They’re the best Anime that 2015 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Kyoukai no Kanata Movie 1: I’ll Be Here – Kako-hen, Little Witch Academia: Mahoujikake no Parade, Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 2: Jiyuu no Tsubasa, and more!
5: Kyoukai no Kanata Movie 1: I’ll Be Here – Kako-hen
English: Beyond the Boundary: I’ll Be Here – Past
Japanese: 劇場版 境界の彼方 I’LL BE HERE 過去篇
MAL Score: 7.72
The first part of a two-part movie. The story is a recap of the TV series.
Mirai Kuriyama is the sole survivor of a clan of Spirit World warriors with the power to employ their blood as weapons. As such, Mirai is tasked with hunting down and killing “youmu”—creatures said to be the manifestation of negative human emotions. One day, while deep in thought on the school roof, Mirai comes across Akihito Kanbara, a rare half-breed of youmu in human form. In a panicked state, she plunges her blood saber into him only to realize that he’s an immortal being. From then on, the two form an impromptu friendship that revolves around Mirai constantly trying to kill Akihito, in an effort to boost her own wavering confidence as a Spirit World warrior. Eventually, Akihito also manages to convince her to join the Literary Club, which houses two other powerful Spirit World warriors, Hiroomi and Mitsuki Nase.
As the group’s bond strengthens, however, so does the tenacity of the youmu around them. Their misadventures will soon turn into a fight for survival as the inevitable release of the most powerful youmu, Beyond the Boundary, approaches.
This is a really good summary of the original series. No new scenes are used. It reuses the scenes from the original anime to make this summary.
The story of Kanbara Akihito and Kuriyama Mirai is explained. It does not go into the side stories like with the Nase Family, Inami Sakura and Fujima Miroku.
Since it uses the same scenes, it has no change in art. It’s the same KyoAni which you’ve already seen. The artwork is amazing. Nothing more to say.
Both the opening and the ending are really good songs. They are played near the end of the series.
The opening is played when Kanbara Akihito reaches Kuriyama Mirai when she is fighting Kyoukai no Kanata near the end of the movie.
The ending is played at the end and is a full version. It is played through the credits.
Voice actors are same.
If you haven’t seen the original anime and watch this movie only, you’ll miss out on many characters. As I said before, this movie focuses on Akihito and Mirai so the other characters get very little to no screen time. The only side character to have some play in this movie is Izumi Nase.
I loved the original anime and I liked watching the summary too. Even though it is a summary, some comedy bits are placed in it. And there are some emotional rides too.
It’s a really good summary and for fans of the series, it is a good way to catch up and remember what happened.
Overall, I liked it. A heads-up, in the end of the movie, after the credits, they give a preview of the next part of the movie.
I should say first though that I love the original Kyoukai no Kanata show and Kyoto Animation in general so I’m not really reviewing the show here. Its just that KyoAni can’t seem to do well with its show-to-compilation-film adaptations (I’m looking at you too Chuunibyou compilation film, but that’s another story for another day). Why they feel the need to reinvent their existing works is beyond me.
Basically what we have here is the studio taking the original 12 episode series and cramming it into a sparse 120 min feature. The (many) small scenes that develop the characters in the original anime are mostly left out or completely removed in the movie, and the original show already moves blistering fast pace. We are then left with only the major plot events, and little to no context as to what’s going on in the story or why we should care for our main dynamic duo.
I personally liked the series because of all the little nuances and goofy side humor that seasoned it, and the somewhat incomprehensible plot stood up for me because of how much I liked the characters.
So don’t watch this wrung out version of Kyoukai no Kanata; it’s like trying to eat an apple with no juice in it. Instead, watch the original series and give yourself the favor to THEN decide whether you like lolis with death weapons, siscons, 500 iterations of the word “Senpai” and all the other things that make this weird moe action combo meal a fun experience (or not).
The main thing about this movie is that, whilest watching it, it only made sense to me because I watched the original series (twice even because I like it so much).
A lot is left out, and yes, the main plot points are stuffed in there, but they’re basically presented without context and a lot doesn’t make sense at all if you haven’t watched the original series.
I can’t quite give a good opinion on the story/art/character development because of this. It just barely contains any that makes sense without the context of the series. Besides that, it occurred to me that the movie looked like a literal edit of the series. I don’t believe they’ve re-animated anything nor make it fancier (ex. how the Madoka movies were literally the series but with much better animation).
