Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara (amazon.com)
Mushishi was the only Sundance movie I managed to get to this year, so it was a little odd reading the first volume of the manga after already seeing an adaptation of the story. Ginko is a Mushishi, traveling around and finding people who are afflicted by the ancient insect-like creatures that have otherworldly effects on humans. In the opening story Ginko cures a boy whose illness makes whatever he draws with his left hand come alive. Ginko’s travels take him to a snowy mountain town where mushi are dining on sounds in the villagers’ ears, throwing off their sense of balance. Often, there’s an emotional aspect to a human’s interaction with a mushi, and Ginko’s treatments restore much-needed balance and peace.
The art is at times surreal and poetic – a man with mushi infested dreams closes his eyes, while the face on the back of his head takes in visions of the future. Mushishi is unlike most of the manga available today. The first volume was purely episodic, without much of an ongoing plot. I’m curious to see if more plot elements are introduced in later volumes.