Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mushi-shi: A Beautiful, Contemplative Anime Series

Mushi-shi is an anime series about a man named Ginko who travels the countryside to learn more about mushi, creatures that are neither animals nor plants that are invisible to most people. Ginko can see mushi and has studied them, so he can help those people whose lives have been affected by mushi. Ginko is a mushi-shi, part biologist and part doctor, who helps people learn to live in balance with mushi, curing the illnesses and other phenomena that mushi can cause when they come in conflict with humans.

Mushi-shi features gorgeous landscapes

Simply put, Mushi-shi may be my favorite anime series. It is hard to compare it to most other anime series, though, because Mushi-shi has a unique tone. Rather than featuring the action, drama, and/or hi-jinks of most anime series I am familiar with, Mushi-shi has a contemplative tone. The stories are episodic, with Ginko entering a region and learning about the people and mushi there. Sometimes Ginko is able to cure someone of a mushi-related ailment, but sometimes all he can do is to help people learn to live with mushi as best they can.

The episodes play out slowly, with time to learn the characters and see glimpses of their daily lives. The character designs are simple but effective, able to convey subtle emotions with only a few lines. The animation is very well done, and the characters have natural movements and body language. One of the aspects of the animation that makes Mushi-shi stand out is the beauty of its natural landscapes. Long shots of forests and mountains help set the quiet, somber tone of the show.

I highly recommend Mushi-shi. MLW got me into it, and of all the things she has introduced me to, Mushi-shi may be the one I am most grateful for. You can see the original series on Hulu, and there is now a second series that MLW and I have started watching.

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