Mushi-Shi is a supernatural/occult detective series about a man named Ginko who is a traveling Mushi-Shi, which means he specializes in dealing with supernatural creatures called Mushi that normal people can't see. I was first exposed to Mushi-Shi in 2007 when I was given the first DVD volume as a birthday present. I wouldn't finish the entire show until early 2009, but by the time I did, it cemented itself in a permanent spot on my personal Top 10 favorite anime list. Never would I expect to see Mushi-Shi in animated form again, but I was surprised in late 2013 when I saw a Mushi-Shi special listed in the Winter 2014 anime charts. I saw and loved the special to death, and upon completing it I was met with yet another surprise, the announcement of another Mushi-Shi season. Nearly a full decade after the show first aired in Japan it would be back, making it one of the longest gaps between seasons in anime history. Does Mushi-Shi Zoku Shou maintain the magic and mystery I fell in love with all those years ago, or should they have left a masterpiece alone?
One of the strongest things the first season of Mushi-Shi had going for it was stunning visuals. Since there were no action scenes that needed to be animated, all the focus and attention went into the environment and animating the Mushi themselves. I am happy to say that not only has that been maintained in Zoku Shou, this season improves on the first season's visuals. It is just so beautiful to look at, with many episodes offering great wallpaper material worthy moments. And while this show looks good regardless of how you watch it, it begs to be watched on an HD screen. To say this show has a lot of scenery porn is putting it lightly. What we get as a result is an anime tv series that looks just as good visually as the best anime films.
Like the first season, Zoku Shou is an anthology series. None of the episodes are connected to each other beyond the fact that they all have Mushi and Ginko in them. This means you can watch the entire series in any order. As there is no real order to watch them in, it makes the show extremely easy for newcomers to jump in. This also means the show can have any type of story it wishes without them being conflicting. And Zoku Shou does have a variety of stories, from creepy feels rides to haunting tales of horror to bitterly sweet tales of family. It also means that Zoku Shou isn't bogged down by the usual standards many expect from a continuous story. Instead of one long story that may change in quality as the season goes on, we get 10 perfectly paced and self-contained amazing stories.
Nearly every story revolve around the Mushi and the way they interact with humans. Virtually every interaction leads to great misfortune for the humans, but it isn't exactly the fault of the Mushi. The Mushi are extremely primitive life forms, essentially on the same level as bacteria and other single-cell organisms. They don't know the consequences of their actions, they are just doing what they need to do to live. It doesn't help that many Mushi are parasitic in nature, needing to interact with a higher form of life to move around or to feed or whatnot. Because the Mushi aren't doing the harm they cause consciously, they aren't really bad. It is just a sad part of nature.
The soundtrack in Zoku Shou is for the most part the same that has always been in the series. But that isn't exactly a bad thing, as it is easily amongst the best soundtracks in anime. It is mostly just simple instrumentals, but it is just so creepily calming.
While only a few episodes in Zoku Shou focus on this, it is still very effective when used. In all of these cases, characters who either have a connection to Mushi or are connected to someone with a connection to Mushi abuse these Mushi for personal gain. However, they all suffer extreme consequences as a result as well. Showing that you can't bend nature to your will.
One of the only criticisms I have with Zoku Shou is one that I had with the first season, and that is that all of the characters aside from the very few recurring characters and Ginko look very similar. However despite everyone looking the same, their stories are still memorable to me thanks to the uniqueness of the Mushi they each face.
Zoku Shou is only 10 episodes long. Technically it is 12 episodes long, but the final two are two parts of a single story that will be bundled as OVAs later in the year. However, it is 10 really high quality episodes, and it isn't like this is all there is, either. There is still the 26 episodes of the just as excellent first season, the amazing tv special, and another season of Zoku Shou will be airing in the Fall 2014 season. So while I am let down that it is only 10 episodes, it is just a section of a much larger series.
Ultimately Mushi-Shi Zoku Shou is more than a worthy continuation of one of the most acclaimed and one of my personal favorite series of all time. It continues everything that made the first season so beloved while even improving in some areas like the animation. For me this was easily my favorite series of Spring 2014 and I cannot wait for it to continue in the Fall. If you have never seen the first season and thus are afraid to jump in with Zoku Shou, I say you can start with this season without any real problems. If you are still on the fence, I at least suggest watching the special. Be warned though, the series is slow and methodical, but that works in its favor, as this isn't the kind of show where being fast would be beneficial. Regardless, I think you should at least give this franchise that has a special meaning to me a shot.