On a warm summer day, a boy heard the sound of bells ringing, as if in celebration, in the mountain near his home. Several years later in that same mountain, the mushishi Ginko encounters a strange girl with weeds growing out of her body. Soon after, Ginko coincidentally runs into the now grown-up boy Yoshiro on his way off the mountain. With Yoshiro’s help, Ginko soon begins to uncover who this mysterious girl is and what happened to her.
An adaptation of the last arc in the manga, Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku follows Ginko’s peculiar journey amidst the occult to unravel the mystery behind the enigmatic girl called Kaya and the mountain that has become her home.
[2018 EDIT: A lot of this review is me projecting my interest in Taoism onto the show. Mushishi, though interpretable as philosophically Taoist, is more of a reflection on Shinto spirituality and mythology than anything else.]
So the whole of Mushishi has finally come to a close, unless Urushibara wants to write any more. It’s impressive how nearly exact the full anime has been as an adaptation. Excluding one or two original episodes, they’ve all been incredibly true to the original chapters. This one really gets into that concrete manifestation of the Tao that I’m always raving about Mushishi; bringing in nature’s law as an actual
sort of character. It’s really just another Mushishi episode just doubled in length, but I did always think that it was a perfect finale for the manga and so it is a perfect finale for the show.
Drops of Bells (the title of the double-episode) basically tells of humanity’s growing more and more separate from nature. The plot is of a human girl chosen from birth to be the next lord of a mountain, yet her human family cannot understand this and strive to keep her from the destiny forced upon her by nature’s law. The primary plot point is that humans aren’t really fit for the task of mountain lord, as humans possess a wisdom unlike other animals that is unfit for becoming one with the mountain, and possess a heart that can be crushed under the weight of the thriving life throughout the mountain. However, Ginko basically says that despite humanity being as separate as it is from nature’s law, it is still a part of the whole.
That’s the Tao for you. Humanity’s a bitch, and balance with nature is dead. However, that doesn’t take the Tao out of the human species. As a human murders a bird for sport, it’s the same life force flowing through each of them, and when the bird falls to the ground as a corpse that life force does not die with it. That’s the way of shit, and that’s what’s so real about Mushishi. It takes that whole concept and makes the whole unexplainability of the Tao explainable through the beings known as mushi. That’s exactly it; Mushishi makes the unexplainable explainable. Ain’t that just the coolest shit? That's what makes Mushishi the pinnacle of Japanese animation and manga.
Our journey with Ginko, which started in 1999, draws to an end with an adaptation of Suzu no Shizuku (Drops of Bells), the last arc of the acclaimed Mushishi manga by Yuki Urushibara.
In the first half of Suzu no Shizuku, a girl leaves her family behind when she’s summoned to be the next lord of a mountain. Thriving lands, called “Rivers of Light”, require the presence of a lord to maintain the balance of life around that area. Choosing a human as a lord is an unusual move, however. Such a task is usually delegated to animals since they live with fewer emotional attachments.
the introspective themes that were explored in previous arcs are summarized here—most notably interconnectedness, the indifference of nature, and the necessity of letting go. All life—plants, animals, and humans—are dependent on each other, and influenced by the ripples of cause and effect. Nature, which is personified in Suzu no Shizuku as the mountain lord, acts as the unbiased mediator. The overarching lesson is that we should appreciate what we have, and not cling when the time comes for us to move on.
The second half concludes this story without quite concluding the series. The ending leaves some of the questions that were raised in the previous arcs unanswered, but it ties up enough to provide a mostly satisfying conclusion, which I'll refrain from detailing here. It's something that really should be appreciated without any hints.
The art, animation, and sound design have remained remarkably consistent over the years. The backgrounds in Suzu no Shizuku are just as gorgeous as they’ve been since the first season aired in 2005; the character and special effects animation are fluid and precise; and the soundtrack features the subdued and ambient melodies that have become hallmarks of the series.
