They live on the shadowy border between the possible and the impossible–ancient life-forms known as mushi. Rare is the individual who can see them, but those with that special ability, the mushishi, can counter the creatures’ deadly effects on humans. After a young boy is orphaned in the forest, he is saved by a reclusive female mushishi. But the lake near the mushishi’s home holds a deadly secret, and the boy must find out what it is before his only friend is lost forever.
In this acclaimed manga, mushi are primitive life-forms invisible to most people that take countless shapes and affect human life in mysterious and destructive ways. Laconic traveler Ginko is a mushishi(or "mushi master") wandering through premodern Japan helping people with their various mushi problems. In this volume, he meets a girl whose voice attracts mushi to her town and then a man waiting on the beach for his wife, who was lost at sea over two years before. He visits a village that always has a bountiful harvest in times of famine and discovers the grim price the people pay for their prosperity; then, a mushi-infested artifact owned by Ginko's friend, the physician and collector Adashino, endangers local children. The final tale reveals Ginko's past and the reason for his white hair and missing eye. Urushibara's stories are like old folktales, full of strangeness and wonder and sometimes crossing into horror territory. The art is remarkable, featuring striking landscapes, meticulous crosshatched detail, and a largely realistic style. In addition to the manga, there's also an unusually faithful (and unusually beautiful) anime adaptation available. Rated ages 16+, presumably for its grotesque imagery, this ongoing series is recommended for all collections.