Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Anime Show Review: Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit

I really did mean to start writing more on here but that fell through. I'm now going to try to get one review done a month on the 28. We'll see if I can stick with it. And now I will introduce you to our first ever anime show...

Synopsis: On the precipice of a cataclysmic drought, the Star Readers of the Shin Yogo Empire must devise a plan to avoid widespread famine. It is written in ancient myths that the first emperor, along with eight warriors, slew a water demon to avoid a great drought and save the land that was to become Shin Yogo. If a water demon was to appear once more, its death could bring salvation. However, the water demon manifests itself within the body of the emperor's son, Prince Chagum—by the emperor's order, Chagum is to be sacrificed to save the empire.
   Meanwhile, a mysterious spear-wielding mercenary named Balsa arrives in Shin Yogo on business. After saving Chagum from a thinly veiled assassination attempt, she is tasked by Chagum's mother to protect him from the emperor and his hunters. Bound by a sacred vow she once made, Balsa accepts.
    Seirei no Moribito follows Balsa as she embarks on her journey to protect Chagum, exploring the beauty of life, nature, family, and the bonds that form between strangers.

Review: Ok, as a rule, most anime synopsis's are dry and hard to follow so don't feel bad if you got lost in the above description. I've watched this show three times but the summary still makes me think I should turn it down. So hear me out. 
 This anime revolves around Balsa, a warrior woman who's unwed and almost thirty. This puts her out as odd and wrong in this time period (because it is based on historical Japan even if it it's actually a fantasy land). Wandering from country to country, Balsa works as a body guard. Her goal is to save a certain number of people to atone for her past. 
When she happens to be present during an accident of the royal entourage, she ends up saving the thirteen year old prince. This leads to the Prince's mother asking Balsa to save the boy from the assassination attempts happening all around him. Balsa accepts and she and the Prince flee the palace. If she succeeds in keeping him alive, he will be the final life for her atonement, but this job is much more than it at first appeared to be.
  I know, not much better, I was never meant to write synopsis's but at least this gives you a general idea of the story. And no spoilers. 
 So here we go. First, the characters. As is usually the case, these are some of my favorite aspects of the anime. Balsa is a tough and seasoned warrior. She's smart and kind and even funny sometimes beneath her stone-cold exterior. And she has a policy and morals, no one said a fighter had to be a killer. All she wants is to protect this small child and so help her, she will. Chagum (the prince) is refined and spoiled but also naive and kind. He's a pleasant mixture of prince, brat, and child all rolled into one. The supporting cast is all great. from the villains who have reasons and fears behind their motives to the funny sidekicks who really build up the heart of the story, they're all amazing.
 The story is good and unique. Set in historical Japan but with a twist of fantasy it's imbued with Japanese rituals and culture along with their beliefs and stories. Also, it's very rare to find a premise like this that doesn't fall back on romance for it's character definition and plot strength. In Moribito the plot revolves around Balsa protecting a child and the lives they meet and save along the way. 
 The world is a really interesting part of the story. It's explored and developed so that the viewer gets a good grasp of the traditions and what's going on in the more cultural settings. 
 The action is really good too. While still designed to look 2D (think normal cartoons) it's obviously computer animated giving it a 3D look (no, not jumping out at you. Think Big Hero 6, Tangled, Frozen). All that to say that with the way it's animated there are smoother transitions in the body movements meaning the character's face doesn't randomly slide all over the place in a fight giving the action scenes a more mature and intense feel.
 Content: It's here that I'll note I've actually only seen the dub for this one. Being our first anime show, we were a little prejudiced against subtitles at first. I fully intend to watch the sub at some point but simply haven't gotten around to it. 
 In language there's a few uses of D*** and H*** and one or two of B*****d. There's some intense fighting and blood is shown. A lot of violence and the fight at the end might be frightening for younger viewers. At one point, while in a healer's home, Balsa is seen without clothes on her top while a male healer checks her wound, he does so from behind though. One male character has difficulty keeping his gaze averted at this time but nothing is shown. 
All in all, it's a pretty clean anime as far as things go and a good starting place for the more cautious who find themselves interested in anime.

All in all Moribito - Guardian of the Spirit gets9 out of 10 Castles in the Sky!

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Sounds like a very interesting anime, Thanks for sharing it!