Nature knows millions of lifeforms, but none are like the Mushi, spirit-like creatures thriving on the raw life-force of the land. They are invisible to most people and are only noticed when they come into conflict with human society. Some who are able to see Mushi wander the country exploring them and their effects. They are called “Mushishi”, and this is the story of one of them named Ginko.
summary by Taleweaver
Highs: Wonderfully dream-like directing; perfect music; engrossing stories
Lows: Pacing may turn off some
Some anime boast flashy optics and a bombastic orchestral soundtrack. Others captivate the audience with intricate writing and a plot twisting enough to make Chubby Checker envious. Some combine great production values with truly grand and epic stories and impress with sheer perfection. And then there are those that do none of that and still win the day. Mushishi is one of the latter.
From the first gentle guitar sounds of its opening to its final look at Japan shrouded in the mists, Mushishi retains a wonderfully dream-like quality in its sights, sounds and stories. The directing is almost perfect; stills are only used for artistic purposes, the animation is highly detailed despite the rather simple character concepts, and the use of camera angles and light and shadow simply draws the viewer into the world of Mushi in a way you cannot escape from.
The choice of music is also perfect for the setting. The opening alone, Ally Kerr’s Sore Feet Song, is a beautiful moodsetter for the quiet and calm atmosphere of the entire series. And the scene music, even though consisting of little more than simple harmonies and nature sounds, is so enchanting and laid-back that it emphasizes the mystical qualities of the stories even further – stories, one must add, that are absolutely engrossing. Sometimes light-hearted and joyful, sometimes dark and somber, the adventures of Ginko manage to captivate one’s heart almost without conflict or struggle but almost entirely through showing the truth behind the Mushi’s behavior – and what people can do to live in peace with them. Yes, one could call Mushishi an environmentalist anime, but unlike Arjuna, it puts its message in poetic form and creates a much greater impact that way.
If there’s one thing you could hold against its series, it’s the slow pacing of the stories. There are no “action episodes” throughout its run, no wars, no fights, hardly any serious conflict. Mushishi needs this slow pace to tell its dreamy stories, but it still may turn off people who expect different things from anime. However, if you’re willing to lose yourself completely in the world offered by an animated series, this is the anime of choice for you. Engrossing stories, told masterfully by a director who did everything right and supported by a production that emphasizes mood before action – this series is a definite masterpiece.