Moribito is fantastical. The story unfolds as if it were a lore or a fairy tale passed down for generations. It is full of magic and mystery, yet unlike any Western fairy tale. For instance, the supernatural of Moribito is supervened upon its natural world: i.e., whereas the supernatural hides from the ordinary in the West, the supernatural in Moribito’s world occupies an invisible layer of reality. It appears that the world of Moribito is composed of many grids stacked up on each other –similar to Michel Foucault’s view of knowledge. Interestingly, the nature of this world’s knowledge and history accords to Foucault’s view of each as well: history and knowledge are shaped by the powerful.

Despite some of its gloomy undertones, Moribito is, at heart, a moving tale of courage and compassion. Each character musters up the courage to sacrifice their lives to protect the ones they love. This seems typical of Japanese anime, but I believe Moribito breaks from that convention. If one watches the show, one finds that their bravery comes from humanity rather than inhuman fearlessness; it is full of weakness and doubt. This is evident from its focus on maternal love, nurture, loyalty, family, and friendship. Moribito is not simply a story about a hero fighting monsters to protect their friends and lovers. Much of the show’s conflicts come from human beings.

Another critical difference between Moribito and other supernatural shows is that the main character is a strong, female warrior. Balsa is stoic and courageous, yet kind and altruistic. She has an unwavering sense of duty and morality. Her stoic personality is complemented by the sensitive men around her – Tanda and Chagum. I believe that Chagum especially brings out the best of her, as she act as both his martial arts teacher, mother, and roel model.

Not every character in this show is flushed out and the animation can be quite strange sometimes due to its use of 3D animation. Nevertheless, the action scenes are exquisitely animated, and the way it sketches the world’s landscapes and supernatural entities is a treat to the eyes. Hence, these minor flaws do not detract much from the overall quality of this show. I really wish there will be a second series that delves deeper into the mysteries of this world. Moribito did an excellent job at not giving too much information, thereby keeping the supernatural ever more mysterious. Although this leaves the audience begging for some answers, it doesn’t ultimately disappoint us because the show gave the major characters’ relationships a satisfying closure. In other words, a perfect starting point for a new season!

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One thought on “Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

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