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File:Moribito 4761.jpg

Seirei no Moribito (roughly translatable as 'Guardian of the Spirit' or 'Guardian of the Sacred Spirit') is the animation of the first book in the 'Moribito' series of Japanese fantasy novels, written by Nahoko Uehashi. It was animated by Production I.G in 2007.

Seirei no Moribito is set in a Low Fantasy setting and a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Heian era Japan called the Yogo Empire, and is centered around the latest employment of Balsa, a wandering bodyguard, spearwielder and martial artist. When Chagum, the second son of the current emperor, suddenly becomes possessed by what the imperial sages call a 'water demon', the emperor finds little choice but to have the demon destroyed by killing Chagum. To protect the young prince, the empress secretly hires Balsa to 'kidnap' the prince and thus keep him safe from the reprisals of the court.

With the support of her childhood friend Tanda and crusty shaman Torogai, Balsa must keep the prince safe while living anonymously in the Yogo empire. Meanwhile at the palace, where Chagum has been quite popular, not everyone is happy with the emperor's decision. The star diviner Shuga, the older Prince Sagum, even the tutors, servants and warriors who serve the royal family are caught between orders and convictions. Before the winter ends, the characters will have to face several hard truths and decisions as they figure out just what they're supposed to do with the spirit.

The show began airing in North America as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block in September 2008, under the official English title of Moribito Guardian of the Spirit. It is now also available (with limited commercials) at Crunchyroll and Hulu, depending on your preference for subs or dubs.

You might be interested to also watch Kemono no Souja Erin (Beast Player Erin), based on a novel by the same author.

