There is a common saying that lightning never strikes twice at the same place. The same analogy can be applied to how a sequel of a classic never reaches the quality of that of its predecessor. However, both statements are far from the truth, it’s just that we don’t often see both happen very often. But when we do see it, its nothing short of magical.
What transpires into the discussion of Mushishi Zoku Shou is how it is able to keep the spirit of the original series alive and well. When you get right down to it, there isn’t any need to try to do anything new or different to the sequel in order to make it seem more fresh. This is simply how Mushishi structures into different story arcs centered on its mythological lore of Mushi. All of the arcs supply a deeper meaning to the characters as we learn about the different types of Mushi we come across. From this perspective, Mushishi doesn’t need to do anything other than just give us more than what we bargained for; they sure as hell made another accomplishment for the ages.
From a stylistic perspective, Mushishi Zoku Shou follows the same atmospheric tone as before. It transcends itself into a breathtaking journey into what the world of Mushishi brings to the table. If you remember from my previous review of Mushishi, I criticized it for how the world didn’t feel like the actual world that it wanted it to be. It tried to go really far, but at the same time it didn’t go far enough. With Mushishi Zoku Shou, it is apparent that we are shown a closer look of the various mythical structures of its world. This is one aspect to the sequel that I think improves more to the prequel in many ways. Here, there is more meat to be explored and its very rewarding to experience the rich landscape and how the Mushi engulf the world.
As there are many plot arcs in each episode, there is the question of whether these new plot arcs hold a candle to the original series. While there were many great episodes of Mushishi that I can name, I could also name some that felt rather underwhelming compared to others. In many respects, Mushishi Zoku Shou‘s offers more episodic stories that are stronger and vibrant. From beginning to end, there was never an episode where I thought it was average, mediocre, or even decent; they are all simply good to magnificent.
What makes them stronger is how the characters that our hero, Ginko, comes across in his travels are more memorable to the viewing experience. Many of them garner praise by the fact that they manage to fit in deep characterization in only under 24 minutes. Just like in previous episodic iterations; they all lead into a well-crafted conundrum that Ginko has to solve. This conundrum can vary in how they are approached in how the tone is settled. Tone is always the main focal point to Mushishi, ranging from mystical and transcendent to dark and unsettling. All are accomplished with great tenacity and wit that won’t fail to impress many who want a lucid experience to their anime viewing endeavors.
Animation has definitely evolved since 2004 and Mushishi definitely had a minimalist methodology to its artistic aesthetics. Although it may not look like it has changed its dynamic colors and lighting that much, it certainly flows in its animation more fluidly. New designs of Mushi pop up that look stunning to the eyes. Characters now have more range in movement thanks to the higher budget. Amazingly, it still feels freshly new despite the fact that it doesn’t do anything too drastic to make it more “modernized” for new anime fans to enjoy.
Music has never been a big hallmark for the Mushishi series, in terms of how repetitive it becomes after the fifth episode. Not that it is unlistenable by any means, it is good by its own standards, but I would’ve appreciated it more had there been more variety to it. The thing that is noteworthy to mention is the new opening to Mushishi Zoku Shou, which is far more welcoming than in Season 1. The first one’s problem stems from the fact that the singer was trying to do a bad Bob Dylan impersonation throughout. In Mushishi Zoku Shou‘s opening, sung by Lucy Rose, it feels more in lined with the peaceful tone that defines Mushishi.
In closing, I would call this a triumphant swan song for Mushishi to end on. Its efforts in bringing it back to show these remaining stories in animation form are admirable, to say the least. The series continues to be considered a classic from the 2000s era of anime, and now it’s become a future classic in the 2010s era. Can’t say I’ll be surprised by that assessment if it becomes a reality.