Mushi-shi is the story of nature. The tone of this 26 episode anime series is very quiet and somber, balancing on the edge of being a ghost story. I don’t go out of my way to recommend this anime to people because it feels like a show that is either a big hit or a big miss. But if someone ever asked for a calming/soothing anime this would be the first one that pops to mind. It follows the journey of a “mushi shi”, or “mushi master” named Ginko, as he travels around and helps people who are having problems with mushi. Each episode pretty much stands alone, however I would still suggest watching in chronological order as the character is revealed and develops from episode to episode.
There are no giant robot battles, and no teenage boys nervous about aggressive girls. The tone is slow and purposeful. It never feels like the story is dragging, though. However, those with a short fuse of patience should just still with an anime with guns and explosions because you will probably be bored to tears. The people Ginko meets have their own tale to tell, whether it be a man obsessed with rainbows, a boy who’s gained a new sense of hearing, or a girl thought to be a living god. Each episode is memorable due to the characters who compose it, and the series ends up being endlessly interesting due to the inventiveness and versatility of the cast involved. The bottom line is that this show did not only live up to all the positive reviews I had heard, but it completely exceeded them.
There is nothing else in the anime world, besides perhaps Miyazaki, that approaches the level of surrealism, creativity and beauty portrayed in this series. The individual episodes range from lighthearted to downright creepy, but always I am left feeling a sense of satisfaction and wonder when the episode is through. Also, the stories and art within this series are expressions of anime as an art form, taken to a new gold standard. I wasn’t able to figure out a time frame – the series seems to favor a mostly primitive technology, with scrolls rather than books, no electricity, so I am left scratching my head in that aspect.
To add to the confusion, the approach is from a mythological point of view. Although the main character is dressed in modern clothing, all the other characters are dressed in traditional Japanese clothing. Unfortunately, all the female, and most of the male, characters have the same countenance. It did not pose a problem for the first two disks, but by the time I got to the third, there was a “not again” feeling when the faces of a new episode appeared on the scene. But, like I’ve stated before, each episode is virtually stand alone, so there are no major arcs.
This anime has become my favorite anime of all time, and I’ve seen a lot of animes. The story is episodic, which I normally dislike however it works to the advantage of this series because with every episode the characters that are introduced are well-thought and deep with a powerful past. However, not much is said about our two main characters, and as a result I never really felt for them or became connected to anyone either. It is only these small nit-picks that keep this series from recieving a perfect grade. Still I must give it credit for being so different and unique. If you’re looking for something quiet, serene, and even more quiet, then look into Mushi-Shi.