I don’t want to completely bash this movie into the ground though, it just needs a little instruction I think?
If you want to watch the movie because you watched the series, hell yeah! The great thing about the movie is that, the series was a while ago. If you want to go into the next movie I suppose you need the base the series/first movie shows otherwise you won’t know anything about the world.
So, as a reminder of what exactly the series was about and who these characters were, I think this is a great thing, since you don’t need to watch the whole series all over again.
If you want to watch the movie without watching the series first, I can strongly recommend against that. You’ll miss out on tons of story and context and I’m sure a lot of things won’t make sense to you since there’s barely any worldbuilding in this.
I haven’t watched the second movie yet, but I’m pretty sure the best way to watch and enjoy Kyoukai no Kanata is to watch the series, the first movie and then the second movie. This way, you won’t miss out on anything, and if you are doing a marathon, you can even skip out on the first movie (though I’m not sure if the small fragment after the credits matters, because that IS new, contrary to the rest of the movie).
Either way, I’m not here to dictate people, and this is merely an advice ofcourse. If you enjoyed the series and you just need a thing to remind you what it all was about, this is a pretty great movie, since it takes away the need to watch the full series again.
If you’re planning to watch this without having watched the series, I wish you good luck, because there’ll be a lot of confusion ahead.
4: Little Witch Academia: Mahoujikake no Parade
English: Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade
Japanese: リトルウィッチアカデミア 魔法仕掛けのパレード
MAL Score: 7.77
You can tell witch training is not going swimmingly for the young sorceresses Akko, Lotte, and Sucy—they face expulsion for screwing up one class too many, and their only way out is if they successfully organize their academy’s annual parade through a nearby town. But when they stumble upon the momentous discovery that the objective of the parade is to humiliate witches and commemorate their past subjugation, Akko decides it is time for a change: It is time to show the world how fantastic modern witches truly are! However, with the other girls struggling to keep up with Akko’s grandiose ambitions, and everything from mischievous boys to slumbering giants getting in their way, maybe pulling it off will require not only all the magical prowess the pupils of Luna Nova Magical Academy can muster, but also a miracle.
Like most sequels to beloved classics, expectations were quite high for Little Witch Academia 2. Considering that it was practically funded out-of-pocket by fans of the original short film via Kickstarter, anime fans really had every right to demand their money’s worth on this one. With the quality of the original and the hype that was created thereafter in mind, my inner cynicism led me to believe that LWA 2 was set up for failure. However, much to my delight, it can be said without hesitation that LWA 2 recaptures the magic of its predecessor and yet again contains more energy and charm in its little finger than the entirety of the modern anime comedy genre has in its whole body.
Synopsis: Akko and her friends are tasked with organizing the annual “witch parade” for their town. As you might have guessed, not everything goes according to their plan.
If ever there was a difficult characteristic to describe, it would be “charm”, and yet it is just that which makes LWA 2 such an entertaining and heartwarming film. It captures that innocent, child-like sense of imagination and wonder that never fails to pry your lips upwards into a smile, and does so with the utmost perfection. Despite being an adult male, this movie made me giggle like a little girl from beginning to end. It’s not just heartwarming; it’s hilarious. The comedy is spot on and it hits every note that it needs to hit. Something about this anime brings back that Disney-esque feeling of seeing your wildest dreams brought to life by the power of animation; like seeing Fantasia for the first time. In an industry that many feel lacks the soul that it once had, LWA 2 has soul in spades. It reminded me why I like anime to begin with.
Another masterful aspect of this film was the fact that its pacing was flawless. Every scene has a purpose, not a single one of them drags on for too long, and no scene is a boring one. The fast, energetic pace of LWA carries on into its sequel, and it fits the spirit of the show to a T. Despite being less than an hour long, this movie goes through a full, satisfying story arc, several character dynamics, and effectively expands upon its cast of colorful characters. There’s something beautiful about the simplicity of a well-executed children’s tale; the premise isn’t anything remarkably original, but it doesn’t have to be because the execution is all that matters. The characters don’t have remarkable amounts of depth, but they don’t need to; all that matters is that they have personality, they are entertaining, and they are likable. Disregarding a recap scene or two, which you could potentially argue were unnecessary, I wouldn’t change a thing about the story direction.
