This is my 299th post and what better way to end this here than with my final review of Mushishi‘s second half Zoku Shou.
There really isn’t a single series out there like this one. This show is awesome! What anime series lack in characterization Mushishi more than makes up for in its wide cast. This is certainly a show that blows just about every other anime out of the water by focusing on people individually. A big applause to Yuki Urushibara for writing such etherial and sometimes relaxing stories! A lot of the episodes come across being really deep in its settings and themes but what really sets this anime apart from the rest is the atmosphere it gradually maintains– luscious forests and even snow scenes with glowing mushi allows for this series to come off quite beautiful visually!
The extra is how strong the music is. While the stories about people being afflicted by mushi in some form or another tackles japanese folklore and legends its very much in the way of its soundtrack that delivers the authenticity that this show is known for. It sets itself up nicely for the viewer. Toshio Masuda, I’ve mentioned him before in Kamisama Kiss’ recent episode post and how well diverse he is getting to be as a composer. Without a doubt Mushishi still stands as the best work he’s ever done and without it I do not believe Ginko’s tales would have been so effective.
When Zoku Shou got announced I was rather worried because there are times when series do come back for a sequel and some of the staff doesn’t return; which can greatly hinder the differences between seasons drastically for the viewer. A fine example of this was last season’s Psycho-Pass 2 in how the writer and production studio changed. With Mushishi, just as the stories are authentic it strived to adapt the manga with so much heart it had to have just about every staff member return.
Director Hiroshi Nagahama most known for helping conceive Revolutionary Girl Utena‘s animated work hasn’t done much but what he has achieved has been incredible. This guy has done wonders for this series, to be able to maintain such consistency in every keeping the high standards the first season had set after having such a large gap between seasons 1 and 2 is an amazing achievement in itself! One of my favorite series that he actually created was Simoun. As for the animation I personally think its some of the best we’ve had of 2014 and Studio Artland pulled it off once again! Mushishi isn’t flashy and doesn’t like to show off but more importantly what it aims at is whether or not it can tell a solid narrative.
This second season I think may have had some of the best chapters adapted. It’s also one of the few anime series that has animated every single chapter a mangaka has ever done! We start off with a sake brewer and his connection with his father’s wishes to be the best there is to episodes like Komori E and Koten no Hoshi that bring families even closer together by shifting the focus away from Ginko and using the mushi as the mediator to point things out.
Then there are some really dark stories that come off even better than the light-hearted ones! Stories where people disappear into nothingness, chopping off heads to keep a woman alive, getting frostbitten, a fish-like boy turning into water to people killing each other out of rage– these were episodes that were definitely on another level. While they weren’t cruel they just put humans in ethical predicaments. The mushi for the most of Zoku Shou remains a principal string that ties these episodes together into the genre of supernatural so well. It’s because of that this anime is also able to develop these minor characters into the grand scheme of things. The reoccurring theme of survival and what comes with it. The life-cycle that is represented in a lot of Mushishi episodes conveys a strong message about morality and what kinds of customs the characters of this series follow and sometimes don’t.
Mushishi can make us laugh and cry within a single episode while pondering so many questions about human connections and even teach us about Japanese traditions. A powerfully moving anime that invokes a spirited presence with stunning visuals and an enriching collection of ideas about our existence and the people that we connect with that can make it a fulfilling life.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: [98/100]