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REVIEW: Mushi-Shi DVDs 3 and 4




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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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Location: Columbus, OH

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 12:57 am Reply with quote
Whoa, wait a second; how the hell is the animation only a "B+"?! Mushi-shi has the best animation that any anime television series has ever received.

Otherwise fair review. Some of my favorite episodes of the series are in volume three, with spoiler[the one revealing Ginko's past and who the actual female narrator is] being the obvious stand out.

Really one of the best anime ever.
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Leebo



Joined: 14 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:45 am Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:
Whoa, wait a second; how the hell is the animation only a "B+"?! Mushi-shi has the best animation that any anime television series has ever received.


Well, I don't know about best ever. It's certainly beautiful. The overall art direction and the animation itself aren't one and the same. Then, again, maybe that was just hyperbole? Smile
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Terrestrial_Cel



Joined: 10 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:53 am Reply with quote
I too believe the animation should at least have been rated A-.

Thank you for the review.
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FanFicGuru



Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:15 am Reply with quote
While I agree that the animation quality should have been scored higher, I believe this was a very solid review. I received volumes 3 and 4 of Mushi-shi for Christmas (3 from my mom, 4 from a friend) and loved the first 2 volumes. I'll be looking forward to the upcoming episodes.
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Randall Miyashiro



Joined: 12 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:38 am Reply with quote
I feel as though that this is consistent with Theron's curve. I remember people recently complaining how Tokyo Majin got a C+ (Welcome to NHK also got a C+) for animation. On the other I can't think of a time when anyone has told him he has given a DVD a higher grade than it has deserved for animation.

I think reviewers consistency is important since you can judge titles relative to each other. With this in mind most of the titles that Theron has given an A- (only Noein comes to mind) to does have amazing animation compared to even Mushishi which gets a B+ much like Ergo Proxy.
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:32 am Reply with quote
Quote:
These volumes spin eight more stand-alone tales in the same style as the first eight.
So...what about episodes 9 and 10, are they drastically different? ShockedWink

At any rate, I've seen through Vol.2, and Mushishi's had me under its spell thus far. 3 and 4 are sitting on my shelf right now, and I can easily believe that they're more of the same good thing. A lot of people don't like anthology-style standalone stories, but I've always liked them and I don't know why. Epic storylines spanning dozens or hundreds of episodes are fine, but there's something admirable about a show that packs as much development into each individual episode. However, it sounds like maybe Mushishi packs a bit too much into some episodes; maybe it could've benefitted from the Mermaid Forest structure of having some story arcs as single episodes and others in two episodes. "The Heavy Seed" from Vol. 2 especially had this rushed feeling.

Thinking back on it, I can agree with the B+ grade on animation. The artwork is quite gorgeous, but let's face it: still frames are still. Granted, they are very pretty still frames that work great for the atmosphere and the sedate mood of Mushishi, but that comes as a tradeoff for not being as dynamic as other more highly-rated series. (No, Mushishi is not composed solely of still frames, but there are many of them.)

I notice the end of the review has the "one of the year's best releases" disclaimer. Still, I don't disagree with the line that invoked a forum shytestorm in the previous review. Although I liked other series better from a fanboy perspective (such as Air and Rumbling Hearts), I can't think of any 2007-released series that's technically and artistically better than Mushishi. Including Death Note.
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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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Location: Columbus, OH

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:25 am Reply with quote
Leebo wrote:
Well, I don't know about best ever. It's certainly beautiful. The overall art direction and the animation itself aren't one and the same.


No, I'm making a distinction between the art and the animation. (Which some people ignorantly use interchangeably.)

Zalis116 wrote:
Thinking back on it, I can agree with the B+ grade on animation. The artwork is quite gorgeous, but let's face it: still frames are still. Granted, they are very pretty still frames that work great for the atmosphere and the sedate mood of Mushishi, but that comes as a tradeoff for not being as dynamic as other more highly-rated series. (No, Mushishi is not composed solely of still frames, but there are many of them.)


Just because there is some noticeable panning doesn't mean the actual animation quality isn't as great. It's a stylistic choice by the director, and it is a bit annoying when you have folks thinking that the animation is "bad" because there is constant awkward movement. (For instance, Shigurui is also frequently animated in twos and has some of the best attention to subtle detail of movement that I've seen in an anime television series.)

Cloe's post regarding her first impressions of Mushi-shi really sum it up better than I can.

Cloe wrote:
OK, time to add my two cents to this love-fest, even though it's almost 3 in the morning and I have to work tomorrow. I have to get this all out now before I forget. Wink

First of all, I have to say I'm very impressed with the over-all quality of both the production and the story of Mushi-Shi. I'm very, very stingy with my "Masterpiece" ratings (16 in almost 400 seen-all), but I could see Mushi-Shi easily joining the ranks of Arjuna and Mind Game by the time I'm done watching if it retains this level of quality. It's extremely well-executed in all aspects. For now, though, I want to give my thoughts strictly on the animation, since I suspect that's what you guys want to hear most from me.

These comments are for Episode One (I'm too tired to go any further than that tonight).

The animation quality this episode is superb. A bit of frame-by-frame on the remote control revealed that almost all of the character animation in Mushi-Shi is animated on twos, as opposed to the standard threes for most TV anime (for those unfamiliar with animation production, this means that at a rate of 24 fps, Mushi-Shi uses 12 drawings per second as opposed to 8, which results in a slightly fuller, more fluid look to the animation). The mushi themselves are animated on ones, the full 24 fps. This in itself gives the series a cinematic feel rather than a television feel, since you rarely see these types of frame rates outside the theater.

While I'm unfamiliar with the production studio Artland, they've made the wise decision of gathering a pool of very talented and notable freelance animators. The animation director (and a key animator as well) for this episode is an extremely respected and well-known sakuga animator named Yoshihiko Umakoshi, whose specialty is full body motions. His animation in this episode is much more subtle and low-key than you normally see from him (check out this sweet reel--a feast for the eyes--for mere a taste of what Umakoshi has animated), but his careful attention to the nuance of movement is still very apparent. He obviously excelled at keeping the drawings on model as well (the primary job of an AD). There's really no better choice for AD in animation like this, which relies primarily on character acting to carry its heart and emotion.

There's a very nice throwaway shot near the beginning, for instance, at about 3:25 or so, of Shinra clamoring to his feet and chasing after the flyaway mushi (I suspect this was keyed by Umakoshi himself but I'll need to do a bit of research first before I'm certain). Just the way the body moves and the cloth of the yukata falls in response to Shinra's movements is mind-blowingly accurate to life (but there's enough of the "animator's touch" there to tell it's not rotoscoped). It's little nuances like these, barely noticeable to the untrained eye, that raise the bar of production quality. Looking at the list of keyframe animators in the encyclopedia, it's a smorgasbord of talent. I can't wait to see what these talented people create in future episodes.

Animation quality: A well-deserved A


And considering that the animation does stay consistent great, unlike most anime series (hell, even the impossibly great Denno Coil has noticeable dips in quality here and there), there is no reason that Mushi-shi should have anything less than an "A."
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darkhunter



Joined: 13 May 2004
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:03 pm Reply with quote
I just got the 4th DVD. The animation is pretty good but it is weird sometimes, like small glitches/fuzzines when viewing a forest scenery on hi-resolution (720P or 1080P). The B+ is a pretty accurate rating.

Last edited by darkhunter on Mon Dec 31, 2007 1:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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Location: Columbus, OH

PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:33 pm Reply with quote
darkhunter wrote:
I just got the 4th DVD. The animation is pretty good but the is weird sometimes, like small glitches/fuzzines when viewing a forest scenery on hi-resolution (720P or 1080P). The B+ is a pretty accurate rating.


It's not a source material issue. FUNimation is notorious for having problems with the video quality on their releases. Check out AoD or a few detailed posts/threads on here for more information on the history of that issue.
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Cowboy Cadenza



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
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Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2007 7:05 pm Reply with quote
Randall Miyashiro wrote:
I feel as though that this is consistent with Theron's curve. I remember people recently complaining how Tokyo Majin got a C+ (Welcome to NHK also got a C+) for animation. On the other I can't think of a time when anyone has told him he has given a DVD a higher grade than it has deserved for animation.

I think reviewers consistency is important since you can judge titles relative to each other. With this in mind most of the titles that Theron has given an A- (only Noein comes to mind) to does have amazing animation compared to even Mushishi which gets a B+ much like Ergo Proxy.


Welcome to the NHK deserved that C+ quite well. I loved the art and character designs in the show, but the animation quality was, like many Gonzo shows, completely inconsistent from start to finish. I would even have rated some individual episodes as F's just because it was so much worse than the standard they set in beginning.

Additionally, as much as I love Ergo Proxy, the animation quality was also pretty inconsistent. It wasn't nearly as bad as NHK, and they got it back on track for the last episode, but I wouldn't give it more than a B+.

Anyway, I'd say Mushishi's animation is better than Noein's. And I agree with Noein's A- for animation.

HellKorn wrote:
darkhunter wrote:
I just got the 4th DVD. The animation is pretty good but the is weird sometimes, like small glitches/fuzzines when viewing a forest scenery on hi-resolution (720P or 1080P). The B+ is a pretty accurate rating.


It's not a source material issue. FUNimation is notorious for having problems with the video quality on their releases. Check out AoD or a few detailed posts/threads on here for more information on the history of that issue.


Theron is reviewing the DVD. If the DVD has video quality problems, then he may have understandably misconstrued it as glitchy animation. While I agree that the animation should probably be an A-, if FUNi messed up, there's no way for the reviewer to be able to tell the difference.
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stevek504



Joined: 29 Apr 2007
Posts: 165

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:28 am Reply with quote
The animation in this series is certainly above most releases, but a B+ (or an A-) are not bad. Great animation is what I look for in titles that I purchase and this one will be put on my wish list. But nothing is absolutely perfect, and we can be thankful for that. An example can be found in the Sunrise Serpent spoiler[when the woman and her son are returning from their travels (running away); the boy has no eyes. Shocked]

But this is what makes these forums so great! – We get to talk about the review and to some extent post our own. Smile
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Keonyn
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2008 3:23 pm Reply with quote
I can understand somewhat on rating it lower because of the use of still frames and panning. Of course, when I say I can understand that viewpoint I can't say I agree with it. Mushi-Shi is just the kind of show that uses those effectively as it's a slow going and peaceful show, more animation-centric scenes that might have yielded it a better score due to that viewpoint would have felt out of place in my opinion and negatively impacted the shows effectiveness in portraying the desired mood.

The art is gorgeous and the animation is very well done in pretty much every scene. Yeah, there's a lot of still shots and panning that one could say are cutting corners but I think in this case they had a positive effect and it was a good artistic direction for the director to take. Not to mention if I had artwork as gorgeous as that depicted in Mushi-Shi I would want to give it a lot of exposure to the viewer as well; especially when it so perfectly conveys the atmosphere of the scene.

This is partially why I measure a series animation as "visuals" when I comment on a series in "my anime"(which I really need to update); simply because I rate it based on not just the animation quality but of the artwork as well. A series could have amazingly fluid animation but still be little more than stick figures, where as you have a show like Haibane Renmei which really isn't a prime example of great animation but whose artwork easily balances things out. Mushi-Shi on the other hand has good animation when it's needed and impressive artwork; so yes, I would rate it higher.

B+ certainly is a fine grade but I would say it deserves better. I mean, Ergo Proxy got a A- with its animation for the first DVD and there was some blatantly obvious animation quality issues that were a tad painful to watch in that volume, particularly in the episode that took place in the mall.
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