Review: Mushishi – Sublime Storytelling (Anime Review)


Rarely do you come across an anime that is as original and well executed as Mushishi. It really does showcase just how wonderful and unique anime can be. For those of you who do not like to read more than two sentences: Mushishi is one of the best anime that I have watched, ever! Just a note, I am reviewing all Mushishi works, including the recent seasons of Mushishi – Zoku Shou. So let me get started.

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Basic Background

The award-winning Mushishi, written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara, was adapted into a television anime series by the studio Artland. Apart from Mushishi, they did: Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Katekyō Hitman REBORN!, Gunslinger Girl -II Teatrino and Tytania to name a few. If that’s not enough to vouch for their credibility, they also assisted other studios with their anime, such as: Pokémon, Lupin III, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, Gungrave and Darker than Black.

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A normal day for Ginko: Meet someone new, do some deductive reasoning and then rest

The Plot

The story of Mushishi is about the travels of Ginko, a mushishi dedicated to help people who have problems with supernatural creatures called mushi. Basically, mushishi can be considered as naturalists who study mushi and then use their knowledge to help people. Ginko seems to have a natural talent when it comes to dealing with mushi, together with his intellect and deductive skills. As a scientist myself, I did find this aspect very appealing. But apart from that, mushi are able to create strange phenomenon and many times they can have severe consequences for the people who come into contact with them. Ginko, while on his travels to prevent mushi gathering around him, helps out where he can. In the end, every encounter he has with people and mushi is a unique story in itself, with only Ginko and mushi featuring throughout the entire anime. There is no overarching or underlying plot, but rather a collective of short stories where each one is told in an episode. It allows for a low of freedom to branch out and explore weird and interesting topics, especially since the way they let the story tell itself is done to perfection. To me, it was as if I was sitting next to an elderly person who was telling me stories of a distant past he/she had experienced.

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As it is in nature, there are many different types of mushi

The Review

Because of the episodic nature of this anime, there is only one real main character, Ginko. There are a few recurring characters who seem to be important in the story, most notably his doctor friend, Adashino. Every episode has a few characters that present around which the story of the episode is focused, but there is very little character development because of the way the story of mushishi works. However, when you view it from the perspective of someone telling you the story of their travels during their life, it makes sense. I mean, have you ever heard your grandparent or elderly person tell you a short-story where there was any actual character development? NO, you have not. There is no time for any of that. The goal and meaning behind the story has little to do with the characters. The events and the consequences of those events that take place carry the importance within the story, the characters are there to add meaning to the story because you to identify and sympathize with them. But nonetheless, the way that they do this is simply sublime. You really do feel like you are sitting with an older Ginko and listening to him telling you the stories from his many travels as a mushishi. I simply loved it!

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Did I mention Ginko only has one eye? The story behind it is really good!

Moving on to the art of this anime. The anime looks beautiful with a lot of colour, especially green! There is so much green in here, you might get lost! The character models are fairly simple and similar between one another. I personally don’t see any problem with this because of the way the stories are told in each episode, you don’t need to remember how they looked but rather what actually happened. Therefore, I feel that they can get a away with little character differentiation. Now because this anime is predominantly dialogue driven with little action (there are some by the way), there is little that can be said about any action, but the dialogue is well written and interesting. Then, no anime would be complete without some fitting music and sound effects.  The general music they use to create ambience within the anime is simply sublime, you can feel the ambience and atmosphere of the world. Then there is the music they used for the intro, beautiful and very catchy. You will immediately think about Mushishi when you hear the music. It is the most beautiful music for anime openings I have heard and it suits the anime well.

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The beautiful scenery in Mushishi. More are displayed at the end of this review.

The Wrap-up

Before I get too carried away, Mushishi is a stunning anime with an especially unique concept. Additionally the stand alone episodes give you the freedom to leisurely view them when you have the time. Every episode brings an interesting story that is brought to live through beautiful animation and dialogue. To be honest, this anime is difficult to describe because there is not much to compare it to, but in my opinion it is one of the best anime I have seen to date! I have been hooked by the simplistic, yet complex world of Mushishi. The mushi have pulled me into their strange, yet beautiful world, and I have no intention of trying to escape. Do go and check it out for yourself, even if you love the action heavy anime, you will not be disappointed by the sheer beauty and intriguing concepts on offer by Mushishi.

Here is more of that artwork:

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Image credits: Artland

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