Mushishi

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For the live-action film, see Mushishi (film).
Mushishi
Mushishi Volume 1 (English).jpg
English cover of Mushishi vol. 1 featuring the main character, Ginko
蟲師
Genre Occult detective
Manga
Written by Yuki Urushibara
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Afternoon Seasons Zōkan (1999–2002)
Monthly Afternoon
(2002–2008)
Original run 1999August 25, 2008
Volumes 10
Anime television series
Mushi-Shi
Directed by Hiroshi Nagahama
Music by Toshio Masuda
Studio Artland
Licensed by
Network Fuji Television, BS Fuji
Original run October 23, 2005[note 1]June 19, 2006
Episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Mushi-Shi -Next Passage-
Directed by Hiroshi Nagahama
Music by Toshio Masuda
Studio Animation Studio Artland
Licensed by
Network Tokyo MX, GTV, BS11
Original run April 5, 2014[note 2]December 21, 2014
Episodes 20 (List of episodes)
Related media
Live-action film
Television specials
  • Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage
  • Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Odoro no Michi
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Mushishi (Japanese: 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 keeping 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. It has been licensed by Funimation to its release in North America, while Madman Entertainment and Revelation Films licensed it for Australia and the United Kingdom respectively. A second anime series aired between April and December 2014, with two television specials airing in 2014. A live-action film, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, was released in late 2006, and a second one has been anounced for a 2015 release. 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 entire series has sold over 3.8 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.

Plot[edit]

The story features ubiquitous creatures called Mushi (?) that often display what appear as supernatural powers. It is implied that there are many more lifeforms more primitive than "normal" living things such as animals, plants, fungi and bacteria, and Mushi is the most primitive of all. 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]

Urushibara stated that Mushishi is set in an imaginary time between the Edo and Meiji periods, featuring some 19th century technology but with Japan still 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 otherworldly-looking man named Ginko, who is voiced by Yuto Nakano in the original version and by Travis Willingham in the English dub.[3][4] Ginko is a rare person who attracts mushi, which inspires a lifestyle of constant wandering. He also smokes in order to keep the mushi away. In terms of personality, Ginko is generally laid back and focused on his work. 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.

Other recurring appearances are limited to a collector named Adashino (化野?), who appears in episodes 5, 10, and briefly in 18 of season 1, as well as in the first special, and episode 8 of season 2; Tanyū (淡幽?) and her caretaker Tama (たま?), who appear in episode 20 of season 1, and in both special chapters; and Isaza, from the nomad group in episode 26 of the first season, who later shows up in episode 1 of the second season (with a brief cameo in the first special). Nui (ぬい?), a Mushi master who appears only in episode 12, can be heard narrating some of the opening and closing lines characteristic of each episode. Respectively, Yūji Ueda and Mika Doi voice Adashino and Nui in the original version, while Chuck Huber and Jennifer Seman provide their voices in the English dub.

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

Written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara, it debuted as an one-shot in Monthly Afternoon on January 25, 1999.[5] Later, it was serialized in the Kodansha seinen manga magazine Afternoon Seasons Zōkan from 1999 to 2002.[6][7] It moved to Monthly Afternoon on December 25, 2002 and was serialized until August 25, 2008.[8][9][10] Kodansha collected the chapters into ten tankōbon, and published them under the Afternoon KC line from November 22, 2001, to November 21, 2008.[11][12] On November 21, 2013, Kodansha started to re-release it under the aizōban format in their KC Deluxe line, concluding with the tenth on July 23, 2014.[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 July 27, 2010.[16][17] In March 2014, Kodansha Comics USA announced it will publish the manga in digital format late in the year.[18] The manga was also licensed in some countries such in South Korea by Daewon C.I.,[19] in Italy by Star Comics,[20] in Spain by Norma Editorial,[21] and in France by Kana.[22]

In addition, two additional chapters were published in the magazine on November 25, 2012 and December 25, 2013, respectively.[23] They were encapsulated into a single tankōbon titled Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage (蟲師 特別篇 日蝕む翳?) and released on April 23, 2014.[24]

Anime[edit]

The Mushishi anime adaptation was animated by Artland, directed by Hiroshi Nagahama, and produced by a group called "Mushishi Production Committee",[3] which consists of Marvelous Entertainment, Avex Entertainment and SKY Perfect Well Think.[25] The first 20 episodes of the series originally aired between October 23, 2005 and March 12, 2006 on Fuji Television.[note 1][26][27] 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.[1] 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,[28] and a Limited Edition Blu-ray box on December 20, 2013.[29] The series features an opening theme song, "The Sore Feet Song" by Ally Kerr,[1] 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.[30] To promote the series' release, it hosted Nagahama at the Anime Expo 2007 between June 29 and July 2.[31] 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.[32] The series was released in six DVDs between July 31, 2007 to February 26, 2008 by Funimation,[33][34] which also streamed series on its own channel, Hulu, Joost, Anime News Network, Crackel, as well as distributed it to Comcast cable service.[35][36][37][38][39] 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.[40][41][42][43] In United Kingdom, the series was released between October 22, 2007 and November 17, 2008 by Revelation Films in six DVD.[44][45] Madman Entertainment acquired the series' distribution rights at AVCon in 2007,[46] releasing it in a six-discs box set on January 14, 2009 in PAL region.[47]

