Perceived as strange and feared by man, over time the misshapen ones came to be known as Mushi. Although they harbor no ill intentions towards humans, many suffer from the side effects of their existence and strange nature; exploiting the Mushi without understanding them, even unintentionally, can lead to disaster and strife for any involved. Mushishi Zoku Shou continues the story of Mushishi Ginko on his journey to help the visible world to coexist with the Mushi.
During his travels, Ginko discovers various gifted individuals—those cursed by circumstance and those maintaining a fragile symbiosis with the Mushi—inevitably confronting the question of whether humanity, talented and tortured alike, can manage the responsibility of the unseen. Moreover, as a Mushishi, Ginko must learn more about these strange beings and decide if he has the right to interfere with the complex relationships between Mushi and mankind.
Before its premiere, I took a moment to ponder. Will the experience still be the same? Would the fates really allow something so wonderful to happen? The thing is, we are talking about a true masterpiece that hasn’t been on the airwaves in over a decade. Some doubts were coming to mind, thinking that it wouldn’t able to captivate me like many years ago. After all, modern anime has a track record of ruining some of the precious gems the industry has ever produced. Should it simply be left alone as a relic of the past in the Golden Era of anime? As the first
episode aired, any fears that the series would have lost its magic were quickly dispelled. Mushishi (Zoku Shou) returns in all its glory and continues where the first season has left off in adapting the wonderful manga by Urushibara Yuki.
The series follows an episodic format with each episode containing its own unique story. To those unfamiliar with the series would think how does Mushishi manage to have good storytelling? It manages to set up a plot that builds greatly to the climax and having it resolved, usually the resolutions are heartfelt or bittersweet. Along with that are the characters who are all well developed to the point that you care for them, it's like time constraints are not even an issue and it easily pulls this off in classic Mushishi fashion. Mushi, "life in its purest form" are magical creatures that coexist with humans and have an influence in their lives with or without their knowledge.
They can be helpful or malicious though not all Mushi are evil, they are just trying to survive just like humans and to help spread this message is a Master of Mushi—Ginko, who is the main character and cornerstone to the stories of Mushishi. It follows his journeys in solving cases revolving Mushi and the people he meets along the way. Each person or group of people that Ginko comes to meet pretty much ends in having their lives changed for better or worse. Relaxed, upset, excited, depressed, alert, happy, tense, sad and serene are just some of the many emotions you feel and go through following Ginko and his travels, his experiences with the people he crosses paths with and the interactions that happen between them and the Mushi. Each story has a theme ranging from vengeance to regret and has an overarching moral lesson that could be taken away and applied to our daily lives, for this example it would be forgiveness and acceptance.
The world of Mushishi feels so surreal that it manages to capture your imagination almost immediately. Before you know it, you feel you are right in the middle of this spectacle, it really is a work of art. The visuals and animation go hand in hand with the music. From the lush and earthy forests to the sounds of branches snapping and water trickling. The visuals and score really bring the beautiful world of Mushishi and its nature to life. The nature sounds of Mushi is something that always sends shivers down my spine, it triggers Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). Overall the art is gorgeous and organic, from the beautiful scenery in the background to the colours used which can be vibrant, full of life and ominous when it wants to be. The character designs are distinctive and are fitting for such a series, they are all well made with Ginko's appearance being rather simple yet unique and appealing.
The vocal performances are the best and the added realism of using a lot of unknown actors and casting most child parts with real children. Ginko's voice actor Yuto Nakano is very unique and his voice is very stern yet soothing, simply put it, he is irreplaceable. Mika Doi's narration is very effective and emotionally connects the story to the viewer. The soundtrack is absolutely amazing and is well produced and balance, all praises to the composer of the series in Masuda Toshio. The soft tones and melodies compliment the thought-provoking stories well and increase the emotional impact on them. The Opening song, "Shiver" by Lucy Rose set's a beautiful tone for each episode and is very fitting for the themes throughout the show. It's an English song, a very peaceful one with its acoustic folk ballad style. It easily is one of the best Opening songs I have ever heard in Anime.
The experience of watching Mushishi can be compared to meditation. You find your conscious thought process stopping and you immerse yourself within the moment, only becoming aware of the emotional power after an episode. It's an experience like no other and something that fans of anime should search for. Mushishi is all about the mysteries of the world, the mysterious mystical Mushi and of the human heart, and the places where they intersect. There's just no other series that can gently draw you into its sensory and emotional world the way Mushishi can. The gorgeous art and music, the quiet brilliance of the writing, the vocal performances so unlike traditional anime—it all worked every bit as well as it did then in casting a unique spell. Mushishi is a prime example of how great manga should be adapted - faithful in every way to the source material, yet not limited by being so and that is not a compliment given lightly.
