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Hipster Hotline: Moribito


Why am drawn to these stories I may never get to finish? Moribito is an anime based on the first novel of a series about Balsa, a female bodyguard and Chagum, a prince of New Yogo, a country part of the world of humans but closely connected to the world of spirits.

Prince Chagum has a spirit egg inside his body and through certain circumstances (AKA misguided dad) is saved by Balsa, the most bad ass spear wielder since…I don’t know.

*looks up anime spear users*

Geez! Either they have huge boobs or look like ten-years olds. Anyway, Balsa is calm, cool, and not afraid to kick butt if she has to.

Being based off a novel, Moribito doesn’t fall into many typical anime tropes. It’s not fueled by fan service or has the fate of the world at stake. It’s the story of a child prince adjusting to life as a commoner, hiding from his father’s assassins while his protector and her friends try to solve just what the heck is going on with that spirit egg inside him. Adventure, action, mystery—Moribito has it, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the characters.

You care about Balsa and her mission to protect Chagum, both from his father and the spirit egg.  You care about why she became a bodyguard. You care about Chagum, a kid being hunted by his dad’s secret squad and adjusting to everyday life—and not only them. Balsa’s kind-hearted childhood friend, Tanda, the brash old magic weaver, Torogai, even the antagonists ​​are all fully developed characters playing the hero from their point of view. This is a character driven story where you learn why each individual does what they do and the conflicts that follows those decisions. I love it.

I recommend the anime or manga, both retelling the first novel, and both are great. Or, read the original novel and the second book, Guardian of the Darkness (Love it!), officially translated for an English audience. Unfortunately, the later books won’t be getting the same treatment as the publisher decided not to translate them due to low sales.  There is a kind fan translating the third book, Guardian of the Dream, so hope is not lost. Maybe one day English fans will get to read every book in the series.

Moribito is a classic in my eyes. An engaging  fantasy with heart. Anime, manga, novel—don’t matter which you pick, you won’t lose.