Mushi-Shi — Anime Review

      Comments Off on Mushi-Shi — Anime Review

5 Stars
Superficially this series resembles Kino’s Journey. Both are collections of short stories tied together by a similar device: a lone traveler who moves from place to place, each week meeting new people who have a different story to tell. Also in both cases the story-telling is first-rate.

Yet the two series are very different in tone. Kino’s Journey is darkly satirical and focuses more on the follies of nations than the fate of individuals. Mushi-Shi is more humane and more personal. Most of the stories are poignant rather than tragic.

Another thing that distinguishes this series from most others is the superb artwork. The backgrounds in particular are amazingly beautiful.

  • Original Title
  • Genres
    Historical Fantasy, Drama, Short Stories
  • Demographic
  • Contents
    26 Episodes on 6 DVDs
  • Languages
    English, Japanese with subtitles
  • Based on
    A manga by Yuki Urushibara
  • Director
    Hiroshi Nagahama
  • Chief Animation Director
    Yoshihiko Umakoshi
  • Character Design
    Yoshihiko Umakoshi
  • Art Director
    Takeshi Waki
  • Music
    Toshio Masuda
  • Animation Studio
  • Broadcast
    Fuji TV, 2005-2006
  • Region 1 Publisher
    FUNimation Entertainment

Parental Advisory

This is not intended for children and I do not recommend it for them. I am not talking about sex or violence here. There is no sex to speak of, and little violence, although some scenes might be frightening for young children.

Children are unlikely to enjoy this series because it makes no concessions to their tastes. It is the sort of thing that you need to be an adult to appreciate.

Premise and Characters

People in SnowThe setting is Meiji Period Japan (the late Nineteenth Century.) For the first time in hundreds of years foreigners and foreign ideas are being allowed into Japan, but in the isolated rural areas where these stories take place few have encountered them and people still follow the old traditions.
Mushi DrawingsMushi are strange uncanny beings. They seem to exist partly in our world and partly in some other plane of existence [1].
Boy with MushiMost people cannot see them but humans can interact with them, and often do by accident. Such encounters usually end up badly for the humans.
GinkoGinko, the hero of the series and the only regular character, is a mysterious one-eyed man. He is a wandering Mushishi (“mushi master.”) He travels around studying and sometimes collecting mushi. His Western-style clothing is the primary hint of the time period in which these stories are set [2]. Initially we know little about him, but as the series progresses his background is gradually filled in.
Ginko with ClientsMany of the people that he meets have been harmed by their encounters with mushi, and seek his help. Since he is indeed very knowledgeable on the subject he is often able to help them.
Manako YamiSometimes he is forced to fight the mushi, but he will kill them only with great reluctance.
Ginko Reading MapsBy any reasonable definition the mushi would appear to be supernatural beings. However Ginko’s attitude toward them is strictly scientific. They are just a different type of lifeform, to be studied and cataloged (and presumably written up in papers to be read by his fellow Mushishi.) His rational scientific world view contrasts starkly with that of most of the other characters.
Contemplative GinkoMost of the problems that humans have with mushi are due to ignorance and a lack of understanding. Ginko clearly hopes that with greater knowledge humans and mushi can coexist peacefully.


Wikipedia article (spoilers.)

Anime News Network listing.


[1] This is not standard Japanese folklore. The word “mushi” normally refers to creepy-crawly things and is usually translated as “bugs.”

[2] If it were any earlier Ginko would not dare to go around dressed like that. Any later and the people he encounters would be more Westernized.