One of the most important aspects of an anime in this style is the animation. When you write a quirky, upbeat script, it is absolutely imperative that your animation is equally quirky and upbeat, otherwise the show is doomed to fail. Needless to say, Studio Trigger totally nailed it, just as they did in the original. Comedic timing is something so nuanced that it comes down to fractions of seconds, and while many lighthearted anime (even the good ones) can sometimes find themselves a bit off on their timing or not executing jokes as well as they could have, LWA 2 has no such issue. It is no exaggeration to say this movie makes the most of each and every scene. The visuals are like eye candy, everything is polished and crisp, the character designs continue to be brilliant, and every movement is about as fluent as you’ll ever see. Simply put, it’s animation done right.
To sum it all up, LWA 2 is a brilliantly executed anime movie that appeals to everyone. All ages, all genders, and all cultures won’t be able to resist cracking a smile at a movie that is simply so much fun. It’s a fast-paced, heartwarming adventure that will bring out your inner child, and I highly recommend that everyone take the time to watch it. If you ever need a pick-me-up, I can’t think of another anime that will cheer you up more than this one.
While I was worried in the opening portion of the film that we were substituting too much magic for drama, a satisfying and action-packed conclusion saw the series back at its strongest. There are areas where the original animation excelled better but there’s plenty here that also adds a lot in areas of world building and action. This latest addition to the LWA series remains a family-friendly, energetic experience that’s going to leave you beaming as the credits roll by.
Akko, Sucy and Lotte plus a trio of new characters find themselves thrust into control of the upcoming town festival. While Akko naturally wants to showcase the best of what witches have to offer, her ideas bring with it a few problems and create tension with her fellow students. That’s not all that’s at play, however. Before they know it the group are forced to band together and use everything at their disposal to overcome their biggest hurdle yet.
Having roughly 40 minutes to put together a cohesive, interesting narrative is a big challenge but Trigger managed to overcome this previously in half the time so they’ve had their practice. They also get the bonus this time of being able to cut down on a lot of exposition. They use this time well to expand the scope of the story. Because of that though there’s a little less intensity and magic. It works both ways.
The overall tone of the story is the biggest change up when compared to the previous offering, with a bit of character conflict thrown into the mix this time around. There was a real sense of adventure and exploration in the first film. Watching the characters make their way around the school grounds was exciting, the lessons were amusing and story in general was a lot more fluid. With some extra time up their sleeves Trigger opt to at least give us a lot of new characters and new settings. There’s some small thematic jumps, so it’s great to see the studio didn’t simply opt to do the exact same thing twice. Some elements of the story have certainly been copied over, but an expanded cast and setting help make it feel fresh.
Adding new locations to the world our story takes place in has its ups and downs. I felt that bringing the witches out of their school environment and into town took some of the ‘mystique’ and the ‘magic’ away from them. At the same time it’s nice to see the wider community around them and what the witches place in that universe is. When you look at it, there’s only so much Trigger could do by limiting everything to the school. While it’s wonderful to imagine all of their adventures happening in their own little bubble, it adds a new dynamic between the magical and human societies. Some may like that, others may not.
Some themes have channelled over from the first film, but the biggest change this time is the focus on friendship. In the original show it was more on having confidence in your own ability. This time Akko faces a lot more conflict and troubles with those around her, friends included. People may be a little bit put off by this slightly more serious approach but it thankfully has its purpose. Trigger use their extra minutes to create character complications that stretch over a long run of the film. The strength of friendship is an easy theme to stuff up and instead come across as cheesy. They mostly avoided that here. Everything revolving around this theme is nothing original but that hasn’t stopped it being executed fairly. Characters are shown to have retained important lessons, reflected on what they’ve been through and apply all that knowledge to find a solution – much like the first film. It’s a formula that works, even though it brings nothing new to the table. It’s easy to watch and it manages to be entertaining while doing so.
When the action kicks into another gear as the film nears its conclusion, the ride feels worthwhile. One particular moment is immensely satisfying, and you’ll know it when you see it. It’s a perfect blend of Trigger’s animation capabilities and ability to put on some memorable set pieces.
Characters + Art
Akko returns as our loveable, often inept, lead character. While Akko remains a primary source of comic relief for the show she’s a lot more proactive this time around. It’s refreshing to see that the original LWA tale has had an effect on her in that way. The original series gave her a huge shot of belief in her own capabilities as a witch and now this is a look at how she applies her new knowledge. I think some may be a bit turned off by this new, confident side of her. It’s certainly quite the leap from what we’ve seen previously. Her outgoing personality and habit of acting before thinking gets her into trouble once again. Nothing new changes there at least – and you wouldn’t have it any other way.
