Mushishi is an anime very faithfully based on the manga by Yuki Urushibara. A first season was broadcast in 2005, and a second one in 2014, with Hiroshi Nagama as a director. The music was written by Toshio Masuda. I’d like to say which genre it belongs to, but I am frankly at a loss.
The anime is made of episodes that can be viewed completely separately, and in any order. However, they all involve the same character, Ginko, a mushishi, a sort of traveling shaman who can see mushi, spirits, and deal with them appropriately; he cannot stay in a place for too long, because the mushi are drawn to him and he cannot let too many gather in one place lest there be trouble. The time in which the action is set is unclear: Ginko wears modern clothes, but all the other characters wear traditional garb, and there’s no sign of modernity anywhere. This timelessness reinforces the dreamlike quality of the anime.
I cannot recommend this anime enough; it’ll please even people who do not like the genre. There are several reasons for it:
- First of all, it is absolutely gorgeous. It takes mostly place in natural spaces, and those are depicted perfectly, down to the smallest ray of light. The landscapes are achingly beautiful.As such, the show is really immersive, and keeps bringing memories of places to which you might have been, hikes you might have taken. It’s a show that is great for what we call correspondances: “perfumes, sounds and colours correspond”. The way snow is handled, for example, is really impressive. You really feel that characteristic eerie silence, and the cold that goes with it.
- Second point: while not all episodes are as good, there’s no dud. The stories are always beautiful and delicate, with a lot of feelings, but simple, understated ones. They involve ordinary people, complex ones, who aren’t good guys or bad guys. The mushi involved in the stories often reflect the emotional state of one or several characters, but, again, there’s nothing on the nose here. As such, the episodes are often a lot more moving than any grand drama. (I might have teared up a few times. Maybe even more than a few).
- Third point: it’s amazingly relaxing. It’s watching beautiful landscapes and beautiful stories. There is sometimes conflict, but it’s minimal. The hero never loses his cool, nor his kindness or dry sense of humour, and the fact that he is rather non-judgmental and entirely phlegmatic makes this the perfect show to watch to find peace.
- Which leads me to my final point: the soundtrack is absolutely amazing (In fact, it’s become one of my regular work soundtracks, it does a wonderful job of helping one focus). Here’s my favourite bit, but you can find the whole soundtrack in one single youtube video if you like. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-NRPfEfxl8&frags=pl%2Cwn
I honestly can’t see any, but I suppose the rather slow pacing might put some people off.
Weeb level: 0/10. It’s actually perfect for that person in your life who doesn’t want to watch anime.
Quality: 9,5/10 (Because I can’t put 10, it’s against my teachery nature)
Where to Watch: the second season is on Crunchyroll. You can start with it since the episode are non consecutive. I’d advise starting with the first episode of season 2 rather than the OVA, since it serves as a good introduction and is also one of my favourite episodes. The first season cannot be found online, at least in France, but the DVDS are on Amazon for 14€.