Monday, August 26, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara

Yuki Urushibara

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi . . . perhaps.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Mushishi
Mushishi is a strange manga for a few reasons. I should say that it stands out rather than being strange, but either description will do. Mushishi is a slow paced, thoughtful and almost free of action. Ginko is a wanderer who tends to walk in and out of small villages, working on a variety of problems caused by mushi. The mushi themselves are almost intangible lifeforms that aren't normally sensed in any way by people but occasionally they cause illnesses or strange abilities, with many a drawback for humans. Ginko is one who wanders because not only can he sense them but he draws them to him. Staying in any place for too long means risking a build up of mushi and a catastrophe of unknown proportions. These storyline restrictions makes Mushishi unusual as the mood, if not the general plot, is almost the antithesis of popular manga styles, which tend to be fast paced and filled with extraordinary action sequences.
The mushi of Mushishi are interesting life forms. They appear like bacterial ghosts and sometimes take the form of humans or beasts that dwell in a slightly different reality or realm. The mushi are what Ginko spends his life dealing with while others with similar abilities to his own tend to kill them. Ginko is a calm force even within the story's world, his laid back and somewhat distanced nature giving him a perspective on life that almost no other shares. All life is worth saving, wherever possible, and so he strives to find a balance for all.
Otherwise, Mushishi  is constructed of short episodes taking place in different towns and villages. The stories are all rather timeless except through the scattered stories that explore Ginko's past. There's a sense of isolation in each story that heightens the ghostly presence of the mushi, making Mushishi a ghost story with a difference.
The art of Mushishi has a sketchy, scratching style that's smoothed over with extensive shading. The landscape looms large and is often haunting for the snow, rough dwellings, dense forests and scraggly trees. Ginko is eternally smoking a cigarette and studying his surrounds with his one eye. The art has a stillness and calm that is strikingly different from most mangas and is a pleasure to read for it.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who like slow paced thoughtful stories, ghost stories, the "tree of life", philosophy and the wanderers life.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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