Having already written on the current season of Mushishi, I found myself attempting to veer away from this article… yet as it so happened, this seemed to be the most compelling piece to write. The more I watch Mushishi, the more I am convinced that it is one of the finest gems to come out of animation in the last few decades (both seasons). This second season has continued the trend of the first, providing self-contained stories that push for morals as they intertwine with nature.* And it is for this reason that, like with some anime in the past, I must applaud its teaching of simple principles.
I’ve continued to have the joy of watching this second season with my father, which has given rise to some stimulating conversation and review. It is from this connection that I’ve come to realize some of the underlying brilliance of Mushishi. One of these themes that arises in this illustrious series is the idea of “moderation,” generally speaking.
Something that has continued episode after episode, particularly written as coming from Ginko, is that the “powers” people have gained from the Mushi surrounding them, whether by choice or not, should not be abused. The continuing theme has always been that overuse eventually leads to self-destruction… stopping not just at the self, but extending to those around, from family to friends to neighbors, and so on. Be this the ability to control the wind, charm wildlife, seeing into the future, or one of the many other “abilities” featured in Mushishi vignettes, abuse consistently leads to despair.
As I pondered this simple and culturally pervasive (think: “with great power comes great responsibility”) idea, I began to wonder if this was applicable to Christians. As Mushishi has been filled with edifying principles, yet is decidedly non-Christian in origin, one must carefully dissect all that is portrayed as “truth” in order to discover its true nature. And in this light, I stumbled across this passage in Proverbs:
27 It is not good to eat much honey,
nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory.[b]
28 A man without self-control
is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Forgive my proof-texting (I normally dislike removing individual verses, which were never originally written as individual verses, out of their surrounding context, though I believe in this case, particularly coming from the book of Proverbs, doing so is acceptable), but I believe that, if one simply looks hard enough, many of the simple, foundational principles found in “thinking” anime such as Mushishi, Kino’s Journey, or Haibane Renmei, he or she can find a connection like this.
After spending some time in the western television world the last few weeks (something I have not done in quite a long time), I am increasingly convinced that anime, when carefully waded through with high boots of scrutiny and skepticism, is becoming one of the more profound mediums. A medium that should be consumed by those who want something that will truly challenge them. Especially Christians.
*Some might cringe at this, since Mushishi does tend to contain many naturalistic tendencies, however I have yet to have a problem with this. In fact, if anything, Mushishi’s approach to naturalism actually provides the backdrop for more edifying stories than I believe it would be able to do otherwise.
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