I actually first encountered “Mushi shi” in the 2006 live-action film directed by Akira-legend Otomo Katsuhiro. I loved the quiet beauty of the film, and was intrigued to see the animated version. It was, in a world, mesmerizing.
This series is much more beautiful than the film, and because of the length of the series it is a richer and deeper adventure. I have rarely seen animation of this quality, especially in a television series. The green tone and emphasis on nature bring to mind some of the lovelier scenes of Miyazaki’s work as in Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.
The storyline is fairly easy to describe. It follows the journey of a “mushi shi”, or “mushi master” named Ginko, as he travels around and helps people who are having problems with mushi. (Funimation was quite wise with the translation of this anime by the way. The word mushi, when written with this kanji, is a difficult one to translate, and I have seen people calling this series “Bugmaster” which is a gross mistake. In this situation it was much better to keep the original Japanese word intact). An anthology series, Ginko rarely encounters the same people twice, and each episode is fresh and original. The series can be watched in any order.
The tone of “Mushi shi” is very quiet and somber, balancing on the edge of being a ghost story. There is a definite supernatural theme here, and the mushi themselves remind me of the “rods” creatures that occasionally turn up on cryptozoology series like Monsterquest. Anyone who loves Japanese supernatural stories, especially those that use the mystical elements of the natural world, will love “Mushi shi”.
Special props also get called out to Funimation for their presentation of this series. I have never seen such a long series packaged so compactly. There are four disks in two slim cases, which takes up hardly any space at all. With my DVD collection as large as it is, these kind of space-saving innovations are really appreciated.