15 CommentsAnime Analysis / By Scamp /

Mushishi special Sun-Eating Shade

Mushishi Hihamukage - -36[2]Mushishi was fairly successful when it originally came out. Which seems strange if you have any familiarity with the source material. It’s a slow, thoughtful, muted, episodic anime with no action or excitement or sexy men or women. It’s just about some guy travelling from rural village to rural village in pre-industrial Japan solving their supernatural problems. It’s not until you actually watch the show that you realise why it’s been successful. Mushishi was successful for being really, really good. Yet they never made a sequel. Despite there being more manga to adapt, despite the director not being an especially busy man, despite its success and popularity. They never made more.

Until today. Well, 2 weeks ago, but who’s counting. So me and Inushinde wrote about it.

Mushishi Hihamukage - -9[2]Scamp: I was a little worried going into this special that maybe my opinion of Mushishi would change and it would turn out not to be as amazing as my nostalgia remember it being. Would some of the magic be lost in the 9 years since the original and the director lose his touch and make some crap? He’s still adapting from the manga, but I’ve read the Mushishi manga and comparing it to the anime adaptation is like having someone explain a fireworks display rather than going to see it yourself. The improvements having Mushishi animated is phenomenal and brings across the strange, slightly frightening calm beauty to the whole piece in a way the manga doesn’t really have. So I was a little worried this special wouldn’t live up and in turn create anxiety for this upcoming second season (yes there’s a second season coming for those of you living under a rock, start getting hyped). Turns out all my worries were completely unfounded as this episode was as good as any Mushishi episode from the original.

Almost straight away it was back into the extraordinary power of the parts of nature we take for granted. This time the focus was specifically on the sun and just how much we take that power for granted. The moment towards the start of the episode where they had a slow montage of all these previous Mushishi characters watching the eclipse from all over the country was really quite beautiful. It’s interesting to think that an eclipse is the closest to a genuine nationwide live event you would have had before long distance instantaneous communication. Within a couple of minutes the entire country will see an eclipse at the same time. It’s like an alternate world version of the end of The Truman Show where everyone clutches their TV at the same time…it’s says something about me that my first point of reference was The Truman Show rather than something real like the moon landing or something.

MushishiSpecialFlowers

Inushinde: It’s rare for a property to feel simply perfect, where the elements meld seamlessly to create something truly engaging. It’s even rarer for a property to go dormant for several years, only to resume activity with no noticeable clunk. Mushishi still excels at is in making creatures as utterly alien to our sensibilities as the mushi feel like an integral part of the world, without pulling too many narrative gymnastics to make them so. As Scamp implied, they are nature incarnate, hindering, helping, or simply existing alongside humans as their survival dictates.

While the mushi are the real focus, the series does not skimp on fleshing out the myriad of ways that humans are affected by them. Just like everything else, that practice made it to the special in one piece. Mushishi manages this by adding a unique human element to the show, in the form of a sun-aversive albino child named Hiyori. While Hiyori doesn’t steal the show, she serves as a nice counterbalance to the Hihami’s detrimental effect on the townspeople. It’s a balanced approach that doesn’t feel tacked on just for the sake of adding unnecessary moral complexity, and it serves the special well.

If the quality of this special is any indication, which it probably is since it retains the same quality as the first season, I think we can expect great things in the near future. Mushishi is just as effortlessly good as before, and this sure as hell makes it feel like it never let up for a minute.

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15 Comments

  1. Nagisa33
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    You alluded to it but my favorite exchange was, “It never even crossed my mind that the sun could go away.” ” Yeah… I took it for granted that it’d rise every day.” That was a powerful moment, seeing that something so relied on is taken away in an instant.

    Another scene that stood out was girl in the meadow, right above the sun eater. The flowers gave off a mysterious yet hauntingly beautiful glow that was a pleasure to take in. It’s interesting that the sun eater’s flowers light up the surrounding darkness yet the sun eater does the exact opposite.

    It’s refreshing to see Mushishi back in action and I can’t wait for the second season!

  2. Pusswookie
    Posted January 17, 2014 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Hey I was wondering, did you guys watch Mushishi in English or what?