Both Sucy and Lotte feel a little underutilised but, honestly, that’s not a big deal. That too serves a purpose of its own. When they are on screen not a second is wasted and their role to play in the story still feels meaningful. It can serve as reminder that even not being around can make the times you are more important. As for our new trio they’re not that memorable, more there just to help drive the story along than contribute anything of value. They get their odd scene of comic relief or chance to show-off but that’s about it. I think it’s also disappointing that Diana, someone who played a big role in the complication of the first film, gets cast to the back this time around. Strange that Trigger didn’t opt to make more use of a character with a more defined personality and presence than almost anyone else in the show. It’s a show that very much rides on one character, Akko, which means a lot of your enjoyment will come out of how much you can take to her character and how’s she’s changed from the first outing.
I’m personally a big fan of Trigger’s character designs. The exaggerated expressions and reactions are always worth a laugh. The studio keep things simple when it comes to effects and shading in the animation, putting most of the work into some nice backgrounds. As always in Trigger’s works there’s the odd lazy bit of animation scattered about. Some background characters look crudely drawn and it’s often very easy to pick out where the costs have been saved. Some frames look very hurriedly put together, but thankfully most pieces of action looks a treat. As a whole, however, the first LWA struck me as more visually impressive.
Even when given additional time thanks to the efforts of their backers, Trigger was going to find it hard to live up to a wonderful debut in this franchise. But they’ve come close. It’s a show dying for more exploration of its characters and an expansion of its magical elements. I like the friendship building side of things, don’t get me wrong, but there’s that sense of adventure and mystery lacking that was present in the original Little Witch Academia.
Score: 6/10 (Fair)
Little Witch Academia was a surprise upstart in the Young Animator’s Expo in 2012, and along with fellow member Death Billiards, these two productions started making waves. The fan outpouring was great, and demands fell on the then-brand new studio Trigger to make more! A kickstarter was raised, and incredibly, the $150,000 goal was smashed in 30 days with the help of nearly 8000 backers and a grand total of $625,318!! (This is all pre-Kill La Kill, guys and gals.)
Let’s get into some other nice numbers- the score on this anime.
Artwork and Animation: 10
The original was entirely hand drawn, and with an enormous budget, it turned out to be a spectacular showing of fluidity and vibrant, flashing magical colors. LWA 2 is no different; it’s absolutely stunning to watch flow across the screen. I would go so far as to say that this is on a Disney level of traditional animation both techincally and in fluidity. The magic and characters practically animate themselves right off the screen, crisply, sharply, and beautifully.
You Yoshinari doesn’t get enough recognition for his work at Trigger in my opinion. As a Key Animator and character designer for FLCL, Gurren Lagann, KLK, Dead Leaves, PSG, and others, this guy has a crazy credit list, and his work is always quality. As the director and creator for Little Witch Academia- his eye for animation really comes to life.
Sound and Voice Acting: 8
Same players, new game. Sounds great, and good performances by the VA.
Characters and Story: 9, 8
After getting in trouble in potions class by Professor Snape, the hyperactive Akko, the narcoleptic Sucy, and the brainy Lotte are forced to plan and create a parade float for the yearly festival in town. Traditionally, the parade
is about making fun of witches and reenacting middle ages witch hunts, but in a much less deadly way; but our trio team up to change the public’s opinion of witches by making it into a fun and exciting show and showcasing how cool and exciting witches can be!
Along the way, Akko gets cross ways with her friends, and ends up having to work with three new characters, the “problem children”. This little gang is constituted of Amanda O’Neill, the red headed, hot tempered girl, Constanze Braunschbank Albrechsberger, the silent German robotics engineer, and Jasminka Antonenko- the constantly grazing Russian girl.
The story is paced excellently, with not a magical drop of filler to be found. An hour of screentime practically flew by on a broom, from the opening with a very Harry Potter feel, to the magical dreams-come-true Disney ending.
It’s a very heartwarming and enchanting watch- honestly, I know I keep repeating myself, but it just feels very Disney.
Enjoyment and Overall: 9
The extra length, the new characters, and the sharp, beautiful animation really sell Little Witch Academia. It’s a fun romp through a gorgeous world.
