Mushishi Series Anime Review

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Mosquitoes are so damn big nowadays.

The first full anime series review I do for this blog, of course, has to be Mushishi! It’s ranked as one of only two anime which I’ve given a full 10 out of 10, and my love for it is the reason why I named this anime blog after it. Whether it’s the writing, animation, music, characters or background scenery, it hits all the right spots in a cohesive way. This review will contain no spoilers; it’ll be a general one.

The anime was created in 2005 and the manga has won multiple awards. The manga itself has run for 9 years, no easy feat considering a lot of manga get cancelled just one week in. So what makes it so special? Well, the anime is classified as Seinen, and it deals with the Supernatural at a Slice-of-life pace with a sprinkling of Horror throughout. It’s an extremely unique blend that is well executed by the animators. Despite the mature content, after each episode, the viewer is left with a calming, peaceful and relaxed wonderment of the world. The premise and storyline is creative and the characters make you really feel for them.

So, what is Mushishi?

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Yup, we’re a big fuck you to Mother Nature.

A Mushishi is a teacher of Mushi. When we deconstruct the word Mushishi, 蟲師, the first word is Mushi, while the second is teacher. The word Mushi itself consists of three of the same characters- 虫 – which means bug. With three of them, it translates to many insects. It is an older form of writing, similar to how teacher is written in an older way.

This gels perfectly with the world of Mushishi, which is set in an older Japan, where yukatas were still everyday wear, and western clothes were not introduced yet. Throughout the anime, we see that Mushi usually all hang out together and it’s rare to see them just on their own.

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Is that my forearm or the end of my digestive system?

This attention to detail in even the title is reflective of the whole series, where Ginko, the main character with the white hair above, is our resident Mushishi who travels around the whole of Japan investigating and solving cases to deal with Mushi. Each episode, we are introduced to a new case, and we learn more about different types of Mushi and Ginko himself.

The calming music coupled with the slightly creepy atmosphere means the anime should preferably be watched at night, or in a dark room, when it’s raining and you’re just about to go to sleep. Don’t worry though, there are no shock scares, and each episode’s end will make you feel relaxed. It was one of the first few anime I watched when I started getting interested in Horror, and even then, it didn’t scare me.

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Of course, if they were literally in there, our Mushishi would be dead.

What Mushishi excels at is story-telling. There is a live drama version of it out, but frankly, I don’t plan to watch it. The supernatural elements in the story make it so that I imagine the scenes would be hard to do if it were done in a medium other than animation. Sure, animators can do CG with real actors, but… I think it would still look a bit weird. I’ve taken a look at a few stills of the film, and it does look a bit odd. Plus, it misses the dark atmosphere in the anime, which contrasts perfectly with the beautiful greenery.

And really, a film is too short for Mushishi, whose main draw is in the stories it weaves over multiple hours. Most stories seem to be rooted in Japanese Shintoism, though there are some tales which span cultures. It not only entertains, but also educates, and in this era, learning more information about each reference presented is just a click away.

Ah, if I had a Mushi that can grant wishes, one of the things I would ask for is to make me forget about watching Mushishi, so I can watch it all over again for the first time. Even on repeated viewings, the anime has still managed to captivate me and I’m tempted to rewatch everything again after this review. There is a dub version out as well, given how popular it was, and I’ve watched a few episodes in dub. I’m glad to say that the dub lives up to the original spirit of the anime.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed my first ever review of a full series anime and I do hope you give Mushishi a try!

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4 responses to “Mushishi Series Anime Review”

  1. Artemis says :

    I agree – Mushishi is a fantastic series, probaby the closest thing to perfection that it’s possible for an anime series to be. The live-action film, surprisingly, isn’t terrible, although nothing could match the atmosphere that the anime manages to exude.
    Out of curiosity, what was the other anime title you gave a full 10 out of 10 to?

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