Posted by psgels on 17 April 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode.

I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I first started watching this series, I was still very young: 18, and I hadn’t even been released in the real world yet. Now that I’m much older I can appreciate the attention to detail even more. This episode was about a fishing village, probably in one of the southern parts of Japan, and what the people there generally had to do to come by. The Mushi here symbolize the tragedies that come with such a life, however I love how they’re only telling a part of the picture: they hint at other big problems, and they’re far from the only thing playing in the world: the world doesn’t revolve around them, they’re just part of it. I have seen no other show that does that better than this series.

What’s also wonderful to see is that the creators really seem to try to fit in character-development into these one-episode stories. I loved how that one guy was finally able to set his grudges aside. And it was done in such a natural way: for once there wasn’t some big life choice that he was forced to make “return or else you’ll die!”. In theory, they could have figured something out with the village, heck he just could have given them the pearl while still remaining isolated. It just was the push he needed to set his feelings aside and become part of the village again.

Another way in which anime has gone down, is how its directors have gotten much less freedom. What I mean by that is this: when in 2005, Mushishi was made, Hiroshi Nagahama was perhaps a well known episode director and storyboard artist, but he never directed a full series. Here he got the chance, and BAM, he gave it the best possible adaptation it could have hoped for. I mean, if you look at some of the other series that Artland has worked on: the animation is completely different, much more generic, their pacing is way off. A debuting director managed to do that and they gave him a lot of freedom here.

Fast-forward eight years, and you can see that the established directors can get the freedom they want: Masaaki Yuasa can just push forward his style like he wants. But really, when was the last time that we really saw a first-time director try to push his own style and stamp on a series? My guess is that as anime has matured since the digital age, it has become more consistent. Consistency is boring! Be ambitious! Take risks! Show your personal style! Be intelligent and show authentic stories!

13 Responses

  1. Spike says:

    Not sure how familiar you are with Japanese culture, but ambition and risk are extremely frowned upon by a lot of the older generation. It is a great problem that many Japanese industries are suffering from – causing their sales and profits to contract, and the country itself is still reeling trying to deal with the problem.

    A lot of studios stick to the tried and true because the industry is paved with giant ambitious failures that crashed and burned. Gonzo is just barely recovering from massive loses due to expensive gambles.

    It’s not like its just Japan, all entertainment pretty much adheres to the safe and narrow because audiences very often prove that they DO want the same old crap not innovation.

  2. AidanAK47 says:

    @Friend, That doesn’t show anything. It’s an episodic show with no ongoing story. You could start from any episode seeing as every episode is self contained. It’s just one of the pros of an episodic anime.
    Only thing you really need to know tp get the story when watching mushi-shi is that there are these things called mushi which make weird shit happen. And the show tells you that at the beginning of every episode.

  3. AidanAK47 says:

    Not sure about the the real stories about real people part but I will let it be.
    One thing that annoyed me though was when the elder coming up to the father and saying “I know how you really feel man, you don’t really hate me. In truth you hate yourself” My reaction to that was “Wow, what a dick.” You don’t exactly accidently burn someones house down and walk up to the victom years later to say “Yeah you don’t actually blame me. You blame yourself.” I highly doubt anyone could understand a grieving persons feelings to that degree so it just feels like a rather rash assumption.

    • manlyflower says:

      I don’t think you are drawing a fair comparison though. It’s not like, as you seem to put it, the elder showed up randomly to say some half-assed sympathies and insensitive remarks. It was clear between the two of them that the elder still blamed himself, yet at that moment, the conflict was affecting the man’s daughter, with a potentially dangerous situation afoot, so something had to be said.

      • AidanAK47 says:

        I get what you are saying. I still think it’s a bad move though. It’s more likely to achieve the opposite effect than the intended effect.

        • Aegd says:

          What groups subtitles did you watch? He didn’t really say it in that way. Watching it in Japanese all he really said was “I know you’re blaming me, but more than that, you’re still blaming yourself.”.

          To me he never came across as being a dick, he was actually being very considerate and caring, showing that he wanted to help and that knew why he choosing to stay away from the village with his daughter.

    • KaZuHiRo says:

      I believe that psgels was intending to use the word “believable” instead of “real”. They both carry the same positive connotation but cannot be interchanged.

  4. ajin says:

    wow, so you just gonna drop all your other series for the sake of mushishi? i atleast wanted to know how you’d rate kill la kill since you were so near the end of the series.

  5. kero says:

    yay for mushishi reviews!

    Great mood and atmosphere… it’s art, and makes anime worth following.

  6. headachebaby says:

    Hmmm…I love the ending of this episode. It’s one of my favorite part because of the camera angle and it had more movement. The music is still as awesome as it rolls into the credits.

    I am so THRILLED that a 2nd season was made!!!

  7. Blaise says:

    What was the significance of the red tide? They showed a flashback to the picture after the man’s wife died with the red water, as if there were some sort of connection. Did his wife not get eaten by a shark then, but was killed by the red tide?

    I don’t get it :(

    • meow says: <—present day crisis

      The flashback was indeed a shark attack and has nothing to do with the current crisis. In the current case, Ginko could only tell that something bad was going to happen because the mushi in the sea were retreating to the shore. I think he was expecting a tsunami, which is why he recommended that everybody flee to higher ground and stay away from the sea, but it turned out to be a red tide, which poisons/kills sea creatures caught in it's swath, explaining why the mushi retreated.

      I think at the time period this story is told, the red tide phenomenon isn't well understood, which is why it's a good thing the fishermen avoided fishing during and immediately after the red tide passed. If they had, some may have become poisoned by the red algae in the fish and may have died.

      Curious about what day and age Mushishi is depicted in. There's no sign of modern technology in any of the stories so far, although I feel like Ginko's clothing is cut in a modern style.

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:34 PM)
    @Kaiser: Puzzle elements, outside of sparing everyone, seem to be mainly just parodying video game puzzles. Like, only place where you actually have to solve actual puzzles is in Hotland, before that pretty much every puzzle is automatically solved, really easy or has some silly twist to it. Like the puzzle you can skip by pressing a switch in tree trunk. Can’t say I’m too fond of puzzles either, but I liked how game was making fun of them
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    Speaking of awful sense of humor and things that dorks like, just wanted to say that turns out I was right about Jitsu wa watashi wa in that main couple does get together before chapter 100(forgot what exactly, some where in 80-90 range I think). But they are such huge dorks that they do everything ridiculously slowly because they are that embarrassed, so they have had like just one date(in chapter 100). Not that I expect anyone to remember what the heck I’m talking about xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    The battle system grew on me a bit, but I didn’t like the puzzle elements it offered, the actual gameplay looked kind of dull also. Some of the characters were likeable enough, Papyrus, Asogore, the flower guy being my favourite though the plot didn’t really get interesting until the end.

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