Mushishi Zoku Shou, like its predecessor, is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word, a real timeless classic. It is a valuable gift that not only entertains us but has the ability to teach and educate us as well. Mushishi is a great manga but the anime is even better, utilizing every tool available to the medium to make the experience even more magical and engrossing. It truly was as if no time had passed, so seamless was the transition between the original and Zoku Shou. Another sequel is in the works and its great news and I cannot wait till it airs this Fall. God is in his Heaven, and all's right with the world. Mushishi is back.
Mushishi, a series that debuted over 8 years ago makes its return, and a surprising one at that. Beautiful is an underrated word to describe the franchise as it is much more than its natural beauty. Rather, Mushishi is a fantastic work of art, a feast of elegance to bestow upon for its storytelling. For fans familiar with season 1, the show depicts itself with an episodic format starring journeyman Ginko. Mushishi Zoku Shou (also known as Mushishi: Next Chapter) opens the door to a new saga with an mystifying adventure that will once again bring back those wonderful memories from near a decade ago.
journey into Mushishi feels like a dream where its world captures the fantasy elements at the best with its backgrounds and ideas. The nature of the show depicts creatures known as ‘Mushi’ that causes trouble in the surface world. For a show to work out in this way, the structure of the story is built in an episodic nature. Each episode involves Ginko where he deals with a problem. These problems lingers on with ideas, power, and knowledge. With every problem in his quest also triggers more than just resolutions. It formulates ideas that invites attention with its unique and style. In fact, the feeling of Mushishi is mature. The creatures known as the ‘Mushi’ influences humans and their way of life. But the most important part of the show is that these mushi can craft a story. These stories are transformed by the very essence of the show that captures each moment with a fine degree of mystical aura. No over-the-top antics, shounen-style battles, or the ‘save the world’ trope. It is simple yet feels complex. It’s intelligent without building a labyrinth of thoughtless tropes. It’s attractive without edgy art.
Despite the show being set up as an episodic show, I do recommend fans to check out the first season first as well as the special that debuted earlier in 2014. This way, you can familiarize with the style of Mushishi and what it has to offer with its dynamics. There’s much to build off with that style which illustrates more than just artwork. The flagship behind the idea of the show is to adapt its themes and presents it to viewers to familiarize with the story. There’s no need to build on that in a story arc since each episode focuses specifically on such ideas. And even so, these stories are memorable for their themes that people can familiarize. Hatred, regret, despair, vengeance, solitude, greed, among others are just a few to name. It touches upon the nature of humanity in a fantasy realm to bring about fantastic stories. Ever heard of natural instincts? Mushishi will evoke that to a level beyond normalcy through its imaginative presentation.
The world setting of Mushishi is perhaps one most fans of the previous season are familiar of. Even after all these years, it’s still memorable and feel nostalgic by Mushishi’s delivery. The lavish forests, organic swaps, and frosty mountains paints a dream – a theater of decorative ecology. As a show based off such nature, it’s appreciable to see how that functions with fantasy ideas. Namely, the environment has a mystical atmosphere to itself stretching beyond the boundaries of normalcy. Then, there are the characters involved in them that Ginko meets during his quest. But Ginko is a unique and complex character because he seeks knowledge, not power. Every episode, he gets himself involved with a problem and formulates a solution. These resolutions usually has a bittersweet ending but also invites a degree of relief. As mushi is mysterious to the core, Ginko uses his own knowledge to match these challenges by thought.
As the brainchild behind the concept, Yuki Urushibara deserves praise for her work. The show is adapted from the manga of the same name. The second season covers from volume 6-9 to create legends to not be forgotten. Her concepts are captivating because it’s intelligently written with a surreal feeling. It’s distinctive that classifies itself as a rarity of the generation. 22 minutes each episode is all it takes to grab your attention with its nature. While sitting back, you’ll almost feel like you’re part of the world traveling along with Ginko on his quest. The rewards to reap is more than just enjoyment but an acknowledgement of the show’s concepts. Ginko is also a quiet man that people will find unique in a fashion to match the show’s style. At the same time though, he isn’t just there to solve problems but also to learn. Similarly, learning from this show isn’t like taking a biology class. Rather than grasping on the ideas to memorize them, Mushishi creates understanding. There’s no right or wrong answer as mushi and humans are a part in the same world. Rather than delivering a gruesome war or dominance for survival, both species seeks to live on their own terms. But make no mistake, the show doesn’t follow a game concept where survival is the fittest. Instead, its strength lies in the mystery engineered by an amalgamation of intelligence.
Perhaps the show is too honest to itself, in particular with its world and premise. Ginko in particular is a man of mystery but we find out the complexity of his character through his many journeys. A lackluster concept involves the exploration of his backgrounds in this season as well as people he met in the past. A refreshment to the original season will perhaps remedy this for fans who are on an urge to get a deeper grasp of his character. But even so, the pure of the stories transits with elegance and characters to tell a story; stories of knowledge, thought, artistry beyond the scope of physical attractiveness.
