Mushishi Review

Mushishi Review
"Never take anything for granted. Even life itself."
Life is quite an interesting thing. We are born, we live, we eat, drink, jump, cry and yell, we do things. We care, we hate, we love and we die. Life is something that differentiates us from 'things' around us. But if you really look at it closely, we are just an arrangement of atoms. Just like the 'things' around us. Then what really makes us different? Or why are we different? Could the answer really be as simple as "That's just the way we are." Or maybe there's a grand purpose to it all.

Mushi-shi is an anime that revolves around these mysterious beings called 'mushi'. They are different from any other life forms around us, they are unlike any flora or fauna we've ever seen. They exist without any goals or purposes aside from simply "being." They are beyond the shackles of the words "good" and "evil." They are the most basic forms of life.

Usually, these mushi don't interact with their environment, but when they do, some really interesting phenomenon happen. Imagine if one day on a walk, you find a string hanging from the sky, or a rainbow sprouting from the earth. Yes, things like that happen when these mysterious mushi interact with things around them. But the interactions don't always turn out 'good' for the people. Like a woman who dies at the end of the day and is reborn again in the morning. Or people losing their control over themselves or slowly dissolving into nothingness. And sometimes, they end up getting into situations where their life may be in danger.
And this is where people like Ginko come in. They call themselves 'Mushi-shi', an expert on mushi and most of the time they know how to 'deal with' the mushi. This anime is the story about the adventures of one such white-haired mushi-shi named Ginko as he comes across the weird mushi-induced phenomenon and help people 'cure' those mushi-induced 'diseases.'

Mushishi Gif 1

If I were to describe Mushi-shi, it's like watching Supernatural with just Dean Winchester except that the supernatural beings are mushi and they aren't so deadly and out for blood. Also, instead of riding around in his beautiful Chevy Impala, Dean walks on foot and smokes 90% of the time. (He also dyes his hair white and pops one of his eyeballs, though I think that makes the image too graphic)
Now, if that image tells you that this is going to be quite a boring show, you wouldn't be entirely wrong. The anime is strictly episodic and follows this formula every single episode. Just like the show Supernatural, every episode begins with a person getting 'infected' by a type of mushi and then Ginko arrives or just happens to be there, he then administers a cure and then we learn a little life lesson and the end. Moreover, there is no overarching storyline. So basically, every episode is a stand alone episode and you can watch them in any order you like.

But it is in those short stories, where the magic of the show lies. Despite the same formula being followed every episode, the mushi and their effects differ vastly from episode to episode. And it is those effects that they have on the individual and how it brings out a certain aspect of human nature through those interactions, is what makes the anime beautiful.
For example, an episode where a blind girl is able to see because of a mushi. But soon she starts seeing way beyond the abilities of a human being (like through walls and hills) and soon she even starts seeing through her eyelids. Not only that, she even starts seeing the future. And it becomes really painful for her to live because she can never change the future she sees and she feels bounded by the 'light'. She then gets saved by Ginko.
Moral of the story : The dark has its own brilliance to it. The world with only light is scary. 
A world where you can see everything but you can't change anything or a world where you can't see anything but you can live freely. Which one do you think is more fortunate? Questions like that are constantly thrown at you throughout the course of 26 episodes.
Also, I find it nice that the anime places absolutely no judgements at all on the mushi. It does not say they are good or bad, instead it says "they are just beings as they are."

Throughout the course of the 26 episodes, you will come upon some very interesting and thought provoking stories. These stories will make you think and will ask you some very difficult questions. Now, every little story does not end on a happy note. So you might get fooled into believing that you can predict all that stuff about the anime. It does not dance around what the right way is or what the wrong way is or what could have been done, instead the characters do what they do because that's the way they are.
Also, every side story is consistent through and through and is very detailed in the description of the particular mushi of that episode. They even tie in some small things like the rumbling sound you hear when you cover your ears, or slight movements you see when you close your eyelids which I think is beautiful. These stories explore a vast amount of themes such as love, family, greed, hate and you will often find yourself wondering what the right choice would be in a situation.

Mushishi Gif 2
The whole anime is filled with such imaginative stories. Just wow!
The show only has one main character i.e., Ginko. You might expect some huge character development that would move you, but sadly there isn't much. Now, Ginko does gets some character development throughout the anime but we never really get to see the side of Ginko that isn't related to his work as a mushi-shi (Or if he even has one.) Everytime we see him, he is always working (Well, technically.) It's like watching a doctor who comes in, treats patients and goes away every single episode over and over again. He does what his job as a mushi-shi requires him to do but we get very little to no glimpses into who he really is. 
As for his background, most of it is unknown. The anime gives us one episode which gives us only a little insight into his past but he doesn't get that depth that I wanted to see in him. Most of the time he remains emotionless and you never get to see any intense expressions on his face or even in his voice. (It's almost as if he's high all the time)

As for the secondary characters, they get very little amount of time every episode. But they do their job well in conveying the moral message through their character and expressions and their choices. Some of them are quite memorable too.

Mushishi Gif 3
oooohhhh... creepy...
Animation wise, Mushi-shi is a work of art. Animated by Art Land studios, the animation overall is just amazing. All the backgrounds and the scenery are well done and they blend in perfectly with the tone of the anime. It is quite colorful but can also get dull and depressing at times.
Not only that, the soundtrack just creeps up at the right moment and it might even give you goosebumps sometimes. It is just beautiful and has this soft and calm feeling to it. It is worth listening to on its own.

Overall, this anime has one of the best stories I have ever come across. The abstract nature of the mushi and the phenomenon induced by them are just fascinating and even imagining something like that happening in real life excites you so much that you can't help but wish that you would get to see something like that once in your life. So, if you like chewing on ideas like that, this anime is for you.
But if you like fast paced, plot driven storylines with endings, you will be disappointed as the show is quite slow paced and monotonous. Still I would like you to watch it because it is quite an experience.

This show is like medicine, don't try to take it all at once (i.e., don't marathon it) but watch 2-3 episodes every day. This is a very laid back anime and is meant to be enjoyed in small doses.

Mushishi Rating

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