Thursday, March 22, 2007

[HKIFF] The Bugmaster (Mushishi)

Hear Me Roar

I was expecting Mushishi to be a wild fantastical ride full of snazzy special effects and martial arts. I was sorely disappointed with the latter, and more so when the movie had decided to jump right into the plot of things, with little explanation of what's going on.

Based on the Japanese manga written by Yuki Urushibara, Mushishi, or The "Bugmaster" follows the trials and tribulations of a young mystical shaman Ginko, who travels from location to location, healing people who are infected by the "mushi" creatures, spreading like the plague. However, the filmmakers decided to have made this for fan boys, and doesn't dwell too long with the backstories or relationship details between characters.

Started off quite impressively with a special effects shot of a huge landslide, the movie thereafter degenerated into a series of incomprehensible events that signals that the movie isn't really for non-fans. I was confused by the lack of explanation, either through dialogue or visuals, of what's happening. Imagine watching Star Wars with little or no explanation of "The Force" - things just happen, and you move on.

Come to think of it, it must resembles Star Wars in many ways. You have a manipulator of mystical energy, and have various practitioners belonging to various factions, and you have lineage issues with the lead. You even have a character with horns on the face, like Darth Maul.

For its length, I was hoping for something more epic., with the potential of being a classic. But sadly that was not to be.


Before the movie started, the producer was at hand to read out both director Katsuhiro Otomo's and lead actor Jo Odagiri's words of thanks and apologies for not being able to make it for the screening. Katsuhiro, known for his Akira, said that while Akira is set in the future, Mushishi is set 100 years ago, and has some important messages for us. He signed off hoping that the audience will feel those messages too.

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