The Best Anime Like Mushishi

Need some Mushihi recommendations for what to watch next? Mushishi is a well-loved anime that began airing in 2005. It follows Ginko, who works as a mushi-shi, or someone who seeks out a mysterious life form called mushi, and solves problems that these beings cause for humankind. It's a slow paced series that features beautiful art and memorable characters, and raises philosophical questions that will stay on your mind long after the anime ends.

If you're one of the many people who loved this anime, you may be looking for something else that will provide a similar experience. Some anime like Mushishi are similar due to their leisurely pace, their rich and evocative settings, and their focus on creating an atmosphere rather than a dramatic plot. These include ARIA the ANIMATION and Spice & Wolf. Others, such as The Mystic Archives of Dantalian and Natsume's Book of Friends, share its focus on solving mysteries. Most anime similar to Mushishi have a deep focus on the supernatural, or the connection between humanity and the natural world. 

No matter which element of Mushishi was the most compelling for you, there's an another anime with similar components for you to enjoy.

  • Natsume's Book of Friends is commonly recommended to fans of Mushishi, both for their similar subject maters and similar atmospheres. Natsume's Book of Friends follows a teenage boy named Natsume who inherits a book from his grandmother. Inside the book, the names of yokai are inscribed, compelling them to obey whoever owns the book. Uncomfortable with the idea of forcing anyone to do his bidding, Natsume sets out to return as many names as he possibly can. Most episodes center around encounters with individual yokai, their magical abilities, and their impact on the wider world - while a few episodes tackle Natsume's personal life. Ginko travels as he seeks to help people with their mushi related problems follow a similar pattern.

  • Hotarubi no Mori e is like an episode of Mushishi without Ginko in it. Gin is a forest spirit who can't touch humans, or he'll disappear. He forges a bond with a young human named Hotaru Takegawa. At first, they're friends who see each other once a year, but as the years pass, the two forge a romantic bond. If this were an episode of Mushishi, Ginko would appear and find a way to solve the problem, but in this tragic film, the two lovers must handle the problem on their own.

    In some ways, Ginko is actually a lot like Gin. Superficially, they have similar names and silver hair - but on a deeper level, they both exist outside of human society, but still find ways to connect with it. 

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    xxxHOLiC is an anime from the CLAMP universe about a young man named Kimihiro Watanuki who can see spirits. He finds this ability tremendously annoying, and wants to be rid of it as quickly as possible. When a mysterious woman named Yuko tells him that she can remove his troublesome powers, he's willing to do whatever she wants - which turns out to involve working for her magical store. 

    Like Mushishi, this anime tells a story about supernatural encounters without relying heavily on hotblooded shonen battle to get its themes across. Neither series are particularly plot heavy, but both create a rich and satisfying magical atmosphere.

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    The Medicine Seller of Mononoke travels the world in search of mysterious and dangerous spirits called mononoke that he must exorcise - but not before fully understanding everything about them. Mononoke is a darker, more cynical series than Mushishi is - mononoke are evil and must be destroyed, while mushi simply exist, and are neither good nor bad. The art is also a lot louder and more avant garde. Still, the basic premise of these series is almost identical, so if you like one, there's a high chance that you'll enjoy the other.

  • Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
    Photo: Lerche

    Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World is about a young girl who has dedicated her life to traveling the world on her talking motorcycle, Hermes. In each episode, she discovers a new civilization, which is often corrupt in some ways and beautiful in others. Sometimes she solves other people's problems, sometimes she simply moves on. Kino is specifically trying to see the world, while Ginko's goals relate less to personal enrichment than they do to mushi, they share a transient lifestyle, and their stories depict new societies and situations every episode.

  • Hayao Miyazaki's classic 1997 film is most like Mushishi toward the end, when the forest spirit is injured and unleashes its wrath on humanity. Both anime deal with the complex relationship between the human world and the natural world, and the importance of creating a balance between the two. Both also show the consequences of that balance being lost.