Little Witch Academia 2 didn’t have to be astoundingly original and bold to be charming and fun. The humor hits the right marks, the visuals are awesome, and it is simply easy to enjoy. The original was a very cute work that was obviously inspired by children’s tales and movies from ages past, and this works well within that framework- another adventure, another day in the life of a little witch.
3: Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 2: Jiyuu no Tsubasa
English: Attack on Titan: Wings of Freedom
MAL Score: 7.79
Recap of episodes 14-25.
Now there’s even less focus on Eren’s friends (minus Mikasa and Armin) in order to focus on the more important story elements present in the second half of season one. It was good, but the story beats you’d usually find in a movie are practically nonexistent here; one scene lasts around 45 minutes, so I’d say that killed the pacing a bit.
It’s still a good story, but it’s definitely told better in the show. If you have any way to access the show, you should take that and leave this be.
2: Kyoukai no Kanata Movie 2: I’ll Be Here – Mirai-hen
English: Beyond the Boundary: I’ll Be Here – Future
Japanese: 劇場版 境界の彼方 I’LL BE HERE 未来篇
MAL Score: 8.18
After Akihito Kanbara reunites with Mirai Kuriyama—whom he believed had vanished after defeating Beyond the Boundary—he discovers a heartbreaking fact: Mirai has lost all memory of him, their friends, and her past as a Spirit Warrior. Akihito is utterly devastated, but realizes that she has a unique opportunity. Mirai can finally live the life of a normal girl—where she’ll be completely devoid of the supernatural society that both shunned and used her. While it’s all for the sake of Mirai’s happiness, the price is costly—Akihito and his friends must keep her true origins a secret from her, and as a result avoid befriending her.
However, the troubling memories of Mirai’s old life gradually begin to resurface, and a mysterious new evil leads a group of shadow-like creatures into the city with the goal of seeking her out. As the situations become dire, Akihito must fight to protect himself, his closest friends, and Mirai—the bespectacled beauty he holds most dear.
First things first, the story. They did an excellent job tying the story back together. While there was some disappointment with the ending of the series, this movie brings it all home. I was surprised by how many small points in the show were actually significant events what would be referred to in the movie. The show was a bit of a wild ride, but I absolutely love the story, theme , and setting. Everything about it is fantastic. However at points it can be hard to follow but it all ends up making sense.
Next the art. They did an amazing job with the art style of this movie. It is not unlike the original series, with exception of amazing well animated fight scenes and a few amazing animations. I’m picturing a certain scene, which you will know after watching the movie.
The sound quality was also amazing. Usually, I could care less, as long as it doesn’t sound like someone talking through a paper towel tube. But this movie had some amazing points in which I found my headphones rattling. It really blew me away. Some of the scenes sounds like a huge budget action movie. So more than I could ever ask for.
The characters were as good as always with some amazing depth. They really touched on all the main characters well, and even some side characters. The story is very intricate and will not leave you hanging. I would love to go more into detail, but I’d prefer not to spoil anything.
Overall, it was an amazing movie, that inspired me to watch asap, and here I am writing my first review on MAL so that should say it all. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the movie!
It is impossible to say anything about the story because the first thing you watch is a major plot twist about the end of the anime series, and everything goes around that twist. A minor hint, though: the movie is full of Akihito and Mirai tears.
My problem with the anime series was its drama, and how it wanted to force you to feel sad or be sympathetic with its characters. That problem continues in this movie. As the movie takes itself seriously, the drama I really didn’t like is everywhere. I didn’t grow emotionally attached to these characters, so for me the drama presented here is just there and nothing else. And the worst part is that what made the anime so enjoyable for me, i.e. the slice-of-life, comedy moments between the characters, just got in the way of that drama, making them out of place and very uncomfortable (or in the words of Mirai, fuyukai desu).
One of the reasons why the comedy didn’t work was the background music. The OST was made to make you feel sad, and basically the same sad violin song is played all along the movie: during the emotional parts, during the lighhearted parts, during the battles, during everywhere! Seriously, it is impossible to laugh at how Mirai fails to hit a tennis ball if funeral music is being played in the background. The ED song was good though. Minori Chihara has an amazing and beautiful voice, and the song is really connected to the events of the movie.
