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Mushishi Volume 1 (English).jpg
English cover of Mushishi vol. 1 featuring the main character, Ginko
Genre Occult detective
Written by Yuki Urushibara
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Afternoon Seasons Zōkan (1999–2002)
Monthly Afternoon
Original run 1999August 25, 2008
Volumes 10
Anime television series
Directed by Hiroshi Nagahama
Music by Toshio Masuda
Studio Artland
Licensed by
Network Fuji Television, BS Fuji, Animax
Original run October 22, 2005June 18, 2006
Episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Live-action film
Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo
Produced by Sunmin Park
Written by Sadayuki Murai
Music by Kuniaki Haishima
Licensed by
Released March 24, 2007
Runtime 131 minutes
Anime television film
Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage
Directed by Hiroshi Nagahama
Music by Toshio Masuda
Studio Animation Studio Artland
Network Tokyo MX
Released January 4, 2014 (2014-01-04)
Runtime 45 minutes[1]
Anime television series
Mushishi: Zoku-Shō
Directed by Hiroshi Nagahama
Studio Animation Studio Artland
Licensed by
Network Tokyo MX, GTV, BS11, GYT, ABC
Original run April 4, 2014 – ongoing
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Mushishi (蟲師?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara. It was serialized in Afternoon Seasons Zōkan from 1999 to 2002, and in Monthly Afternoon from December 2002 to August 2008. The individual chapters were collected and released into ten tankōbon volumes by Kodansha. Those volumes were localized to North America by Del Rey between January 2007 and August 2010. The series follows Ginko, a man who dedicates himself to keep people protected from supernatural creatures called Mushi.

Mushishi has been adapted into an anime television series by Artland which aired in Fuji Television between October 2005 and June 2006. Following it, a live-action feature film adaptation, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, was released in March 2007. Funimation acquired the rights to release the anime and the film in North America. A special was released in January 2014, and a second anime series airs since April 4, 2014. It has also spawned a video game and many types of Mushishi-related merchandise.

The Mushishi manga has been well received both by the public and critics. In Japan, it has frequently ranked in the weekly Top Ten list of best-selling manga, and the seven first volumes have sold over 2.5 million copies. Both the manga and the anime have received several awards such as the Kodansha Manga Award and the Tokyo Anime Award, and numerous publications have praised them. The film adaptation received a mixed response from critics. However, it also received nominations at film festivals, and was one of the 100 highest-grossing films in the country in 2007.


The story features ubiquitous creatures called Mushi (?) that often display supernatural powers. Mushi are described as beings in touch with the essence of life, far more basic and pure than normal living things. Due to their ethereal nature most humans are incapable of perceiving Mushi and are oblivious to their existence, but there are a few who possess the ability to see and interact with Mushi. One such person is Ginko (ギンコ?), the main character of the series. He employs himself as a Mushi master (蟲師 mushi-shi?), traveling from place to place to research Mushi and aid people suffering from problems caused by them. The series is an episodic anthology in which the only common elements among episodes are Ginko and the various types of Mushi. There is no overarching plotline.

Characters and setting[edit]

Ginko, as portrayed in the anime series

Urushibara stated that Mushishi is set in an imaginary time between the Edo and Meiji periods, with technology of the 19th century but with Japan as still a country closed to foreign exchange.[citation needed]

Due to the episodic nature of the series, there are very few recurring characters. The most frequently seen character is an otherworldy-looking man named Ginko, who is voiced by Yuto Nakano in the original version and by Travis Willingham in the English dub.[2][3] Ginko is a rare person who attracts mushi, which inspires a lifestyle of constant wandering. He also smokes constantly in order to keep mushi away. In terms of personality, Ginko is rather laid back. However, he can be very serious when it comes to protecting people from mushi. He also often stresses that the mushi are not evil, but merely trying to survive like everyone else. A majority of the stories do not focus on Ginko, but rely on him as a catalyst to move the story forward by diagnosing or curing mushi-related illnesses and phenomena.

The only two other characters who have repeat appearances are a collector named Adashino (化野?), who appears in episodes 5, 10, and briefly in 18, and Nui (ぬい?), a Mushi master who appears only in episode 12, but whose voice can be heard narrating some of the opening and closing lines characteristic of each episode. Yūji Ueda and Mika Doi voice those characters in the original version, while Chuck Huber and Jennifer Seman provide their voices in the English dub, respectively.



