Every once in a while, I go through the vast realms of the internet and I try to look for some anime. I’m pretty picky, and I tend to stray away from mainstream titles. There is however, one title that I had repeatedly encountered, but never dared to watch. It is praised rather highly, but after taking a peek at a synopsis of it, I didn’t understand the hype behind it, so I just put in on my ‘plan to watch’ list for a while.
It was not until a few weeks ago that I decided to watch this, and, well, looking back at it now, I wish that I would have done so sooner. Here is, Mushi-shi.
Mushi-shi is an adaptation of a manga series with the same name. The manga spans ten volumes, with fifty chapters. The anime has twenty-six episodes in total, and covers up to the seventh volume of the manga. Something to note here is that, the anime adapted the manga very accurately (I mean, even the angle of the shots are the same) I don’t know if that’s rare or not, because I’m not much of a manga reader, but after taking a peek at the Mushi-shi manga after having finished the anime, it was kinda nice to know that I didn’t miss out on a lot.
Genre/s: Adventure, Supernatural, Fantasy
In the series, the most basic form of life is known as ‘Mushi’. They exist at the grid of Yin and Yang, good and evil, right and wrong. They live and exist with no notable cause, but nonetheless, they live. They are tied to everything in this world, co-existing with nature. animals, and humans alike. People who deal with these beings are known as Mushi-shi. The story follows the tale of a travelling Mushi-shi named Ginko, as he goes from one place to another, all the while helping people who have encountered a Mushi.
Mushi-shi basically follows an episodic format, with each episode presenting a new case with at least one new Mushi. Now, this may sound rather bland and uninteresting, especially to those who dislike such a format, due to the possible lack of character background and/or development. That said, this series is neither bland nor is it uninteresting. I guess I can attribute most of the credit for that to our main character.
Yes, Ginko (in my opinion) is what made Mushi-shi so enjoyable to watch. He’s serious when the scene calls for it, yet he also has his share of comedic and, for the most part, considerate. I also like the fact that he’s knowledgeable, but not so much that he becomes a deus ex machina. Yes, he does fail, and more often than not, which really is a good quality for a main character.
Aside from Ginko, no character stays for more than one episode (well, there is the Doctor he frequents, but aside from him,, there’s no one else) but, I do want to commend how the interactions between Ginko and the people he encounters are really well played out. Ginko and the others do not become ‘transparent’ once the main focus shifts to the Mushi, rather, they are very much involved and present.
Despite being episodic, we do get some background on our main character here. The series is paced rather well, giving bits and pieces of Ginko’s past, before revealing it in one go. I mean, it can only take one episode to at least peer into a character’s past, dunno why some titles failed at that. Nevertheless, Mushi-shi succeeded in this department as well.
Another thing that I like about this series is the concept of life they presented. I was rather moved by Nui’s line: ‘Everything is only as it is.’, and in the world of Mushi-shi, that’s the most basic rule. No one is to blame if it’s only by nature that they do a certain thing. Ginko shows this by being a Mushi-shi that deals with Mushi in the gentlest way possible. He respects life, be it above or below him, which is something we should look up to as well.
If I were to name something that some may view as negative about this is the rather open ending it gives. The series sends us off with a slightly deeper and more character centered episode. Personally it was okay for me. I mean, there’s really no better way they could have ended it. It also mirrors as a message from the theme of Mushi-shi, as in ‘Life goes on’. The last episode was just another day for Ginko, and he is certainly not finished with his journey with that. So in a way, I think they did what they were supposed to do here, and it came out awesome.
Let me add a rather minor personal problem I had watching this. I do agree that each episode presents itself different from the others, but, it was kinda hard for me to watch more than two to three episodes at a time. So despite for my new found love for this series, the substance of each episode was too much for me too handle back-to-back. I once tried watching five episodes in one sitting, and the dialogue just flew over my head. Don’t get me wrong though, the dialogue is well written, its just that the weight of the episode stays with you for a while (or maybe that’s just me)
All in all, I now believe that Mushi-shi truly deserves the praise it has been given. It was a nice, enjoyable, and surprisingly relaxing series (though took me like a week and a half to actually finish it) Philosophical aspects, real life morals, and a supernatural twist to life itself, this show is really one of a kind.