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Review: Mushishi Vol. 1 by Yuki Urushibara

Mushishi Vol. 1
by Yuki Urushibara


Throughout the world are hidden organisms called mushi, mysterious microbial spirit-beings. Although they surround us, mankind is largely unaware of their existence. At times, however, the world of mushi and man intersect, and when this happens a mushishi - something like a Ghostbuster in this world – is called in to free the victim from the mushi. Ginko, the main character in Mushishi, is a mysterious young man who can ‘see’ the mushi and create medicines to help combat their effects.

The story seems largely set outside of time. In one story, a boy is clearly wearing a 20th century school uniform; in other tales, everyone is dressed in very old-fashioned kimono. Ginko himself wears nondescript clothes. His long coat looks very Western to me, but the clothes he wears underneath could be Western or Chinese. It’s hard to tell, as the author rarely draws full-bodied panels for Ginko, but I guess it isn’t important. The foreign dress simply emphasizes Ginko’s otherworldliness.

I hesitate to call Ginko the hero of this story, even though he is the one who intervenes and tries to save the day in each chapter. He’s not so much a character as a plot device, driving the narrative forward. He shows very little personality and we learn virtually nothing about him, although I’m sure that will change in future volumes. Instead, he is something like a storyteller, largely disconnected from events yet integral in bringing them to the reader’s attention.

One of the things I liked most about the story was the mushi themselves. They are neither good nor bad. They are not evil spirits intent on plaguing mankind for the fun of it. They’re neutral, like most natural forces. Ginko describes them as the “original forms of life” from which other lifeforms descended.

I really liked these stories because they seem very traditional. Reading them is not unlike cracking open a book of fairy tales. The stories are familiar and timeless, yet at the same time there’s some sort of twist that makes it new and different. The artwork tends to fairly simple and uses fairly thick lines that look as if they were laid down hastily. It calls to mind the appearance of ink painting without directly referencing it.

4.5 out of 5 stars


To read more about Mushishi Vol. 1, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
frost
Feb. 25th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
This anime was recommended to me just the other day. =) I'll have to check this out as well; thank you for the review! =)
shoebox_rhymes
Feb. 26th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
I didn't know there were books. I enjoyed the anime; Ginko is pretty mysterious but you learn more about him as the stories progress.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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