On Mushishi

It took me a year, but I finally finished Mushishi. A year, because I hit a major stumbling block in the form of episode 4, which all but left me a depressed wreck after viewing it. In hindsight, I’ve probably overreacted about it, but still, OUCH. Many months later, I decided to skip to episode 20 (Tanyuu) to see the hopeful aspect of the show. It did not disappoint.

Mushi stream

Mushishi is very unique, in the sense that it’s one of the simplest shows I’ve seen, but can be enjoyed in many layers.

dm said:

Ten or fifteen years from now, when someone asks you to show them an anime, you’ll show them Mushishi completely without embarassment, and they’ll be able to appreciate the art and beauty of it (they might not enjoy it, but they’ll see its worth).

One thing I noticed about every episode is that there’s always at least one person who’s scarred. Physically, mentally, emotionally, it doesn’t matter–Even Ginko himself is no exception. The sense of loss is prevalent throughout the show. The only real question is how the characters cope up with it. Sometimes they succumb, sometimes they struggle. Mushishi flatters nothing, not even humanity. It is what makes it special.

Tanyuu love club

While Mushi have a knack for inflicting grief on poor humans, Ginko maintains that Mushi are just trying to live as much as we are, too. This is what sets Ginko apart from other Mushishi. Instead of outright exterminating the problematic Mushi, Ginko takes a roundabout path. He wants to cure people of their Mushi problems, but tries hard not to harm the Mushi themselves more than he needs to. The results are not always favorable. Sometimes he manages to save only one side. Sometimes he saves no one, because the person is beyond help, or the cure is worse than the illness itself. This kind of variation kept me from getting bored with the show, because the outcome isn’t always a happy one, but there were enough bittersweet endings to make me grin like a stupid fanboy by the end.

I ship this

Another intriguing aspect of Ginko is that he’s always on the move, walking throughout the lands. (Small wonder the OP is called The Sore Feet Song.)  In the world of Mushishi, the villages are separated by vast mountains, forests and seas. It’s a dangerous world out there, and Ginko travels with a certainty that he’d probably fall into a hole somewhere and die, or get eaten by dangerous Mushi. Just the very act of returning to visit his numerous patients in a few months or so is astounding, considering that Ginko merely walks to get around places, supplemented by the occasional boat ride. That’s some serious dedication.


The only problem I have with the show is its weight. I can never watch more than three episodes in one sitting, and by the third I’d be collapsing under the gravity of the previous two. Nothing’s stopping you from marathoning the show, but I preferred to enjoy it bit by bit. Because, after all, Ginko goes at his own pace, one patient at a time, and all the better to digest each episode.

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9 Responses to On Mushishi

  1. coburn says:

    Those depictions of ‘scarring’, of people’s emotional lives, really are exactly why this is so special. I’m intrigued by your comment about weight though. I only ever watched one ep. at a time, and always felt that they functioned as complete wholes.

    So, for me, the impossibility of marathoning was part of what made it so great – because each dose had enough in it to satisfy me.

    • schneider says:

      I blame the “that was fun, I wonder about the next” feeling for going through more than one episode a day. After the second, I’d really call it a day, because I want to enjoy pondering about what I watched.

      Also, the EDs have a magical ability to sap my energy. I don’t know why, or how.

  2. Owen S says:

    I could only watch two episodes at most. You, sir, are a man amongst men.

    coburn: Each episode a complete meal?

  3. Martin says:

    I like to dip into the show and watch one episode at a time (discovered it on fansub and currently rewatching it on DVD)…not just because the quality requires time for reflection afterwards but because some episodes are so powerful and moving I can’t find anything on my hard drive or DVD shelf to follow on from it.

    Each episode does indeed feel like a short, self-contained movie with its own messages and merits…I’d love to see a second season too. In fact I place this show above pretty much every other I’ve seen so far – I can’t overstate my love for this series enough.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying this – the more Mushishi fans there are in this world, the better we all are for it. Really.

  4. Kiri says:

    Haha, I couldn’t STOP watching this series, as heavy as it was. I marathoned through it in three or four days completely unintentionally because I absolutely could not stop. Rewatching came almost immediately at a much more relaxed pace, but yeah… this was a beautiful show.

  5. ria says:

    Mushishi rocks. I took me a long time as well to get through the whole series, I think because I had a hard time in the beginning understanding exactly what mushi really were. Ginko is definitely one of my favorite heroes of anime. Too bad he didn’t have a girlfriend.

  6. this is by far the best anime i have ever watched the way they made the episodes as i have noticed is so that everything is together yet seperate which i have seen a few animes and western shows have hard trouble doing i myself watched this show digesting 1 to 2 episodes a day but then after the 13 days it took me to see them i marthoned through all in a day and when i was done i was dumbfounded by it i was shocked into silence

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