Saturday, February 20, 2010

Anime Review: Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit

Anime Review # 004
Title: Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit
Release Type: Complete Series set (Walmart Exclusive!)

Blog Navigator and random Internet Troll Richard J. here, welcoming you to another does of edu-tainment! (No, really, we are both educating and entertaining. That makes us like one of those TV networks for infants, only cooler.)

Today's show is Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit, a series that has some excellent talent behind it on multiple levels. First, the animation production is by Production I.G., a company that has worked on many excellent series, such as the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex franchise. In fact, the director for this series was also a major player in that franchise! His name is Kenji Kamiyama and trust me, he knows what he's doing. Anyone who can write scrips for GitS: SAC has brains to spare. And speaking of writers, this series is based on a novel by Nahoko Ueshashi.

Now, Moribito is a story centered around two major characters. Balsa, a spear-wielding warrior woman who works as a bodyguard and Chagum, a young prince who harbors a potentially harmful sprit inside of him. After Balsa saves Chagum from an assassination attempt by his own father, the second queen hires Balsa to protect Chagum, starting the pair on an adventure that will forever bind them. In many ways, this is a series about family, redemption and a warrior's honor. The fascinating thing is that the lessons aren't necessarily learned by the characters you expect nor for the reasons you might think.

Let me ask one of Balsa's friends for some info. Touya?


Touya: Right! I'm Touya, the best errand runner this city has and let me tell you, I've seen Balsa get into and out of all kinds of situations! She's voiced by Cindy Robinson in the English dub, a voice you don't hear too often but man I wish we could hear more of! She's great here, holding her emotions in perfectly and only letting them out a few key times, giving Balsa a grace and strength that you just don't find many places!

The whole series is on her shoulders when you really think about it and she nails it big time! The main thing is that she never plays Balsa as a cold person. Reserved, restrained but never as if she has no feelings at all. It's quite a brilliant and understated performance.

Balsa's role in the series is to protect Chagum, who is played by Mona Marshall, who plays yet another boy prince very well. (Check her out in Kyo Kara Maoh! for a much more boisterous prince roll. Wolfram is fun.) As Chagum, she imparts an actual sense of nobility in the voice. Chagum doesn't come across as arrogant but rather as sheltered and a bit naive in some ways yet also wise and capable. As the second major pillar of the series, this role is well covered.

Richard J.: So, what are some good points about this series?

Touya: You mean besides being a well-written and paced fantasy adventure with themes of family, redemption and honor? Heck, do you really need any more positives than that?

Richard J.: Well, I think it's important to point out a few.

Okay everyone, this release is hands down a steal. The price is absurdly low for a complete collection. This series has great animation, thrilling battles, moving plot developments and a cast of characters you can really support. The story of how Balsa came to be a bodyguard alone makes this series worth owning. Why did it do badly in the ratings on [adult swim] you ask?

Moribito makes you think. It is a series that was made for anime fans that like to savor their series like a fine wine. (I recommend blackberry wine from Wild Vines as a post-viewing nightcap. It's a delicious and inexpensive wine.)

This series has a fantasy angle with spirits and magic but rather than feeling stupid and tacked on, like it would in some series, it is heavily integrated. Many fantasy series make the mistake of never explaining why magic can't solve every problem but this series really does a great job of showing how problematic it is for short-lived humans to try to understand situations that span many life-times. It also shows how easy it is for a culture to just forget what was once so very important. There are some important life lessons in this series.


Touya: Okay, if the English dub for this anime series is great and the plot is awesome and cool, then what's the catch? I'm an errand runner, if I don't know the downside, I can't haggle with the merchants properly!

Richard J.: Actually, the series itself has very few downsides. Mainly, the ending includes a sequel hook and there is no sign of a sequel coming, though the main plot is fully resolved and it's far from a cliffhanger ending. It's just, you get the impression there might be more and you're excited at the prospect. So it's disappointing there's not a sequel because the first series is SO GOOD.

Second is the packaging. Let me make something clear: you want this cheap complete collection, you've got to go inside a Walmart. I've checked Walmart's website and I did not see this collection. (They do have a previous set with less than half the series but it's not the same.)

Also, when you do buy it, you have deal with a stackpak case. In other words, the DVDs are all on one spindle! Though fear not, a cheap replacement can be had from Sleeve City.

Here are some pics of the collection in the replacement case I got:

First, here's the front cover in the new case.


Second, the spine. If you plan to duel Balsa, you're gonna need one.


The back. There are words and stuff.


Now, here's the interior, disc sleeves spread by my prehensile paw.


For the record, you can get Moribito's singles release and a sweet art box as well.

In conclusion, I feel the positives vastly outweigh the negatives with this series. It's just a great story. Any fantasy fan should get this series now. Not just anime fans, it's got so much to offer non-fans as well. Frankly, this series just does an amazing job of telling it's story.


Touya: So what's the rating chief! Oh, I hope it's a good one!

Richard J.: The Cat Girl Scorecard reads:


Oh heck yes. That's just the score this series deserves! The negatives just CAN'T beat the sheer good here. You should totally own this series. It's not quite perfect but it comes REAL CLOSE.

Media Blasters totally scored when they pried this one away from Geneon's cold dead fingers.

See you again soon!



  1. I loved Mona Marshall in KKM, I've been looking for something else she's been in. Thanks!

  2. Cool case replacement. I too dislike Stackpaks, lolz

  3. @ Hannah: Nice to see a fellow Wolfram and KKM fan!

    @ bal-anime: Yeah, the new case is pretty nice. I also picked up 50 clear cases to replace Scavano cases in my collection. (I ran out of new clears. :(