-acting roles to her credit, notably Alcyone in Magic Knight Rayearth, another complex and deeply tragic role. Her deeply concerned son Kaji was voiced by Akemi Okamura, more familiar as Nami in the One Piece franchise.

All the art in this gallery comes from the same scene. Ginko has just witnessed the creature clone itself and send its offspring to await another victim under the tree, and so he grimly gives the two his diagnosis and suggests a plan of action. The art boards, being entirely original work, have been featured, although they mostly work out the details of the interior room in which Ginko is talking to the other two.

The camera angle shifts constantly from one character to another, and shows them from many different perspectives, so this presented a serious challenge to the art director. The shots needed to maintain continuity, keeping the windows and doors behind the characters where they "really" would be and having the light consistently streaming in from the opened sliding door on one side. Reference copies of the layouts accompanied the art boards, and these are included in the thumbnails. Some of these were done on ArtLand's sophisticated color copier and take close inspection to distinguish them from originals.

 Cut 139. Sayo and Kaji listen to Ginko’s diagnosis

 Cut 140. Ginko explains

 Cut 156. Ginko and the cherry tree (first state)

 Cut 156. Ginko and the cherry tree (final state)

 Cut 158. "... such as your memory of your son..."

 Cut 162. "It’s just a theory, but..."

 Cut 167. “You should do that, Mother!”

 Cut 173. “I’ll go out and find my husband!”

 Cut 175. “You’ll come with me, won’t you?”

Curator: 60something-sensei
Gallery Created: 8/3/2002
Hits: 262595

Presentation 8.82/10   Collection 9.47/10   Overall 9.03/10   Votes 84 votes
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