4 December 2009 | jpb58
The Thinking Person's Japanese Anime
Mushi-Shi (2005) from Japan is a brilliantly written and thought-provoking anime series, with lots of surprises in store for you if you are patient and open minded.
With Mushi-Shi you will refreshingly NOT see your typical anime cutesy big-eyed girls having crushes on boys, shallow harem sex stories that get old fast, or violent, senseless samurai blood letting. Mushi-Shi is in a class by itself, a gentle show with class and poignancy. As the teachers used to tell us in school, "You will need your thinking caps for this one."
At first you think you are watching a series about a life force called "mushi", and a traveling man named Ginko who is studying them, but the episodes all have moral tales to teach that transcend the outline of the basic stories. Most episodes are really about the relationships between human beings. The mushi are really incidental and act as catalysts to the dynamics of personal relationships.
For instance, in the incredible "A String from the Sky" episode the story isn't really about the mushi string that captures the girl, flinging her into the sky; the real lesson being taught is the essential trust that has to exist between a man and woman who claim to love each other. The relationship will not survive without that trust. In "One Night Bridge" the episode really isn't about a mushi bridge that appears once every twenty years; rather the story is about a love so powerful between a young girl and boy that even the experience of death cannot truly break the devotion of their relationship.
There are also surprising touches of humor in the stories and the main character of Ginko, both of which help bring some levity to serious situations taking place in most of the episodes.
I watched in both Japanese with English subtitles and then all over again in the English dub, and I ended up liking both equally. Also special mention should go to the beautiful music soundtrack, which was perfect for the series. If only all anime were of such superb quality! Each episode is basically a stand alone segment, with different characters interacting with Ginko, who is the traveling "Mushi Master" out to help them, if he can, extricate themselves from the mushi's influences.
I rented the series from Netflix. Although the rating there is TV-14 I disagree with this completely. There is nothing in Mushi-Shi that children ten years of age or older couldn't watch. No sex, hardly any violence, the language is clean except for a "damn" once in a blue moon. Compared to most other anime out there Mushi-Shi is very clean.
I have watched my share of anime series by now, but I could easily throw all the others out after watching Mushi-Shi. It's that phenomenal. It deserves its high rating on the IMDb. It is intelligent and boasts beautiful animation. Don't miss this wonderful series!