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Mushishi Series Profile


Mushishi Volume 1 by Yuki Urushibara from Del Rey Manga

Mushishi Volume 1

© 2000 Yuki Urushibara/KODANSHA LTD. All rights reserved.


  • Mushishi (US and Japan)

Author and Artist:

Yuki Urushibara



8 volumes (continuing)

Manga Genres:

  • Seinen manga
  • Drama
  • Mystery / Suspense
  • Supernatural / Ghosts
  • Anime Tie-In
  • Live Action Movie Tie-In

Content Rating:

OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for supernatural suspense, mature themes and haunting imagery
More about content ratings

About the Manga:

Since its debut in 1999, Mushishi has been serialized in Afternoon, a Japanese manga anthology magazine. In 2003, Mushishi was awarded an Excellence Prize for Manga at the 7th Japan Media Arts Festival. It also won the Kodansha Manga Award in 2006.

Mushishi has inspired an award-winning anime series, which has been released on DVD in the U.S. by Funimation. It was also the subject of a 2006 live-action feature film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (creator and director of Akira and Steamboy).

About the Author / Artist:

Yuki Urushibara was born January 23, 1974 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. She is best known for the series Mushishi, for which she received the 30th Kodansha Manga Award in 2006.

She is also known by the pen name Soyogo Shima.

Story Summary:

"Mushi" usually means "insect" in Japanese. In Mushishi, a seinen manga series by Yuki Urashibara, "mushi" refer to mysterious beings of the natural / supernatural world who affect humankind in strange and magical ways.

Are mushi insects, parasites, plants, viruses, or nature spirits? Described as "neither good nor evil, they are life in its purest form. An unseen river shaping the path of man, through their presence our life is changed." No one seems to know much about their origins, except that they've been around since the beginning of time.

Possibly set in Meiji / late 19th century Japan, Mushishi is a series of related, yet separate short stories featuring Ginko, a mushishi. A mushishi or "mushi master" is a cross between a researcher / scholar / doctor / shaman who travels across the countryside searching for mushi in their many forms. Ginko wanders from town to town to find people, young and old who are affected by the mushi. He offers explanations, sometimes medication or direct intervention to try to cure the afflicted of their mushi-related problems.

In the first two volumes of Mushishi, Ginko meets a boy whose drawings come to life, a man whose dreams foretell the future, and a green-haired girl who become one with a migrating swamp. All of these events are caused by mushi and it's up to Ginko to assist the living as they encounter and try to co-exist with these supernatural creatures.

Main Characters

Ginko is a mushishi, a kind of shaman / researcher / doctor who travels across the Japanese countryside. His specialty? Ginko is especially knowledgeable about mushi, a mysterious type of organism manifests as parasites, nature spirits or just lifeforms that defy human definitions.

Like many mushishi, Ginko's mere presence attracts mushi, so he travels constantly to avoid concentrating the mushi energy in any one place. He's also a chain-smoker who's rarely seen without a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Ginko is almost as mysterious as the mushi he encounters. While he's generally accepted by the country folk who encounter him, Ginko is a very different-looking fellow. He carries himself like a man in his twenties or thirties, but his hair is as white as snow. His left eye is covered by his bangs (for reasons that are hinted at in Volume 1) while his right eye is a deep blue-green, an unusual color for Japanese people. And unlike most of the people he encounters, he wears Western-style clothing, not traditional Japanese kimono. Where is he from and why does he do what he does? These are mysteries that may or may not be revealed in Mushishi.

One of the few recurring characters in Mushishi is Adashino-sensei. A doctor in a rural fishing village, Adashino is a collector of rare artifacts associated with the mushi; artifacts that Ginko collects on his travels and later sells to him. Like Ginko, Adashino looks like man in his early 30's. Both men also share a benevolent fascination with mushi, and look to each other as peers and friends.

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