Mushishi has been adapted into an anime television series by Artland which aired in Fuji Television between October 2005 and June 2006. It has been licensed by Funimation to its release in North America, while Madman Entertainment and Revelation Films licensed it for Australia and the United Kingdom respectively. A second anime series aired between April and December 2014, which has been licensed in North America by Aniplex of America, with two television specials airing in 2014 and an anime film released in 2015. A live-action film, directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, was released in late 2006. It has also spawned a video game and many types of Mushishi-related merchandise.
Mushishi is set in an imaginary time between the Edo and Meiji periods, featuring some 19th-century technology but with Japan still as a “closed country”. The story features ubiquitous creatures called Mushi (蟲) that often display what appear as supernatural powers. It is implied that there are many more lifeforms more primitive than “normal” living things such as animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria, and Mushi is the most primitive of all. Due to their ethereal nature, most humans are incapable of perceiving Mushi and are oblivious to their existence, but there are a few who possess the ability to see and interact with Mushi. One such person is Ginko (ギンコ), the main character of the series voiced by Yuto Nakano in the original version and by Travis Willingham in the English dub. He employs himself as a Mushi Master (蟲師 mushi-shi), traveling from place to place to research Mushi and aid people suffering from problems caused by them.
The series is an episodic anthology with no overarching plotline in which the only common elements are Ginko and the Mushi. Ginko is a man with one green eye, who not only can see various types of mushi but also attracts them. Because of this ability, he is constantly wandering and smokes in order to keep the mushi away. He appears to have a generally laid back personality, however, he can be very serious and focused on his work when it comes to protecting people from mushi. He stresses that the mushi are not evil, but merely trying to survive like everyone else. A majority of the stories do not focus on Ginko but rely on him as a catalyst to move the story forward by diagnosing or curing mushi-related illnesses and phenomena.
The Mushishi anime adaptation was animated by Artland, directed by Hiroshi Nagahama, and produced by a group called “Mushishi Production Committee”, which consists of Marvelous Entertainment, Avex Entertainment and SKY Perfect Well Think. The first 20 episodes of the series originally aired between October 23, 2005 and March 12, 2006 on Fuji Television. A digest was broadcast on May 7, 2006 by BS Fuji, which aired the last six episodes from May 14 to June 18 of the same year. Marvelous Entertainment and Avex released the series from January 25 to September 27, 2006 in five DVDs for sale, and at the same time in nine DVDs for rental. On March 28, 2008 a DVD box set containing all episodes was released; it was followed by a Blu-ray box set on March 27, 2009, and a Limited Edition Blu-ray box on December 20, 2013.
The anime series’ licensing was announced by Funimation to North American release in January 2007. To promote the series’ release, it hosted Nagahama at the Anime Expo 2007 between June 29 and July 2. In addition, Funimation exhibited the first four episodes in New York and Texas’ locations such as ImaginAsian Theater, Studio Movie Grill, and Alamo Drafthouse, on July 23 and 24 of that year. The series was released in six DVDs between July 31, 2007 to February 26, 2008 by Funimation, which also streamed series on its own channel, Hulu, Joost, Anime News Network, Crackle, as well as distributed it to Comcast cable service. Funimation also released four box sets with all episodes: on December 16, 2008, on October 6, 2009, on July 6, 2010, and November 8, 2011. In United Kingdom, the series was released between October 22, 2007 and November 17, 2008 by Revelation Films in six DVD. Madman Entertainment acquired the series’ distribution rights at AVCon in 2007, releasing it in a six-discs box set on January 14, 2009 in PAL region.
Based on the 2013 two-chapter side story, a special titled Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage was broadcast on Tokyo MX, Tochigi TV, Gunma TV, and BS11 on January 4, 2014, and streamed by Niconico. Aniplex released the special on DVD and Blu-ray on April 23, 2014. A second anime television season titled Mushishi: Zoku-Shō started airing on April 5, 2014, on Tokyo MX and other channels. As with the special, the second season featured the same director, the same studio and main cast from the first season. After the broadcast of the tenth episode on June 21, the “first half” was finished. Another special, Mushishi: Path of Thorns, aired on August 20 on BS11. The latter half of the second season started to air on October 19, and ended on December 21, 2014. Zoku-Shō first DVD compilation was released on July 23, 2014 in Japan, and the sixth—and last–was released on July 22, 2015. A sequel anime film titled Mushishi: Bell Droplets, based on the manga’s last arc, was announced in December 2014 and released on May 16, 2015 in Japan.
Hihamukage was streamed by Crunchyroll for premium members on January 4, 2014, and made available for free user a week later. In March, the second season was licensed for streaming by Aniplex of America and Crunchyroll as Mushi-Shi -Next Passage-. In November, Madman Entertainment acquired its home media release rights for Australia. Late in the same month, Madman also licensed the series for streaming and made it available on its site AnimeLab. Madman released a DVD box set containing all Next Passage‘s episodes, Path of Thorns and Bell Droplets on December 7, 2016.