Mushishi Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 0-345-49644-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Mushishi

Mushishi Vol. #02

By Greg Hackmann     August 08, 2007
Release Date: May 01, 2007

Mushishi Vol.#02
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuki Urushibara
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:William Flanagan

What They Say
Mushi, a terrifying primitive life-form, take countless shapes "most of them deadly to the human race. Enter Ginko, a mushi expert, known as a mushishi. Though his laconic smile and soft-spoken manner don't seem imposing, he represents the human world's greatest defense. When a fellow mushishi disappears, Ginko must search for him on a mushi-infested mountain, putting his own life on the line!

The Review
This volume of Mushishi brings us five more self-contained stories of Ginko's travels to remote locations and the mysterious mushi that they contain. "The Mountain Sleeps" brings Ginko to a small mountain town, whose inhabitants plead him to inspect the goings-on in the forest surrounding the mountain. Ginko tracks down Mujika, an inhabitant of the mountain who has taken on the role of the land's master after the previous master's untimely death. In "The Sea of Brushstrokes", Ginko returns to the Karibusa library to continue his studies of mushishi folklore; there, he meets Lady Karibusa, who is condemned since birth to commit the tales of the wandering mushishi to paper. This chapter is a bit of a stylistic diversion, since Ginko's skills are never called into service: instead, it explores how Lady Karibusa copes with a mushi beyond Ginko's power to control.

"They That Breathe Ephemeral Life" returns us to the standard mushi-hunting formula. The inhabitants of a remote island have constructed a sort of cult around a local girl believed to be the God of Life; needless to say, Ginko suspects that something other than divine influence is behind the girl's unusual behavior. In "Rain Comes and a Rainbow is Born", traveling salesman Koro joins Ginko in search of a rainbow-like species of mushi which fueled a life-long obsession in Koro's father. Ginko's presence is somewhat diminished in this chapter, as the story is largely told through flashbacks interspersed throughout Ginko's and Koro's travels. Finally, "The Veil Spore" brings Ginko to a married couple who have sought Ginko's advice in handling their mushi-infested house. Though the mushi has stolen away the wife's ability to give birth, it has also produced human-like offspring that the couple have adopted as their own children.

Because of the inherent difficulty of cramming several unrelated stories into a single anthology, episodic manga can be difficult to pull off. Mushishi accomplishes something that so few other short story collections succeed at: despite the economical page count, almost every chapter develops into a fleshed-out piece of mythology. (Granted, it does have a slight advantage over other anthology-style manga, in that the stories are all loosely connected by theme and by a common protagonist.) That isn't to say that these stories are flawless; in particular, the second chapter in this volume never feels like it comes together as a coherent whole, and its fatalistic ending is somewhat out-of-place with the rest of the manga's tone. But the sheer inventiveness of the plots and settings more than make up for these infrequent deficiencies in the narrative.

Even with one poorly-executed chapter, Mushishi continues to be one of the most engaging series released this year, and should appeal to almost any reader willing to try something slightly off the beaten path. Highly recommended.


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