Well, it's been quite a while since I last wrote about anime. Which is odd, considering that I've actually been watching a fair amount of anime (even odder considering that I've actually drafted a couple posts about the anime I've been watching but haven't actually posted any of it). But, well, whatever.
Anyways, I've just started watching this anime called Mushi-shi. I picked it largely because it was supposed to be amazing (I, personally, find that a compelling reason to get something from Netflix). The descriptions were all pretty vague and seemed to suggest that you either "got it" and loved it or you'd think it was boring. It also seemed to suggest that only cool, sophisticated, thoughtful people would get it (note that this was a possibly more compelling reason for me to check it out).
Well, I've actually only watched the first three episodes, but, all I can say is wow. While I can definitely see this not appealing to the typical anime watching crowd (there's no ridiculous fighting, no unending stories, no filler, no japanese schoolgirls, or even silly romantic drama), it still manages to remind me of all the great reasons for watching anime.
First of all, this anime is clearly heavily influenced by Hayao Miyazaki's work, which is probably why it doesn't have any of the trademarks of anime (since I think Miyazaki is kind of against most of the content of typical anime). The difference is that this isn't targeting kids (which is not to say that Miyazaki's works are anything short of incredible viewing experiences for people of all ages, of course). No, the difference is that this is about exploring and living with spirituality, while most of Miyazaki's work with spirituality (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away) are more about discovering it.
Mushi-shi is set in a world where there are spirits and they have effects on everyday life. They are neither good nor bad, they just are. And each episode is simply dealing with a situation where the presence and actions of the spirits causes a problem, and a wise traveler who understands the spiritual world comes to reconcile the situation and make peace. And that's all. That is literally all that happens.
And it's beautiful.
Watching it just made me want to shout for joy. It's easy to forget that there are people out there, working hard to create true works of art. And it is both humbling and moving to see what can only be described as a masterpiece.
So far, every episode has nearly brought me to tears as the end credits roll. It's not because it's sad. Or because I'm a wuss (well, it's not entirely because I'm a wuss). It's because the sense of peace and understanding that pervades each episode and which comes to a head by the end is simply overwhelming. This anime is good. When I say that, I don't mean that it's of above average quality (although it is, of course). No, I mean it as in this anime is a source of goodness in a world that can be dark and full of evil.
This is the type of thing that everyone should watch. If I had to pick only one anime to show a random person, this one would be it. Because this is the one that would impart a positive lesson. This is the one that would improve their life in a way that is probably unique to anime.
Cowboy Bebop is still, and will likely remain, my favorite anime of all time. I remember watching it and doubting I would ever be able to really enjoy watching anime again because no other animes could compare to Cowboy Bebop. I was wrong. I really enjoy watching Mushi-shi. For entirely different reasons than why I liked watching Cowboy Bebop, but that's okay. They both can bring me to tears; they are both masterpieces of great artists.
So, yeah, Mushi-shi is generating some fairly positive reviews in the places that review these things. And, well, I just wanted to say that those positive reviews are not only right, they're selling it short. This is a landmark work. And I feel lucky to have gotten to witness it, and I look forward to sharing it with others. All others.
That is all.