“Grow in Strength and Love” – Seirei no Moribito: Guardian of the Sacred Spirit (anime) – 9/10 Candy Canes

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. ~Johann Schiller

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Adventure

Review Status: Complete (26 Episodes/ 26 Episodes)

Licensed: This anime is licensed in the US

Art/Animation: Beautiful. The colors are deep and vibrant, the backgrounds are gorgeous, and the people look like people – are all individual and easily recognizable.

Summary: At a time when the balance of nature still held the civilizations of mankind in thrall, a single drought could spell the end of a society and doom its inhabitants to piteous deaths. Prince Chagum has been imbued with the power to stave off the drought and bring new life to his empire. However, this is a suspicious time, and he is accused of possession by an evil spirit.

Court advisors only see one solution. Chagum must be put to death by his own father’s hand. His salvation is in the form of Balsa, a spear woman and mercenary from Kanbal, the kingdom across the mountains. Her skills are legendary, and although reluctant, she is held by a mysterious vow to save eight souls before she dies. Can she fend off an entire empire and make Chagum her eighth soul?

Review: This anime started off with a bang- pretty much literally, as the bridge that the Prince was crossing collapsed, and Balsa dove into the river to save him. It was a great way to hook me in- there was action and the introduction of two of the main characters. From there the story snowballs into an adventure filled with ancient lore, old magic, forgotten culture, and the fate of an empire.

The story drew me in- I saw the danger that the Prince was in, and rooted for him and Balsa to escape their pursuers. It was hard not to feel for Chagum as he encountered a world and culture that he had never experienced before- as he and Balsa hid in the countryside, he learns more about the people in his country and how different his life in the palace from theirs. He and Balsa, and two others that live with them, learn more about each other and become a family as they travel to different places and learn more about the spirit egg within him.

This isn’t necessarily action-packed, but the action that is there is incredibly fluid and well-done. The characters all are fairly developed- even the ones that don’t appear for very long. It was great to have a strong but not tsundere woman taking the lead role as protector and fighter. Chagum may have been a sheltered prince, but he held a strong respect for his people and good-naturedly (though somewhat awkwardly) started to learn how to fit in with them.

The bonuses to this anime were the great acting and OST. The VAs really did very well in this. I was very pleased with Mabuki Andou, who voiced Balsa. Her voice was a nice change to the high-pitched tones of most female leads. Instead, she had a very mature, deep-toned voice that fit the character perfectly. The OST is filled with beautiful background pieces that are reminiscent of traditional folk songs.

My only nitpick with this is that during the middle of the series the pacing goes from good to verrrrry sloooow. I really did enjoy the episodes where Balsa and Chagum are living in the village and learning to fit in, and some important things did happen during those episodes. However, the rate at which those happened made those episodes drag on more than they needed to.

Overall, this is a great anime that should appeal to many, many people.

Recommended: 12+. This is a surprisingly clean anime- while there is some violence, there is a minimal amount of blood and gore. Actual death is rare, and when there is in a proper somber light. Actual death tends to be offscreen. There is next to no language (in fact, I can’t remember a single swear being said during the entire show). It is fantasy, so there is a water spirit that’s responsible for bringing the rain and helping the land flourish.

The only questionable content that I can think of is that Saya, a somewhat minor character who is about 11 or 12, nearly goes through an arranged marriage. You would need to explain to younger kids about cultural differences and expectations for the time period that this takes place. Luckily, the marriage doesn’t go through, and she is able to make a home with the boy that she cares for (their relationship is shown in an entirely innocent light).

Also, near the end of the story, Chagum suggests that Tanda (a childhood friend of Balsa’s who is in love with her) that he just sleep with her, and suggests that they have children and marry. This scene ends quickly, with Tanda explaining that he couldn’t burden Balsa like that when she has a need to take care of her own affairs.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (anime)
Xam’d: Lost Memories (anime)
Seirei no Moribito (light novels)
Full Metal Alchemist (manga, original series, Brotherhood)
Planetes (anime)
Blood: The Last Vampire (anime)
Kieli (manga and light novels)


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