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Archive for May 25th, 2012

Mushishi (2006)

At the turn of the last century, a young boy and his mother are travelling to a nearby town. It is raining heavily and unfortunately a landslide occurs which comes crashing down on the boy’s mother. The boy is discovered looking for the body of his mother by a female Mushi master Nui. The Mushi are mystical insect-like creatures that causes illness to human beings and a Mushi master can usually cure a person of an affliction. Moving ahead in time, we follow another Mushi master called Ginko who is looking for a place to stay out of a snowstorm. He finds an inn and discovers several people in the area have gone deaf in one ear. Ginko suspects the Mushi are behind the ailment. After curing them, he is asked by the innkeeper to look at her granddaughter who is hearing voices and sprouting some horns on her forehead. After piecing together some facts from her, he manages to cure the little girl and the horns drop off her head. Another more serious case occurs when Ginko is summoned to visit an old friend Tanyo (a fellow mushi master) where a more deadly Mushi is threatening her life. To cure his friend, Ginko will have to go up against a familiar face from his past and start to remember some repressed memories from his childhood.

This is based on a long running manga that started in 1999. Mushishi is an interesting movie that tends to become too complex for it’s own good and drags a lot at times. Visually it is really beautiful to watch and sets the scene for it’s mystical storyline perfectly with mist covered mountains and lush colourful forests. The production values are high. The biggest problem is the plot itself. It starts out being intriguing but then it just sort of dies out and goes nowhere. The story is fragmented – half of it is Ginko’s backstory told in flashback and the rest is Ginko dealing with the mushi. The deliberate slow methodical pace also hinders the movie. I’m not saying the movie is completely bad because there are some positive aspects to it. The back story to Ginko and how he became a Mushi master is captivating and engaging but I fear some viewers being put off by the long dialogue about dark mushi and one eyed fish that rears it’s head from time to time. They could have cut a good half hour from the running time and it would have quickened the pace of the movie considerably. The cast is pretty good from Joe Odagiri as the mellow Ginko to Makiko Esumi as Nui, the Mushi Master who cares for Ginko as a boy. Aoi has an excellent role as Ginko’s friend Tanyo. There’s a tiny element of gore to the proceedings as Tanyo’s grandmother tries to cut the mushi infection out of her body by cutting her arm with a knife. As the bad black mushi infection clears, there’s a huge fountain of red blood that sprays from Tanyo’s arm everywhere on the walls. It just seems out of place to the rest of the movie.

If you’ve got the patience for a slow paced movie, you might enjoy the movie. I think this will appeal more to Mushishi manga fans more than the casual viewer. Average.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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