    • gedata
      Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      I remember when I’d used to hear Roy Mustang whenever a Travis Willingham character would open their mouths. Now I hear Ginko sometimes too.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:25 am | Permalink

        And it’s great though right? :D

    • Nagisa33
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      I watched the series in english. Hearing the special in japanese was great too.

    • Scamp
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I watched the TV series dubbed. It’s very well done in general, and it was weird to watch the Japanese version

  3. Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    In a way, this feels a lot like how Inuyasha randomly got an anime sequel after so many years and how the sequel felt no different from the original in every important way. The nostalgia feels are strong with this one.

  4. Nazaren
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    I was a bit bored this time around, as everything was predictable passed the halfway point. I know it’s not all about the mystery, but it’s better when it’s there. Minor nitpick aside, this special had every other element present that makes Mushishi what is, so I’m (pleasantly) stoked for the new season.

    Now I’m feeling unrealistically optimistic for a Spice and Wolf 3 or something similar. I don’t wanna come down. Don’t make me come down!

  5. Hanasra
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    After the perfection that is Mushishi S1, I worried too about The Special. Fear that somehow it regressed in quality and tainting my fond memory on Mushishi in someway. Glad that they prove me wrong on my worryness.

    It is truly a Mushishi episode. Even though it runs on 1 hour (or 40 minutes? Either way it’s double the time of regular episode), everything feels rightly balanced. The shots of every characters from past season is a nice touch of nostalgia (I could only identify some, sadly). While most of the magic still there, it’s certainly not the best Mushishi episode (nothing will top Rebirth Island I tell you). I think some of the part feel more direct, not using subtlety that make this Special feels weak on delivering its message (though the overall is still intriguing and saved it in the end). In the end what make this Special really special is the announcement at the end though, for the upcoming Mushishi S2.

  6. R1CK_D0M
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    MUSHISHI IS BACK BITCHES.

    Still rejoicing that there’s actually going to be an s2 now. I thought for a while that rumors of the s2 turned out to be the special instead (which I would have been happy with). But no, in this great world we get both

    • Hanasra
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      In a great world, we get Baccano S2 and Spice and Wolf S3.

  7. Shikamaru
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Dubbed version??? HISS!!!! I’m kidding, well sort of. I always prefer the original version. If a movie is made in China or France I don’t want to watch the english dubbed version. I want to see the original version with subtitles. They apparently dub everything in Germany, but when you dub something like Homer from Simpsons it just feels so wrong.

    I also enjoy hearing some simple words that are used a lot in anime like “baka”, “kirai” or “usoda”. It adds a different kind of charm to anime and I feel like people who watch the dubbed versions don’t get to “feel” this charm. I feel like they don’t get everything out of anime that you are supposed to get. Personal preference and it’s really pointless to argue about it. I’m just happy that people are watching anime in general.

    I’m from Finland and I would never watch Finnish dubbed version over Japanese. Well we once talked about this with my friend and we realized how stupid it would sound like. So we would watch FMA in Finnish for one reason only. We could laugh our asses of at how bad it sounds like in Finnish.

    Watching Mushishi is really different from most anime. Something about the voice acting in Mushishi is so different when compared to other anime. The voice acting is on totally different level. It feels a lot bigger, serious and important than any other anime. I think you know what I mean or maybe I’m the only one who feels this way.

    Anyway, more Mushishi is always a good thing.

    • Shikamaru
      Posted January 18, 2014 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

      Sorry forgot to mention this. If you watched English dubbed anime you can’t hear them randomly inserting english words to their sentences which happens often in anime. So again you don’t get the full experience if you’re watching English dub. Or you can’t hear beautiful engrish like Osaka’s “Oh Mai Gaah” moment. Which is still one of the funniest moments in anime history. Of course this doesn’t happen in Mushishi but I was talking about anime in general.

  8. T1g
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    So has it been explained why Ginko wears modern day western clothes in a decidedly non modern day japan?

    • Hanasra
      Posted January 19, 2014 at 6:26 am | Permalink

      No, but I think it is to evoke strangeness or the contrast between him as the protagonist and the rural world of Japan. The manga I believe shows more industrial era influenced thing at the begining.

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