The characters also got some mild development. Even though the characterization is attached to the emotional parts of the movie, it at least answer (in a way) very good questions posed by the anime series: how Mirai got her ring, information about her mother, some mild explanation about Akihito’s mother. Hiroomi continues being awesome and keeps a bit of his main character quirks. Unfortunately, Akihito and Mirai spent most of the movie crying and suffering, and we didn’t get to see a lot of what made them really likeable in the series (although that is supposed to happen, given the main plot of the movie), and Mitsuki continues to be the useless, Senjougahara wannabe I’ve got to know.
There is little to say about the animation and art, only that it was, once again, absolutely gorgeous. Is Kyoto Animation, what can you expect?
Although I didn’t hate the movie, I didn’t get to enjoy it that much. It suffers from lots of the flaws of the anime series, and neither the character development, nor the amazing animation, nor Hiroomi being the best character of the series could save the movie for me.
HOWEVER, if you happen to be reeeeeeally attached to the characters, especially to Akihito and Mirai, and if you liked the drama of the anime series, then this movie would most likely be a 10/10 for you.
The story. It has many potential and they covered nearly all. Although there are some comedy, they stuck to the point, which didn’t leave me hanging. They pretty much answered many questions. Personally, it was amazing, but the reason why I said “nearly all” was the fact that by the end, it was just it. I meant I asked many questions “What happened to this?” and “What happened to that?”, so on and so forth. I just begged more questions.
The art. Long story short, outstanding. The animation, the visuals, everything, just great.
The sound. They’re great. Sounds effects, awesome. Music, beautiful. It could’ve been flawless, had they timed it right on some parts.
Characters. The movie covers mostly on the two main characters: Mirai and Akihito. I felt connected to them as they had to get through the suffering, especially from Akihito, as from the end of Kako-hen in the bonus scene (you better watch it first). The movie also told us the fate of the characters that went missing. However, the movie was so focused on these two that it left many other characters behind, including Mitsuki and Hiroomi. These two were pretty much left standing around, except for one scene where they find out who the masked person was, but even then, they weren’t covered as much. Sakura and Ai-chan, yeah, they’re just there.
Enjoyment, it was good, but like I said before, it left me hanging around. It made me ask more questions both from the end of the anime and the end of the movie.
Overall, it’s a very good experience. Although it answered some questions, it does inherit some flaws from the series.
Despite some flaws above, I personally recommend you watch the movie, if you watched the anime/Kako-hen of course. It’s a great film.
1: Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku
Japanese: 蟲師 続章: 鈴の雫
MAL Score: 8.61
On a warm summer day, a boy heard the sound of bells ringing, as if in celebration, in the mountain near his home. Several years later in that same mountain, the mushishi Ginko encounters a strange girl with weeds growing out of her body. Soon after, Ginko coincidentally runs into the now grown-up boy Yoshiro on his way off the mountain. With Yoshiro’s help, Ginko soon begins to uncover who this mysterious girl is and what happened to her.
An adaptation of the last arc in the manga, Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku follows Ginko’s peculiar journey amidst the occult to unravel the mystery behind the enigmatic girl called Kaya and the mountain that has become her home.
Drops of Bells (the title of the double-episode) basically tells of humanity’s growing more and more separate from nature. The plot is of a human girl chosen from birth to be the next lord of a mountain, yet her human family cannot understand this and strive to keep her from the destiny forced upon her by nature’s law. The primary plot point is that humans aren’t really fit for the task of mountain lord, as humans possess a wisdom unlike other animals that is unfit for becoming one with the mountain, and possess a heart that can be crushed under the weight of the thriving life throughout the mountain. However, Ginko basically says that despite humanity being as separate as it is from nature’s law, it is still a part of the whole.
That’s the Tao for you. Humanity’s a bitch, and balance with nature is dead. However, that doesn’t take the Tao out of the human species. As a human murders a bird for sport, it’s the same life force flowing through each of them, and when the bird falls to the ground as a corpse that life force does not die with it. That’s the way of shit, and that’s what’s so real about Mushishi. It takes that whole concept and makes the whole unexplainability of the Tao explainable through the beings known as mushi. That’s exactly it; Mushishi makes the unexplainable explainable. Ain’t that just the coolest shit? That’s what makes Mushishi the pinnacle of Japanese animation and manga.
[Edit: Replace the Chinese “Tao” with the Japanese “Kannagara” and you basically get the same idea. The latter concept is likely what Urushibara was familiar with.]
