Do you know what Forest Bathing is? When you are stuck in a city like me, you naturally want to reconnect with all things green because greenery is life. That’s why many people like to go to the woods where I am from. Unfortunately, since I am a loner, it’s not safe for a woman as petite as me to go out in the woods alone. So what is the solution? I watched Mushi-shi and perfected avocado smoothie during my staycation! I feel mentally recharged and happy.
By now, I don’t know how many times I have watched Mushi-shi which was initially aired in Japan in 2005. It’s my to-go anime when I want to clear my mind. It has a calming effect like tea. The animation is stunningly beautiful. I always feel as if I am hiking my way towards the mountains and then into the lush green forest with Ginko, the protagonist. But it’s not just the scenery that I like so much, it’s how well each episode tells its story surrounding the mysterious supernatural-like creatures called Mushi. There are 26 episodes and each episode is 24 minutes long. I like how short each episode is compared to some T.V shows that have 50-minute long episodes. Let’s just say I like to take frequent breaks.
If you are not familiar with the series by now, I am happy to tell you what it’s all about. Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. They come in different shapes and forms. Some are visible and some are not. Their existence is the cause of many humans ailment. Not everyone can see Mushi. Only certain people can. Ginko is one of them. Because of exposure to a particular type of Mushi, a fish-like creature with one eye missing, Ginko can’t stay in one place for long without attracting supernatural-like creatures. As a result, he is fated for a lone nomadic life, visiting different villages to help educate people on the nature of the Mushi and its effect on the mysterious sickness that one has inflicted by the supernatural creature. He is like a researcher/scientist, but more like a medical doctor as he finds successful solutions to protect both humans and Mushi without destroying either one so that one can live. In fact, this is a recurring theme throughout the series.
One thing that I really like about this anime is the message it wants to convey to the audience: When you understand your “enemy” you become less afraid of them. It is better to accept their mere existence as part of the ecosystem. They are neither good nor bad. One episode titled Cotton Changeling proves that Mushi just wants to live just as much as humans when it was given the ability to speak. It is an eerie episode in fact.
All of the episodes are resolved by Ginko’s ethical, scientific approach whereas other like him take on a more brutal approach towards the Mushi by killing them all, which ironically killed human life. As I mentioned earlier, Mushi is the closes thing to life itself. Ginko’s way of handling Mushi is very human and modern. When I say humanly, I mean he uses his God-given intelligence to solve problems rather than react out of primitive fear. This explains why he is dressed in western attire rather than traditional Japanese clothes. To dress like a foreigner gives him the impression of an outsider. His outsider perspective helps him make scientific decisions rather than rely on archaic customs. His western approach to Mushi is a sign of forwarding thinking.
What I learned from this anime is that ignorance is not bliss. Knowledge is a powerful tool to harmonize the universe. Seek to understand the world around us because it can kill unnecessary superstition that does more harm than good. More importantly, it can save lives. Ginko saved lives like a true doctor. His compassion for all living things is admirable. I think that is why I like this show so much. Every time I watch it, it’s like having a fine cup of tea. Try it for yourself, you might enjoy the solitude walk in the forest.