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    Balsa Yonsa 

Balsa Yonsa

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Jun Karawasa, Tamaki Oka (child) (radio); Mabuki Andou (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Cindy Robinson (anime)

Portrayed by: Haruka Ayase, Kaya Kiyohara (girl), Naho Yokomizo (very young)

The main protagonist of the Moribito series.


  • Action Girl: She is a wandering spearwoman who works as a bodyguard for hire to save eight lives in exchange for the eight lives her mentor killed in her defense.
  • The Atoner: She works as a bodyguard to save eight lives in exchange for the eight lives her mentor killed in her defense. On top of that, she has added the additional caveat not to kill anyone in the course of her quest, after her lifelong friend, Tanda, pointed out that killing people to save people is an oxymoron.
  • Badass Normal: Some of her opponents use magic, she never does.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: In the anime, she receives some serious injuries during the series, but none of them leave visible scars. We can assume she must have a nasty one on her stomach, but her clothes are rather modest and only show her arms and face, which remain untarnished.
  • Blade on a Stick: She uses the superior reach offered by a spear, allowing her to attack her opponents without killing using the blunt end.
  • Blood Knight: Not so apparent in the anime, but in the novels, it is stated that Balsa is painfully aware that her love for fighting and guilt are two of the reasons she probably will never change her current life style. Even more apparent in The Wanderer about her early teenage days.
  • Boobs of Steel: In the anime. Not terribly obvious when she's in a kimono and using a Sarashi, but Balsa has large breasts. This is obvious when she's wearing her normal clothes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In times of desperation, Balsa will start brawling and fight dirty and does whatever it takes to ensure Chagum's survival. She's fine if she has her spear with her, but if she loses that, you better prepare to have your eye socket crushed in by a rock.
  • Cool Big Sis: To Chagum and some other children.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Her father who was Royal Physician at that time had his best friend Jiguro take his six-year-old daughter and escape their homeland, because he was blackmailed by the Prince Rogsam, who really wanted to become the next king of Kanbal, into poisoning the King. If he hadn't had done that, Balsa would have been long dead.
  • Experienced Protagonist: She is already a pretty renowned bodyguard by the start of the story, which is part of why the Empress asks her to protect Chagum after she saved him from drowning. Her deceased master, Jiguro, began teaching her at age 12. By the time she was 16, Balsa could already fight better than the men in their area and spent the next twelve years honing those skills.
  • Failure Knight: She agrees to protect Prince Chagum despite the danger (and the attempted trickery) because she feels she has to atone for the eight lives her mentor killed in her defense; furthermore Chagum is also a Replacement Goldfish for herself, as he is in pretty much the same situation she was in as a child.
  • Famed In-Story: As she later discovers, despite never having her most heroic deeds officially recognized, she becomes world-famous thanks to certain Wandering Minstrel...
  • Friend to All Children: She kickstarts the entire story by becoming the bodyguard of Chagum, a young boy. She swiftly becomes a major Mama Bear to him, as well as a Parental Substitute. Additionally, she met Toya and Saya when she saved them from a group of thugs. Toya seems to regard her as an elder sister, and states that he would willingly "go through fire and water for her."
  • Genius Bruiser: She is highly intelligent as well as a capable warrior.
  • Guile Hero: She puts her intelligence to good use when outnumbered.
  • Heroic Vow: She has vowed to save eight lives in exchange for the eight lives her mentor killed in her defense. When her childhood friend and healer, Tanda, called her out on how many lives she was taking in her efforts to accomplish that goal, she further swore never to kill.
  • Lady of War: She's able to read the situation and assess the battle, uses a spear as her Weapon of Choice, prefers to fight her opponents honorably (even if they don't), looks quite graceful while doing it. But she's always mindful to spare her opponents' lives. Inverted if she loses her spear, though, becoming quite the brawler and fighting dirty. She's not above smashing your face in with a rock.
