MUSHISHI VOL. 8 – 10 (ADVANCE REVIEW)

Posted On July - 26 - 2010
  RELEASED BY:   DEL REY
  AUTHOR / ART:   YUN URUSHIBARA
  FORMAT:   JAPANESE / B&W 
  PAGES:   712
  RATING:   OT
  RELEASE DATE:   07/27/2010
  REVIEW DATE:   07/26/2010
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD



The journeys of Ginko continue in the final volumes of Mushishi for a poignant ending but not one that sees the end of his travels.

The final three volumes of Mushishi are packaged in a 3-in-1 large manga for a great deal of reading pleasure. Ginko’s travels take him far and wide, revealing mysterious, at times dangerous, supernatural beings and their interactions with us and the world. It begins with a farmer’s life saved by a mushi but at the risk of his own lifespan being cut short over time. All his efforts and tirelessness are caused by a being that will eventually take its toll on him, but due to it the farm is thriving as is his family. When given the choice between taking away what gives his family prosperity to come and saving his own life in the long run, the man makes a touching decision. Later a mountain trapped in a deep winter reveals mystery and later revelations. Ginko must help a young lady break the bonds of affection that open the door to her hearing the thoughts of the one she is close to, lest she be spirited away never to return. Later a girl who fell through a well must be saved by Ginko, but it is a bittersweet rescue in many ways.

The beauty and power of the story of Mushishi is in its layered tales and poignant depictions of humanities trials through a window of the spiritual world. It is fascinating as a study of humanity and also as a look into Japan’s unique mysticism known as Shinto. Every story shows a new supernatural being and its ties to the world and humans. Each story also reveals a different facet of humanity and often is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

A simple story of abduction instead is turned to one of incredibly moving emotions of a life long lived, of hopes, and regrets shared. The tale of a boy surviving a drowning turns into one of despair and then hope involving a mother and her heart’s deepest desire. As with everything in the world of Mushishi, things are rarely, if ever, what they first appear to be. A young man’s whistle brings fortune to his sails but misfortune to home. The legacy of a tree and the ways it has looked after a humble village is a far more poignant tale than could be expected and is a true testament to the skill of the storyteller.

Not all the stories have happy endings and not all showcase the best of humanity. The tale of a fungus spreading across a village leads to the discovery of murder. A man trapped in a time loop is forced to make a heart wrenching choice when faced with tragedy.  Even Ginko's life is not spared some scrutiny. It shows his childhood and how he was first discovered by a Mushi master and how that same incident led to tragedy and his own burdened conscience. That same long ago occurrence is in a way revisited during the final story about a human being chosen to become the mountain spirit. Ginko tries to help save the girl and yet still save the mountain, putting himself directly in the path of the powerful spirits that chose the girl. He is willing to sacrifice his life to allow the girl to return to her normal human home, but he is not the only one involved and things take a dramatic turn when the girl makes her final decision.

The story of Ginko doesn’t truly end here. We get the sense of him continuing on.  The appeal of Mushishi is in its quiet and subtle stories that evoke strong emotions with great story crafting and a fine tune to the essence of what moves people.

The manga also contains extensive cultural notes and lexicon of the various mushi (spirits) mentioned in the series.

IN SUMMARY:
It’s the final volumes of Mushishi in an economical 3-in-1 package.

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