I wasn’t expecting to find too much to interest me in Mushibugyou, which is why I didn’t include it in the season preview post. And especially after the hatchet job RC did on it (Hell hath no fury like a manga reader scorned) I came into the preview expecting the worst – except for some reason I can’t say there was a tiny nagging notion that it might just be better than it looked. Well, for me at least, it definitely is.
Maybe that notion at the back of my mind sprung from a tenuous connection in premise to Oh! Edo Rocket, which is one of my favorite anime of the last several years. Mushibugyou isn’t much like OER really, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I like a lot of things about this show, starting with the music by longtime veteran Oda Tetsuro, an interesting blend of electric guitar and traditional Japanese string and wind instruments – sort of like Edo-period Japanese music if it were re-imagined by early-80s Jethro Tull. I also like the cast, led be Kenn as male lead Tsukishima Jinbei and Akesaka Satomi (a very underrated comic actress) as love interest and tea-shop girl Oharu. Also making appearances are Mamoru Miyano (as Jinbei’s future boss) and Koyama Rikiya (as his Samurai father), among others – with future appearances by Jun Fukuyama and Han Megumi also on tap.
We’ve certainly seen the story of the hick samurai who comes to Tokyo to prove himself to his father done many times in anime. The twist here is that Edo is overrun by giant insects, and at the insistent suggestions from the public the government has established the Ministry of Insect Management to try and combat the threat. The first ep is pretty violent, with spiders sucking the juices out of human victims until they’re empty sacks of skin and bones, but it has an energy and boisterousness to it that I find quite appealing. The animation from Seven Arcs is nothing fancy, but director Hamana Takayuki (Toshokan Sensou, PoT, Moshidora) keeps things moving briskly, introducing new characters and concepts without grinding the story to a halt. The look of the series is quite attractive as well, a bit of Ukiyo-e and a bit of manga with a fanciful impression of old Edo.
I guess I’m fortunate in that I haven’t read either manga this series is based on, so there’s no chance of being disappointed in the way any aspect has been adapted. For me Mushibugyou is simply fun – it has some wit, a lot of energy, and the staff and cast involved are top notch (and it shows). There’s always room in my viewing schedule for series like that, and if this one maintains the spark of the premiere I’ll definitely be following it. Whether I blog it is a much more complicated question, and one I’m nowhere ready to hazard a guess at the answer to.