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Who Planted Thorns

Mushishi, volume 1

By Yuki Urushibara 

14 Jun, 2019


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Mushishi, Volume One collects the first five issues of Yuki Urushibara’s manga of the same title. 

Ginko’s Japan hosts all the familiar life Kingdoms: plants, animals, and fungi. Alongside these familiar lifeforms there exists a much older, more primitive biota that human senses are ill suited to detect. These lifeforms are collectively known as the mushi. Ginko is one of the few people who can detect mushi. He has used this to become an expert in their ways, a mushi-shi. 

Ginko wanders from place to place, assisting humans who have become entangled with the mushi. Usually co-existence with mushi makes no difference to the entangled; occasionally the mushi can cause good or ill. Ginko helps people suffering from mushi-caused Complications. 

His beneficiaries include: 

  • a hermit boy whose art comes to life; 

  • a blind girl whose blindness proves contagious; 

  • a boy plagued by the same loud sounds (inaudible to others) that drove his mother to her grave; 

  • a man troubled by seemingly prophetic dreams; 

  • a young woman compelled to follow a spectral swamp as it migrates to the sea… and its own death. 

Sometime Ginko sees (and solves) problems people did not know they had; the ones they think they have are either irrelevant or outside his competence. 


This manga reminded me of YKK. The settings are different (YKK is post-apocalyptic, Mushishi is a science fantasy of sorts) but both are peaceful, even soothing. 

There are a few horrific moments. The dreaming man, dreams of hidden springs (which is good) but also of his neighbours’ approaching deaths. He cannot prevent the deaths. His foresight is a poisoned gift, particularly once the horrified man learns the mechanics behind his prophetic visions. 

Urushibara’s art well fits the atmosphere and the tale. 

When I open the first volume of a manga series, I’m hoping to find a series I want to pursue. Often I’m disappointed. This time I got lucky. Urashibara’s Mushishi is competently done and something I very much want to read to the end. 

Mushishi, Volume One is available here (Amazon), here (Amazon.ca) and here (Chapters-Indigo).