Seirei no Moribito provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Balsa.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime is based on a novel less than 300 pages long which doesn't have a tenth of all the details, characters, and events depicted in the series.
  • Alien Sky: The planet has two moons, one of which is Nayug's sun.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Inverted with Balsa and Tanda.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Torogai derisively calls their pursuers "hounds". Just like a pack of hunting dogs, they're fierce, tireless and loyal, and Torogai seems angry at their readiness to follow questionable orders.
  • Anti-Villain: The emperor and his sages, to begin with.
  • An Astral Projection Not a Ghost: Saya ends up this way after drinking wine with a sig salua flower in it.
  • The Atoner: Balsa.
  • Badass: Balsa takes on four elite royal guards near the beginning with a weapon that falls apart. She slashes one clear across the face, knees another firmly in the groin, and steps into an attack by their leader--taking a sword to the gut--to knock him out cold. She finishes her rounds shortly after by charging the fourth knocking him out with a rock.
  • Badass Crew: The aforementioned elite royal guards. It's no fault of their own that Balsa is simply more badass than they are.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Balsa leads an active and dangerous life, and apparently has picked up a number of scars. Are any of these scars visible normally? No.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Jin's very personal investment in Chagum's fate turns out to be because Chagum showed him sympathy after he'd been badly beaten for some unexplained transgression.
  • Bishonen: A good sprinkling. Shuga in particular.
  • Blade on a Stick: Balsa's Weapon of Choice.
  • Boobs of Steel: Not terribly obvious when she's in a kimono and using a Sarashi, but Balsa is racked and stacked.
    • This is obvious when she's wearing her normal clothes.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Surely you didn't think that scene where Chagum and Sagum tossed up stones for the bird to eat, and then took care of it as it recovered was just to show Chagum's innocence and kindness, right?
    • Not to mention "Flower Wine for Tanda," which initially seems to have almost no relevance to the storyline of the series, but sets up the sig salua flower and its ability to create a link between the two worlds, which pays off in a major way in the last few episodes.
  • Con Man: A couple of guys running a rigged gambling game in Episode 10. Unfortunately for them, Chagum turns out to have an uncanny aptitude for spotting shenanigans. He goes up to the table, times his bets just right, and predicts the result of every single toss. Over and over. After he does it enough times, they're pretty much forced to give everyone their money back.
  • Conflict Killer: The Water Demon.
  • Cool Big Sis: Balsa in a figurative way to Chagum.
  • Cool Old Lady: Torogai.
  • Common Eye Colours
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Tanda and Balsa, to each other, simultaneously, in episode eleven.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Mona Marshall as Chagum.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: 'Moribito' means 'guardian' in Japanese. This has actually become something of a trend among anime/manga's English release; the title becomes a case of You Are the Translated Foreign Word to remind people only familiar with the untranslated title what it is while still making it clear what the title means.
  • Drool Hello: Torogai runs into a cave in Nayug, seeking an escape route. Something splashes onto the floor beside her, and she realizes she's run into a trap. She gets out anyway... through the worm creature's digestive tract. Ick.
  • Drop What You Are Doing
  • Elemental Eye Colours: Prince Chagum, who carries the egg of a benevolent water spirit. He also has a noble, innocent personality typical of blue eyes.
  • Faking the Dead: Balsa sets fire to the Second Empress' palace as she leaves to give the impression Chagum died in the fire. Nobody is fooled for a second. Torogai uses a gigantic wolf to throw Chagum and Balsa down a cliff into a valley filled with poison gas, which the wolf then carries them out of while their followers can't see it. It works better, since the poison gas prevents them from going down and finding (or rather, failing to find) a body.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Yogo is a counterpart of Heian-era Japan, complete with the immigrant Yogo people and the indigenous people who resemble the Ainu. Balsa's homeland of Kanbal resembles Mongolia or Tibet.
    • There's also very heavy influence of Goryeo Korea on the setting, not that they were that different at the time. Overall the author wanted to evoke a general Far East flavor rather than a specific counterpart culture.
  • Fish Out of Water: Chagum, although he adapts very well.
  • Fish People: The Water Folk.
  • Food Porn: Every dish looks just so delicious and tasty that you start drooling. Look no further than the luxurious lavish meal Balsa gets served in Episode 1.
  • Genius Bruiser: Balsa is highly intelligent as well as a capable warrior.
  • Ghibli Hills
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The bear cub eaten by a Ra Runga in episode 25.
  • Head Pet: Torogai has a cute little something-or-other that rides around on her headband. A flashback shows her carrying a whole litter of them.
  • Hot Amazon. Balsa, so very much.
  • Hot-Blooded: Jin acts impulsively, loses his temper, and sometimes refuses to back off a tense situation, even under orders. Mon even takes him off of a mission because of it, saying that Jin has been known to get too invested in situations where Chagum is involved.
  • Hot Mom: Chagum's mom, the Second Empress. Balsa also counts for this when she takes care of Chagum.
  • Ill Guy: Crown Prince Sagum.
  • Important Haircut: Chagum gets one to make him look less like a prince.
  • Invisible Advertising: In America, the series just sort of showed up one Saturday (at 5 am!), and if you weren't following the schedule, you'd never have even have known it was on. After than and a couple false starts it finally aired completely and in a better timeslot, but still with zero advertising.