When you think about it, it’s kind of a miracle that Mushishi, which is essentially about life experiences and nature, was made with such a substantial budget in today's impatient, thrill seeking, climate. I’m grateful that ArtLand was willing to take a chance on such an esoteric and spiritual story, and that it’s been successful enough to adapt in its entirety. It’s been a truly remarkable experience.
This is for the entire show. All seasons and specials.
Watched the first season about a year ago and over the course of good 3 weeks and now the second season with all the specials in 2 days.
I was really not in the mood for this show and actually wanted to look for some slice of life anime instead but I did it anyway and this show is really so, oh so different from any other. Never have I seen or heard of an anime that could compare to Mushishi. Regarding my expectations, I knew what I was diving into since I read that the ‘episodic’
part doesn’t die down in the second season, and that’s very true. Just know, there’s a very good reason why every single season and/or special has a rating of 8.5/10 or higher on MyAnimeList.
Well, let’s do this.
Mushishi is one of the most interesting anime in every way. That also goes for the animation. It is among the most exceptional things I have seen in anime. The way it fits the mood and overall theme of the anime and the way it underlines everything is just amazing. Every background could be an actual painting. Nothing is half-assed. And as a Winter fanatic, the episodes that take place in deep Winter absolutely make my heart melt. The sheer beauty of the scenery with snow everywhere is exceeding pleasure for the eyes. It basically screams melancholia and sadness in a way but due to the art style combined with the theme of the story it also has such warmth, it’s hauntingly beautiful.
One more thing I really enjoyed about the animation were the designs of the Mushi. They had such original and vivid designs and were moving in such weird ways. Real creativity by the creators right there. And not to forget the design of the people in the show, who basically make up the entire show. That’s what this show is about. The humans have this distinct look and these very distinct, round features that instantly let you know what show you’re watching because no other anime has this kind of look to it. Only thing was that sometimes you couldn’t make out the difference between characters from different episodes since a lot of them look so, well… normal! But that’s not really a bad thing. So all in all, can’t complain, oh no!
First to the openings.
The opening for the first season is Ally Kerr – Sore Feet Song. Second one is Lucy Rose – Shiver. Like everything else, they fit the atmosphere of this anime like my old shirts fit me again because I lost a lot of weight. They’re as calm as they could be and also, they’re English songs by English artists. I have both on my phone and love them to bits because they bring you back into this show and all that you experienced in it. Lovely. And now…
Oh man. That soundtrack.
What’s there to say? Ever heard of Feng Shui? Yes? This is like it, but just a bit less boring for the show. The soundtrack is by Toshiro Masuda, who also made the soundtrack for the original Naruto show. And I still remember how incredibly well that soundtrack burnt itself into my mind. So well, that you can play me a song out of the Naruto soundtrack in about 30 years and I will probably still instantly know where it’s from. The same goes for Mushishi. And let me stress this. The soundtrack Could. Not. Fit. The. Show. Any. Better. This soundtrack is absolute brilliance. It takes the very, very calm theme of the show and makes it even calmer. And as with the Naruto one, these tracks, these very calming tracks with bells, light flutes and beautiful melodies will dig inside of your head, maybe without you even noticing, and they will stay there. If you ever feel stressed or burnt out, even if you haven’t seen Mushishi, you should listen to this soundtrack. It’s so hauntingly beautiful I still have all of it on my phone and listen to it regularly when I want to feel at ease. Fantastic, brilliant work, I can’t stress this enough.
There is the problem I have with this show. While on the one hand I completely understand how the author wanted to write this anime, since it is episodic in every way until the very last minute, I still can’t completely wrap my head around the fact that we basically know nothing about the main character at the end of this show. And by nothing I mean almost nothing. There were like 2 episodes that revealed a bit and then a tiny bit more that was sprinkled here and there but that’s about it. There is no overarching storyline that leads to some grand finale or anything. But then again, this show started as mysterious as it ended. I understand the idea behind that thought. It is probably the most ‘grown up’ show I have ever seen. That’s the best way to describe it for me.
