Mushishi Zoku Shou Review: a Japanese Masterpiece

10/10

I have forgotten now how I came to watch Mushishi Zoku Shou. But whatever that reason is, I surely don’t regret it.

It may be appalling at first how it may seem slow-paced or even stagnant. Looking closely, we’ll realize that it is this stillness and calm that give Mushishi its distinction, making it worthy to be called a masterpiece.

After all the action and drama that anime can flaunt, Mushishi gives us a refreshing retreat, a break from the hustle and bustle of trite anime antics, and presents to us its own brand of action and drama enveloped in its unique and perhaps unpredictable storytelling.

Mushishi 1

We follow Ginko, the main character, in his travels across Japan where he meets people affected by mushi, strange, ethereal creatures that coexist silently with every other living being. Interacting with different mushi even unknowingly has its implications and Ginko, as a mushishi, offers his help to those troubled by mushi to the best of his ability. The setting itself offers a horizon of opportunities. It is a captivating feat that each episode can be the darkest of tales reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe (Fragrant Darkness, Lingering Crimson) or even the most lighthearted of stories (Banquet at the Forest’s Edge). The story fills out every edge of possibility and leaves room for even more.

The slow movement and breathtaking scenery are what absorb you and even more so when its superb musical arrangements come in to accompany it. Its masterful direction bring out the best of each scene – the deep-rooted characters, the intense emotions, the over-all mood (you’d have to take a closer look to see this). Mushishi couldn’t ask for a better production.

The whole experience takes you to a time when man and nature treated each other with respect and lived together in peace and harmony. With each episode told in a way that closely resembles the fable of Aesop and the parables of Jesus coupled with its magnificent art direction, Mushishi gives us an experience evocative of the ways of Shinto and Zen embedded in classical Japanese culture.

And yet, Mushishi never tries to be grandiose and flamboyant in its ways. Its simplicity is its most favorable trait and it is in there that you will find its grandeur. “Mabaw nga kalipay” (“simple pleasure”) is what we’d call it in Cebuano. It is not laden with complications and twists but that makes it all the more entertaining.

Among the anime series I’m watching this season, Mushishi Zoku Shou stands out the most and is easily one of my favorites in my limited repertoire. I would very much recommend the series to anyone and everyone, especially to those with an open mind.

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