  • I Will Wait for You: Tanda has been waiting for Balsa to finish saving eight people so he can settle down and marry her...then he has to end up waiting a little longer! He indicates his impatience in a typically reserved, Tanda-like manner, but he can't bring himself to marry another, even though there seem to be eligible women who would be happy to settle down with him.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Ra Runga's weakness.
  • Lady of War: Despite being quite the tomboy, Balsa is very graceful, elegant, and honorable in combat. However, she will drop all of that and start fighting dirty if that's what it takes to defend her charge.
  • Mama Bear: Balsa, who will do anything but kill someone in order to protect Chagum.
  • Martial Pacifist: Balsa will throw down and kick ass just as well as--actually, better than--the rest of them, but she refuses to take a life.
  • Married to the Job: Why Balsa can't fully commit to Tanda.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Torogai is either the shortest or second shortest amongst all the characters.
  • Nice Guy: Tanda.
  • Non-Action Guy: Tanda, mostly.
  • Old Master: Torogai.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The Water Folk.
  • Posthumous Character: Jiguro
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Just about everybody.
  • Reincarnation: When it's all over, the emperor declares Chagum to be the founding emperor Torugaru reborn.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Torogai's little black-and-white Head Pet ... thing.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Nearly everyone in this show is working either towards Chagum's safety, or for what they believe to be the good of the country.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something
  • Scenery Porn
  • Screwed by the Network: The English dub was aired at 5:30 AM EST by Adult Swim, dropped after 10 episodes, restarted in a better timeslot, and then dropped again due to the fallout of Geneon going bankrupt; the release of the DVD's got snagged up in red tape. Adult Swim was not permitted to continue showing Moribito until the licensing issues were resolved and DVD's 4-8 were allowed to be released. However, the problems were eventually solved, and Adult Swim re aired and complete the series between June and December 2009.
  • Secondary Character Title: The Guardian of the Spirits on the title is Prince Chagum, while the protagonist is Balsa, his bodyguard - or the guardian of the Guardian of the Spirits.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Played with like you wouldn't freaking believe. The characters are intent on making sure that the prophecy is played out to the letter (excluding that nasty part about the Guardian of the Sacred Spirit dying in the process), but coincidence seems intent on making sure that it doesn't: for example, a species of bird that plays a role in the prophecy being nearly extinct is something that the protagonists are very concerned about.
  • Shipper on Deck: Pretty much everyone who knows them seems to want Balsa and Tanda to get married already.
  • Someone Has to Die: It eventually comes out that the hatching of the water spirit's egg involves the death of the carrier. Chagum is understandably rattled when he finds out.
  • Speaking Simlish: The Water Folk, although they let slip a few understandable terms like "Ra Runga", "Tamago" (egg) and "Nyunga Ro Chaga" (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit).
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Barsa/Balsa, La Lunga/Ra Runga, Naji/Naaji/Nahji
  • Spirit World: Nayug.
  • Standard Royal Court
  • Starfish Spirit: Ra Runga. It looks somewhat like a mix of an anemone and an irate, beaked squid.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Jiguro initially refused to train Balsa because he thought women hadn't the muscles to fight. However, he changed his mind after seeing Balsa re-enact one of his battles for an audience.
  • Theme Naming: Chagum and Sagum.
  • The Stoic: Balsa, most of the time.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Balsa, being The Atoner.
  • Title Drop: In episode 5, applied to Chagum.
  • Tomboy: Balsa.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Tanda VS Ra Runga.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The official translation leaves the word 'Mikado' (The official title of the Emperor of Japan) intact in all instances without explanation.
  • Trying to Catch Me Fighting Dirty: A stark contrast to Lady of War mentioned above. In times of desperation, Balsa will start brawling and fight dirty and does whatever it takes to ensure Chagum's survival. She's fine if she has her spear with her, but if she loses that, you better prepare to have your eye socket crushed in by a rock.
  • Try Not to Die
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Tanda.
  • Weapon Tombstone: Jiguro uses the eponymous weapons of the last six King's Spears to mark their graves after he kills them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Tanda served one of these to Balsa in the backstory, calling her out over how many people she was killing and asking if saving eight lives could have any meaning if she killed so many more in the process. Balsa, as we see, took it very much to heart.
  • White and Gray Morality: A definite hero protecting a young boy from Anti-Villains ... who eventually rethink the way they looked at the situation and even join up with Balsa.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Averted by Shuga. He is certainly white-haired and pretty, but he's also one of the most principled and idealistic characters in the Emperor's court.
  • The White Prince: Chagum at first.
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: One (plus another half-episode) that explain Balsa's childhood and how she became a bodyguard.
  • The Wise Prince: Sagum and later on Chagum too.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Jiguro to Balsa, when she showed her early skills with the blade. See Stay in the Kitchen above.