In the first half of Suzu no Shizuku, a girl leaves her family behind when she’s summoned to be the next lord of a mountain. Thriving lands, called “Rivers of Light”, require the presence of a lord to maintain the balance of the surrounding life. Choosing a human as a lord is an unusual move, however. Such a task is typically delegated to animals since they live with fewer emotional attachments.
Several of the introspective themes that were previously explored in the Mushishi world are summarized here—most notably interconnectedness, the indifference of nature, and the necessity of letting go. All life—plants, animals, and humans—are dependent on each other, and are influenced by the ripples of cause and effect. Nature, which is personified in Suzu no Shizuku as the mountain lord, acts as the unbiased mediator. The overarching lesson seems to be that we should appreciate what we have, and not cling when the time comes to move on.
The second half concludes the story without quite concluding the series. The ending leaves some questions unanswered, but it ties up enough to guide your imagination to where the stories and characters could progress into the distant future. I’ll refrain from deconstructing this any further. To me, Mushishi is more of a meditation than a conventional story, and is therefore best appreciated without excessive analysis.
The art, animation, and sound design have remained remarkably consistent since its premiere in 2005. The backgrounds in Suzu no Shizuku are just as gorgeous as they were when the first season aired. The character and special effects animation are fluid and precise. And the subdued and ambient melodies that have become a hallmark of this series are present here as well.
When you think about it, it’s kind of a miracle that Mushishi, which is essentially about life experiences and nature, was made with such a substantial budget in today’s hungry and impatient climate. I’m grateful that ArtLand was willing to take a chance on such an esoteric and spiritual story, and that it’s been successful enough to adapt in its entirety. It’s been a truly extraordinary experience.
Watched the first season about a year ago and over the course of good 3 weeks and now the second season with all the specials in 2 days.
I was really not in the mood for this show and actually wanted to look for some slice of life anime instead but I did it anyway and this show is really so, oh so different from any other. Never have I seen or heard of an anime that could compare to Mushishi. Regarding my expectations, I knew what I was diving into since I read that the ‘episodic’ part doesn’t die down in the second season, and that’s very true. Just know, there’s a very good reason why every single season and/or special has a rating of 8.5/10 or higher on MyAnimeList.
Well, let’s do this.
Mushishi is one of the most interesting anime in every way. That also goes for the animation. It is among the most exceptional things I have seen in anime. The way it fits the mood and overall theme of the anime and the way it underlines everything is just amazing. Every background could be an actual painting. Nothing is half-assed. And as a Winter fanatic, the episodes that take place in deep Winter absolutely make my heart melt. The sheer beauty of the scenery with snow everywhere is exceeding pleasure for the eyes. It basically screams melancholia and sadness in a way but due to the art style combined with the theme of the story it also has such warmth, it’s hauntingly beautiful.
One more thing I really enjoyed about the animation were the designs of the Mushi. They had such original and vivid designs and were moving in such weird ways. Real creativity by the creators right there. And not to forget the design of the people in the show, who basically make up the entire show. That’s what this show is about. The humans have this distinct look and these very distinct, round features that instantly let you know what show you’re watching because no other anime has this kind of look to it. Only thing was that sometimes you couldn’t make out the difference between characters from different episodes since a lot of them look so, well… normal! But that’s not really a bad thing. So all in all, can’t complain, oh no!
First to the openings.
The opening for the first season is Ally Kerr – Sore Feet Song. Second one is Lucy Rose – Shiver. Like everything else, they fit the atmosphere of this anime like my old shirts fit me again because I lost a lot of weight. They’re as calm as they could be and also, they’re English songs by English artists. I have both on my phone and love them to bits because they bring you back into this show and all that you experienced in it. Lovely. And now…
Oh man. That soundtrack.
What’s there to say? Ever heard of Feng Shui? Yes? This is like it, but just a bit less boring for the show. The soundtrack is by Toshiro Masuda, who also made the soundtrack for the original Naruto show. And I still remember how incredibly well that soundtrack burnt itself into my mind. So well, that you can play me a song out of the Naruto soundtrack in about 30 years and I will probably still instantly know where it’s from. The same goes for Mushishi. And let me stress this. The soundtrack Could. Not. Fit. The. Show. Any. Better. This soundtrack is absolute brilliance. It takes the very, very calm theme of the show and makes it even calmer. And as with the Naruto one, these tracks, these very calming tracks with bells, light flutes and beautiful melodies will dig inside of your head, maybe without you even noticing, and they will stay there. If you ever feel stressed or burnt out, even if you haven’t seen Mushishi, you should listen to this soundtrack. It’s so hauntingly beautiful I still have all of it on my phone and listen to it regularly when I want to feel at ease. Fantastic, brilliant work, I can’t stress this enough.
