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  • J.H. Fleming

Inspiration of the Week: Mushi-shi


I've been an anime fan ever since I first saw Princess Mononoke as a kid, but for years I only ever saw Studio Ghibli's films, never venturing into the wider world of anime shows. Eventually a cousin let me borrow one, and I moved on to another, and another. I really liked them, but I couldn't really say I had a favorite. Not the way I could say without a doubt that The Lord of the Rings was my favorite book, or The Legend of Zelda was my favorite video game series. There were a couple that came close (xxxHolic and Black Butler for those wondering), and I still adore both of those and would prefer to watch them over just about any other.

Then about six years ago I came across Mushi-shi. It was a S.A.V.E. edition for about $20 at Hastings, and it had lovely pictures and an interesting description. I bought it without having a clear idea what it was, but I was willing to give it a try.

I watched it and fell immediately in love.

Then I made my sister watch it with me, and again with my best friend, and again with my cousin. I recommended it to anyone who asked.

What is it, you ask? It's probably most comparable to a book of short stories, but also to Doctor Who. Each episode stands on its own with its own plot and characters. There are a few recurring characters, the main one being Ginko, a Mushi-shi (Mushi Master). Compare him to the Doctor, with something new happening in each episode that doesn't necessarily have to do with anything that's come before.

Though Mushi-shi is about mushi and how they affect humans, what really makes Mushi-shi shine are the very human stories. Such as the one about a man whose wife disappeared in a fog at sea, reappearing briefly a couple years later. Or the one about a young woman who tried to run away with her lover, fell to what should've been her death, and was never the same. Or the one about a boy who lost his mother, was saved only to almost be turned out again, and then lost not only his teacher, but all his memories. These stories cut straight to the heart, and are magical and beautiful at the same time.

Knowing this, I'm still kicking myself that I only recently started watching season 2. It has been out for a few years now, though only in Japanese. Alas, the English dub I had been hoping for has not yet happened. Even so, season 2 so far is just as lovely as the first.

Why bring it up here? Well, for me it's one of those things that mark a turning point for me. Something I can look back to and say, "Yes. That story changed me, or at least opened my eyes to something new." Since this one is an anime, I didn't think it was likely that many people had come across it, and I wanted to share. I hope you will give it the chance it deserves.

#storiesthatdefineus #writerslife

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Not everyone gets a happy ending