We arrive at the final chapters of the long, dark travels of the female bodyguard Balsa and her ward, young Prince Chagum.
It’s been about 9 years or so, since I first encountered the anime Seirei no Moribito (released as Moribito in America by Media Blasters and recently re-released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Viz Media.) I still consider this to be one of the finest anime I have ever watched – superior even to the books it was based upon.
I’ve reviewed most, but not all, of the novels here on Okazu.
When we left the narrative in Part 2 of the final arc, the Tarsh Empire is massed to attack Chagum’s home, New Yogo. As the story opens up in Ten to Chi no Moribito, Part 3, New Yogo Koukoku Hen (天と地の守り人〈第3部〉新ヨゴ皇国編)., Tarsh arrives at the plain where Tanda and the other men of his village have been impressed by the army to do manual labor. Unable to do anything at all, Tanda can only watch as the men and boys he’s grown up with are slaughtered around him. The tide is turned only by the timely arrival of troops from Rota and Kanbal.
Torogai, having confirmed that the waters of Nayug are about to overflow into Sagu and boiling and unfettered, will destroy New Yogo, has gathered as many of the Yaku shaman she can, in order to do a dangerous spell that, if successful will help to warn people, and if not, will destroy her. Another of their number had recently attempted it, but had died trying.
Chagum returns to the Palace in New Yogo, only to find that his father is not the man he (nor I) thought he was. He comes to court bloody from his first battle, scarred by knife and sword, and finds the man he thought was his father, viewing him as a hated rival. Chagum tries to warn him of the impending flood and the war, but he and his message are rejected. (And finally, I see that the Emperor was not really all the nice all along. The live-action got it right and I was wrong.)
Almost immediately, one of the Generals attempts to assassinate Chagum, but Shuga, who knew it was likely, is there to heal him. While healing, Chagum is pulled into Nayug, where the water spirits tell him about the flood. Still in Nayug, Chagum goes to his father’s court, but cannot be heard. He is able to cause a ruckus and get Shuga’s attention. Shuga, who has been warned by Torogai also tries to tell the court, but he too, is not fully successful. He tends Chagum’s body and awaits the end.
Torogai completes the spell and is able to save many people, by getting them away from the river before the flood.
But the hero of the story is down in Tarsh. The pirate Hyuugo, whom we had thought was dead, is brought home, barely alive. There, after the old king dies, with the two sons vying for the position of King, Hyuugo tells Prince Raul that he cannot win against the alliance of New Yogo, Rota, Kanbal and Sangal and the only thing he should do is immediately withdraw. The day after Raul is made King, the war is over.
And I stared. Um, huh? That’s it? Boom? No more war? Yup. End of war.
Chagum’s father and most of his court died in the flood of boiling water out of Nayug. Tanda lost his arm and his will to live in the war and is suffering from PTSD. Balsa is tending to him, knowing there’s nothing she can do. Slowly, New Yogo is rebuilding, but a lot of people will never return home. As summer dawns, Tanda finally turns towards healing and he and Balsa finally kiss.
Chagum is walking through the palace and find his younger sister and brother. Tortured by the idea that he is about to become “the voice of god” and knowing perfectly well that he is merely a human, he decides he’ll rule in such a way to make his siblings’ lives peaceful. Two days later, Chagum becomes the Emperor of New Yogo.
Summer passes, then fall, then winter and spring and once again it is summer. Balsa returns home, paying one last visit to the old lady Masa who took in Asura and Chikisa (from Kami no Miribito, Part 1 and Part 2,) who have decided that they are ready to think about returning to Rota. Finally, Balsa returns to her home, where Tanda is cooking her dinner and Torogai is hanging out drinking.
Overall – 8
Other than the abrupt end of the war, nothing was really surprising in this novel. Nonetheless, I’m kind of glad that we got to see Balsa and Tanda end up together. The plotting in the novel series has always been a lot of set-up for a handwave ending (which is one of the several things that the anime did better than the novel), but the characters have always been worth it.
Turns out there is one last book in the series (other than the cookbook, Balsa’s Table.) Nagareikumono: Moribito Short Story Collection, (流れ行く者: 守り人短編集) follows Balsa as a young girl, traveling with her foster father Jiguro. Undoubtedly, I’ll end up reading it eventually.
But this is the last of the Balsa and Chagum books and, for a series that took me about 5 years to read, it was pretty damn good. Now I can kick back and watch the live action and complain about all the changes, just like a real fan should. ^_^