Balso the Spearwielder, a skilled female warrior, hires out as a bodyguard on a personal quest to save eight lives for the eight that once died for her own. She has returned to her home for a rest, and to have her spear serviced, but things do not work out so smoothly. What began as an almost knee-jerk reaction to a near drowning becomes the intro to a nest of imperial vipers. The boy she saved is the second son of the Emperor, and the skills she exhibited catch the attention of his mother, the Second Empress. The boy has been possessed by some power, and the Emperor has reluctantly decided that the rumors will do more harm to the royal house than he can afford to weigh his affections against: he must be assassinated. And so the Second Empress gives Balsa her eighth and final charge-protect my son till the end of his days. And so begins an adventure that is even bigger than it sounds, if possible. For the nature of Chagum’s possession may not be so simple, and Balsa is not one to turn aside. Whatever it is necessary to do, she will do, and protect Chagum every step of the way.
Production I.G. (Aria the Natural, Azumanga Daioh)
Mabuki Andou as Balsa
Naoto Adachi as Chagum
Kouji Tsujitani as Tanda
Hirofumi Nojima as Shuga
Ako Mayama as Torogai
Mayumi Asano as Touya
Medieval, Fantasy, Action, Drama
Seirei no Moribito aired from April 7, 2007 till September 29, 2007
The license, originally belonging to Geneon, has been rescued by Media Blasters and is currently in production. DVD release should be sometime soon, but no release date has been announced.
Seirei no Moribito is a twenty-six episode series. No sequel is expected.
Most anime, whether we fans like to admit it or not, is really aimed at a somewhat younger crowd. There are certainly those with a more mature feel, however, and Seirei no Moribito is one of them. A well told, well animated tale with good characters and some of the most dizzying displays of true martial skill-not battle, skill-that I have yet seen, make this anime a solid four.
The characters are not so much innovative or brilliant as they are strong, real feeling, and likeable. There’s even an ugly character-yes, a truly ugly one playing a strong supportive role. Hooked to a pretty girl, no less. Not so uncommon in novels, but pretty damn rare in anime. He’s good, too. Balsa, who shares the lead with Chagum, is a wonderful depiction of a female warrior-meaning she plays her role convincingly without being gung ho, showing a tough warrior exterior, or any of the other tried-and-tried-again types. I actually don’t have a problem with those on principle, but Balsa’s avoidance of them for something far more natural lends a great deal to her presence. Her skill is also well portrayed-without ever over-dramatizing, she quickly establishes herself as a formidable warrior who loses to no one, and her resourcefulness is equally impressive. No one was ever better suited to a one man mission like this(one woman, whatever-extra-military feminist comments not allowed!) Chagum, the prince, is also refreshing; rather than the ‘spoiled brat who learns compassion by seeing the lifestyle of peasants’, which I really do think is overdone and tired, he’s simply a good kid who, however sheltered he may have been, comes pre-installed with a backbone. A very bright child, he understands what is going on, and that there is no place for whining. He wins you over quickly, and continues to play an excellent lead alongside Balsa. The royal family and the people they send after him follow a similar trend: the Emperor mourns his son even as he tries again and again to kill him, portraying him simply as a good man with a responsibility larger than himself, and who knows it, rather than fiddling with pasts and family troubles. The men who chase him, the tutor who loves him and searches for the truth, all are given simpler faces that make them, and the anime, a far more impressive work.
The plot is well done, and the flow is good though not precisely fast paced. If this seems like a pattern in my reviews, it’s because these types appeal to me. The initial arc of escaping the guards moves smoothly into the investigation into the nature of Chagum’s possession, then blends back with it again. You do need an appreciation of character type animes to enjoy this story fully, without feeling like there are frustrating lulls. While there is plenty of action, it is not non-stop. There are several episodes in the middle that seem like fillers, covering little sagas in their lives while the imperial hounds have been, for the moment, lost. However, in some way, most of them turn out to have implications for the long-term plot. In general, it’s smooth, it never suddenly twists into something unrecognizable, like some have done, and the resolution comes very naturally, with plenty of action. Few anime do action like this one does. Have I mentioned that?
Well, now I will. After the character and plot paragraphs comes whatever feature I think merits separate mention. In this case, I have to mention the superb portrayal of battle. When one on one fights occur-hear this-you could watch them in slow motion, blow by blow, and be no less impressed, if not more. I can’t say that about any other anime I know of to date. In every other anime I’ve seen, the pace and fancy fast cutting with scenes and shots play a big part in the impact. Not so Seirei no Moribito, it’s scenes win with awe-inspiring sequences of blows between masters. You can barely follow the strikes, but you know you are seeing an epic clash of skill. I know of nothing else like it. Comment if you think otherwise, I’d love to know.
As I mentioned earlier, you do need to have an appreciation of character stories to truly enjoy this one. Chagum’s relationship with Balsa, his bond with his mother, and even more so his father, and several other personal threads weave an excellent counter-melody to the over-all plot. And in the end, both are resolved well, giving Seirei no Moribito one of the best balanced endings I know. The climax of an anime is supposed to be the height, emotionally, of the watching experience: Seirei no Moribito achieves that. I say again: I hate tragedies. While the ending to this one might not seem ideal to all, the necessity is understood, and it is clear that the characters all have what they need to move forward. Contentment will be theirs, if not euphoria.
Giving a very solidly made and told story, that achieves all goals and makes a smooth, enjoyable watching experience, Seirei no Moribito rates a very good four.
Final Rating: 4/5
This review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
All info such as cast and airtime are taken from ANN. All else is and always will be my origination.
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