I was honestly not expecting a second season from this quarter, but we have “Mushi Shi: Next Passage”. For the first season, I felt they were just tales of the weird and of these odd creatures called Mushi. It wasn’t until the second season that I saw it for what it really was: a caliber of horror. But it is done in a deliberate way, and not relying on gore and dismemberment and other bloody tropes that bedevil many horror shows. Intellectual horror? That’s a good term.
Ginko is still wandering the countryside, trying to help people in regards with their Mushi issues and always working to expand overall knowledge of them. The opening credits show a variety of Mushi. Take note, as you will be seeing most of them throughout the season. This also had something that I never thought I would see: Ginko lose! One thing that bothered me throughout the season is that Ginko seemed surprised. Look, if he has been a Mushi master for 15 to 20 years (how old is he, anyway), nothing should come as a surprise. I will let you get away with “I have never encountered this before”, as it is a big world out there, but he should never be shocked or surprised or perplexed…except the episode where he loses (Episode 17 – “Azure Waters”).
The scene above it the only genuinely humorous scene I have ever encountered in the two-season run of this show. This is when his monk friend wants to see what Ginko has in his box of many things, as it is always something special and rare, and Ginko won’t let him touch it. To see these two wrestling over the box was a very special and rare moment in an otherwise grim and disturbing series. As I mentioned, the horror is played quite well and to a fuller effect and Episode 12 (“Fragrant Darkness”) is one of the most tragic stories I have ever encountered anywhere. There is also an extended special episode, “Path of Thorns”, that you may not find in the general run of the show if you go to the usual suspects to watch it. I would track that down, as it is part and parcel of the show and brings it up to a 22 episode run.
There will not be a third season for this show, as they are planning to wrap it all up in a movie. My hope is that it is not three or four episodes loosely strung together or one tale pulled out to cover the time. The show needs a decent send-off. For me, I have a better idea: continue the show, but in modern times. I have a hard time believing that the Mushi all died out at the end of the Meiji Era (around 1912). They are still around and we still need Mushi masters. A descendant of Ginko’s carries on the tradition. Yes? No? Maybe so? Just an idea.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Standard but effective)
Plot 8 (Really great story telling)
Pacing 8 (Deliberate and measured)
Effectiveness 8 (Works better than you assume)
Conclusion 5 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 8 (Marvelous tales to tell)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. You can see the mushi?