Ten years ago, the Mushi started appearing- mysterious bug-like creatures that give their hosts supernatural powers in exchange for slowly but steadily consuming their dreams. Fuelled by the power of the Mushi, different factions sprang up, each aggressively pursuing their own agenda- and often unaware that the people they fight with their Mushi are often the alter egos of their closest friends.
When I first heard of Mushi-Uta, my initial thoughts (after realising it wasn’t some kind of Mushishi/Utawarerumono fusion) were that it was going to be a supernatural series with a Mushi-of-the-week format. What I got was something rather different, and, expectations aside, it took quite a bit of getting used to.
Over the course of the first few episodes, the series offered a bizarre mix of bug-on-bug action and regular high school romance and interaction, all presented in a rather incomprehensible fashion. Just who were all these disparate factions skulking around in the shadows? Would anyone really jump across a railway track in front of a train because they saw a person who may or may not be a girl from their past? Why was there a pendulum swinging from a giant centipede?
No, it wasn’t the most auspicious or easy to follow of starts, and if you could even remember the names of the main characters, then you could be said to be doing well. Nonetheless, it was worth sitting through this early confusion, because as it settled down, Mushi-Uta began to show something in the way of quality. From the developing relationships between our three leads (each of whom is initially unaware of the others’ alter egos as Mushi users) to an arc that elevates a minor supporting character into something far more, Mushi-Uta always had something interesting to offer. Even the ending, which Hinano aptly called “End of Mushigelion”, tried to do something a little beyond the standard final boss confrontation, and although the result left something to be desired in terms of explanation, it was at least a worthy effort.
Whilst even remembering their names is often something of an effort (as mentioned above), Mushi-Uta actually has quite a varied cast, each of whom has been forced into different circumstances by their Mushi powers. Although no one really stands out on their own, the cast as a whole presents an interesting front; unsurprisingly, it is the three leads- Daisuke, Shiika and Rina- who get the most attention, but there are plenty of other characters who contribute something to the story as a whole- hopefully at least some of them will be fleshed out a bit more in season two.
As with many novel-based series, Mushi-Uta brings some strong and aesthetically pleasing character designs to the screen, and for the most part, the rest of the visuals are strong too, with only some of the more extreme CG Mushi letting the side down. Background music is largely unobtrusive but with the occasional good track that merits further attention, whilst the OP and ED are both slow starters that culminate in catchy themes.
Although there was a lot that never made sense in Mushi-Uta, somehow the series managed to pick itself up from a confusing start and present a series that was surprisingly enjoyable despite an overall lack of clarity. Although I never thought I would say this when it began, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store when season two comes along.
The judges’ verdict
Beige: Well, it was interesting, to say the least- I found myself fascinated even though I didn’t
Pink: I found the romantic side of it to be the best part, the rest was just silly.
Blue: I don’t like all this confusing stuff- keep it simple and straightforward, thank you very much.
Orange: A highly artistic accomplishment- I can’t wait to see more!