The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Seirei no Moribito

Title: Seirei no Moribito aka Guardian of the Sacred Spirit
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Production I.G.
Format: 26 episodes
Date: 7 Apr 2007 – 29 Sep 2007

Synopsis: Balsa is a highly skilled spearwoman who wanders the land in search of redemption by saving the lives of others. During her journey, she rescues a prince, which she is later assigned to protect from his own father who wants him dead. She is fully aware of the assignment’s tall order but nothing would have prepared her more for the truth, for the fate of the world hangs on the prince’s life.

The Highlights
Production IG: Animation and artwork are in safe hands… most of the time.
Kamiyama Kenji: Proves once again how an unpredictable plot can make a series.
Kawai Kenji: Epic music; perhaps some of the best in 2007.
Characterization: Evident effort, but just lacking that depth.

How do you decide whether to pick up or pass a new anime series? Some people would use the three-episode test while others like myself would first see the ones responsible for making the series possible in the first place. I knew that Serei no Moribito would be a hit series of 2007 after seeing two illustrious names in the crew and to top it off, a company like Production I.G backing the production.

Production I.G. should be widely known for producing titles with brilliant artwork and fluid animation. Shows like Blood+, GitS: SAC and GitS: SAC 2nd GIG have shown and that aesthetic excellence make a worthy impression on the viewers. The unparalleled artwork and animation further come in harmony with SnM‘s imaginative setting. The visionary presentation of the real world and the afterlife is so complex, yet so engrossing that one can get lost in the sheer beauty of it. If there is any flaw about the visuals, it would be the decline in quality after the first five episodes.

The two people mentioned above who are mainly to be credited for the making series coincidentally bear the same name “Kenji”. The first one is music composer Kawai Kenji, who can boast of a list of outstanding works both in live action films and anime series like the Death Note live action films and GitS(1,2) movies. Kawai is prominently known for composing haunting and eerie music, but his musical contribution this time is considered more “majestic”. Some have claimed that the music can be overwhelming at times, but to me it all adds to the overall ambiance.

The second one, and perhaps the most important, is the director Kamiyama Kenji. If his name sounds familiar, it is probably because of his ingenious work in GitS: SAC 2nd GIG. Why do I call it ingenious? That’s simple – the plot twists. Judging from both 2nd GIG and SnM, I can conclude that he possesses a signature trait, which is a predictably unpredictable approach to plot. The transition and buildup from a difficult bodyguard duty to a ritual of biblical proportions is both unexpected and utterly intense. On the other hand, setting the plot transcendence aside, the characterization section left me some mixed impressions. I applaud the effort given to enrich the characters, but rather than putting the viewers into the characters’ shoes, it just narrates the background of each of them. I know that episodes were set solely dedicated in cultivating the cast, but they just lack that mesmerizing depth to be truly memorable.

Although I was captivated by the end of the series, I cannot help but feel a little sad… not because of its conclusion but because of its characterization. If the characters could only have further reached out to the viewers, Seirei no Moribito would have easily clinched the title for the anime of 2007. I will not say that this is the best the year 2007 has to offer, but it certainly is one of the best.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: AC

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