25 Days of Anime - #15: Mushi-Shi

A new age take on old world folklore, Mushi-Shi follows Mushi Master Ginko as he travels across the countryside seeking out Mushi. Mushi are invisible to the untrained eye, and only and Mushi Master has the proper knowledge of how to study and influence them. To everyone else, Mushi are unseen forces that can do anything from blending in harmlessly with plant life to living off humans as a parasite. Some Mushi are especially dangerous, as they can steal people away from loved ones or rob them of their sensory functions.

There is no explicit time frame given in Mushi-Shi. As viewers, we have no way of knowing if Ginko's collective journeys last merely days or span the course of years. We are never even given clear indication as to what time period his work takes place in, as the towns he visits are all out of the way of major cities. Some of the individuals he meets live far off the beaten trail, in mountain huts and small fishing villages. The technology used is Mushi-Shi is largely simple and practical, with Ginko recording his findings in ink and paper, but that could be due in part to the semi-mythological nature of his research.

All that we know for certain is that some people are aware of the presence of Mushi, even if they cannot see them, whereas others are entirely oblivious to them. Ginko is the main Mushi Master of interest to this story, but it is clear that there are others like him in the world. Some of his actions are influenced by past encounters with Mushi and he instantly has a game plan of how to counteract any harm they may have caused to an individual. Other times, Ginko learns as he goes, adding further notes to a largely unknown type of Mushi.

The stories told are largely unrelated, and in that sense Mushi-Shi takes on a model of a collection of folklore and mythology - everything is told from the same perspective and feels like another chapter in a larger story, even if there is only one character who acts as a constant between them. There is a curious relationship shared between Ginko, the Mushi, and the natural world, as some of the Mushi take on forms similar to animals while others appear plant-like. As much as I love fantasy epics in the vein of Fullmetal Alchemist or even Harry Potter, works like Mushi-Shi are welcome breaks from time to time, as they can offer a different take on the larger genre by restricting magic and mythology to hidden parts of the world.

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