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Ginko: Mushi-Shi

Discussion in 'Anime Reviews' started by Ginko, Mar 23, 2017.

  1. Ginko

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    This is a rare anime in a medium full of super saiyans, magical girls, and high school antics - which is probably why I love it so much. For anyone looking to come down from over-the-top action or comedies, this is a fine world to jump in to.


    Synopsis & Narrative
    In this anime's world, mushi, which loosely translates to English as "bug", are a life form that lives on the fringes of perception. Most people cannot see them, and fewer still know anything about them. When they interact with people, they can inflict strange illnesses and cause mysterious phenomena.

    Enter Ginko, a Mushi Master who is an expert on these often misunderstood creatures. He travels from village to village and town to town solving the problems that these mushi create. Each episode has a self-contained story arc, so there are few callbacks to earlier episodes. In one memorable story, Ginko must find out why a young girl has grown horn-like protrusions out of her head and is painfully sensitive to sound. In another, Ginko meets someone with an uncanny sense of the weather who spends a lot of time chasing rainbows.

    Ginko is able to draw from his vast expertise to treat a great many conditions, seldom finding anything he hasn't seen before. He necessarily must stay on the go, as he has a natural tendency to attract mushi. Thus, he never stays anywhere for long, usually just long enough to treat an illness and be on his way again.

    Analysis

    There are a couple of things viewers will notice early on. One, the audio and visual quality of this series is gorgeous. It's full of shots of green rolling hills, bodies of water, and landscapes. Each episode's ending theme is unique, and the accompanying soundtrack reflects the series' spiritual and mysterious nature. My personal favorite is a track called "Yama Idaku Koromo" from episode 18, "The Clothes that Embrace the Mountain" about a man who painted an image of his hometown's mountain on his kimono (with mushi). Secondly, the series is quiet. The acting is low-key and relaxed, and you might strain to hear the dialog. So turn your volume up for this one.

    The mushi in which the series is about, takes its queues from the Shinto concept of Kami, at least in part. Kami, much like mushi, can cause unnatural illnesses and phenomena that can't be treated or solved with traditional medicine or methods, if at all. Some mushi get their origins from Japanese folklore, like the episode "Inside the Cage" which borrows from the story "The Bamboo Cutter's Daughter".

    I highly recommend some additional reading by Paul Jackson going over the origins of mushi:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=5...e+Folklore&pg=PA341&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

    In the dub, Travis Willingham takes the lead role as Ginko, and does a fantastic job of playing the calm and wise Mushi Master. It's a good thing, too, since there are almost no recurring characters besides. The approach to dialog in this series is emotionally mature, which is appropriate since most of the characters are grown adults. Frankly, it's refreshing.

    If I have to find something to fault with the series, it's that Ginko is hardly ever wrong. Like an overpowered superhero that always prevails, Ginko's instincts and powers of deduction are never off the mark. He is just a smidge too good at his job to drum up much drama. Just to see how he would handle it, I'd like to see him treat a case that he thought was caused by mushi, but actually wasn't. Or maybe misdiagnosed someone with life-or-death stakes. Still, it's a minor quibble.

    Who is it for?

    Mushi-Shi almost requires an open mind. The pacing is much more deliberate and slower than fans of high-octane series might be comfortable with. It needs patience and thoughtful attention to appreciate it.

    Because it avoids so many of anime's tropes and conventions, it's perfect for anyone looking to take a break in their respective genres of choice. It's a break well worth taking, in my opinion.

    Availability

    Season One (26 Episodes):
    Subtitled
    Dubbed: Justubs

    Season Two "Zoku Shou / The Next Passage" (20 Episodes):
    Subtitled
    Dubbed: N/A
     
    #1 Ginko, Mar 23, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2017
  2. Negi-Springfield

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    Funimation put the whole first season on Youtube, subbed, as well.

    The opening of season 2 is something else!

    I wish they had delved into him and his master a lot more.
     
  3. Ginko

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    Thanks for pointing that out, I modified the original post to reflect that.

    I agree Lucy Rose's "Shiver" is an amazing song. Beautiful stuff. Strikes me as odd that they would use English-speaking artists to do both of their openings, though. I wonder how that went down.

    The live action film tried to do a bit more with his master, but I don't feel like it did her character justice. There's a lot about Ginko's history that isn't brought up in the series. At what point did he decide he should be a Mushi Master? Who else may have guided him along the way? Lots of unanswered questions.
     
  4. Negi-Springfield

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    I haven't seen the live action, but I remember I also wanted to know more about Ginko and the woman whose legs couldn't be used because they were cursed.

    She was very interesting and they only spent one or two episodes on her.

    This series definitely could afford a few more OVA's.
     

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