Mushishi is a beautiful show with strange environments, creatures, and a world that held me entranced, in the literal sense of the world, episode after episode. Still, I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling that something was off.
The uneasiness that grew in me as I watched this show was that despite my enjoyment of the story world, I realized that nothing much happens on a Character, Idea, or and Event level in the show. This story world was all about the Mileu - the environment.
To briefly go over the M.I.C.E quotient, basically story tellers lean towards one more than the other. For example:
- Milieu - More about this strange world you've landed in
- Idea - More about finding an answer to a question
- Character - About a character's inner transformation in his community
- Event - About the typical Hero's Journey, the characters need to set the universe in order think Lord of the Rings
The main character Ginko is a strange, white-haired man, with a glass eye that wanders from village to village; he helps cure the conditions that Mushishi (spirit thingys) cause in humans and their environments. He can't stick in one area long because these creatures are attracted to him, so he's constantly meeting new people, but not creating any connections to them.
The show is very episodic? I'm not quite sure that's the word. Ginko shows up in a village that a mushishi is bothering (sometimes the villagers call him), he asks what happens, people tell him without reservation, and he finds a way to cure them...or not. The end.
Ginko has no internal conflict about what he's doing, he doesn't think mushishi are 'evil' or have to be destroyed. His philosophy is that these mushishi alive too and does what he can to minimize the damage.There's really no external conflict with the people he's around or the physical world.
Almost every character is each new episode is the same - the characters have a serene calm about them despite the havoc the mushishi are creating in their physical bodies or environments. And honestly, despite the strange situations the mushishi create, I don't quite understand the explanations of the mushishi and how Ginko solves/heals people.
But I suppose it doesn't really matter. I watched all 26 episodes of this show despite not really 'getting' it. It's not about character development, or changing the world, or yourself. It's about getting lost in a strange new world where impossible creatures are all around the edges of the ordinary world.