Beings that are considered otherwordly, lowly, grotesque beings, far different than mundane animals or plants, as time passed, these deformed beings came to be known collectively, with fear and respect, as ‘Mushi’.
Watching Mushishi made me feel as I was discovering both the natural and my internal universe all from the very beginning; The series’ focus on senses such as hearing and listening (especially when one closes his eyes) was unique –as well as the main soundtrack and the background music. I was overtaken by childish joy! Along with these innumerable feelings –whose hues of sorrow, melancholy and peace I guess could only be expressed in such a diverse language as Chinese, but I do not have the knowledge needed to write the terms here- I was left with the undone desire to properly define what the effect was on my heart and mind.
Mushishi’s narrative technique is truly exceptional. I’d surely prefer to tell its stories to my children than those of the classical fairytales that belong to another time, while Mushishi, I believe, is a timeless work that does not become hard to understand.
One very important aspect of the story is that, even though we do not have an in depth character development, Ginko is much more than a two dimensional character. Through the 26 episodes, and especially to the latter part of the series, we can see him go through many different situations coming along with a different look every time –quite often with a comical, slightly chibi note. In a few words, we observe the transition from a stoic personality to one that is worried, surprised, smiles and cares.
The way the series finishes its course is truly magnificent and could scarcely become better. It connects the past, the present and the future in a peaceful and hopeful feeling.
Favorite episode: now that is a truly hard task you put me through; if you forced me to answer perhaps I’d pick the one with the rainbow, the sea of ink and the one of rebirth, but again that would perhaps be a lie, since there was not a single episode I liked less than those.
Manga: It’s amazing how the manga and the anime are so close in terms of design. They did an awesome job with the adaption. So awesome that although I enjoyed the manga and its new stories (after vol. 5), I felt something huge was missing. And that was the colours and the music that contributed to the atmosphere immensely. The voice actors played a major role as well. While reading the manga, I could hear Ginko speaking or the female narrator with the haunting and wise voice whispering to my ear. Each story was unique and there were some that they could be more honored, if they were turned anime. The final chapter had a similar aura with the the final episode of the anime, but I felt that it wasn’t as brilliant as the latter. Perhaps “The sound of footsteps on the grass” delivered a happier and less darker message in general and for the future of Ginko’s life in particular. It conveyed better the ‘life is a journey’ feeling and portrayed successfully -without being cheesy- the ups and downs of this journey.
As for the live-action movie…. that wasn’t Ginko. Fullstop.
I had little expectations from this series when we started it. The artwork seemed to me to be quite poor, especially Ginko’s design. But once I started watching Mushishi, I was more and more stunned by the awesomeness and intensity of its story.
The introduction is very poor, both in animation and musical terms. I do love though the music in the end of each episode and ever since the series ended, its music has become my everyday soundtrack. I cannot pick just one track and the only thing I believe can be better than listeing to each piece separately is to listen to the whole album from beginning to end.
I am no expert to analyze the quality of the animation, but as an average person I was stunned by the loveliness of the backgrounds and I simply cannot wait for the time that I will have the opportunity to watch the series on High Definition. I also liked the similarity in the appearance of most characters, because that “forced” me to focus more on each person’s character and actions instead of a physical characteristic.
Mushishi is probably the only series I have watched that instead of presenting its best qualities from the beginning managed to improve its storytelling from episode to episode, granting us with an epic finale. I will have to agree with Foxy Lady that I will probably prefer to tell my children the story of Ginko rather than classical fairytales.
Let’s not forget that Ginko is now my favorite male character in any anime series and OVA.
In conclusion, I consider Mushishi as my personal best anime of all time. There’s only one true weakness to the series: it only lasts for 26 episodes. We simply want more. I am sure we will re-watch this many times.
Manga: I would prefer to read it first as a whole to comment.
Do you notice how percussions are used to creep out and keep a rhythm that pushes you in trance and how wind instruments create an engulfing sensation?