by Yuki Urushibara
Published in the U.S. by Del Rey
Slugline: Ginko diagnoses and cures strange, supernaturally-caused diseases.
Ferdinand compared this to the good old days of X-Files, and I can see why. Ginko knows a lot about mushi (primitive supernatural critters) but not everything, and he travels a very traditional Japan helping the afflicted. Where he's from and why he wears modern Westernized clothes isn't explained, nor does it need to be. These stories aren't really about him.
The afflictions are strange and in their way nasty, the way fairy afflictions are in traditional Western tales. There's no gore or big magical battles, only riddles and hope. It's a bit like a medical drama too, in that way. It's a welcome (for me) break from the teenage melodrama, the cute animal sidekicks and the current obsession with scythe-based weapons. The ties to Japanese folklore are a big plus for me, too.
So kids, if you want to convince your parents that manga isn't all gigantic eyes, short skirts and gay boys, offer them a copy of Mushishi. And if you're looking for a change of pace, definitely pick up a copy. I'm adding this to my short list of titles to follow closely.
Mushishi is available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.