Type: Really, Really, Really Good
Synopsis: In the ancient land of…Japan? China? Korea?…In the ancient land of South East Fantasy Asia, a female spear wielder is tasked with protecting a young Prince whose been ordered to die due to being possessed by an evil spirit. The bodyguard must now act as guardian and care giver to the young Prince, while also being a generally all around bad-ass.
Pros: This anime is really, really, really good. After watching it for an hour, I immediately looked to see if there was a second season. No such luck, but I did learn that the anime is based on a Japanese fantasy novel series. Amazon here I come. Being based on a novels makes a lot of sense, because the anime’s story is allowed to breath more than your standard action-drama. You can usually guess the story source based on the pacing. Manga anime are typically fast paced. Light-Novel anime are brisk. Visual novel anime have slow start but quickly ramp up. And video game anime are a mess, just a complete mess. But getting back to Moribito, the anime does great job mixing realism with fantasy, almost to the levels of a Miyazaki project. All the characters felt real, and the pre-industrial Japanese-esque setting made their daily lives and struggles come off as more relatable. Their are very few stories in fiction that are confident enough to allow their characters to be the story, not just be part of the story. I found myself being equally entertained by the well done action scenes, to the quieter personal scenes. The protagonist Balsa could be fighting 7 men at once, or explaining how money works, and I’d be enjoying it either way. On the topic of Balsa, can I say how refreshing it was to have a grown-up as the main character in an anime? A single Female grown up at that? One of the first things Balsa says in the series is that she’s almost 30 years old. She is a fully established character by the time we the audience meet her. She’s at the tale end of resolving her personal mission when Chagum the Prince is introduced. Her relationship with Chagum is very well handled, as her duty to look after him evolves into maternal love organically on both ends. I would love giving the anime the series of analytic essays it deserves, but these are meant to be quick. I just say that like all great stories, this anime is filled with notable moments that you can pick out and say: “Remember the fight on the mountain ledge? Or the Gambling scene? Or the attack in the rice patties? Or Chagum’s first fight? Or the visit to the blacksmith? Or Tada’s trip to the spirit world? Or, etc, etc…
Cons: There’s not more of it? That it ended? That it took me this long to get to it? That you’ll want to pay attention? That I’m pretty sure The Legend of Korra might have taking large character points from it? I mean, come on, there are soo may ways this could have gone south. Chagum could have been a whiny rich brat. Balsa, a strong female warrior, could have been given the HBO treatment. A hacky conspiracy plot could have been added. A villain could have been added, Balsa could have been given the “forget being a warrior and be a woman” troupe! But thankfully, not of that happened. Balsa is never objectified, and her being a warrior is treated more as part of who she is rather than some tragic fate. Chagum never acts arrogantly. And the major conflict come more from trying to stop a force of nature than one character trying to gain something. Even the King, the guy who ordered his youngest son dead, did so under the idea that it would protect his nation (and he was totally feeling bad about it). Maybe, maybe the idea of Balsa and Chagum having parallel stories of being protected by someone at a young age is a big too convenient, but that’s just a personal opinion. Overall, this is an anime that anyone can watch and enjoy.
Watch it?: This is why watching anime is the best! (5/5)
I’m now a fan of the short spear
Best Episode: Ep.3 “Fight to the Death” (I’ll with excitement, but honestly, the entire thing is great)