Mushishi, in one word, is a very rich attempt at the genre of occult detective. It contains largely ambiguous themes, leaving the door open for viewers to present their own interpretations of the stories told. The excellent storytelling of Mushishi is actually what connects the viewers to Ginko, the main protagonist of the series, and makes them a part of his purposeful, and yet unpredictable
Mushishi is an entirely episodic series, following Ginko throughout his travels as a Mushi Master. It has 25 episodes in its first season; and another 20 episodes in its second season – Mushishi: The Next Passage with two additional specials. Mushishi centers around certain paranormal beings called Mushi and their enigmatic influence on the other forms of life. The Mushi are beings that exist somewhere in between life and death; most often referred to as the very basic form of life itself. Their existence remains a mystery to everyone including the Mushishi (Mushi Masters) themselves. The Mushi Masters' job is to be the passageway between the lives of ordinary human beings and the Mushi. In most cases, the Mushi harm human beings by co-existing with them as parasites. However, Ginko happens to believe that their actions are not deliberate and that they are merely trying to survive.
Ginko is a sagacious Mushi Master who travels around rural Japan to study Mushi and help those who are affected by them. Due to his love for helping others, he grows a kinship with the people in his journeys. Not much about him is shown, except for the mystery of his past and the reason he came to be the person that he is now. Every episode includes a story from his encounter with Mushi-affected people, that can end both in a tragic or a happy note. Each episode leaves a mark in your mind, bringing up new concepts and facades of life that you will find inexorably thought-provoking.
Mushishi is basically aimed at an adult audience. It is more like a collection of traditional folklore or fables presented in a surrealistic manner. It closely explores diverse topics regarding the interaction between humans and nature and the ways they affect one another. The artwork, animation and the soundtrack of the anime are top-notch. I'd prefer watching it in subtitles, as it focuses on the people living in the countryside of Japan.
Judging by character developments, some may find it difficult to relate to the characters as a whole new flock of them is introduced in each episode. Also, it definitely is not a show for viewers who prefer fast-paced storylines.
Mushishi is a very out of the ordinary anime; it is slow-paced but is extremely soothing and relaxing. It can be an interesting watch, especially if you're tired of faster paced anime.
The writer, aged 16, is a grade 10 student of Viqarunnisa Noon School and College.