I give this wonderful, heartwarming fantasy...a well deserved 91/100!
In 2007, I had just started getting serious about watching anime, particularly those that have just aired during that year, while following some others as well. One title happened to slip my grasp: Seirei no Moribito. I knew of it's existence, but I thought it was one of those political fantasies that seemed really hard to understand, like Guin Saga, which I haven't watched. After feeling rather bored one day, I decided to try out Moribito...and boy, am I glad I did! I can't believe I overlooked this show back in 2007! But now I've finished it and I'm glad to say that this anime is on my top 30!
The story's about a young woman named Balsa who's traveling from her native town working as a bodyguard. She saves the life of the royal family's youngest son, the second prince Chagum, from falling into a river. The second queen, Chagum's mother, asks her to take care of her son and protect him because he has some kind of water demon in him. Because the water demon is said to bring torrid droughts every few hundred years, his father, the Mikado, wants him assassinated because he feels that Chagum's death will stop the drought. Balsa takes Chagum under her wing and protects him while finding a way to bring the water demon out of him. Assisting them on their journey are Tanda, Balsa's childhood friend and a herbatologist, the eccentric magic weaver Torogai, and two friendly street urchins named Toya and Saya. But despite their efforts, the Mikado's assassins want Chagum dead at all costs, and they'll stop at nothing to bring them down.
If there's one thing I LOVE about the show the most, it's the animation! BY GOD, the animation and art on this show is just absolutely impeccable and amazing, and I mean that in the highest respect possible! From the epic fights to the smallest details in the most irrelevant things (like scratches on Balsa's spear, grass leaves swaying in the wind, footprints, etc.), the animators surely brought everything to life! But what impressed me the most about the animation is how the characters are animated. Nowhere in the show do you see super deformed faces or chibiness or anything like that. The characters move, act, and display both emotions and actions in a very normal and human way, which is VERY refreshing in most anime nowadays. And speaking of human, I'm surprised with how actually HUMAN these characters are! Nobody has special powers, nobody can move faster than the naked eye can follow, no super fast healing powers, NOTHING!! When I see characters that move too fast for the naked eye to follow, I just feel it's lazy animating and too shounen anime-esque. Thank God, Moribito avoided this flaw awesomely and with aplomb (you'll notice if you watch the fight scenes, which there are only about four or five in the entire show)! Well, I guess part of this is due to the fact that it's adapted from a popular novel series, and I don't think novels can describe super speed that good, and the animators surely made use of this! And guess which company produced this? Production I.G! The people behind Ghost In The Shell, Blood-C, Bunny Drop, and currently, Guilty Crown. Some people say Guilty Crown's animation is awesome, but for me, pretty animation is nothing unless you've made good use of it and have some meaning in the plot. GC doesn't have that, and I'm gonna be bold and say that in my personal opinion, Moribito has WAY better animation than GC by a long shot!
The music...isn't really all that memorable or groundbreaking. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I hate it or anything. On the contrary, I like it. It's nice and subtle, and knows when it wants to be calm and nice and go all out, and does so at the right times. But it's not one of my favorites. I did, however, love the opening theme! I'm not really a fan of L'Arc en Ciel (again, not saying I hate them), but I personally think this is their best song so far, and the animation certainly did it justice!
The characters...let me tell you this: in this show, there are absolutely NO flat or bland characters here. None. Zilch. Zippo. Nada. Nothing! Every single character, even the relatively minor ones, are complex and well rounded and far away from any stereotype we know. Balsa's the best and strongest female anime character I've seen, Chagum is the best damsel in distress I've seen, the supporting characters know that they're supporting characters, and best of all, they're all perfectly realistic and human characters without anything special to them. They all think like normal human beings and are quite intelligent. Don't expect any random stupidity or silliness or goofiness or anything like that. Nobody's mind-numbingly retarded in this series! Yay! I won't go into too much detail about why. You'll have to watch and see for yourself.
If I had to point out a flaw, it's that I think there should've been more conflict in the middle parts of the show and that I wish some of the supporting characters had more screen time. But in all honesty, that's about it. What I love is how misleading the show is. It looks like your political thriller, but it's actually a heartwarming tale about a mother's love for a child. I'd love to go into detail about this, but the love a mother has for a child is just too indescribable, so I'll leave it at that. I also love how the show develops its setting, by giving it traditions and rituals and some very well done back story. Heck, one of the episodes that had me on the edge of my seat, and got me excited the most, is one about gambling of all things! Gambling! But I think it was because I love the way they presented it. Also, I watched this whole thing in English on Hulu, and from what I hear, it aired on Adult Swim at some point. Man! If I had known about it, I would've DVRed it and watched it as it aired! Oh well, I watched it and I'm glad to say I love it! Also, the final two episodes are great as well.
Seirei no Moribito is awesome in the best of ways. If you're tired of all the anime tropes in this industry, then watch this. It's clean and wonderful! A great anime to watch if you want to get away from all cliches.