Mushishi: Post modern representation of otherness in and outside human bodies

Mio Bryce*, Amy Plumb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Recent decades have witnessed a resurgence of fantasies in novels, films as well as manga and anime, reflecting our ambivalent feelings (fear and hope) towards techno-scientific advancements spreading through everyday life. These hybrid fantasies are largely genre-hybrids and incorporate traditional folklore, combining magic and psychic powers with information and biotechnologies. Urushibara Yuki's manga and anime, Mushishi (1999-2008) introduces a number of invisible, shapeless, or shape-shifting mushi (spirits). They are generally parasitical, attaching to human bodies and things. When they cause suffering to their human hosts, they are often removed by the main protagonist, Mushishi (lit., Mushi Master), Ginko. Mushi, however, are neither intrinsically good nor evil. What do such mushi represent? Do they manifest our anxieties about invisible threats caused by infectious viruses, pollutants, genetic manipulations, biochemical weapons, or radiation? Or do they represent the invasive use of information technology in our everyday life and living spaces? Is cyberspace, with its elusive connectedness, an analogue of the world with mushi? Is the world of Mushishi a metaphor for our environment? This paper will discuss human's ambiguous visions of life, bodies, and co-existence through the characterisations of parasitical mushi in Urushibara's Mushishi in comparison with Miyazaki Hayao's Kaze no tani no Nausicaä (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-119
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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