Uminaoshi present one of the most ideal forms of a immortality in the series thus far. They live in trenches and hide from the moonlight. They glow in the dark in order to attract and capture prey. Uminaoshi feed off of “lifetimes” lived by it’s victims. Once the Uminaoshi capture a creature or human and pull it down into the sea, they return the creature to it’s embryonic state, and seal the creature in a little pearl-like ball. During full moons, they release these balls that come afloat to the surface of the water.
If a human woman eats an orb containing a human embryo, they become pregnant with them, and they are born, completely and genetically identical to the Mushi’s victim. When a human is reborn this way, they grow up just as they did last time, retaining habits and mannerisms of their previous life. There is an island village who’s people use this Mushi to live a pseudo-eternal life. They will take the bodies of their dead to the Uminaoshi and use the resulting embryo egg to have one of their women give birth to that person again. This means that a daughter could give birth to their own mother, making that person both their parent and child.
Normally this type of power would be considered forbidden, or abused by humanity, but Mushishi did something a bit different. They showed a society that has managed to adapt and use this Mushi in a harmonious way. As Ginko leaves the island, he decides to not intervene, and to not tell the world about them, allowing them to have their little utopia forever more.
7. Isei – “Well Star”
Isei appear on the rare occasion when a light vein shifts it’s path and collides with the bottom of a well. This collision causes “sparks” of sorts and collect in the water at the bottom of the well. When a human is exposed to them, usually by falling into them, they are transported to another dimension that parallels their own, and they lose memories from the previous dimension. This dimension will be virtually identical, however, it will be completely void of people. The moon of this Mushi dimension is the hole that forms the well in the original dimension. The dimension’s overlap, but perception between people from each dimension are impossible, therefore once someone is stuck in there, there is no normal means of sensing each other, even if they are technically standing right in front of each other.
If one boils and drinks the same Isei that a victim has fallen through, they can temporarily transport to that dimension to reach them. The only way to bring the victim back from the boundaries of the Isei dimension is to have it’s victim recall their memories. If you create a special fire in the Isei dimension and let the smoke rise to the moon, it will then come out of the well of the original dimension, linking the two together. This allows voices and vision to carry through the well between dimensions, which in turn lets loved ones call to the victim, hopefully triggering their suppressed memories.
Ginko, traveling to the Isei dimension.
This Mushi was one of the most visually interesting executions of a Mushi in the entire series. The concept of the second dimension having it’s moon be the visual link to the original one felt like something straight out of an illusion book.
6. Imeno no Awai
Imeno no Awai can cause dreams to become reality. They seek a pathway between the host’s head and where their own home is. As humans spend one third of their life with their head cradled by a pillow, they make their nest within them most of the time. They use a pathway that only Mushi can traverse that links reality to the dreams of the host. When the host is asleep, they will enter the dream, and will actually leave the dream on occasion. When they do so, the Imeno no Awai act as the medium to let that dream infect reality. As they multiply, more and more of their dreams become shaped by the Imeno no Awai. Their ability to turn dreams into reality grows in range and scale as they multiply, as well.
Imeno no Awai are very weak, and simple exposure to sunlight is enough to make them disappear. There is no stopping a dream once it becomes reality, so the only recourse is to stop the Mushi before it brings one of your dreams to life. Many confuse this with premonitions in which you see something before it happens, but in this case, it’s actually the Mushi causing what you see to come to life. It was never supposed to happen in the first place.
Few Mushi offer as many possibilities as this one does. The fact that, at their strongest, they can cause ANYTHING to happen makes this possibly the strongest Mushi, should the host’s dreams be crazy enough. They can cause death as well as create life, making this leaps and bounds more substantial than other Mushi.
“A snake that lives 1,000 years in the sea and 1,000 years in the mountains becomes a dragon.” The Umisen Yamasen is a Mushi that has a lifestyle in common with this mythical quote. There are two kinds of this Mushi. One is the Umisen and the other is the Yamasen. The Umisen travel to the open sea in a group, and give off a mysterious haze offshore. The Yamasen live unperturbed in the mountains, isolated from each other. In time, the Umisen approach the shore from the sea and the Yamasen descend from the mountains. They all group together at the same spot in the shallow waters within the haze of the Umisen. After a thousand days, they merge into a single Mushi.
If a human gets stuck in the haze in the sea, they will lose sight of everything outside of it. Only those who WANT to return to land will be able to actually see the land and return. This means, those looking to travel to another destination will never be able to proceed through the haze. Inside the haze, one is under the Mushi’s sense of time, so months will pass outside of the haze while only hours will pass within it. If a human is stuck in the haze long enough, they will also become part of the Umisen and Yamasen, crossing over to the Mushi side of existence.
A woman trapped in the haze for too long.
This Mushi was placed so high, as well as the following Mushi, for how much of an epic presence they have compared to other Mushi. While previous entries were just little abstract forms with interesting effects, the Umisen Yamasen and the following Mushi could all be considered legendary or representative of the epitome of Mushi power.
The Umisen and the Yamasen combining.
4. Sanekui “Core-Eater”
Sanekui are among the most dangerous Mushi in existence. They live in special passages called Paths of Overgrowth. These paths are a passageway that Mushi use to go from their own exclusive reality to the human world. Should an exit to a Path of Overgrowth ever remain unsealed, then an uncontrollable influx of Mushi can enter the world, upsetting the world’s balance. The Sanekui is one of the strongest Mushi in the Path of Overgrowth.
The Sanekui devour a human’s soul. They will swarm a human in huge droves and search their entire being for anything that gives them a spiritual existence, and feed off of it, leaving the human as an empty shell. There used to be no way to combat this, but a recent discovery was made that allows the creation of an artificial soul created by a special burning ritual using Kouki. This means when the human encounters the Sanekui and lose their soul, they can replace them with new artificial souls.
