The first volume of the manga Mushishi, by Yuki Urushibara, is somewhere between a collection of mysteries and mood pieces. It's not for everyone or all moods, and I'm not sure I feel the need to own subsequent volumes, but it's quite well done.
Mushi are very primitive forms of life. When they interact with humans, they can cause drawings to come to life, or eat the sounds the humans would hear, or provide premonitory dreams. Mushishi are those humans who have a talent for sensing mushi and make a career of dealing with them. The manga follows Ginko, a young mushishi with only one eye, as he travels around Japan and confronts mushi-related problems.
In this first volume, there's little in the way of narrative momentum, as each chapter tells a self-contained story. I understand that in later volumes, hints are given about Ginko's back story, but it's not clear to me whether the series does or is meant to have any overall arc. Since what-happens-next is normally a major motivation for me, this is part of the reason I'm not rushing out to buy the next couple of volumes. Character is my other major motivation, and I don't have enough of a feel yet for Ginko's character to be really invested in his story.
However, the individual stories in the first volume are imaginative, affecting, and occasionally even a little haunting. The art suits them well, though I sometimes had trouble with the panel flow—perhaps just a sign that it's been a while since I was reading right-to-left. The overall atmosphere strikes me as on the contemplative end, for all that there are moments of urgency. If you're in the mood for atmospheric mysteries, this is worth looking into.
(There is also an anime that I understand follows the manga very closely.)
#1 :: Anja wrote on May 8, 2008 at 11:51 AM:
#2 :: Kate wrote on May 8, 2008 at 2:01 PM:
Subscribe to comments on this post: RSS feed
Post a comment: