Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Set in Japan at the turn of the 20th century, Bugmaster concerns the exploits of a Mushishi or Bugmaster - a kind of shaman who has the power to exorcize Mushi, or bugs, bizarre amoeba like spirits who create mischief in the world and are invisible to most.

Ginko wanders from settlement to settlement righting wrongs. One such encounter sees him curing a small girl who has grown curious horns upon her head. Along the way Ginko picks up a disciple who is literally chasing rainbows and they continue on the bugmaster’s mission.

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Further along the way they encounter Tanyu who has managed to bind a collection of bugs within her writing – they crawl around the page - but the most powerful one has broken free, rendered her comatose and seeks to destroy the Mushishsi.

Intercut within this is the story of a female Mushishi who has lost her young son, Yoki, after a mystical bug encounter. Blinded and crippled she still seeks the boy.

The film is beautifully acted, shot and scored, although the music is not in the least bit oriental and features the unlikely addition of didgeridoos. Katshuhiro Otomo has crafted a meditative mood piece, featuring startlingly original special effects, but the climax has an emotional resonance but lacks oomph, meaning the overall effect of the movie is rather dull.

Reviewed on: 22 Jan 2007
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A Japanese spirit exorcist and his disciple.

Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo

Writer: Yuki Urushibara

Starring: Jô Odagiri, Nao Omori, Yû Aoi, Makiko Esumi

Year: 2006

Runtime: 131 minutes

Country: Japan


Sundance 2007

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