The Sanekui ravaging the body in search of it’s soul.
In the current story, there has been a recent outbreak of Sanekui which is listed as one of the many Mushi abnormalities that have happened in Ginko, the main character’s lifetime. This is considered a bad omen foretelling the return of a Mushi a little further down this list. It is also stated that the creation of an artificial Mushi is a taboo by the main character.
The artificial soul Mushi being imbued into a human.
The artificial Mushi and the Sanekui swarm battling.
3. Lords & Kuchinawa
Amongst the innumerable Mushi in this world, there exists a select few that serve the purpose of ruling over all other Mushi in it’s area. Whether mountains, fields or seas, these Lords exist in every corner of the world. Lords are also known as Mushi gods or guardians as they mainly exist to protect and preserve balance of the area they reside in. Humans can unknowingly kill Lords because they aren’t immortal or protected. If a Lord is killed, the moderation of energy from the mountain becomes uncontrollable. Water starts to smell like rotten sake and plants will over-ripen and whither. Lords can be any kind of animal, but they have a unique visual look in that they usually increase drastically in size, and they have grass growing on some part of their body.
Mushi Masters themselves have the ability to become Lords, though it is extremely difficult. Few seek to do this because once you become a Lord, you can never leave that area. The process to become a Lord involves practicing a skill called Mugura-nori, which involves controlling a Mushi called Mugura. Mugura act like the nerves of the ground and by attuning yourself to them, you feel everything the surrounding landscape feels. Once you master it you can restrain the land’s unusual energy and preserve balance.
Lords have the ability to hideaway the creatures from certain disasters.
Unique to the Lords is a predator called the Kuchinawa. It gives off a cry similar to a loud resonating bell-like sound. The Kuchinawa eats Lords and takes their place, bringing stability to the land. When someone is eaten by a Kuchinawa, their entire existence is devoured. Memories that others have of that person all disappear, and it’s as if they were never born. Sometimes the Kuchinawa ends up being a better Lord than the one it eats. so they are seen as a necessary predator.
2. Tokoyami & Ginko
This is the Mushi that causes the main character to look as he does, and the reason he lives his life the way he does. Ginko itself, is the name of the main character as well as the Mushi. Tokoyami represents perpetual or absolute darkness. During the day, they lie perfectly still in the shadows, but during the night, they come out and eat smaller Mushi. As it does so , it breaks the Mushi down into a blinding light.
The light from the Tokoyami eating the Mushi is known to be caused by a secondary Mushi that lives within the Tokoyami, called the Ginko. If an animal is constantly exposed to this light, their eyes become green and aspects of their body, like the scales of a fish or hairs of a human, become white. These green eyes allow one to see in the dark. Eventually, those afflicted with this will lose one eye. It’s only a matter of time from then before they lose their second eye as well and they become part of the Tokoyami. Unfortunately, once this process starts, there is no way to stop it, even if you abstain from exposing yourself to the light, which merely delays it.
If the Tokoyami starts coming for you, the moon and stars will vanish. You will start forgetting your past, and even your own name. You can only escape if you can miraculously remember something in the presence of the Tokoyami. The best known method is to give yourself a new name. You will lose all memories associated with the old name, but you’ll be able to escapee and go on living under the new name. The Ginko is probably one of the most elusive Mushi in the world. Ginko, the main character may be the only person who’s ever saw it up close, as typically the victim is already one with the Tokoyami before they can see it.
The extremely rare Ginko Mushi.
1. The Forbidden Mushi
This is the big kahuna of all Mushi. The villain, if there ever was one in the anime. Long ago there was an event referred to as the Great Cataclysm. This caused animals, fauna, and Mushi to die off in massive numbers. During this drought of life, the Forbidden Mushi was born. There is no record of it’s shape or form. It possessed an unrivaled amount of power, and it’s only function was to seek out and devour all other lifeforms.
A legendary Mushi Master from the Minai clan sealed the Forbidden Mushi inside the body of a woman of the Karibusa clan, causing her entire body to turn pure black. There are also no records of how this was done, but as a result, the Forbidden Mushi was effectively trapped within the Karibusa bloodline. Every few generations the curse is passed down to the next-born, who carries the black color curse within them.
The only way the Karibusa clan has discovered to rid themselves of this curse is to write stories of Mushi Masters killing Mushi. When a cursed one writes these stories down, intense pain runs through the black parts of their body, which signifies that the Mushi is leaving. They travel through the body and onto the scrolls as “ink” and the forbidden Mushi are sealed within these scrolls. Even sealed as kanji on paper, they are still capable of motion. Should another world changing disaster occur, the Forbidden Mushi could come back, which is why it must be eradicated as soon as possible. The Minai clan has dedicated generations of their ancestors to researching the Forbidden Mushi, and nothing more. Like mentioned earlier, there have been signs that foreshadow the return of this world-threatening Mushi.
Yuki Urushibara is a truly creative mangaka for coming up with so many brilliant types of Mushi. For something so abstract, he manages to make them all fit into this world as naturally as the animals and humans do. This list may be updated as there is still the final chapter of the manga to adapt, and it’s getting the full movie treatment, but this is still a pretty good representation of the best Mushi in the whole series. Remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean my favorite episodes. In fact, one of my most beloved episodes features what I would consider the most boring Mushi of them all. The Mushi only make a part of the story, as the elements of humanity and natural life also factor in equally to every episode. However, since Mushi are the only things unique to this particular fiction, that is why I decided to write about them in this fashion. Thank you for reading, and if you haven’t checked out this anime, you truly ought to. It’s enlightening, to say the least.