Moribito series began as a series of Japanese fantasy novels by Nahoko Uehashi which ran from 1996 to 2012, with many adaptations and spin-off material following. Along The Beast Player by the same author, it has been widely acclaimed in Japan as one of the best fantasy novel series.
Works in this franchise include:Literature
- Moribito, the original book series consisting of 7 novels and 2 spinoffs:
- Moribito Guardian Of The Spirit (2006), a 2006 radio drama adaptation, only released in Japan.
- Moribito II Guardian Of The Darkness (2007), a 2007 radio drama adaptation, only released in Japan.
- Moribito Guardian Of The Spirit, a manga adaptation of the anime by Kamui Fujiwara which has been serialized in Monthy Shonen Gangan from 2007 to 2008.
- Moribito Guardian Of The Spirit, a 2016-2018 Japanese Live-Action Adaptation released in three seasons.
Tropes common to the franchise:
- 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 Atoner: Balsa wants to save eight lives, in exchange for eight lives that were taken in her defense, when she was a child. She also realized that doing this would only be meaningful if she didn't kill anyone while doing so.
- Bittersweet Ending: The novel series ends a bit optimistically with Chagum becoming new mikado after defeating the Talsh Empire and the death of his father. Balsa and Tanda finally become a proper pair! But, on the other hand, it's still unknown if Balsa and Chagum see each other again after the finale of Guardian of Heaven and Earth as they part ways in the second volume.
- The Chains of Commanding: The mikado must stay aloof and distant from everyone, including family, in order to rule effectively. Or at least that's the attitude of the court. Several characters question this at times.
- Demonic Possession: Happens to one of the characters in Guardian of the God. Twelve-year-old girl Asla becomes possessed by a really dangerous bloodthirsty monster that happens to be worshipped as a god by a certain tribe living in the deep forests of Lota Kingdom. Made worse by the fact that (at least at the beginning) the girl doesn't mind it at all...
- Experienced Protagonist: Balsa is already a pretty renowned bodyguard by the start of the story, which is part of why the Second Queen asks her to protect Chagum after she saved him from drowning in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit.
- Faking the Dead: In Traveler of the Blue Road, wanting to escape from the grasp of a Talsh Prince, Chagum fakes his own suicide. Later he travels to Lota and Kanbal to forge an alliance between two kingdoms in order to stop Talsh from invading the rest of the Northern Continent.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Yogo is a counterpart of Heian-era Japan, complete with the immigrant Yogo people and the indigenous people who resemble the Ainu. Balsa's homeland of Kanbal resembles Mongolia or Tibet. There's also very heavy influence of Goryeo Korea on the setting, not that they were that different at the time. Overall the author wanted to evoke a general Far East flavor rather than a specific counterpart culture.
- Food Porn: Every dish looks just so delicious and tasty that you start drooling. Look no further than the luxurious lavish meal Balsa gets served in Episode 1. In Japan, the novel series even includes a cookbook.
- Genius Bruiser: Balsa is highly intelligent as well as a capable warrior.
- Lady of War: Despite being quite the tomboy, Balsa is very graceful, elegant, and honorable in combat. However, she will drop all of that and start fighting dirty if that's what it takes to defend her charge.
- Long Dead Badass: Jiguro. He defeats a dozen of fellow spear-wielders over the years, several at once, and trains young Balsa. The only thing that kills him is an illness, a few years prior to the main story.
- Mama Bear: Balsa will do anything but kill someone in order to protect anyone she guards.
- Martial Pacifist: Balsa will throw down and kick ass just as well as—actually, better than—the rest of them, but she refuses to take a life.
- Married to the Job: Why Balsa can't fully commit to Tanda.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Balsa and Tanda.
- Nice Guy: Tanda.
- Non-Action Guy: Tanda, mostly.
- Posthumous Character: Jiguro
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Later in the novels, Chagum embarks on a dangerous journey to stop the Talsh Empire of the Southern Continent form invading New Yogo, Kanbal and Lota. Alone.
- Sadly Mythtaken: In Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness, the legend goes that the Mountain King periodically gifts the people of Kanbal with the gemstones on which their economy depends; based on this, the villain plots to attack him and steal all his gems. However, the myth is only a pale metaphor, and to anyone who's seen the reality, this plan is utter nonsense.
- Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The ending of Guardian of the God has a mere twelve-year-old girl Asla sealing really blood-thirsty 'god' inside her body in order not to let it kill even more people.
- Too Long; Didn't Dub: The official translation leaves the word 'Mikado' (an alternative title of the Emperor of Japan, Tennō) intact in all instances without explanation.
- Wuxia: It's a fantasy/adventure epic about a wandering spearwoman seeking to atone for the 8 lives she took by saving 8 lives in return - who eventually finds herself acting as both guardian and bodyguard to a banished prince, in order to save a kingdom. It's easily on par with the likes of Princess Mononoke and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- You Are the Translated Foreign Word: "Moribito" means "guardian" in Japanese, and the English release titled it Moribito. This is likely to give it a more distinctive title than the straight translation while reminding audiences of what it means.