Speaking of art, Mushishi sets the bar high with its comeback. Even after all these years, the show still stands out as a magnificent piece of art. Feast your eyes on the very nature of the show with its alluring backgrounds. Each mushi also has distinctive designs to offer diversity. On the other hand, Ginko looks simple without too much to go on besides his noticeable silver hair and stoic expressions. Yet, it triggers the very mystery thought that Mushishi brings. At the same time, most of the characters are standard and matches their settings with simple clothing. The show’s setting doesn’t possess the technology of a futuristic world nor a historical age where wars are fought for supremacy. What it does have is the simple yet effective natural strength of its fantasy world. I give the animation studio Artland for their effective style of presenting such a world, one that is charming and captures every moment in respect. There’s an old saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. This show’s art is an epitome of that.
Soundtrack also comes together as a prowess to its thought-provoking story. The soft and quiet OST offers credibility with its world with the mushi and animals. As humans, each character’s voice has a solemn yet realistic mannerism. Similarly, the soundtrack has a sense of hollowness with eerie rhythm. With its good balance, Mushishi achieves its goal of capturing what fans want – soundtrack to bring the stories from fantasy to life. Although some of Ginko’s dialogues may feel monotonous at times, it still stands out to reflect his character. The soundtrack also invites emotional appeal for each story seeks an imagery of imaginations based off its world with its narratives. Furthermore, the OP song "Shiver" by Lucy Rose reflects a tone of beauty beyond words. You’ll have to listen to it to believe it.
Even after all these years, the Mushishi franchise still stands out as a dazzling piece of work, one that is most welcoming with the strength of its characters and story. It’s more than just an adventurous folklore or some quest to accomplish a goal. Rather, it offers intelligence and craftsmanship of human themes in a fantasy world. Despite the series being episodic and only structured with 10 episodes, they each have its own unique dynamics to bring about its focus. Its creativity and unique world will offer an experience just like its previous season, one that will be remembered for generations to come.
If I were to describe Mushishi in just a few words, it would have to be 'story-telling masterpiece'. Mushishi held this title and I'm proud to say that Mushishi Zoku Shou holds it as well. When such an eloquent blend of story writing, narration, atmosphere, art and sound come together it creates a fantastic, bone-chilling new world that those whom have the pleasure of viewing can't help but gawk at. Whether there is sadness, happiness, anguish or joy Mushishi Zoku Shou has delivered these feelings in a presentation so well-wrapped even its flaws cannot be seen. Mushishi Zoku Shou has been a remarkably soothing
and yet exciting adventure that I can only say I am delighted of experiencing first-hand.
Mushish Zoku Shou is an episodic anime that I feel is one of the very few that succeed in its field. Being episodic only leaves the 21 minute time-frame to tell a story, which can be a difficult challenge; However, just like its prequel, Mushishi Zoku Shou is not only able to set up the plot and characters, but resolve it as well with ease in such a small frame of time. The Mushi, the very essence of life itself, and Ginko, the Mushi Master are at the heart and center of our stories. Ginko, always travelling and meeting new people, adventuring to exciting places and encountering strange beings all around are simply tagging along in our adventure as Ginko plays the part of mediator between Man and Mushi, helping both in times of need. This is how every story begins and ends and is delivered perfectly in a small 21 minute package.
Another reason why Mushishi Zoku Shou is able to present itself so well is not only for its story, but how the world is created. Beautiful scenic backgrounds, gorgeous vibrant colors of the Mushi and the fantastic distinction of characters using art are all perfectly-crafted. Whether a scene is meant to look beautiful or ominous Mushishi has no problem of displaying what it wants creating some of the most illustrious depictions of art to be seen.
Once again, Mushishi Zoku Shou delivers superbly in this category as well. Whether we were panning out of a gorgeous mountainous scene or needed to feel the panic of those in the anime there was no failure in giving the audience what was needed to push what needed to be felt. The sound embodied any emotion it needed to and got it across well, giving me many moments where I just had to replay a scene to get that same 'chill down my spine' feeling over and over again. Without the sound, a lot of key moments would not have the same impact, but thankfully that problem never arised.
One thing that always surprises me is how well-established the characters were with this season granted the small time frame given. In just one episode the characters had to be introduced and fleshed out in order for us to have a sense of 'caring' for them otherwise the story would not have the same influence on us. Ginko of course is our main character, whom we learn of very early on what his profession is and what he does is very easy to get attached to. Where the real challenge occurred was creating the people Ginko meets and giving them a personality worthy of our interest in just a few minutes. This was done splendidly as the story progresses we learn of many of their conflicts with the Mushi and how it effects them on a personal level where we actually can feel the same sadness or joy they do whether it be through a back-story or a present event. In a funny way, the bane of a lot of their lives, the Mushi are also what really bring out a lot of the characters.
