When I think of a reason as to why I didn’t know this series until two years ago, it was probably because around the time this was aired I was very much into mainstream shounen. Shows like this didn’t really catch my eye, which is ironic because it’s exactly this kind of shows that I like to watch now. I would definitely give myself a smack on the head if ever I could go back in time.
Ever since I learned of this series, I’ve always been meaning to watch it but never got around my lazy ass to do it. However, this summer has nothing but a bore so I decided to pass time by watching it. Once I started it, it was easy to breeze through all the episodes in a matter of few days.
In Mushishi, we follow a traveler named Ginko who journeys across the lands to gain more knowledge about mushi or help those affected by these lifeforms. There is no concrete answer as to why these things exist, but they can affect people, animal, and their surroundings. The impact they can do can range from illnesses to paranormal events. Mushishi are those specialists in the supernatural. They study them and find ways in dealing with them had it affected someone in harmful way; and this is what Ginko does.
Before I watched this series, I barely knew anything about it so I didn’t think that it was going to be an episodic anime. This would mean that every episode has a new mushi problem that Ginko has to deal with. Albeit a series with no climax, each of the stories was not redundant. One would suspect this fiction would always have the main character to save the day, but it wasn’t at all like that for all the episodes. Yes, there were instances that Ginko was able to know the nature of a mushi and solve the looming problem, but even if he did, not everyone can be satisfied in the end. It was realistic in the way that not all have happy endings thereby giving the episodes ending with a good note more pleasing. What I also liked about the plots was that they were very engaging; it made me think about the underlying emotional effects of the problem. It is interesting to watch how the characters dealt with the situation. As I watched, I would think, “Ah. I can see people acting like that.”, “I’ve seen people act similarly.” or “If this happened to me or to a loved one, I would do [this] or [that].” I like stories that make me think. You can say it was written in a way that could also potentially lead to a philosophical conversation.
Even though there were one-two recurring characters in the series, the main characters for that episode were realistic and written well. That being said, I assumed character development with Ginko in the same way the supporting characters did, but that was very lacking. There weren’t enough scenes to allow us to see what he felt about his line of work or how he emotionally dealt with the problems he needed to solve. I believe that’s what makes a viewer gets attached, if not more attached, to a character and his story. There was only one episode to unveil his past, but that barely scraped anything about him at all. We weren’t given much of how he came to be a mushishi either.
The art was pretty good although there are scenes that make it look “lazy.” There were not a lot of character designs that stood out, and most of them were “recycled.” This is not to say that it’s bad, but for anime watchers, we just got so used to seeing bizarre color and designs to make us realize, “Oh, that character will definitely play a bigger role in this episode.” On the other hand, the animation was smooth and fluid, and that is something I look in an anime. Sometimes I think how animation, though much more technical nowadays, lacks the life animators had back then. Regards to the soundtrack, the opening theme was suitable the aura of the series. Similarly, the eerie background sound effects were appropriate when needed. There were some SFXs that really makes me think back at how this show really is an early 2000s anime. It’s either that or they knew how to match the historical setting to the “old” sounds. Apart from that, I loved the ending themes since the instrumentals were full of feelings that reflected the story and setting of each episode. As for the VA cast, it took a while to get a hang of Ginko’s seiyuu, but I got used to it. The more I think about it, the more I find it ironic that his monotonous voice matched his dry personality. Likewise, the selected other seiyuu cast per episode fit the characters they voiced.
If you are looking for a series with stimulating content and a decent amount amount of drama, this is a recommended show. A few shows that is similar to this is that you may have watched: Jigoku Shoujo, Natsume Yuujinchou, and xxxHOLIC.
Sound/VA cast: 4/5