Monday, February 05, 2007

Manga Monday 24: Mushishi

Mushishi (Volume 1)
Yuki Urushibara

Mushishi is a book that seems to have a few people excited in the manga realm. This series comes from a new young cartoonist and has garnered quite a bit of acclaim, at the same time that it's branching out into other multimedia areas like anime. The first volume of this manga has just been released by Del Ray to American audiences in a pretty little package. The story follows a mysterious young man, a mushishi named Ginko, who travels to expand his knowledge and help people with problems that involve magical creatures called mushi. He's kind of like a shaman of sorts. Now, I went into this book without having any prior knowledge of the premise and was a little out-of-sorts, as I didn't realize where the focus of the story would lie, let alone what the heck was going on. As a series of short stories, Mushishi opens with a young man (Shinra) who has the ability to draw anything he wishes into being with his left hand, no matter how fantastic. I imagined that this would be the thrust of the series until one of the many men who've come to seek him out (Ginko) begins to teach the gifted boy about mushi and the ability he has. Then the story shifts over to Ginko himself before he disappears from Shinra's life when he's finished helping the boy out. I had assumed that the cast was being set up with this first chapter, but Ginko travels into people's lives helping to spread the knowledge of mushi and study them, so the cast is ever-changing, at least with this first volume, Ginko himself being the only constant. Now that I know that this is basically a series of short stories, it has fallen into a rhythm of sorts that seems like it could get old fast, but the stories are truly captivating, and given the strength of the opening volume, the creator has a vast resource of creativity that will, at the very least, keep this premise afloat for awhile to come, if not build upon it for something truly spectacular. Now the mushi themselves are creatures that have existed since the beginning of time, not quite plant, not quite animal, but almost spirits of sorts that can harm people with their mere existence. It's interesting and spellbinding to listen to Ginko weave the legends surrounding these creatures, and the beautiful art that Urushibara illustrates his story with makes this an exciting new series, perhaps deserving of the praise and attention it's garnered. I can't wait for the next volume. A


D said...

Very nice review. Thanks! Oh, and just so you know, the author is a woman.

Dave! said...

My mistake! Thanks for the correction!