This was truly an enjoyable experience. Every episode told a new tale and even when there were times of distress there were times of calmness. Mushishi Zoku Shou tells a story with me just being able to sit back and enjoy without having to think about anything, but just purely become entranced with it. It doesn't end or begin with questions, nor pointing out faults, but just relaxing and experiencing everything it had to offer.
Without a doubt Mushishi Zoku Shou lives up to its name. Those whom loved the first season should have no problem adoring this one any less if not more as they only fine-tuned what was already fantastic. This wasn't just simply an anime to watch, but to experience and it delivered well in every field to do just that. I cannot stress enough on that, which is why I'm going to leave it to you the viewer, to watch and experience it for yourself. I certainly hope you'll come to immerse yourself in this world and see for yourself what it has to offer.
There is a common saying that lightning never strikes twice at the same place. The same analogy can be applied to how a sequel of a classic never reaches the quality of that of its predecessor. However, both statements are far from the truth, it’s just that we don’t often see both happen very often. But when we do see it, its nothing short of magical.
What transpires into the discussion of Mushishi Zoku Shou is how it is able to keep the spirit of the original series alive and well. When you get right down to it, there isn’t any need to try to do
anything new or different to the sequel in order to make it seem more fresh. This is simply how Mushishi structures into different story arcs centered on its mythological lore of Mushi. All of the arcs supply a deeper meaning to the characters as we learn about the different types of Mushi we come across. From this perspective, Mushishi doesn’t need to do anything other than just give us more than what we bargained for; they sure as hell made another accomplishment for the ages.
From a stylistic perspective, Mushishi Zoku Shou follows the same atmospheric tone as before. It transcends itself into a breathtaking journey into what the world of Mushishi brings to the table. If you remember from my previous review of Mushishi, I criticized it for how the world didn’t feel like the actual world that it wanted it to be. It tried to go really far, but at the same time it didn’t go far enough. With Mushishi Zoku Shou, it is apparent that we are shown a closer look of the various mythical structures of its world. This is one aspect to the sequel that I think improves more to the prequel in many ways. Here, there is more meat to be explored and its very rewarding to experience the rich landscape and how the Mushi engulf the world.
As there are many plot arcs in each episode, there is the question of whether these new plot arcs hold a candle to the original series. While there were many great episodes of Mushishi that I can name, I could also name some that felt rather underwhelming compared to others. In many respects, Mushishi Zoku Shou’s offers more episodic stories that are stronger and vibrant. From beginning to end, there was never an episode where I thought it was average, mediocre, or even decent; they are all simply good to magnificent.
What makes them stronger is how the characters that our hero, Ginko, comes across in his travels are more memorable to the viewing experience. Many of them garner praise by the fact that they manage to fit in deep characterization in only under 24 minutes. Just like in previous episodic iterations; they all lead into a well-crafted conundrum that Ginko has to solve. This conundrum can vary in how they are approached in how the tone is settled. Tone is always the main focal point to Mushishi, ranging from mystical and transcendent to dark and unsettling. All are accomplished with great tenacity and wit that won’t fail to impress many who want a lucid experience to their anime viewing endeavors.
Animation has definitely evolved since 2004 and Mushishi definitely had a minimalist methodology to its artistic aesthetics. Although it may not look like it has changed its dynamic colors and lighting that much, it certainly flows in its animation more fluidly. New designs of Mushi pop up that look stunning to the eyes. Characters now have more range in movement thanks to the higher budget. Amazingly, it still feels freshly new despite the fact that it doesn’t do anything too drastic to make it more “modernized” for new anime fans to enjoy.
Music has never been a big hallmark for the Mushishi series, in terms of how repetitive it becomes after the fifth episode. Not that it is unlistenable by any means, it is good by its own standards, but I would’ve appreciated it more had there been more variety to it. The thing that is noteworthy to mention is the new opening to Mushishi Zoku Shou, which is far more welcoming than in Season 1. The first one’s problem stems from the fact that the singer was trying to do a bad Bob Dylan impersonation throughout. In Mushishi Zoku Shou’s opening, sung by Lucy Rose, it feels more in lined with the peaceful tone that defines Mushishi.
In closing, I would call this a triumphant swan song for Mushishi to end on. Its efforts in bringing it back to show these remaining stories in animation form are admirable, to say the least. The series continues to be considered a classic from the 2000s era of anime, and now it’s become a future classic in the 2010s era. Can’t say I’ll be surprised by that assessment if it becomes a reality.
This article will count down the top 20 anime of 2014, as decided by the users on MAL. There are fan favorites, surprise snubs and even hidden gems. Feeling nostalgic? Get ready for a blast from the past... and yes, by past I mean last year.