  • Little Miss Badass: Even as a child, she was really good with spear.
  • Mama Bear: Don't even try to hurt children she's protecting.
  • Married to the Job: She always puts her job as a bodyguard first, making her unable to fully commit to Tanda.
  • Martial Pacifist: In fact, she's sworn an oath never to take a life and has a near-Heroic BSoD on one occasion where she thought she'd violated it.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Balsa is a veteran Action Girl and The Stoic. Her childhood friend, Tanda, is a gentle House Husband who honed his healing skills by patching up her wounds over the course of 20 years.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother died when she was five, leaving her in her father's care.
  • Naginatas Are Feminine: Zigzagged before ultimately being subverted. Balsa doesn't use a naginata, such as it is, but a short hewing spear, really, against mostly sword-wielding foes. Ultimately this trope is subverted in that it is heavily implied that all the warriors from Balsa's homeland use knives or spears due to limited resources making it difficult to forge swords.
  • Nerves of Steel: Many examples, but the most prominent one is when she almost single-handedly, really quickly and without hesitation amputates Tanda's hand to save his life.
  • No Hugging, No Kissing: Her 'relationship' with Tanda. Or so we thought.
  • Not So Stoic: There are a few occasions when her stoic facade crumbles very quickly.
  • Outdoorsy Gal: As a child, she really liked climbing trees etc.
  • Parental Substitute: She pulls double duty as guardian figure and bodyguard to Prince Chagum, after being hired to protect him. At one point in the series, she even gives him a knife, a symbolic tradition of coming of age in her home country. Earlier in the series, Tanda even points out that her vow to protect Chagum until he's safe means that for all intents and purposes she has become the boy's mother.
  • Redemption Quest: She works as a bodyguard to save eight lives in exchange for the eight lives her mentor killed in her defense. On top of that, she has added the additional caveat not to kill anyone in the course of her quest, after her lifelong friend, Tanda, pointed out that killing people to save people is an oxymoron.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When she was a teenager, her primary motivation was desire for revenge and hate directed at King Rogsam for making her childhood living nightmare. She really wanted to kill him, but he died before she could do it.
  • She Knows Too Much: For example during her travel back to Kanbal in Guardian of Darkness Jiguro's brother Yuguro tries to have her killed because she knows the truth about his past, which he really doesn't want to be revealed...
  • Slave Liberation: She spends all of the Queen's gold to liberate the slaves owned by the Blue Hand. This frees them and creates diversion from the manhunt.
  • Technical Pacifist: She is not above wrestling people into submission, knocking the wind out of them, simply pummeling them senseless with the blunt end of her spear, or smashing someone's face in with a rock. However, she has sworn an oath never to take a human life and never deals fatal wounds or fights to kill — in one case she's forced to do so, she goes into a Heroic BSoD after the battle (though she later learns her opponent survived).
  • These Hands Have Killed: She doesn't use the phrase directly, but her entire life so far has been about saving lives because she feels responsible for her foster father having had to kill eight men (his own best friends, who were all members of a king's Praetorian Guard, to boot) to keep her alive.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: She refuses to take a life, no matter the circumstances.
  • Time-Shifted Actor:
    • In the radio adaptation of Guardian of the Darkness, she is voiced by Jun Karasawa as an adult and by Tamaki Oka as a child.
    • In the live-action adaptation, she is portrayed by Haruka Ayase as an adult, by Kaya Kiyohara as a girl, and by Naho Yokomizo as a very young child.
  • Tomboyish Ponytail: She wears her hair in a high ponytail.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Tanda. They do.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Emperor's royal guard chasing her and the prince see her as this.
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    Chagum 

