Seirei no Moribito: The Weak Win by Guile, The Strong Win by Killing, The Balsa…Well, She Just Wins

Yes, I am catching up on Seirei no Moribito, and I am loving it. I have seen 11-15 today (and will probably go watch some more after this post, as it’s getting terribly addictive) and I have been roundly impressed by it. As mentioned before, the first few episodes are duplicitous and make you think that Production I.G. is doing another action-filled bloodfest. That would be a lie, but anyone who’s seen the series knows this already. It’s instead a tale of political intrigue and motherly instincts, two topics that you wouldn’t normally see paired together quite so close. Both the characters of Balsa and Chagum are highly complex, with Chagum being somewhat atypical for what you would normally see in the “divine” son of an Emperor, and Balsa being…well, Balsa.

Balsa is the epitome of the noble warrior–I’m not well-read on samurai culture, but she seems to take the concept of bushido even further than normal. I think. Don’t quote me on that, though. What I mean is, Balsa is a noble warrior–she has learned from her past and tried to make amends. She is an expert at the spear, yet she refuses to kill anyone, as she swore to protect as many lives as she killed. Chagum is, of course, the last of these lives, and she will not stand for anything getting in the way of that.

Which brings me to episode 13, “Neither Man nor Tiger”. I think this episode moved me profoundly–not necessarily with its content, but rather in the synchronization of the direction and the writing. This episode revolves around a former enemy of Balsa’s, Kalbo, who spots her on the street and challenges her to a duel to the death. The condition for the duel is that if she doesn’t show up, he will kill the first traveler past a certain point at sundown every day that she does not show. She refuses at first, and, rather than fighting him, takes on the duty herself of protecting the hapless travelers who are his first targets.

As Balsa shepherds them, though, Kalbo harasses her and prevents her from resting–the same trick she had played on him the last time they fought. As the night wears on, Balsa grows ever more angry at the treatment Kalbo is giving the travelers (a schoolmistress and her guide), essentially treating them as pawns in the game between the two. She ends up challenging him to a fight, wherein she kills him, and marches off. The schoolmistress, however, finds that Kalbo is not dead, and sends her guide off to chase after Balsa to tell her the news.

The whole episode was almost poetic in execution. It gives you a clear glimpse into what drives Balsa at the moment: she has vowed never to kill again, but when danger is placed not to herself, but to Chagum (in the sense that if Kalbo is not killed, he will inform the state that the prince is alive), Balsa forgets all reason (and her vows) and seriously tries to kill Kalbo, both for the threat to Chagum and for the wanton endangerment to the travelers. She’s not a perfect human–she’s still prone to fits of anger and poor judgement–but I think that is what makes her much easier to relate to than a gung-ho super-badass lead character. Arguably, this weakness makes her substantively more “gar” than those sorts. The latter type is fun to watch, but in the end, at least with me, relating to a character in some way can only be a good thing.

Lamentably, I only have 11 more episodes left, but I intend to finish it soon, I’ve been procrastinating on it far too long. The book release is far off, too, and there’s nine other novels in the series. Maybe it’ll catch on in America with the youth audience, leading to the (re-)licensing of the anime. One can only hope.

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1 Response to “Seirei no Moribito: The Weak Win by Guile, The Strong Win by Killing, The Balsa…Well, She Just Wins”


  1. 1 Only 2 March 2008 at 6:10 am

    Yep, it’s a very good anime!


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