There is the problem I have with this show. While on the one hand I completely understand how the author wanted to write this anime, since it is episodic in every way until the very last minute, I still can’t completely wrap my head around the fact that we basically know nothing about the main character at the end of this show. And by nothing I mean almost nothing. There were like 2 episodes that revealed a bit and then a tiny bit more that was sprinkled here and there but that’s about it. There is no overarching storyline that leads to some grand finale or anything. But then again, this show started as mysterious as it ended. I understand the idea behind that thought. It is probably the most ‘grown up’ show I have ever seen. That’s the best way to describe it for me.
The entire thing plays in old Japan (probably?) and it’s about our main character Ginko. And that, dear people, was a lie just now. Since he is the main character, but he travels through the land for a particular reason and he is what they call a Mushishi. Since Mushi are basically entities that can’t be seen by most people but they are part of nature just like any plant or animal would be, they can interact with humans and might do harm. Some change peoples’ surroundings, some change the people themselves. And they all are connected through the big Light Veins that flow through the earth that basically represent life itself. The best way to describe it is basically… There are poisonous plants or for example mosquitoes, right? These plants or bugs don’t attack humans for any malicious reasons nor do they mean any harm, they’re just there, doing their thing. And that’s what Mushi are, just that most people can’t see them. And that’s where the Mushishi come in. They can see them and research them to find cures for the problems these things cause.
But again, I personally feel a bit of a lack of an overarching plot… Maybe that’s just me though!
Well, well. You have to create a main character for your show. How do you do that?
Don’t ask me.
I’m an idiot.
These people did it right though. Oh and how well they did it…
Ginko is probably one of the most simple, most complex, most mysterious and most interesting and greatest characters I know in anime. He is an enigma from episode one until the last episode and aside from a bit of info about his past, he will stay that way. Full of questions and answers and full of self-sacrifice. Always with that Mushi-repellent cigarette in his mouth. Simply put, he’s cool as fuck. And chill as fuck. I don’t want to imagine this show without Ginko. His personality was perfectly written and as the animation and soundtrack, fits this show 100%. And he’s a lone traveler. He doesn’t have any travel buddies. No cute mascot that lives in his backpack and no shits to give. Actually that last one is wrong, because he actually cares a lot about every part of nature there is and in every way possible. A young, wise man that says stuff that you will find yourself thinking about twice. More than just once. One of my all-time favorite characters in anime.
Regarding the other characters, most of them are very ‘normal’. In the most purest way. They’re just villagers or wanderers who are just casual people in old Japan. And they don’t have any blue or red or green hair. This anime doesn’t need stuff like that to have you, the watcher, remember who is who. Because honestly, you forget. And that’s kind of part of this show. They’re just normal townsfolk and once Ginko did whatever a Ginko does he just leaves, mostly, never to return. So given that they’re supposed to be as normal as it gets, most fill their role well. They do just what they should do. But a few can seem a bit too bland to be honest. They just have nothing special going for them at all. They’re TOO normal. But that’s my only problem here. Good.
Overall just probably one of the best shows I have had the pleasure to watch. But that ending left me wanting more. I really lacked a conclusion to something. Again, there was no overarching problem, but I just wanted something more… I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m really content with what I got since that ending was as enigmatic and classy as this show has deserved it to be, but it’s just the syndrome of ‘I want more’ after having reached the end of a good show, you know?
I wasn’t in the mood for this show. But this show put me in the mood for it in about 2 episodes. It is absolutely, ABSOLUTELY fantastic. You have my word on this.
Mushishi (All of it): 9/10
I don’t know what I’m gonna watch next. Gotta find a quality show but don’t know what…
Also it’s 7am, why do I always get in the mood to write these when it’s late as hell. Goddammit.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mushishi Zoku Shou: Suzu no Shizuku
2. Kyoukai no Kanata Movie 2: I’ll Be Here – Mirai-hen
3. Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 2: Jiyuu no Tsubasa
4. Little Witch Academia: Mahoujikake no Parade
5. Kyoukai no Kanata Movie 1: I’ll Be Here – Kako-hen