Mushi-shi (2014) – Episodes 1-20 Review

4.5

“Simple yet mysterious. Distant ancestors unlike any plant or animal we’ve ever seen. These groups of odd creatures have induced whispers of fear among man since ancient times.”

– Ginko

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Summary:

Mushi-shi (Mushishi: Zoku-Shō; Mushi-Shi -Next Passage-follows Ginko, a Mushi-shi (or mushi master), Mushi are primitive creatures who possess supernatural powers, and the Mushi-shi are those who are capable of perceiving their presence. During his travels, Ginko meets many individuals who are cursed or blessed by the Mushi, learning about the complex relationships between Mushi and mankind.

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Review: 4.5 / 5

It is rare to experience the lightning-strikes-twice phenomenon with anime series, but there are some gems that do it with excellence, FMAB for example. Mushi-shi is another one of those chosen few that earn such praise. How is this possible? The show maintains the spirit of the original series, and does so in every element possible.

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Though released eight years later, it features the same director, studio and main cast as the original. The writers don’t try to do something different: they don’t hit us with strange tropes that don’t mesh with the integrity of the series, nor do they reach for any animation changes that would make it appear more fresh.

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So it’s great that the show stays true to its root. Whoop-dee-doo. That doesn’t matter if it’s not good to begin with, right? Thankfully, Mushi-shi is very, very good. It is the best fantasy slice of life I have ever seen, and I do not say so lightly. Every ounce of this series drips with a hushed tension, utilizing eerie animation that evokes a strange combination of both fear and fascination.

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Every frame of Mushi-shi  appears bloated with magical realism and superb authenticity. It’s aimed for a more mature audience, perhaps less because of its content and more because of how it’s presented. Devoid of the typical over-saturation so common in today’s shows, this series reaches for muted colors and sounds. Younger viewers may find this kind of storytelling boring, but for those tired of shonen noise, its resonance was striking and captivating.

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The atmosphere is one of masked stillness… a dark churning beneath calm waves. Our setting is dreamlike and purely organic: from lush forests and frosty mountains to murky swamps, the show’s mystic scenery is mesmerizing and ethereal.  This setting presents a magical landscape perfect for serving as a backdrop for our equally mysterious spirits.

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Likewise, the animation possessed such graceful fluidity

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Though lacking in both growth and development, Ginko acts as an interesting and believable protagonist. His quietness allows the audience to project their own emotions onto him and his steady nature provides a calm and supportive frame to support the series. The goal is to learn more about the Mushi, and to help people better interact with them, and this, Ginko accomplishes.

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This second series is broken into two parts of ten episodes each, interrupted by a special. The season is, indeed, episodic, meaning the plot wasn’t chronological, and none of the episodes tied together. There was no real sense of connection, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In a sense, this kind of storytelling is exactly what a slice of life series should look like. I personally loved the fact that not every episode had a “happy ending”. It was sometimes difficult, even painful to watch, but this, too, is a clear portrayal of how powerful Mushi-shi is.

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Ultimately, this series is incredible. I recommend it as a series to watch before you sleep, though you may end up on an all-night binge like I was. No regrets.

 

Watch on, Annime-niac!

Annie

 

 

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