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First Impressions: Mushi-shi S2

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The return of the king.

I never expected to be writing that headline. A second season of Mushi-shi, the melancholic, atmospheric anime by Hiroshi Nagahama and the crew at ARTLAND never really seemed like a likely event. But yet, here I am writing first impressions of Mushi-shi season 2. I'm really excited, guys -- but in a relaxed, mystical way. You know, just like the show.

In case you haven't watched the original series, it follows a man named Ginko, who travels the land helping people and studying creatures called Mushi.

Mushi might be described as spirits in any other tale, but here they're real. Invisible to the human eye (typically), sometimes microscopic, sometimes huge, and definitely in touch with the essence of life more than people. They're not "enemies," they're just another type of creature, and they can help or harm humans just like any other organism. Ginko attracts Mushi, so he travels from place to place, curing folks of Mushi-caused illnesses or other afflictions. He is a Mushi master, aka, a Mushi-shi.

Fitting of his roving nature, there's no overarching plot; instead each episode is a standalone tale. Ginko will often not even be the main focus, letting the Mushi and the people dealing with them take center stage. There are some recurring characters, but nothing that would hinder a newcomer from jumping right in at season 2. There's a small primer about Mushi and the people who study them, and then we're off into the central story.

The premier episode follows a boy named Rokusuke, who works at a brewery making sake. Unbeknownst to him, he creates a fantastic batch of sake with a yeast mushi that allows people to see mushi. Of course, he takes a sip of it on the road home. Suddenly seeing visions of mushi, he stumbles upon a meeting of Mushi-shi, wear he meets Ginko. They all have kouki, a special sake for mushi, and mistake Rokusuke's sake for their same stuff. His "fake" is found out, but Ginko asks him for it so that Mushi-shi can use its special properties in the future.

It's not a conflict-high episode, but it's a great introduction to the world through a newcomer's eyes. A smart way to start off, I'd wager. The comparisons between the boy and his father were well-done, especially when he found his father's cup. It was a nice way to tie things up, even if Rokusuke didn't ever get to release his perfect batch of sake.

The music really contributed to the tone as well -- but that's not really a surprise. The soundtrack for Mushi-shi has always encapsulated that ethereal and melancholic feel perfectly, and Toshio Masuda continues to do a great job. I also really enjoyed the opening theme. Nagahama seems to like artistic, foggy openings, doesn't he?

Lastly, the animation was solid as well. Mushi-shi animation has never been eye-candy or wont to show up in a sakuga reel, but it still serves its purpose well with solid character animation. The real star here is the mushi, animated on the ones to really drive home their supernatural feeling. In future episodes I imagine we'll also see some creative designs as well, just like the first season. They fit perfectly in between spirits and microorganisms on the design scale and rather than being flashy just "make sense" in regards to the world.

This was a great reintroduction to Mushi-shi's world, and that it was up there with previous episodes in quality shows great promise for the rest of season 2. Hopefully we'll get another wonderful season and have all of the manga adapted for the TV screen. It won't be as action-packed as some of the other shows this season, but it'll definitely satisfy me.


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Ben Huber
Ben HuberContributor   gamer profile

I'm the managing editor of Japanator by day, and a roving freelance graphic designer by night! /  more + disclosures


 



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