Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Instead of more of why comics are awful, let’s take a break this week and talk about Moribito, an anime I’m currently about 3/4ths through.


Moribito is about a female bodyguard named Balsa, who has a tragic backstory and healer boyfriend, who rescues a young prince and finds herself responsible for his wellbeing.

Balsa is pretty great. She’s set up in a very masculine role but has no problem with traditionally feminine things, and she slots into the anime trope of swordsman who’s vowed not to kill without her gender having any impact – if anything, she’s more bloodthirsty than usual. She also distinguishes herself as a clever and adaptable fighter.

The anime is somewhat slow – the fight scenes that happen are great, but they’re not where the focus is. Some episodes are slice of life, some are slice of life + magic is real, some are and meanwhile at the palace… And the non-Balsa noble half of things is more anime standard. Lots of moral greyness where that grey is pretty damn dark but is presented as business as usual and how tragic it is that these people are set against each other. As I said, I’m not quite done with it, so maybe there’s going to be a winnowing, but it generally portrays them as sympathetic, which I’m even less tolerant of here when they keep butting up against the characters on the other half, who actually are sympathetic. But, the palace politicking sections manage to be interesting just for how strange everything is over there, and the rest of the cast is there to take up the likable people slack.

So overall, I’d recommend giving it a look!

 

5 Comments

  1. Joe says:
    I haven’t seen it, but Beast Player Erin is an anime adapted from another work by the same author. Female main character, main character’s mother is important, maybe worth a shot?
  2. Roarke says:
    Just from this gif, it seems like the fights are awesome. They remind me Sword of the Stranger, which is an anime/movie that had some crazy fight scenes. I don’t think it was otherwise memorable, though.
    1. Farla says:
      They are! They’re a lot more realistic than I’m used to seeing, and I’m surprised by how well that ends up working – probably far more effort for the animators, though.
  3. Act says:

    Finally got a chance to check this out on Netflix. Five episodes deep, I like it a lot. I have a pretty high tolerance for political intrigue, so I don’t mind the palace sections.

    The art is interesting. It’s pretty clearly inspired by Ghibli, but it does its own thing at the same time. The mix of 3D graphics and traditional animation is visually interesting to. I don’t know if I’d call it gorgeous, but its eye-catching, which can be just as good.

    Also this goes without saying but the dub is shit. American voice actors are still really, really struggling with the idea of cartoons that are acted seriously.

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