sábado, 31 de agosto de 2013

[Anime Review] Mushishi

One of my favorite stories from fiction - is  Mushishi, both a manga and japanese animation production from 1999. 

Mushishi is about this world in which there are things that aren´t exactly alive, nor are animal or vegetables, and still they look - sometimes - like one or the other, a mix of the two, or nothing at all. Those entities, though not malicious, for the most part, sometimes mess with the human people that exist around them (since its thought of that they are a much purer life form than others, perhaps being responsible for even originating some of them), which can result in a serious of difficulties, problems, diseases or even killings of someone or entire populations, or even yet, condemning some person or people to a disturbing or at least discomfort condition. Meaning, they are hardcore horror monsters, without feeling exactly quite like hardcore horror monsters, because they just act like they do because... well, they are strange, and we just have to learn how to deal with it.

So, in order to 'deal' with such creatures, there exist some people, called mushishi - hence the manga/anime name, that, as a combination of doctors, investigators and spiritual healers, go around curing and treating and trying to harmonize whatever perturbations exist between the mushi - the creatures - and human life. When they can, take note, because not all things can be solved by the mushishi, who can only, as a good human as he is, try his best. And here lies one of the great aspects of this anime (or manga): the dealing with the tragic. The tales are all depictions of the tragic aspect of existence - sure, the mushi are around to be blamed for them, in most cases, but they could be easily understood - as they can take pretty much any shape or form - to be mere concepts or aspects of existence, particular to an individual, that merely 'helps' realize the tragic, the sadness. The stories are not larger than life stories (they are, sometimes, but in a different shape altogether than what normally passes for larger than life tales, rather, they are almost an hyperreality exaggeration of our own tragic encounters, here on this Earth, on this existence.

This series is sometimes qualified as horror, but the horror here is the one of my utmost respect for what this name entails - the horror that is about this existence, what can be considered existential, ontological or philosophical horror, reminding of writers such as Thomas Ligotti (in some aspects).

Ginko speaks highly for me, as his character mixes both strong virtuous traits as well as spiritual/magical/weird abilites in the occult (the realm in which the mushi live, that can´t be seen by ordinary people). In their world, magical events are caused/stream from the mushi, which are kinda like spiritual beings. It´s difficult to actually define what are mushi, since the show itself doesn´t quite pin on a thorough explanation for them, which is also fine. Difficult things to explain, hence occult. But as I said, nevertheless, there are those people more acquainted with the mushi, and those can go on to become mushishi, which are kinda like doctors/detectives that solve the problems caused by the mushi. 

And, also what I was talking about, we have Ginko, one of the most interesting characters in fiction, ever. Firstly, he is also not explained upon, in the first chapters of the story, which also meta-historically sets with the tones of the misterious and the occult. The only defined thing we have on him is that he is a Mushishi, and that´s it. Secondly, he is a character that doesn´t quite "fits" - pointing to the odd, obscure, weird nature of all things paranormal: he has white hair while everyone has normal colors of hair (brown, black), and a single green eye showing (the other one always covered by his hair fringe - which, again, points to the nature of fringe, marginal, liminal things) - plus he possesses those physical traits in a society that doesn´t have them normally, and also do not replicate it artificially like in modern times - they are japanese, that normally have dark brown to straight black hair, with dark brown or black eyes.

Plus, within the time set of the story - which seems to be centered in some kind of medieval, ancient Japan - they are not prone to coloring their hairs or changing colors with contacts, so he is further, further away from looking like a normal person, even more so when he has white hair and a green eye in medieval Japan. Thirdly he also doesn´t dress like everyone else - while everyone else dresses with kimonos and traditional japanese wardrobe, he dresses like someone from modern, contemporary times, with a regular shirt, pants and shoes, almost like he is a time traveller, or someone from beyond that world. This is actually never explained upon - unlike his hair and eye. Fourthly, he is just cool. So yeah, one of the great characters of fiction, and also a magician/supernatural explorer/investigator. Almost too awesome for his own good.

Plus his character story also speaks for itself. Since an early age, he is able to see the mushi - an ability few people have. Plus he ends up stranded, lost from his family, and ends up in the companionship of a mushishi lady, and eventually he gets his eye robbed, along with the color of his hair, plus all his memories. So he doesn´t even remember his real name, and chooses to call himself Ginko - meaning silver child, or white child. The story talks too strongly of the path of those that watch the supernatural long enough, the path of loss, the path of understanding existence, nature, whatever you want to call it. As a bonus, in asian cultures, it´s not black that simbolyzes death, but white. Yeah.

Anyway, the anime has developed cult status, and to this day, it delivers a great story (various, really, with each episode being a new one) - it is greatly revered by critics and lovers of the genre, as one of the best anime, and it has beautiful animation and soundtrack to boot.

Definitely worth a watch, if you are ok with some slow pacing, absence of fights, and some philosophy in your entertainment.

Positive Points:
- Great main character;
- Existentialism;
- Good animation;
- Overall good story and world development;
- Good mix of realism and the weird;

Negative Points:
- Slow pacing (can be bothersome to some);

Rating - 5 crows.

Um comentário:

  1. Just watched the first episode.

    It's curious how ANY fantasy grabs attention ...

    Wish I could also pull out time to watch a whole series. =)


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