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Do you believe in the impossible? Is seeing really believing? Is there really an answer to why things exist? Is there more life here on earth we are not aware of?
These are the questions that “Mushishi” tries to answer through the many journeys of Ginko. In addition to two anime series, the franchise has also spawned a live action movie starring Odagiri Joe most famous for being in “Kamen Rider Kuuga,” “Shinobi,” “Platonic Sex,” and “Azumi.”
“Mushishi” is truly a distinct anime to the point that is very difficult to find quality titles 25% similar to it, but finding something with the most similar of qualities on a superficial level may give you some interest if you enjoyed what “Mushishi” offers, but naturally with a different twist.
Similar Anime to Mushishi
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2007 – September 2007
For those unfamiliar with this title, please do not confuse it with “Princess Mononoke” though making such conclusions is naturally understandable. Taking place in feudal Japan, our main character only referred to as the medicine seller is on a quest to eliminate evil spirits plaguing the land of the rising sun.
In addition to using the same time periods as their backdrops, the medicine seller is also interested in the purpose of the evil spirits he combats from a scholarly/academic standpoint though for very different ends (Ginko to “cure” and for the medicine seller to exorcise). Both series share an episodic/condense formula while “Mononoke’s” story is told in two episode parts and then moves onto the next town for the next two episodes. The characters from time to time make a unique and memorable impact despite being used once. However, the mushi are neither a force of good or evil while the spirits in “Mononoke” are taken from Japanese mythology that are meant to terrorize regular people.
2. Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume’s Book of Friends)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2008 – September 2008
If you could apply the iconic movie phrase “I see dead people” into anime, look no further than “Natsume Yuujinchou.” Natsume, our main character has the sixth sense he inherited from his grandmother. Unfortunately, this gift has made him secluded and has bounced from home to home. Now he uses his abilities and the “Book of Friends” he inherited from his grandmother to make things right with the ghosts.
Both this series and Mushishi deal with loneliness but yet the need to use one’s gifts to help others and share episodic formats. However, “Natsume Yuujinchou” has something of a more subliminal optimistic tone knowing that everything will be all right.
3. Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey）
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: April 2003 – July 2003
Based on the light novel series by Shigusawa Keiichi, “Kino no Tabi” tells the many travels of Kino and her talking motorcycle, Hermes. Every place Kino goes offers something different and educational to both our main character and to the viewer.
Similar yet different, but still highly recommended. I say this anime takes somewhat of a contrasting approach in its themes and yet achieves the same satisfaction in goals. As opposed to finding the answers, the answers in a collective sense already exist to the main character. Its about accepting imperfections and understanding differences and audiences can discover what this fictional world offers is something genuinely universal.
Any Animes Like Mushishi ?
4. Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
- Episodes: Movie
- Aired: July 1997
This classic Ghibli movie stars Ashitaka, a warrior prince who was only protecting his village only to be consequentially cursed for his well-intended actions. On his journey, he encounters the beauty of nature and the wickedness of humanity.
This amazing feature shares a story about a relationship between humans and the mysteries of nature in the perspective of a fictional ancient time period. Humans are of course to be shown on a certain margin of let's say 40% good and 60% bad, while nature itself is still neutral but ultimately controls the order but humanity can still make the right choices if they show the proper restraint and respect. When push comes to shove, nature is ready for all out war.
5. Garo Honoo no Kokuin (Garo The Carved Seal of Flames)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: October 2014 – March 2015
This anime serves as a spin-off of the hit Tokusatsu franchise. Born from the negative emotions of humans are monsters called “horrors.” The only ones capable of fighting them are the Makai Knights and the Makai Priests/Priestesses. The series centers around a father-son team of Leon Luiz, the current bearer of the golden Garo armor, and his lecherous yet honorable father, German or Zoro when he dons his silver armor. Together they travel around the kingdom to help the common people from these inter-dimensional threats.
On the surface there could be no polar opposites but share some similarities. For example, the characters are always on continuous journeys in being faithful to their respective duties, to help others, and both share dark backstories. In some ways similar to the mushi, the existence of horrors is kept at a minimum for safety reasons. The series also touches on what it means to exist, though obviously in different ways. In the case of “Garo,” it is defining what it truly means to be a Makai Knight. Though the existence of horrors is due to the dark sides of human nature, thus humans being the cause of horrors, the Knights swear an oath never to harm humans.
6. Jojo No Kimyou Na Bouken Stardust Crusaders (Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Stardust Crusaders)
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2014 – September 2014
Based on the classic manga by Araki Hirohiko, “Stardust Crusaders” is the adaptation of the third arc of the manga. This series takes place in the 1980s and is centered on the Jojo of this saga, Kujo Jotaro. After the resurrection of Dio Brando, the arch-nemesis of Jotaro’s great-great-grandfather, Jotaro along with other individuals gain ethereal abilities known as stands. Unfortunately, his mother is physically incapable of maintaining her stand so Jotaro, his grandfather, and their new friends must make it to Egypt in less than 2 months to stop Dio once and for all and save Jotaro’s mother.
I understand why some people question the inclusion of how “Jojo” could be any similar to “Mushishi.” Yes, there are some episodic journeys. Yes, the crew does help people rather incidentally. Yes, it takes place in a specific time period. But I say the inclusion of stands in this series is what defines it. In most cases, only stand users can see other stands while invisible to non-users. Like the mushi, stands can virtually take any form and have various uses and abilities. Like the mushi, the stands also have a very mysterious origin (but it gets addressed in the next manga story arc and would make an awesome anime) But “Jojo” has comedy, awesome music, and balls to the walls action. If you want that, “Jojo” is your anime.
“Mushishi”, to me, overall represents something that is both spiritual but realistically methodic in trying to answer its questions. At times, I wanted to hear Neil de Grasse Tyson’s opinions on the matter of mushi. Granted many anime have approached to question the mysteries of what we cannot see, none other have been able to replicate its overall qualities as a whole though in certain fragments.
Some offer the slice-of-life aspect. Others address the journey and not the destination. While some just go all over the place with it. While with the typical “Shounen Jump” or magical girl series which may share the same formula, but simply distinct itself with a change of gimmick, “Mushishi” goes beyond just that. These six titles are the best I can offer that all share somewhat of the same themes and/or styles in storytelling.