WMG: Mushishi

The Reason noone cares about Ginko's strange clothes, or pale looks, or glass eye, is that he's a Mushishi
I mean really, just like you wouldn't expect a wizard to look like a normal person (AT THE LEAST they need a Badass Longcoat...)), Mushishi commune with the strange and invisible and always introduces himself as a Mushishi. If he looked normal, people would feel they weren't getting their money's worth.
  • He does possess said longcoat. See here.

The series takes place not in the past, but in a post-apocalyptic world.
This would explain the more modern appearance of Ginko's Western clothing. (Were this taking pace in the 19th century, he'd be wearing clothing of a different fashion.) Obviously something happened to cause Japan to abandon technology and regress back to a Feudal age. (This "something" could have very well been a disaster of some sort.) The western-style clothing that Ginko wears could have been scavenged from a disaster site or just found, lying abandoned somewhere. (Ginko wears such clothing as a way to symbolize the strange condition that separates him from the rest of his fellow citizens.)
  • Or maybe he just time-traveled with the help of a Mushi.
  • At least one other person (the little boy who helps the girl with Mushi in her eyes) wears modern clothes, but this was taken out of the anime.
  • The clothing looks pretty 19th century to me. Look at this guy. Granted it's American and he's got suspenders, but that's the sort of clothing they'd have had available. This simple sort of clothing is fairly consistent in appearance through late and post-19th century history. Not everyone wore double-breasted coats, bow ties and top-hats.
  • Jossed. The author, Yuki Urushibara, explained that his clothes are remnants from when the series was going to be set in the modern day. I guess she couldn't be bothered to change them.
    • Really? I heard that she said the series was set in the transitional period between Edo and Meiji. Since Japan was only partially Westernised at this point in time, the combination of modern and traditional clothing actually makes historical sense.
  • However, the jossing doesn't make it any less of a cool interpretation. I mean, it explains a lot about the world of Mushishi, not just Ginko's appearance. For instance, perhaps the Mushi aren't natural organisms but genetically engineered lifeforms Gone Horribly Right, a'la Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

Midichlorians are actually a form of blood-based Mushi that grant their users super powers.
Oh wait. This belongs in the Star Wars WMG section....

Ginko only visits one city in the whole series.
Everyone looks the same because it's the same people in every episode. Ginko lost touch with reality after losing his memories and his eye. He wanders in circles and thinks he has come to different villages. In reality, he has entered a large city from multiple directions. The city is cursed, and constantly plagued by Mushi. No one recognizes Ginko because they all have undiagnosed mild amnesia from some unidentified Mushi. Those who don't have amnesia play along with Ginko, such as his doctor friend. No telling what a crazy man would do when his delusions are broken. Especially one who controls invisible magic creatures. Thus, this city has the following features: A mountain range, a dry waterfall, a large beach, a rocky peninsula that appears to be an island when approached from the sea, a bamboo forest, a tree forest, large rice farming grounds, and a river.
  • Perhaps he's entraped in a Lotus-Eater Machine by Mushis.
  • Ginko attracts Mushi; he could be the reason the one city has a Mushi problem to begin with.

Ginko is actually Sanji in another life.
He still retains his appearance and smoking habit, but he's older and wiser and, because he no longer roams the sea freely, he takes to land instead.

Ginko is high the whole time
He seems to smoke fairly persistently, but what he's actually smoking is a fairly mild hallucinogen. The mushi aren't real, and the reason he manages to heal people is because he stumbles upon the actual medical method for curing their problems while believing he's dealing with mushi. Everyone just goes along with it, because he has a reputation as an amazing doctor even though it is all fluke.
  • I'd have to second this, just because it amuses me.
  • Even if it isn't All Just a Dream, he's so… Mellow. I'm thinking this could easily be canon.
  • The mushi might be real, and he could be high out of neccessity: who knows what herbs you need to put together to make mushi-binding smoke?
    • I would have to agree with you. He seems to be successful far too often for it to simply be a drug-induced fluke. Additionally, Ginko occasionally encounters other non-smoking individuals capable of seeing Mushi as well as people who believe in the existence of Mushi even though they can't see them, so he could easily be high the whole time, but I don't think that's why he sees Mushi.

Ginko's birth name is Yoki Araragi, and mushi are apparitions.
Although Ginko's Days Are Numbered and he can't have children, he seems to be a Weirdness Magnet and has the Peek-a-Bangs just like a certain half-vampire many years later. Since both also have similar "help other people out" mentalities and deal with similar creatures, perhaps Koyomi is his great-great-great-nephew or something like that. It is concievable that mushi could be apparitions; apparitions work on Clap Your Hands If You Believe and most of the people Ginko encounters are uneducated peasants. If a person who can help them with illness tells them something, they will most likely believe it. Mushi knowledge seems to be passed down through generations so the idea of "mushi" was probably not an intentional deception but perhaps someone overhearing something from Western science such as bacteria, not understanding it, and twisting it. It also makes sense that after Japan opened to Western culture again and said misunderstandings were probably cleared up, mushi ceased to be tangible organisms and became supernatural again.
  • Several apparitions Koyomi encounters are...remarkably similar to mushi Ginko has seen or dealt with. In Onimonogatari, the "darkness" appears to be a Tokoyami, the mushi that took Ginko's eye and memories. Additionally, Tokoyami are noted to feed on other mushi. The darkness was attempting to consume Mayoi, who is also an apparition. The main difference between these two is that the darkness eats apparitions for not doing their jobs while the Tokoyami eats mushi at random. Still, that's a remarkable similarity for two unrelated works.
  • It gets better. A large white, red-eyed snake called the Kuchinawa appears in both episode 11 of Mushishi and Otorimonogatari, looking the exact same down to the name and everything. The same mushi that killed Mujika could even be the same that turned Nadeko into a god. Or did she even become a god? The Kuchinawa kills mountain masters, so it might have just made her the master of the area in which Shirahebi-kita shrine is located. Considering all the weird happenings in that location, it's not too unreasonable to assume a vein of Koki flows through the shrine.

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