Chagum

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Shōtarō Ōkubo (radio); Naoto Adachi (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Mona Marshall (anime)

Portrayed by: Kai Kobayashi (season 1), Mizuki Itagaki (season 2-3)

The second prince of New Yogo Empire. He is being protected by Balsa.


  • 100% Adoration Rating: The people of Yogo love him, and for good reason. He's a good prince.
  • Astral Projection: Chagum starts doing this as the egg gets close to hatching.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: In Episode 6, after faking his death.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: In the anime, after having a form of gambling explained to him for the first time, he not only very quickly works out the odds involved, but also how the con-men running the game are rigging it. He ends up driving them out of business by winning everybody's money back, using the con artists' own tricks against them.
  • Demonic Possession: What everyone thinks originally, that he's possessed by a Water Demon that will cause a drought when it comes out, which is why he's being hunted. By the second-half, it cleared up.
  • Distressed Dude: For the most part of the Traveler of the Blue Road, Chagum is one. After being kidnapped by Talsh spy, he is taken to the Southern Continent by a pirate ship.
  • Elemental Eye Colours: Prince Chagum carries the egg of a benevolent water spirit. In the anime, he also has a noble, innocent personality typical of blue eyes.
  • Family Honor: Chagum believes in this greatly, to the extent that he ends up making a bet to eat slugs if he loses what amounts to a wrestling match and disobeying Balsa to defend it in Episode 12.
  • Fish out of Water: He has to flee the palace under the protection of [[Action Girl Balsa]] because his father is trying to kill him out of belief that he is possessed by the legendary water demon who once brought a terrible drought. Going from a life of luxury to being on the run is a bit of a harsh transition for him, though he adapts well later on.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Whether a baby bird or a frog, he cares about them all. This ends up saving his life as the very baby bird he and his brother took care of ended up saving the Water Spirit.
  • Important Haircut: His long hair is cut short by Saya to help disguise him in Episode 6.
  • Mr. Seahorse: The Water Spirit Egg is inside of his stomach and waiting to hatch. However, doing so will have the Egg Eater chase and kill him.
  • Noble Fugitive: He's on the run with Balsa because his father wants to kill him to avoid what they perceive to be a greater tragedy.
  • Non-Action Guy: He's a prince with no combat training who serves as the Living MacGuffin in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit. Balsa does give him a little training while he's in her care, though.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: He didn't even know that people had to spend money to own shelter, a fact that deeply shamed him considering how much Balsa spent to ensure they could get away.
  • Screw Destiny: As the Guardian of the Water Spirit, Chagum will be pursued by the Egg Eater, which seeks to devour the Water Spirit within him as it hatches by tearing him apart. Everyone seeks to avoid this fate. They succeed.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: In Episode 24, upon reaching 12 years of age, he changes the child-sized peasant kimono he had been wearing for new clothing more fit for the prince he is - in more than one way, as it includes a Yogo kimono over a Yakoo tunic (his empire's two peoples), with a Kanbal style sash (like Balsa's).
  • Spare to the Throne: He is the Emperor's second son, and Spare to the Throne. Unlike most examples, he did apparently receive schooling because his older brother, Sagum, suffers from a Soap Opera Disease, and becomes the heir apparent after his brother succumbs to it halfway through the series. In either case, he is remarkably calm (although clearly not-too-pleased) about it.
  • Tired of Running: Chagum eventually states this in Episode 19, having been forced to flee the life he had grown accustom to twice and knowing he'll be pursed by the Egg Eater.
  • Took a Level in Badass: During Episode 23 and onwards, Chagum becomes an Empowered Badass Normal, capable of leaping through trees with inhuman ease, resisting the cold, and running on water while in possession of the Water Spirit.

    Tanda 

Tanda

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Kenzō (radio); Kouji Tsujitani (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Peter Doyle

Portrayed by: Masahiro Higashide, Kirato Wakayama (young)

A man who knows Balsa and is awaiting her return.


  • An Arm and a Leg: In Guardian of Heaven and Earth, after the battle with Talsh forces, Tanda is heavily wounded and Balsa has to amputate his arm to save his life.
  • The Apprentice: To Torogai.
  • Astral Projection: Tanda when seeking out Saya's soul in Episode 11. Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to get back into his body and needs some outside help.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: He's known Balsa since they were young and hoping for this. It comes to pass eventually.
  • House Husband: He is a rather feminine healer-in-training, in contrast to his childhood friend, Balsa, a bodyguard-for-hire.
  • Identical Grandson: Tanda resembles his grandfather according to the villagers of Toma.
  • Inept Mage: Torogai mentions that he doesn't have an ounce of talent when it comes to magic weaving, but he's excellent at treating injuries.
  • I Will Wait for You: He has been waiting for Balsa to finish saving eight people so he can settle down and marry her...then he has to end up waiting a little longer! He indicates his impatience in a typically reserved, Tanda-like manner, but he can't bring himself to marry another, even though there seem to be eligible women who would be happy to settle down with him.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Balsa is a veteran Action Girl and The Stoic. Her childhood friend, Tanda, is a gentle House Husband who honed his healing skills by patching up her wounds over the course of 20 years.
  • The Medic: He plays the role to Balsa.
  • Nice Guy: The first thing he does upon finding a child nearly drowning by his home is to invite him into his hut to warm up.
  • Non-Action Guy: He makes up for his lack of combat skills by being The Medic for Balsa.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: In the live-action adaptation, he is portrayed by Masahiro Higashide as an adult and by Kirato Wakayama as a young boy.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tanda is the first to land a blow on the Egg Eater because he noticed the flowers allowed them to interact with them.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In the backstory, he called Balsa out over how many people she was killing and asking if saving eight lives could have any meaning if she killed so many more in the process. Balsa, as we see, took it very much to heart.

    Torogai 

Torogai

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Misako Watanabe (radio); Ako Mayama (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Barbara Goodson (anime)

Portrayed by: Reiko Takashima

A Yakoo magic-weaver who learns of the egg within Chagum and is familiar with Balsa and Tanda.