Written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara, it debuted as an one-shot in Monthly Afternoon on January 25, 1999.[4] Later, it was serialized in the Kodansha seinen manga magazine Afternoon Seasons Zōkan from 1999 to 2002.[5][6] It moved to Monthly Afternoon on December 25, 2002 and was serialized until August 25, 2008.[7][8][9] Kodansha collected the chapters into ten bound volumes, and published them under the Afternoon KC line from November 22, 2001, to November 21, 2008.[10][11] In addition, two additional chapters were published in the magazine on November 25, 2012 and December 25, 2013, respectively.[12] On November 21, 2013, Kodansha started to re-release it under the aizōban format in their KC Deluxe line, and as of January 23, 2014 four volumes have been published.[13][14]

At the 2006 Comic-Con, Del Rey Manga announced that it had licensed Mushishi for an English-language translation in North America.[15] Del Rey published the first volume on January 30, 2007, and the last volume, a combined edition covering volumes 8 to 10, was released on August 15, 2010.[16][17] The manga was also licensed in some countries such in South Korea by Daewon C.I.,[18] in Italy by Star Comics,[19] in Spain by Norma Editorial,[20] and in France by Kana.[21]


The Mushishi anime adaptation was animated by Artland, directed by Hiroshi Nagahama, and produced by a group called "Mushishi Production Committee",[2] which consists of Marvelous Entertainment, Avex Entertainment and SKY Perfect Well Think.[22] The first 20 episodes of the series originally aired between October 22, 2005 and March 11, 2006 on Fuji Television.[23][24] A digest was broadcast on May 7, 2006 by BS Fuji, which aired the last six episodes from May 14 to June 18 of the same year.[25] Marvelous Entertainment and Avex released the series from January 25 to September 27, 2006 in five DVDs for sell, and at the same time in nine DVDs for rental. On March 28, 2008 a DVD box set containing all episodes was released. It was followed by a Blu-ray box set on March 27, 2009.[26] The series features an opening theme song, "The Sore Feet Song" by Ally Kerr, and each episode features a different ending composed by Toshio Masuda.

The anime series' licensing was announced by Funimation to North American release in January 2007.[27] To promote the series' release, it hosted Nagahama at the Anime Expo 2007 between June 29 and July 2.[28] In addition, Funimation exhibited the first four episodes in New York and Texas' locations such as ImaginAsian Theater, Studio Movie Grill, and Alamo Drafthouse, on July 23 and 24 of that year.[29] The series was released in six DVDs between July 31, 2007 to February 26, 2008 by Funimation,[30][31] which also streamed series on its own channel, Hulu, Joost, Anime News Network, Crackel, as well as distributed it to Comcast cable service.[32][33][34][35][36] Funimation also released four box sets with all episodes: on December 16, 2008, on October 6, 2009, on July 6, 2010, and November 8, 2011.[37][38][39][40] In United Kingdom, the series was released between October 22, 2007 and November 17, 2008 by Revelation Films in six DVD.[41][42] Madman Entertainment acquired the series' distribution rights at AVCon in 2007,[43] releasing it in a six-discs box set on January 14, 2009 in PAL region.[44]

A special titled Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage was released on January 4, 2014.[45] A second anime television season titled Mushishi: Zoku-Shō airs since April 4, 2014, on Tokyo MX and other channels.[46] The second season has been licensed for streaming by Aniplex of America.[47] The opening song for the second season is "Shiver" by Lucy Rose.

Feature film[edit]

Ginko as portrayed by Joe Odagiri in the movie

A live-action Mushishi feature film, released in 2006, was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The world premiere was held at the 2006 Venice Film Festival and it opened as a roadshow theatrical release in Japanese theatres on March 24, 2007.[48]

The plot of the film corresponds to chapters 2, 7, 9, and 15 of the manga. The cast includes Joe Odagiri as Ginko, Makiko Esumi as Nui and Yū Aoi as Tanyū.

