Mushi-Shi Live Action
Still having trouble with Scrapped Princess deliveries, I bumped up the Mushi-Shi live action DVD. FUNimation has also titled it as Bugmaster, which is a pretty literal translation, though not exactly accurate. As I (think I) mentioned before in my anime review, the mushi are not strictly insects even though they often take on an insect-like appearance; they are life spirits. The film is directed by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira, Metropolis, Steamboy), which should say a lot about its quality.
The handsome Jo Odagiri (Shinobi: Heart Under Blade) stars are Ginko, a traveling Mushi Master. The basic plot does not differ from the anime (I can't speak for the manga, but I would assume the same, for the basics at least), and indeed a few instances are woven into the film, including the sound eating mushi, the man trying to capture a rainbow, and the young girl who seals an ancient mushi by writing down the stories told to her by traveling Mushi Masters. The film also explores Ginko's past, so keep that in mind before you decide to watch it. His past, and the circumstances surrounding it, make up a good portion of the film; but Ginko's origin isn't explored in the anime until episode 12, and the girl who writes about mushi appears in episode 20. The film goes beyond what is in the anime however, and Ginko's past comes full circle. It's a fairly complete story from beginning to end (as opposed to just being a random chunk of the story as a whole).
The movie is very well made. There's almost an old fashioned look to it, like a thin film laid across the screen. The costumes and scenery are lovely. Everything fits, and the special effects are well done. The Ginko in the film is a bit different from anime Ginko. Anime Ginko is pretty laid back; live action Ginko is more quiet and very traditional and respectful in his mannerisms. Not to say it's a totally different character, or that anime Ginko is loud and rude; I just think anime Ginko is a little bit more lively. Regardless, Odagiri does an excellent job. Though I do miss the constant cigarette hanging from his lips. Live action Ginko smokes a pipe every now and then, though it's never explained what it is that he's smoking (if you remember from my previous review, it's a special herb that helps keep mushi away).
The film is good about explaining what the mushi are, what they're doing, and how Ginko is handling them. At least until the end when he starts dealing with things that aren't really explained, and some questionable character motivations (from other characters). Overall it's a fantastic transfer into a live action medium.
Now, I can't make a lot of comments on FUNimation's English voice over for the film, because I never watch live action movies in anything other than their original language. It just feels ridiculous and unnatural. I did listen to enough of it (meaning I skipped to a scene where he talked a lot and listened for a couple minutes) to notice that they brought in Travis Willingham to voice Ginko again, which is helpful. In the little bit of the English voice over that I listened to, I got the distinct impression that they were doing animation voice over, not live action voice over. Maybe to some people there isn't a difference, but when I'm watching real people and hearing anime styled voices...that just doesn't work for me, and frankly it was a little silly.
Anyway, watch it, it's a lovely movie.