Review : Mushishi

Mushishi is a collection of original Grimm style fairy tales that takes place in a pre-feudal Japan. Each chapter is presented in a very well constructed short story form, with only two similarities carrying through the series of different stories.

The first is a strange form of life referred to as Mushi. Life forms that don't really exist within our reality, but at the same time do. Those sensitive to the mushi are the only ones able to see them and thus a lot of people and children with this sensitivity are thought to be crazy. Mushi take a variety of different forms such as amoebas, single celled organisms, they can resemble human beings and some are even great creatures the size of mountains.

Mushi are not actually evil, they're not really sentient enough. Instead they're just like any animal or creature, doing what they can to get by. In doing so however they can cause dramatic, strange and often horrific incidents when they come into contact with human

The second connection between the stories is the protagonist Ginko, a one eyed, white haired mushishi. Basically a profession like a doctor, but for mushi related problems and conditions. Ginko is a mushi magnet, why isn't really clear, but it forces him to constantly travel the countryside, never stopping for too long. So he wanders from town to town, offering his services and helping victims of the mushi in every way he can.

Ginko is a somewhat mysterious character, he's very knowledgeable and seems to nearly always have some knowledge about what's going on. The most likable characteristic about him is just how far he goes to help those plagued by the troubles of the mushi, going to great lengths and putting his life on the line to help and save them. Future volumes will hopefully reveal more of Ginko's past and character.

These stories are obviously not aimed at younger children, having some quite strong horror themes, just like an original Grimm's fairy tail. A young teenager to an adult would appreciate the stories far more. 'A light behind the eyelid' is the story that won the manga award that is proudly displayed on the front of the cover. It's about a young girl who's eyes have been infected with mushi, and any sort of light, even with her eyes closed, causes her pain. How will Ginko be able to cure her? That's the other nice thing about this manga, the endings are never predictable, things rarely end with a "and they lived happily ever after".

Yuki has obviously mastered the art of short stories and Mushishi is an example of this art at it's pinnacle. A great read for anyone that enjoys a good story, not just manga lovers or teenagers.

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