Adapted from sci-fi manga series by Yuki Urushibara, “Mushishi (Bugmaster)” tells the story of a Mushi-shi named Ginko, a master who has the ability to see supernatural beings called the Mushi, an unusual life form that is neither animal nor vegetable. Ginko travels from town to town to help people who are being plagued by the Mushi and at the same time maintain a respectful relationship with these creatures. Directed by Katsuhiro Otomo , whose “Akira” 15 years ago had drawn him to a short-lived comparison to Hayao Miyazaki, “Mushishi” was premiered internationally at the 2006 Venice International Film Festival.
Since the nineteenth century, Japanese artists have experimented with forms of the graphic novel (or manga), transcending the literal and entering the realm of speculation and metaphor. Adapted from Yuki Urushibara’s widely celebrated manga, Bugmaster transports us into a visually mesmerizing, softly poetic, fantastical world that explores the shifting relationship between nature and human beings. Ginko is a mushishi (bugmaster), a gifted healer who expertly manipulates mushi (bugs), small supernatural beings in touch with the essence of life and death. Though few can see them, mushi permeate both nature and humans, casting haunting spells. With silver hair, a missing eye, and troubling gaps in his memory, the mysterious Ginko travels through premodern Japan, rescuing those plagued by these phantom spirits. While searching for answers of his own, he meets the beautiful Tanyu, a crippled bugmaster who records the history of the mushi by locking them into scrolls. When the mushi escape Tanyu’s scrolls and attack her, Ginko must save her and, at the same time, rescue the traces of a vanishing age.
In his second live-action foray, famed animator Katsuhiro Otomo (Steamboy, Akira) delicately blends CGI animation with poignant performances to create a fully realized mythical universe where human beings and nature are inextricably bound by otherworldly, primordial codes. - Sundance Film Festival