The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Mushishi
Company: Artland
Genre: Drama
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 22 Oct 2005 – 11 Mar 2006 and 14 May 2006 – Jun 18 2006

Synopsis: Unlike any other form of life, Mushi exist in a type of ecto-plasmic state. While most Mushi are harmless, occasionally they cause problems for humans and animals. When this happens, it is up to Mushishi, those who study and combat Mushi, to deal with the problem. Ginko is a Mushishi, traveling the land to help people with their Mushi troubles, but never staying in one place for too long because Mushi are attracted to his presence.

The Highlights
Music: Subtle and unobtrusive, yet powerful.
Artwork: Fantastic; completely engrossing.
Writing: Varies in quality, but is generally top notch.
Character Designs Too similar to each other.

As I write this, animation quality in anime has never been better. Titles like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children(1,2) have redefined what is possible for animation quality, and stylistically there has never been more variation in anime than there is now. The flipside to this surge in animation quality is that anime writing has generally declined, as studios use visual appeal to sell their titles. Thankfully there are still great writers out there who, when combining their efforts with the quality of modern animation have created anime on a level that was not possible years ago. Mushishi is one such anime.

The atmosphere and mood that Mushishi creates has a powerful effect on its storytelling. When the ambiance is so engrossing that during the winter episodes you find yourself shivering alongside the characters, it adds a level of personal involvement to the stories. This could not happen without the amazing scenery produced by Green, who also did backgrounds for Haibane Renmei(1,2) and Ergo Proxy. Nor could it have happened without Masuda Toshio‘s genius musical score, which blends so seamlessly that you rarely realize it is there, yet manages to have such a profound effect on the listener. It is unfortunate that with the beautiful and lush backgrounds, the character designs are quite ordinary. Everybody looks the same except for Ginko, and it is never explained why his clothes look so much more modern than everyone else’s, among other things.

It would not have mattered how well the aesthetics draw one in if the stories were not worth being drawn into. Mushishi is not lacking in its storytelling, and there are plenty of stories that Rod Serling himself would have been proud to have written. Not every story is superb, but the majority of them are, and there are no duds to be found. One may wonder how Mushi came to be, and why the world is the way it is, but that wasn’t the point in Kino’s Journey and it sure isn’t the point in Mushishi.

The quiet and calm nature of Mushishi may be its greatest strength, but is also its greatest stumbling block in attracting viewers. In a day and age where flippant fanservice, bouncing boobs, and monstrous mecha dominate the sales charts, it is easy to overlook more subtle anime that are far more powerful than any show that uses the aforementioned clichés. Mushishi is a unique experience, and it is my hope that you will watch it and other shows like it that remind us of what originally made film so great.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Kuma

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