Every so often, a show comes along that captivates and attracts and “Mushi-Shi” was that for me. From the very first episode, I was involved. Yes, it had the potential of turning into the “Monster of the Week”, but it was handled with such a deft hand that it never felt like that and, more importantly, you really connected with the characters who were in need.
The overall story is about Ginko, who is a Mushi Master. Mushi are beings with supernatural powers. Some are symbiotic, some are parasitic, but all are troublesome to some degree. His job, as he wanders the Japanof the late 19th century, is to help people who are afflicted with these Mushi. What makes things worse is that regular people cannot see them. Ginko is ‘gifted’ (and whether it is a gift or a curse is for you to decide), but he cannot stay too long in any area, as he becomes a magnet for them and things really get out of control as a dangerous amount of them throw things out of balance.
He carries on his back a wooden box which has all that he needs and jars to capture a few Mushi or remnants of them. He knows Adashino, a caliber of medicine man and scholar who wants these items. Oh, don’t let his constant smoking bother you; it is done to keep the Mushi at bay.
The stories all involve heartbreak of one caliber or another and you sometimes wonder if the people would have been happier living with the Mushi. There is only one filler episode, but it is vital, as it explains Ginko’s background (although you do not initially recognize it at the time).
This is also a visually stunning show. Freed from the tropes and clichés that usually weigh down some anime shows, it is both lush and sparse at the same time. The stories unfold gracefully, deliberately, almost Greek tragedy in their construction. My only beef with the show is that it ended. All shows must conclude and you should never overstay your welcome, but this was a joy to behold. There is rarely any slam-bam approach to the conclusion of things and that helps with the story-telling aspect of it, much like being at your grandpa’s knee as he regales you with tales from his youth.
Because it is episodic, there is not a real ‘end’ to things, nor is there a true arc of stories. We merely accompany our Mushi Hunter from one tribulation to another, as he does what he can to set people on a better path.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 10 (Marvelous and moving)
Plot 9 (Involving and intriguing)
Pacing 9 (Varies from show to show and that’s good)
Effectiveness 9 (It really flows)
Conclusion 7 (More of a save point)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 9 (Do not miss)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Is there something lurking in the corner up there?