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|Average Rating: 9.00|
Sarah scored this with 9/10. Disagree?
“Living in the darkness and still being able to remember the light – I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all.”
And so the last four stories of Ginko, the travelling Mushi-master, weave their subtle spell once more, entrancing the viewer with a glimpse of the strange and sometimes sinister natural forces (mushi) to be found in the hidden mountain valleys and remote coastal villages of rural Japan. This is a world where a giant catfish with moss growing on its head is rumoured to be the lord of the mountain – or a whole fishing communities is swept away by fierce storms, leaving a sole survivor.
In ‘The Sound of Rust’ Ginko encounters Shige, an elective mute who has been spurned by her village because of a wasting disease she is believed to have unleashed on the inhabitants. Traces of a brown, rust-like substance are to be found everywhere, even on the bodies of the unfortunate victims. Can there be any hope for Shige – or for the young man from a nearby fishing village whose feelings for her are so much stronger than pity?
Ginko has a rare meeting with a female Mushi-master, Yahagi, in ‘The Journey to the Field of Fire.’ At first they exchange information - yet when the two clash over the right way to deal with an invasion of a mushi-based plant, Ginko is dragged away and locked up by the loyal villagers to stop him interfering. Unfortunately, it transpires that he was right – and disastrous consequences ensue for the village.
Episode 25 ‘Eye of Fortune, Eye of Misfortune’ is not for the squeamish. Although the horror here is mostly implied rather than graphically depicted, this tale of blind Amane, whose sight is miraculously restored by a mushi called a Ganpaku (the fabled eye of fortune) only to discover that she can see far more than other humans, even the future. This cursed gift leads to tragedy and sends Amane out onto the road as a travelling singer…which is where she encounters Ginko. “When the time comes, take my eyes and bury them in the mountains,“ she begs him. Laura Bailey gives an affecting portrayal of the resourceful Amane, even singing convincingly to the sound of the biwa, whose starkly mournful strings permeate the score of this episode.
The final episode, ‘The Sound of Footsteps on the Grass,’ is told through the eyes of Taku, young heir to a mountain community protected by his kindly father…and his encounter while fishing with another boy from a group of travellers who visit the mountain every year. Shy and wary, Taku gradually finds himself opening up to the outgoing Isaza. He learns much about the mountain, including the reason that his father is resisting all local efforts to dam the waterfall. He also meets a strange, silver-haired boy called Ginko who has joined the travellers. But when his father dies and Taku’s relations ignore his wishes, disaster strikes.
‘Mushi-shi’ has delivered some of the most delicate evocations of the Japanese rural landscape that I’ve ever seen in anime, enhanced by the natural sounds of the countryside and Toshio Masuda’s subtly-nuanced, minimal score . Each story is self-contained, although some (like Episode 26) have revealed fragments of Ginko’s past, affording us some understanding of what drives him to constantly keep on the move.
Extras include a ’Mushi-Shi’ production site tour, actor/director commentary (Mike McFarland and Travis Willingham, extracts from the manga from Del Rey, as well as textless songs and trailers.
Some series run out of steam – or inspiration – long before their full episode quote is up. But ‘Mushi-shi’ has delivered episodes of a consistently high quality through out its run and these final four are no exception. Quietly subtle and visually entrancing; watch it and enjoy a completely different experience from that offered by the familiar exuberant tropes of anime.
Screenshots (click to pop out)
|Score:||9 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Mon, 4 May 2009|
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