  • The Beast Master: She's tamed a wolf at least three times her size.
  • Cool Old Lady: She's definitely not young, but she's someone not to mess with.
  • Miniature Senior Citizens: Torogai is either the shortest or second shortest amongst all the characters.
  • Never Mess with Granny: In the 4th episode she dispatches two Hounds with ease. In episode 20, she gets them all to back down from harming the Yakoo.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: She doesn't care who you are. She will get to the point and talk brash about whatever it is she needs to.
  • Self-Duplication: She can create Mud Dolls of herself or others.
  • Truth Seeker: She seeks out the truth of the water demon within the second prince and the Great Drought.

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New Yogo Empire

Royal Family

    The Second Queen 

The Second Queen

The mother of Chagum.
  • Take Care of the Kids: When she suspects that her husband is trying to kill their son, Chagum, she tasks Balsa, who happened to stop the most recent assassination attempt, to run away with him and keep him safe.

Star Readers

    Shuga 

Shuga

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Yūsei Oda (radio); Hirofumi Nojima (anime)

Portrayed by: Kento Hayashi

A star reader in service to the royal family. He seeks the truth about the Water Demon and Prince.
  • Astrologer: He can predict events through the use of the stars.
  • The Good Chancellor: What he's meant to be to Chagum. The whole Water Demon thing is a complication.
  • Manly Tears: He cries upon believing that Chagum has been killed and he could do nothing to stop it. And later on when Sagum dies.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Shuga never got to tell Sagum his brother was alive because he wanted to find proof. Sagum died just after he left to do so.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's the only star-reader who suggests working with the Yakoo and is doing his best to help everyone come out alive.
  • Truth Seeker: He's the one who suggests seeking out and working with the magic-weavers to find out the mysteries of the Water Demon and keeps up the search for a solution.

Civilians

    Toya & Saya 

Toya & Saya

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Mayumi Asano (Toya), Ryo Hirohashi (Saya) (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Yuri Lowenthal (Toya), Erika Lenhart (Saya) (anime)

Portrayed by: Seishiro Kato (Toya), Riana Saijima (Saya)

A pair of orphans that are friends with Balsa and Tanda, they assist the pair occasionally.


  • The Ace: Toya mentions Saya is pretty good at everything she sets her mind to.
  • Arranged Marriage: Toya mentions that Saya is so impressive that she's getting marriage proposals. Played for Drama when one of the families actually pressures Saya into agreeing to a marriage, leading to the Astral Projection incident. It's called off afterwards.
  • Astral Projection: Saya, after drinking a wine that was steeped in a flower that sent her soul to the Spirit World. She's stuck outside of her body until Tanda retrieves her.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: Toya explains that being able to haggle is a skill Chagum needs and demonstrates.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Toya was prepared to make one in Episode 17 by setting fire to the watermill to warn Balsa off and then be tortured, but one of the emperor's men got them to drop it and told him to value his own life more.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Toya can't do anything if Saya isn't around for him. Likewise, she has a crush on him and being arranged into a marriage to someone else leaves her unable to return her soul to her body.
  • Made a Slave: Narrowly averted. In the past some slavers tried to take Saya to do this, but Balsa saved them.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Toya and Saya aren't related. While Toya sees himself as something of a father figure to her, Saya has a crush on Toya.

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Kingdom of Kanbal

Royal Family

    Rogsam 

Rogsam

The younger brother of Naguru.
  • Cain and Abel: Downplayed. He blackmailed Karuna into poisoning his brother, Naguru, for the throne of Kanbal.
  • The Evil Prince: He blackmailed Karuna into poisoning his brother, Naguru, for the throne of Kanbal.
  • The Usurper: He blackmailed Karuna into poisoning his brother, Naguru, for the throne of Kanbal.

King's Spears

    Jiguro Musa 

Jiguro Musa

Voiced by (Japanese dub): Rintarou Nishi (anime)

Voiced by (English dub): Kyle Hebert (anime)

Portrayed by: Koji Kikkawa

The foster father of Balsa.
  • Blade on a Stick: He was the best spear wielder of Kanbal.
  • Long Dead Badass: He trained Balsa in her youth and defeated a dozen of fellow spear-wielders over the years, several at once. The only thing that killed him is an illness, a few years prior to the main story.
  • Parental Substitute: He raised Balsa as his own in her youth.
  • Posthumous Character:
  • Stay in the Kitchen: He initially refused to train Balsa, saying women don't the muscles to fight. In truth, however, it's more because he didn't want her to live a life of bloodshed. Subverted when he began to train her after he saw her reenact one of his battles for an audience.
  • Would Hit a Girl: To Balsa, when she showed her early skills with the blade.

Others

    Karuna Yonsa 

Karuna Yonsa

The late father of Balsa and older brother of Yuka.

Alternative Title(s): Moribito Guardian Of The Spirit

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