Friday, December 14, 2012

Mushi-Shi


I've always wanted to get into anime, but for some reason it has always eluded me. The artistic medium has an unbelievable draw on me that I've never really been able to follow enough to start watching a regular series ( I came close with Ghost Hound, though it mysteriously vanished from Netflix)--but at last, I've found one and it comes in the form of a quiet anime known as Mushi-Shi.

An adaptation of a successful manga series (which I know nothing about), Mushi-Shi explores a unique world where invisible creatures known as "Mushi" live within our eco-system. They play a integral part of some of the phenomena we witness but can't seem to find immediate explanations for. Sometimes, however, these little bugs get a bit out of hand--causing a wide array of unwanted results, from minor nuisances to people simply vanishing into other realms. This is where the main character, Ginko, comes in.

A "Mushi Master", Ginko travels long distances, smoking his small cigars and carrying around his wooden backpack--stocked with a whole number of different remedies and tools for dealing with the Mushi. Unable to stay in one place for too long (you'll have to watch the show to find out why), Ginko meets an assortment of different people and situations. As a result, there are very few overarching stories and returning characters between episodes--save the few that deal with Ginko's back-story and one or two other notable characters. Ginko is very likable and has just the right amount of mystery to him. Even after you learn some of his secrets, you still feel like there's a great deal more to the man. And even though he comes across as a wise sage, he has a strong sense of youth. You end up developing a great deal of trust that he can always find the answer to the problem. And when he does find the solution, it rarely feels predictable and almost never feels as if the writers just pulled a Dues Ex Machina on you. There are even a few things that Ginko is unable to resolve, granting a very heavy sense of realism that is sometimes needed in a fantasy world.

Though the story is very enjoyable and immersive, the presentation of the show is one of its most appealing aspects. Everything from the artistic style, to the exotic sounding music, truly creates another world. In fact, the music is one of the most intriguing things about this show. Musical themes become a standard accompaniment to various situations and always come across as authentic--and there's a pleasant diversity to the music that is used, ranging from the acoustic singer-songwriter opening, to the hair-raising metal bells played when the mystery begins to unravel itself.

Unfortunately there's only one season to this show. There is however an entire manga series and even a live-action film adaptation in Japan--which I haven't seen. But the episodes in this season each feel unique. They're short, so you could watch 2 or even 3 in one sitting and get a nice variety of plots. And though a few of the episodes center around children being in jeopardy from the troublesome Mushi, you can expect some very intriguing and refreshing storylines. You'll meet a boy whose drawings come to life and is compelled to stay at his home alone by a strange force haunting the cabin. There's the girl whose voice seems to cause a strange plague of rust to wash over an entire town. And even a man who's compelled to chase after every rainbow he sees in the hopes that he can catch it.

It's a calm and quiet anime which is very suiting for watching late at night--highly recommended. And if you want more to the universe, there's the manga series, which is something I'll probably be writing about in the near future.
-ej


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