Mushi-shi, DVD 1

aka 蟲師; based on a manga series released in the US by Del Rey, though I haven’t read it. I rented this because it had a lot of hype and sounded interesting. It follows the travels of Ginko, who is the Mushi-shi (Mushi master/expert) of the title. Mushi are some sort of primal being, neither plant nor animal, neither alive nor dead. They can be any size, and the larger/stronger ones can appear human. They occasionally inhabit people or objects and can cause problems, which is where Ginko comes in; he seems to wander, following rumors of incidents that could be caused by mushi, and trying to help the people involved. He does occasionally take relics of the mushi, which he sells to a collector.

I didn’t like this as much as I expected; it had glowing reviews everywhere, it is the sort of thing that I like (someone wandering around looking for weirdness), and the art is gorgeous. I didn’t dislike it and am planning on continuing to watch it, though. I watched some of it dubbed and some in the original, and found them both listenable; I don’t remember anything about the music (except for wondering why such a Japanese series had an English-language opening). It is extremely episodic and I’m not sure if there’s ever any sort of overall plot; there was one reference to previous episodes in these five (selling to the collector in the fifth episode). Ginko doesn’t have much of a personality, there don’t seem to be any recurring characters so far, and I didn’t really care about any of the episode characters except the girl in the fifth episode. I think the lack of any sort of plot beyond mushi-of-the-week plus the lack of any interesting characters (except the girl) caused my neutral feelings towards this series so far; I adored the fifth episode (I was interested in the episode characters, and Ginko showed a little bit of emotions/personality), but didn’t have strong feelings towards the others. Out of these five episodes, one ended happily, one ended tragically, two ended successfully, and the other was ambiguous (nominally successful, but the very end made me wonder about the future of the people involved).

—The Episodes—

I rented this, but returned it, and didn’t really care enough about the episodes to want to write more about them.

  1. The Green Seat
    Ginko investigates rumors of a boy who can create life from drawings and writing.
  2. The Light of the Eyelid
    A girl from a noble family becomes excessively sensitive to light and lives in the storehouse of a less-than-noble family due to worry that it is a disease.
  3. Tender Horns
    People in a village lose their hearing in the winter; one boy loses more than that.
  4. The Pillow Pathway
    A man has prophetic dreams; Ginko gives him medicine but doesn’t really explain why the man needs to take it.
  5. The Travelling Swamp
    While traveling through the mountains, Ginko repeatedly encounters a swamp and a green-haired girl. (migratory swamp!)
  6. official English site at Funimation
    listing at ANN

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