Review – Mushi-Shi (2005)

The anime community hasn’t heard much from Studio Artland since the Macross era of the 80s and the epic show that is Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This new show called Mushi-Shi is based on the highly successful manga by the same name. It adapts very well by covering each chapter as an episode in the anime. This show is mellow, slow paced, relaxing, but in general a show worth taking a deep breath for.

Mushi-Shi follows a Mushi master called Ginko. He is a soft spoken and laid back guy who always has a cigarette in his mouth (there is a reason for this). What is a Mushi master? They are people who study mysterious creatures called Mushi. These creatures are basic life forms that can exist in numerous ways be it rainbows or spores from a plant, but their only purpose seems to simply exist. Each episode is self contained. The audience follows Ginko on his journey to solve issues and rumors revolving around Mushi, and to possibly learn more about not only his life, those affected, and perhaps life itself.

A concept for a story to revolve around mysterious creatures and how they affect the environment and humanity is such an original idea. The simple fact that Mushi can become, replicate, or do essentially anything creates an endless amount of content. This, of course, then depends on the writing involved for each story told. How phenomena occur in the world and how these Mushi must be dealt with is both compelling and intriguing in the truest sense.

As a character, the audience learns certain aspects about Ginko. We learn why he acts the way he does, why he always has that cigarette, and even why he does not stay in one place too long. Everything in the show seems to have a solid reason and purpose. The writing in each episode does vary based on the content it covers, but overall the show is solid.

Where some might see Ginko as that tone-deaf professor type, it is his subdued nature that makes him interesting. He sees Mushi simply as beings trying to exist rather than label Mushi as inherently good or evil. Each episode seems to focus on a new character experiencing a different type of Mushi, and how it has affected their lives. These scenarios are unique in that Ginko must use his knowledge, or learn of new ways to overcome the current obstacle.

There is not much in terms of animation, but when the time comes for it Mushi-Shi really delivers. This anime occasionally creates wondrous works of art blending in, and engrossing the viewer. Backdrops and panning art used in Mushi-Shi are a fantastic example of this sudden surge (at the time in 2005) in higher animation and art quality. Almost any still image with environmental backgrounds in the show could be used as wallpaper or art on its own. Music used throughout the show is extremely subtle, but at the same time fits the mold and mood it is going for creating a powerful sense of wonder.

When the art and music are combined they create a deep toned unique atmosphere. Storytelling could rarely be told any better without creating this type of atmosphere. When winter episodes occur, the audience feels the chill and cold of the weather. Similarly when there is sudden fear coming across characters, the audience fully understands that fear as well. However, in terms of the character designs most of them look entirely too similar to each other. Individualism is more or less taken away. However, this is probably a director’s choice to focus more on the Mushi, and their effect on the show rather than how humans affect anything.

All of that aside, possible issues people could have with Mushi-Shi is the incredibly slow theme and pace of the show. That melancholy music, subtle mono-tone voices of characters, or the small amount of dialogue does create that peaceful “white-noise-esc” response that potentially could make viewers fall asleep. It could just make this show the most boring thing a person could watch, or the most intriguing. Mushi-Shi is a coin flip in that sense.

Some episodes in particular are incredibly engaging. Particularly whenever Ginko finds himself in dire situations, as these are truly edge-of-your-seat moments within the show. Ginko’s origin stories are especially interesting. Every time the audience learns more about Ginko, the stories and how he solves them become more interesting by the moment.

Mushi-Shi is an incredibly unique experience that many anime fans would over look today (2017), and even passed over back in 2005. With fan service and fewer heavy dialogue shows out there, this show greatly depends on the viewer’s taste in anime. However, this show should not be treated lightly and has that potential to become a top show for any fan.

TL;DR: Mushi-Shi is a deep anime that gives the viewer a unique take on storytelling which is a very original idea. The atmosphere created makes for a relaxing ride for the ages. Each episode is unique on its own, and an anime watcher can jump into any episode. The art is fantastic and never strides from wallpaper quality shots at all times. The characters are not unique in their design, but the characters themselves and how the Mushi interact with them makes for some good adventure and mystery style entertainment.

Recommended Audience: This show is for a more mature audience that is looking for a deeper meaningful anime. The pace and style of the show is incredibly slow, and that is the point. Enjoy what could be the best anime to put you to sleep, and keep going back for more.

Mushi-Shi relaxes you into a deep sleep for a dreamy 4/5

Studio: Artland
Director: Hiroshi Nagahama
Premiered: Fall 2005
Episode Count: 26
Rating: PG 13 Melancholy Adventure
Genre(s): Drama, Adventure, Mystery
Streaming: Funimation, Hulu (only 20 episodes available from S1)
Price: RightStuf and Funimation $30 USD
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About the author


I currently reside in Toronto, ON, Canada. Growing up in Houston, TX, I started out as an anime fan with the old 90's Saturday morning cartoon shows (Dragon Ball, Ranma 1/2). When Toonami starting airing, it was a show like Gundam Wing that officially cemented me as a true anime enthusiast. Any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact me via Twitter @BowlingJD or check out my Youtube channel: Moosen Spiel. I am also a big gamer from the retro NES days to modern PS4 greatness. More fun facts about myself include: Job as an engineer with a degree in Geological Engineering, speak fluent German as a second language, ex-Pro current Amateur level Bowler.

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