-== What is it? ==-
Mushi-Shi is an anime TV series marketed by FUNimation. Mushi-Shi originally aired from October 2005 through June 2006. Hiroshi Nagahama is the director on the TV series. Voice actor Travis Willingham does the acting for the main character in Mushi-Shi (aka Ginko).
The series focuses on the travels of a Mushi Master known as Ginko. Mushi are ethereal spirits that are in touch with the primal forces of nature and the essence of life. Most people cannot see Mushi at all. Ginko can see Mushi and even attracts them if he stays in one place for too long. Since Mushi can be dangerous Ginko is often on the move. His uses his considerable Mushi knowledge to help people deal with Mushi that they may be encountering. Mushi-Shi is set in ancient Japan. The exact time period is not defined.
Mushi-Shi is a hard anime to classify. I think I would classify it as a drama with horror elements. The episodes are primarily episodic in nature. There is really no overarching plot in the series. Some of the memorable side characters make appearances more than once in the series but even this is kept to a dull roar. Ginko is the only character that shows up in every episode.
There is no nudity in Mushi-Shi and very little violence. Any violence in the series is performed off screen or with shadows. There are some adult themes but even these are scarce. Mushi-Shi is rated “14+” at RightStuf.com and I think that rating is actually a bit high.
I purchased the standard edition Viridian Collection version of the DVD set. Mushi-Shi is comprised of 26 episodes that cover roughly 625 minutes of content.
-== What I Like ==-
The stories are the star of Mushi-Shi. They are well paced with nice twists at just the right moments. Each episode shows an extreme attention to detail. Characters and subplots will venture into and out of an episode at precisely the correct times.
The animation in the series is fantastic. Character animations in Mushi-Shi are exquisite. Clothing is detailed yet not overstated. The field of expressions shown by the characters is kept simple. It really works for the series. As Mushi are creature of life a lot of care is taken with background, weather, and shadows. The backgrounds in the series are lush and really draw you into the world. More than once I paused the DVD on a shot of the environment. Shadows in Mushi-Shi are intricate and reflect a lot of depth. As some episodes have a horror theme there can be a lot of dark scenes. This is some top notch animation.
The music in Mushi-Shi really adds a lot of depth. The opening credit piece is lilting and haunting with a vocal feel that reminded me of Tori Amos. The end credit music different for every episode! This allows the director to convey emotion that really sticks in your mind well after viewing. The effect makes one ponder what was just watched.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
The biggest drawback to the collection are the extras. There are only extras on last DVD in the set. Here is a list of the extras in Mushi-Shi with some comments.
- Commentary On Last Episode – Instead of a commentary on the last episode this is really an interview with Travis Willingham. Although mildly interesting the commentators do not talk about the episode at all really. It is a poor implementation in my opinion. I would much rather have had them conduct a live interview for 20 minutes instead of calling it a commentary.
- Manga Page – The original artwork and manga pages are fine.
- Studio Tour – The Mushi-Shi studio tour was VERY strange. None of the employees are smiling. For some reason they are all very serious and stoic. Another strange thing is that their animation studio was in an old house that looked like a cave. I actually felt sorry for workers after watching this extra.
- Director Interview – The interview with Hiroshi Nagahama is also kinds of bizarre. The director explains that the world of Mushi-Shi is the highlight of many stories. He goes on to talk about the music. During the entire interview he never smiles! He also speaks in very soft tones. I actually felt that this interview made me NOT want to watch the show.
The extras are the only reason Mushi-Shi is not getting 10 out of 10 paws. Believe it or not I might have liked the series even more is there were NO extras at all!
-== Summary ==-
Repeat some buzz words that define this series for me. Serene. Exquisite. Touching. Enchanting. These are not common when describing media of any kind let alone anime. If you are looking for stories to feed your id then look no farther than Mushi-Shi. I cannot recommend this series enough.
You can get if for $17.93 at Amazon at this URL. RightStuf has it for sale at this URL for $17.99.
I give it 8 out of 10 paws.