The entire thing plays in old Japan (probably?) and it’s about our main character Ginko. And that, dear people, was a lie just now. Since he is the main character, but he travels through the land for a particular reason and he is what they call a Mushishi. Since Mushi are basically entities that can’t be seen by most people but they are part of nature just like any plant or animal would be, they can interact with humans and might do harm. Some change peoples’ surroundings, some change the people themselves. And they all are connected through the big Light Veins that flow through the earth that basically represent life itself. The best way to describe it is basically… There are poisonous plants or for example mosquitoes, right? These plants or bugs don’t attack humans for any malicious reasons nor do they mean any harm, they’re just there, doing their thing. And that’s what Mushi are, just that most people can’t see them. And that’s where the Mushishi come in. They can see them and research them to find cures for the problems these things cause.
But again, I personally feel a bit of a lack of an overarching plot… Maybe that’s just me though!
Well, well. You have to create a main character for your show. How do you do that?
Don’t ask me.
I’m an idiot.
These people did it right though. Oh and how well they did it...
Ginko is probably one of the most simple, most complex, most mysterious and most interesting and greatest characters I know in anime. He is an enigma from episode one until the last episode and aside from a bit of info about his past, he will stay that way. Full of questions and answers and full of self-sacrifice. Always with that Mushi-repellent cigarette in his mouth. Simply put, he’s cool as fuck. And chill as fuck. I don’t want to imagine this show without Ginko. His personality was perfectly written and as the animation and soundtrack, fits this show 100%. And he’s a lone traveler. He doesn’t have any travel buddies. No cute mascot that lives in his backpack and no shits to give. Actually that last one is wrong, because he actually cares a lot about every part of nature there is and in every way possible. A young, wise man that says stuff that you will find yourself thinking about twice. More than just once. One of my all-time favorite characters in anime.
Regarding the other characters, most of them are very ‘normal’. In the most purest way. They’re just villagers or wanderers who are just casual people in old Japan. And they don’t have any blue or red or green hair. This anime doesn’t need stuff like that to have you, the watcher, remember who is who. Because honestly, you forget. And that’s kind of part of this show. They’re just normal townsfolk and once Ginko did whatever a Ginko does he just leaves, mostly, never to return. So given that they’re supposed to be as normal as it gets, most fill their role well. They do just what they should do. But a few can seem a bit too bland to be honest. They just have nothing special going for them at all. They’re TOO normal. But that’s my only problem here. Good.
Overall just probably one of the best shows I have had the pleasure to watch. But that ending left me wanting more. I really lacked a conclusion to something. Again, there was no overarching problem, but I just wanted something more… I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m really content with what I got since that ending was as enigmatic and classy as this show has deserved it to be, but it’s just the syndrome of ‘I want more’ after having reached the end of a good show, you know?
I wasn’t in the mood for this show. But this show put me in the mood for it in about 2 episodes. It is absolutely, ABSOLUTELY fantastic. You have my word on this.
Mushishi (All of it): 9/10
I don’t know what I’m gonna watch next. Gotta find a quality show but don’t know what…
Also it’s 7am, why do I always get in the mood to write these when it’s late as hell. Goddammit.
It's not an ending for the series, is only another special, i'm disappointed about that.
The story of the chapter and the philosohpy is not bad at all, but some previous chapters were a lot better and more emotional.
The characters that appears (aside Ginko) are not so charimastic as others from previous episodes and don't transmit so much than others. I liked the fact that in this film Ginko looked more worried about the other character than in previous chapters.
The art is amazing as always, with beautiful nature landscapes such as forests and mountains. The animation is very colorful and fluent.
The seiyuus made a great work, giving a lot of personality to the characters. The OST as always in Mushishi fits perfectly with the natural and psychological atmosphere with very beautiful tracks.
Even it's length is not very thought-provoking. The 46 minutes of length goes pretty quick.