S.W.A.T. Reviews: Spring 2014 Pt. 2

The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful. These are the final batch from the new season:

Listen – First impressions of The File of Young Kindaichi Returns from Toei Animation. It is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – First impressions of Riddle Story of Devil from Diomedea. It is streaming on Funimation and Hulu.

Listen – First impressions of No Game No Life from MADHOUSE. It is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – First impressions of Mekaku City Actors from SHAFT. It is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – First impressions of Mushishi the Next Chapter from Artland. It is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Listen – First impressions of M3 the Dark Metal from Satelight. It is streaming on Daisuke.

Ongoing Investigations: Case #236

narutaki_icon_4040 The story in the Mushishi Special of a girl who can’t go into the sun and the eclipse which takes a toll on her family and her town, and her selfish wish for the sun to never to return, fit perfectly in the world of Mushishi.

I rather enjoyed the beginning sequence of little stories and tidbits about the upcoming eclipse being talked about by various people. Various people that don’t include Ginko, though he is mentioned but not by name. There was a feeling of anticipation for him to show up on the screen. It has been so long since last we met our wanderer that I felt my heart swell as he stepped into view.

The Mushishi Special does the trick of making one very excited for the upcoming new ongoing anime. This double episode filled me with good feelings but, as Al pointed out to me, made me forget the melancholy that generally underlies much of the series.

hisui_icon_4040 The Mushishi Special is sort of herald for the new Mushishi anime. The original anime covered lots of the manga but at the same time it also left a decent amount uncovered. But Mushishi is really episodic. There is not really a beginning, a middle, or an end. There are no real story arcs or many connecting threads. It is mostly just Ginko going around Japan and helping people with their spirit problems while researching said spirits at the same time. There are some reoccurring characters but no one who need more than a breif introduction.  So it is a story that can always be restarted with minimal fuss and ended with little sense of abruptness.

The special starts during a Solar Eclipse. The Mushishi are on high alert as the spirts are extremely active during a large natural event like an eclipse. In fact some of them can only act on such a day. In one town a huge Mushi uses the darkness to block out the sun in the area permanently.  While Ginko tries to free the town from endless darkness there are two girls in town who might have a solution but little desire to tell anyone about it.

I was a little shocked that overall this was not that melancholy a story. It really felt like it could easily go down the road to a sad or bittersweet ending. Mushishi as a whole like to go that way. But surprisingly everyone gets what they want it this episode. It is certainly not the way the originally wanted it but in the end they might have actually gotten more of what they needed than what they wanted. (And not at some horrible price.) I sort of figured they would go for the gut punch with this one. Color me surprised.

Overall it was more Mushishi. It was slow but pretty. Thoughtful but not overly ponderous.  Subdued but not comatose or completely morose. It is not an episode that would win anyone over who was not already predisposed to the series but a nice treat to its established fan base. I am sure they are just itching for the new season on the way.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching, reading, or playing outside of our main blog posts. We each pick three things without much rhyme or reason; they are just the most interesting things since the last OI.

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Manga of the Month: Mushishi

Mushishi (蟲師) by Yuki Urushibara

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Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi showcases an ethereal quality in both artwork and storytelling. She draws you in and surrounds you so thoroughly that the journey feels close to your heart. It is sometimes eerie, sometimes enlightening, and always beautiful.

Mushishi is the tale of Ginko who travels the countryside searching for and helping those affected by unusual, spiritual creatures known as Mushi. These creatures are tied to the threads of life and nature and their effects on humans are varying. Most people cannot see Mushi and that is where Ginko comes in as he can interact with them.

Despite the supernatural elements, Mushishi is about humanity. Ginko seeks out those affected by Mushishi and we learn their story as he does. There are stories of loss, love, change, and pride; where people have been and where they wish to be; and the unlike road of living.

While Mushishi is episodic in nature, Ginko is the key element tying each new tale together. Ginko is not so much a passive observer as he may seem at the beginning and he has a story to tell us, too.

Mushishi is quietly compelling as it unfolds the human condition before you and highlights they mystery of nature.