SHOGUN’S NOTE: We’re still taking a break from our regular episode-by-episode write-ups in Watch & Learn to cover as many new shows debuting this season as we have time for. Read our blurbs on…
- SILVER SPOON 2 * NOBUNAGUN * NOBUNAGA THE FOOL * WIZARD BARRISTERS
- PUPA * Z/X IGNITION * HOZUKI NO REITETSU
Out of all the long-form series I’ve written-up here, MUSHI-SHI has always stood out. It’s one of my favorites, certainly - - nicely recalling the understated, humanistic fantasy of Western series like SANDMAN and CONCRETE. In a field so often predominated by bombast and loud colors, a series going so totally in the other direction was deeply fascinating to take in. It’s a show I recommend to anime novices whenever I can.
However, another way MUSHI-SHI differed from most, modern long-form shows was that it doggedly insisted on keeping its plots episodic. There were few constants from installment to installment except for the show’s witchdoctor lead (the John Constantine-like Ginko), the all-purpose ectoplasmic mushi he was an expert in, and then the often tragic remedies he’d find for humans afflicted by those critters. So… the show did get a little repetitive, and I’d even get a little anxious watching it sometimes, because the 26 episodes weren’t actually building to anything.
I wondered why they’d just cut the series off at #26? It obviously could just keep running, week to week. And here we are, a few years onward with an OVA that’s serving as a prelude to a new series, as I understand. Labeling it a “prelude” only seems to work in the broadest sense, because it’s just basically just another double-sized episode. If you haven’t been introduced to the world so far, this will only really give you the most poetic/oblique explanations to fill you in. Don’t worry, there’s not a lot you need to grasp, anyway.
Look, this OVA is solid entertainment - - every bit as spellbinding as the best episodes of the show. And it was wonderful to be immersed in the show’s signature melancholic mood. This angst with the twins of the Moon and Sun who’ve been cursed by a mushi eclipse and forced into a cycle of loneliness, jealousy and guilt is moving stuff. Much like an effective ambient music piece, it hits you on an abstract level that’s far from literal (and maybe not even metaphoric, either?).
At the same time, just as it’s hard to get really that qualitative when comparing ambient pieces, it’s tough to judge MUSHI-SHI like I’d judge other series. Any concerns about character growth, plausibility, et al seem irrelevant, don’t they? So again, I’ll say that I enjoyed this a lot for what it was, but I’d be lying if I said it’d didn’t feel like a bit of a strange after-thought to the last series.
Watch the MUSHI-SHI OVA and decide for yourself.
About the Author
|Tom Pinchuk’s a writer and personality with a large number of comics, videos and features like this to his credit. Visit his website - - tompinchuk.com - - and follow his Twitter: @tompinchuk|