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Mushishi – Review October 30, 2009

Posted by Cello in Movie Reviews.

Mushishi is deeply complex at times, and often drifts into the realms of the incomprehensible. Set at the turn of the 20th century, it follows a young man by the name of Ginko, who travels all over Japan, studying Mushi. As far as I could tell, Mushi, rather than being plain old insects, are tiny creatures with some kind of magical force. They’re a necessary part of life, but they often have negative effects on humans. Perhaps it’s the film’s slow pace that doesn’t allow the usual rise and fall to occur that just didn’t gel right with me. The explanations of what the mushi are, or why they do what they do is left opaque and ill-defined, which I think should have been explained more thoroughly.

Fans of the franchise should find lots to like here as much of the material comes right out of the anime and manga. It’s a beautiful piece of work, roaming languidly through lush leafy forests, pale misty light, and deep woodland ponds fringed with trees. The beauty of most of it makes the horrific parts even darker and more ghastly. When I say horrific, I don’t want to imply this movie is for adults. The film only has slightly disturbing imagery though the film and does a wonderful job of steering clear of sexual situations, foul language, or glorification of gore to make it suitable for most viewers.


The tone of the film is surprisingly serious, with near-constant tension and mysteriousness. It requires a certain level of patience and willingness to sit back and allow the film to weave its story. The filmmakers decided to have made this for fan boys, and doesn’t dwell too long with the backstories or relationship details between characters. Films like this rely upon tension and release in its prose rather than endless action sequences or CG-induced visual overload.

Perhaps the picture’s greatest strength lies not in what’s seen but in what isn’t- as in dimly lit sets, misty mountainsides, and minimal-use of the computer-generated parasites all add up to a creepy undertone that works extremely well. Mushishi is worth a gander for those that like their movies to burn a little more casually than most. Mushishi is one of those films that you want to recommend but at the same time, it all depends on the viewer and if they are the type that can put their entire focus into the intricate details of the film for 131 minutes. To wrap things up here, granted, it was entertaining but unfortunately, the storyline may be too difficult for some viewers to comprehend.


1. ironanno - October 31, 2009

Well, I made it through Tarkovsky’s Stalker and am a huge Mushi-shi fanboy so this should be a walk in the park. For a moment I thought you’d reviewed the series. Maybe you should? 😀

Cello - November 3, 2009

Most def! I’m actually on episode 7 of the series so it’ll definetely get the review treatment soon. If you ever catch this flick let me know how you like it!

2. Bartleby - November 2, 2009

I was really let down by this. Granted I wasn’t a fan of the franchise, but I remember watching this back to back with Dororo, and actually preferring that one to this oddly enough. The issue with Mushi-ishi is that while it is long and somber, not unlike Tarkovsky, there really is minimal substance. The plot isn’t just incomprehensible, it’s barely there. Also, curiously, there wasn’t the visual opulence I was expecting from Otomo. The landslide in the film’s opening was the strongest moment. The rest was, to me anyway, a wasted opportunity.

3. Squire Starsquid - November 3, 2009

You should’ve given it a point higher just for the fact that Aoi Yu is acting in it…! She’s so 超かわいい!蒼井優ちゃん、結婚してくれないの!hehe

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