Over on the Yuricon & ALC Publishing group on Facebook, I’ve started posting pictures of a few bad-ass female characters just for fun. Last week, I posted a picture of Balsa from Serei no Moribito. I’ve never really talked about the anime series here, because it’s not Yuri, but I’m reading the Light Novels and find that, despite the fact that they are not Yuri, I think they are worth talking about. So, here we are talking about them. ^_^
The first two volumes of the novel series were translated into English by Scholastic books. Much like the anime series, they didn’t get much play in critical or blogger circles and basically just slipped under the radar, which was a damn shame
The Moribito anime, to be brief, is stellar. I consider it, without question, to be the very best anime I’ve ever watched. Everything about it was excellent – characters, story, animation, music. The fact that the story is family-friendly and that there is someone for everyone in the family to identify with, just makes it that much better. Young, old, male, female, there’s someone to like. The strongest indicator that this was something special was when about 5 episodes in, both my wife and I realized we liked the kid. That never happens. And, not only did we like the kid, but by the end of the series, we loved him. Prince Chagum is an extraordinary character. All of them are.
The story, for those of you not familiar with it, is an episode in the life of a spear-wielding female bodyguard, Balsa. She has a tragic backstory of her own, but in the anime – and the first volume – she is drawn into an adventure of a lifetime. The second Prince of New Yogo is the target of an assassination attempt by his own father. His mother, the Second Queen, hires Balsa to save the Prince’s life. Why Chagum is being targeted and what happens, makes some of the most compelling anime ever made. The entire series is available and Media Blasters did a great job of it.
But today, we come to discuss the first novel of the series, Moribito, Guardian of the Spirit. Physically speaking, this book is gorgeous. The paper is a soft cream color and trim and text are a dark blue that gives the pages a slightly other-worldly feel.
The story follows the same outline as the anime, but is not nearly as detailed nor does it have as much character development as the anime. The long days while Balsa and Chagum build trust and a relationship are nowhere to be found in the book. The plot remains the same, but in a minimalist way, The action scenes remain intact and anyone who has watched the anime will recognize the story. For one of the few times in my life, I recommend the anime over the novel.
However, if you know of a budding young otaku and want to really encourage reading, hand them this book. It’s a good story, with likable protagonists, fantasy/myth elements and a lot of cool spear-wielding by Balsa.
Overall – 7
If you’ve read the first book and want to know whether the rest of the series is worth it, tune back in tomorrow, when we take on the next in the series. ^_^