Other merchandise[edit]

A guidebook titled Mushishi Official Book was released by Kodansha on January 23, 2006.[49] In the following year, a light novel by Naoki Tsujii was published on February 23.[50] On March 22, June 30, and July 20 of the same year, were released a book with details about the film's production, an artbook, and a book with staff commentaries on the anime series production, respectively.[51][52][53] Mushishi was also adapted to a video game; the Nintendo DS game titled Mushishi: Amefuru Sato (蟲師 〜天降る里〜?) was developed by Tenky and published by Marvelous Entertainment in Japan on January 31, 2008.[54][55]


The series has won numerous awards; in 2003, the manga was awarded an Excellence Prize for manga at the 7th Japan Media Arts Festival,[56] while in 2006, the series won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga.[57] At the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival, both the anime and manga series were placed among the top 10 in their respective categories for best manga and anime.[58] The anime series won grand prizes in the categories of television series and best art direction (for Takashi Waki) at the 5th Tokyo Anime Award competition held at the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2006.[59] Mushishi was placed in 9th on Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs's list of best manga, as well as ranked in 6th place on its list of best anime.[60][61] Young Adult Library Services Association also listed the manga among 33 titles with "good quality literature and appealing reading for teens" in 2008.[62] Mushishi was also well received by Japanese-language readers. The seven first volumes have sold over 2.5 million copies as of July 2006.[63] Individual volumes frequently appeared on the weekly lists of best-selling manga there.[64][65] Further, the eighth volume was the ninth best-selling manga of in the first half of 2007.[66] A similar feat was achieved by the last volume which was ranked 49th in the Oricon list of best-selling manga of the first half of 2009.[67] In North America, ICv2 has listed the manga among the "Top 300 Graphic Novels" of the month twice.[68][69] Readers of voted it the best seinen manga released in North America in 2007.[70]

Mushishi was choose the best manga of 2007 by Deb Aoki of,[71] while it was elected the best anime series of 2007 by Anime News Network's Carl Kimlinger,[72] and was ranked seventh on IGN's Ramsey Isler top anime of 2007.[73] Aoki called it "a rare breed of manga: a smartly-written, original story that's told with simple yet mesmerizing imagery."[71] Similarly, Kimlinger declared that "Its hypnotic rhythm, humanism, and naturalist's eye for beauty give it a charm that far outstrips mere entertainment value."[72] Jason Thompson's said it may be "too mellow" for some readers, although he praised it for having a "very original vision, with a sort of 'flowing life' of its own, a biologist's precision mixed with creepy fairytales and a surreal, dreamy feel."[74] Its storytelling was highly praised; Isler deemed it as "near flawless",[73] while Pop Culture Shock's Ken Haley labeled it "an enjoyable and intriguing read",[75] and it was praised for its "short, spooky and breathtaking stories" by Shirl Sazynski of Sequential Tart.[76] Writing for Manga Life, Joy Kim stated that despite not having a central story, which allows to start reading Mushishi at any volume, "the quality of the storytelling" will make fans want to read it completely.[77] The "quiet and subtle stories that evoke strong emotions with great story crafting and a fine tune to the essence of what moves people" is the main appeal of the series, according to Holly Ellingwood of Active Anime.[78] Both Ed Sizemore and Avi Weinryb, writing for Comics Worth Reading and Comic Book Bin respectively, said Mushishi has something to tell to readers, with the former commenting "If you want a manga to make you stop and think, this is the manga for you."[79][80]

Long, slow, fairly pedestrian in its visual style, confusing for the newbies, over-familiar for the existing fan, Bugmaster is a significant missed opportunity from Otomo. This world and character could make for a fascinating feature film. Sadly, this film aint it.

Todd Brown, reviewer for Twitch Film[81]

Mushishi ranked eighth at the box office in its opening weekend in Japanese theatres.[82] In total, it grossed $4,194,890, ranking it 81st among 2007 Japanese films.[83] It was nominated at the 2006 Venice Film Festival for the best film category, and at the 2007 Sitges Film Festival in the best film, best special effects, and best soundtrack categories, winning in the latter two.[48][84] Eye for Film said it is "beautifully acted, shot and scored", but cited the lack of oomph as "the movie is rather dull".[85] The Japan Times praised the cast of Odagiri, but criticized the film for being "a text too tangled and murky for the uninitiated to easily penetrate or parse".[86] The cast performance was praised by Variety which declared its "longueurs and narrative obscurities consign this 'Bug' to highly specialized outings."[87] All of the aforementioned reviewers criticized its soundtrack, especially the didgeridoos.[85][86][87]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]