There are mysterious creatures that are not quite living, yet not completely non-existent. They worm their way into human souls and influence them; they are called mushi and are a source of fascination and fear for people. The mushi-shi study these creatures and are able to help those who have fallen under the mushi‘s influence. Mushi-shi follows Ginko, a mushi-shi with one eye and white hair, who goes around helping people.
That’s pretty much the whole plot. The series basically consists of stand-alone episodes where Ginko helps a new individual or group. There is no real driving goal: Ginko has no greater motivation–he’s not out to get his eye back or anything like that. The guy’s actually pretty chill with his wanderer’s existence and is most interested in investigating mushi and helping folks out. This episodic nature is fairly uncommon for anime–where there is usually some greater goal or personal motivation driving the series–yet this episodic nature is effective for the series. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting into when I started this series, but ultimately I found it charming and relaxing to watch.
I was ultimately charmed by the art for the series and Ginko’s characterization. The scenic artwork is absolutely gorgeous. Here’s an example since I don’t think any words I can provide will do it justice:
Ginko is an intriguing, if ambiguous character. From an artistic l standpoint, I like the way he’s drawn, and think that the creators did a good job of establishing his presence in the series. His personality is mellow, and his reactions are minimalist.
He is the perfect example of the chill, courteous, and helpful guy, but it’s hard to get into his head. The series does provide some explanation for the way he is, but generally the focus is on Ginko’s work and actions in the present. Given his history, that works very well. Usually I can decisively provide a reason for liking an anime character (i.e. h/she is funny or has mad fighting skills or can throw refrigerators). Ginko was trickier. Part of that might be because his characterization is not a typical one in the world of anime. Some of the time I wanted more of a reaction out of him, but, at the same time, I liked that he stayed consistently mellow throughout the series. I also liked that the producers did not try to turn his mildness into some sort of comedic gag. Ultimately, I do think he’s a pretty cool guy because of his chill nature and willingness to help.
If I sound lukewarm about the series, that is not at all the case. I loved the series, but it is difficult to convey that for such an unusual series. I found it both relaxing to watch–perhaps because of its slow, mellow nature–but also extremely intriguing. Things are brought up subtly, and it is thought-provoking. Mushi-shi has a lot of potential re-watchability, in my opinion. I think that it is one of those series that grows on you. I did watch an episode out-of-order before watching the whole series, and I will say that I definitely loved the series once I had watched it all the way through. If you’re thinking about watching it, try to get about halfway through before you call it quits.
My final verdict: Check it out, particularly if you’re looking for something a bit different and maybe more low key.
That’s it for the anime reviews for this year. I’m planning to start writing more anime reviews next year (can I call this a New Year’s resolution?), so look for them!