A special titled Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage was broadcast on Tokyo MX, Tochigi TV, Gunma TV, and BS11 on January 4, 2014, and streamed by Niconico.[23] Aniplex released the special on DVD and Blu-ray on April 23, 2014.[48] A second anime television season titled Mushishi: Zoku-Shō (蟲師 続章?) airs since April 5, 2014,[note 2] on Tokyo MX and other channels.[49][2] As with the special,[23] the second season featured the same director, the same studio and main cast from the first season.[49] After the broadcast of the tenth episode on June 21,[note 2] the "first half" was finished.[50] Another special, Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Odoro no Michi (蟲師 特別篇 棘のみち?), aired on August 20 on BS11.[51] The latter half of the second season started to air on October 19,[note 3][52][53] and ended on December 21, 2014.[54][1] Its first DVD compilation was released on July 23, 2014 in Japan.[55] The opening song for the second season is "Shiver" by Lucy Rose.[56]

Hihamukage was streamed by Crunchyroll's for premium members on the same date and available for free user a week later.[57] The second season has been licensed for streaming by Aniplex of America and Crunchyroll as Mushi-Shi -Next Passage-.[58][59] In November, Madman Entertainment acquired its home media release rights for Australia.[60] Late in the same month, Madman also licensed the series for streaming and made it available on its site AnimeLab.[61][62]

Other merchandise[edit]

See also: Mushishi (film)

A live-action Mushishi feature film, released at the 2006 Venice International Film Festival, was directed by Katsuhiro Otomo and starred Joe Odagiri.[63][64] A second film, that will be based on the manga's last arc, "Suzu no Shizuku," was announced in December 2014 to be released in Summer 2015 in Japan.[54]

A guidebook titled Mushishi Official Book was released by Kodansha on January 23, 2006.[65] Two soundtrack albums were released by Marvelous Entertainment and Geneon Entertainment for the anime adaptation; the first on March 24, 2006 and the second on July 23, 2006.[28] In the following year, a light novel by Naoki Tsujii was published on February 23.[66] On June 30, and July 20, 2007, were released an artbook, and a book with staff commentaries on the anime series production, respectively.[67][68] 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.[69][70] Two Anime Hōsōjun Selection (アニメ放送順セレクション?) books have been released on April 23, and May 14, 2014; a Utage-hen (宴編?, lit. "Feast Edition ") and a Toge-hen (棘編?, lit. "Thorn Edition") respectively.[71][72] On June 25, the soundtrack for Next Passage was released by Aniplex.[73]

Reception[edit]

The series has won numerous awards; in 2003, the manga was awarded an Excellence Prize for manga at the 7th Japan Media Arts Festival,[74] while in 2006, the series won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga.[75] 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.[76] 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.[77] It also ranked 13th in a "Top 20" poll conducted by Japanese anime magazine Animage in 2006.[78] In the following year, 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.[79][80] Young Adult Library Services Association also listed the manga among 33 titles with "good quality literature and appealing reading for teens" in 2008.[81]

Mushishi was also well received by Japanese-language readers. The ten volumes have sold over 3.8 million copies as of July 2007.[64] Individual volumes frequently appeared on the weekly lists of best-selling manga there.[82][83] Further, the eighth volume was the ninth best-selling manga of Amazon.com in the first half of 2007.[84] 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.[85] In North America, ICv2 has listed the manga among the "Top 300 Graphic Novels" of the month twice.[86][87] Readers of About.com voted it the best seinen manga released in North America in 2007.[88]

Mushishi was chosen as the best manga of 2007 by Deb Aoki of About.com,[89] while it was elected the best anime series of 2007 by Anime News Network's Carl Kimlinger,[90] and was ranked seventh on IGN's Ramsey Isler top anime of 2007.[91] Aoki called it "a rare breed of manga: a smartly-written, original story that's told with simple yet mesmerizing imagery."[89] Similarly, Kimlinger declared that "Its hypnotic rhythm, humanism, and naturalist's eye for beauty give it a charm that far outstrips mere entertainment value."[90] 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."[92]

Its storytelling was highly praised; Isler deemed it as "near flawless",[91] while Pop Culture Shock's Ken Haley labeled it "an enjoyable and intriguing read",[93] and it was praised for its "short, spooky and breathtaking stories" by Shirl Sazynski of Sequential Tart.[94] 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.[95] 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.[96] 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."[97][98]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b As stated on the official website, Mushi-Shi officially premiered on October 22, 2005 at 27:45 AM (October 23, 3:45 AM).[1] By consequence, the Fuji Television's broadcasting ends actually on March 12, 2006, instead of March 11.
  2. ^ a b c As stated on the official website, Mushi-Shi -Next Passage- officially premiered on April 4, 2014 at 24:00 (April 5, 00:00).[2] By consequence, the "first half"'s broadcasting ends actually on June 21, 2014, instead of June 20, and the series ends December 21, instead of December 20.
  3. ^ As stated on the official website, Mushi-Shi -Next Passage- '​s "second half" officially premiered on October 18, 2014 at 24:30 (October 19, 00:30).[2]

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