Mushi-Uta - 01: Beginning of the Dream

Episode:01: Beginning of the Dream
On a cold, dreary day, an anguished girl collapses on a snow covered street. A strange young man, dressed in a black greatcoat and wearing goggles, asks her what her dreams are. Her answer surprises him; the two exchange a promise, then he draws a strange pistol, takes aim, and fires a shot. Four years later, the same girl recognizes an opportunity to pass through a set of solid doors which have briefly opened. Late at night Yuki, a terrified young man, is reading internet chat forums about "Mushitsuki", or "Insect Users". Sure enough, just as one contributor had predicted, the doorbell rings at precisely 4AM. While his parents plead with the strange man at the door, Yuki attempts to escape by leaping from the balcony. He finds himself in the middle of a bizarre battle between giant insects. Someone is clearly looking out for him, though. Yuki has nearly made his escape when he runs into "Kakkou", the same young man as we met at the beginning of the episode. When the action is over Kakkou gets a sarcastic congratulation from a female comrade. Next, he is informed that "Ladybird", the leader of the Mushibane resistance group, has been tentatively located at a high school and he is offered the opportunity to pose as a student and search for her; he accepts. At dawn he examines his deformed forearm, and asks himself "I wonder if my time is running out?"...
I'm trying to catch up by compiling reviews of episodes before #4, which was when I decided Mushi-Uta would be worthy of episode reviews. Each time I rewatch it, I notice something I'd missed before! Either that, or I get something which didn't make sense previously. For example, this time around I understand why the family photo in Rina's apartment has the father's face scratched out (the answer comes in episode five). MinMin's sarcastic comment "Hey, isn't it your job?" after Kakkou kills a Mushi indicates that he's not exactly proud of the work he does. He also experiences unpleasant dreams regarding his occupation and family life. Maybe that's why his "dream" was much the same as Shiika's. I notice the relaxed, almost mournful music setting the mood as students go about their various afterschool tasks. Every element of this show comes together skillfully with the rest! Kakkou and Shiika's backgrounds (especially hers) are portrayed in black and white as the walk around town, perhaps indicative of the loneliness they both feel. Was the "shattering glass" visual effect when he recognized her a sign of things taking a turn for the better for both of them? As I watch closely, looking for images to save and comments to make on this page, I realize what a powerful and brilliant scene it is--more so than ever before. The fact that so few of these images contain subtitles suggests the extent to which artwork and music is employed to set the mood in this opening episode.

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