(26 episodes, 2005-2006)
My previous exposure
Suggested in this very thread. Also, wasn’t this in JesuOtaku’s top anime list ?
What’s it about ?
Ginko is a Mushishi, a nomad wise man who wanders around the countryside helping people with their problems with Mushi (mostly invisible, barely alive supernatural creatures who can have a huge impact on one’s life if one’s not careful).
Each episode is a standalone tale ; a few of them deal with Ginko’s past or the general ecosystem of Mushishi, but most just center on a particular case of Mushi happening to people and how Ginko tries to better the situation a bit.
What did I think of it ?
On the one hand, this show does everything right : a charismatic protagonist, gorgeous landscapes, effective storytelling that sketches up a new cast of characters each episode well enough for the watcher to care about them, a genuine sense of wonder about the beauty of Mushi…
But dear gods, this is a depressing series to marathon through. Most of the tales have truly horrific stuff happening to basically decent people because of one moment of carelessness or pride (or just plain bad luck). Very few of these people deserve such fates, and there’s a limit to what Ginko can do to help them (especially as he often arrives when it’s too late). What makes it worse is that you can’t really blame the Mushi either, because they’re not really sentient (with a few exceptions, such as the horrifyingly effective changeling tale) and just do what’s in their nature. The overall impression is that it just sucks to live in this world.
This has been a harrowing watch, and probably worked better on a weekly format, with enough time to rest between each episode. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very good show, but it’s a bit too good at telling its stories for me to really love it.