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Literature / Moribito

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Moribito is a series of Japanese fantasy novels written between 1996 and 2018 by Nahoko Uehashi.

The series follows the adventures of Balsa Yonsa, a wandering warrior woman in a Redemption Quest to save eight lives, and Chagum, the second prince of the New Yogo Empire, in a diverse Asian-inspired universe divided into Sagu the human world and Nayugu the Spirit World.

In addition to the main series of novels, there are spin-offs, a guide book, and a cookbook.


Main Books:


Other Books:

  • All About Moribito: The Complete Guide to the Moribito Series, which includes two short stories.
  • Balsa's Table, a Spin-Off Cookbook that includes recipes from other series by the same author.



Anime and Manga
  • Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, an anime television series created by Production I.G and broadcast by NHK since April 2007.
  • Guardian of the Spirit, a manga series written by Kamui Fujiwara and serialized in Square Enix's magazine Monthy Shonen Gangan from 2007 to 2008.
  • Jin ~Anime Seirei no Moribito Gaiden~, a manga spin-off of the anime Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit written by Miki Kanae and illustrated by Gatou Asou in 2008.
  • Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, a manga series written by Yū and serialized in Asahi Shimbun Publications' magazine Nemuki+ from 2014 to 2017.

Live-Action TV

  • A Japanese live-action series released in three seasons from 2016 to 2018: Guardian of the Spirit, The Anguish of the Destroyers, and Balsa's Fate.


  • Guardian of the Spirit, written by Satoshi Maruo and broadcast by NHK FM Broadcast in 2006.
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  • Guardian of the Darkness, written by Satoshi Maruo and broadcast by NHK FM Broadcast in 2007.

Moribito provides examples of:

  • Audio Adaptation: Satoshi Maruo adapted the first two novels of the series, Guardian of the Spirit and Guardian of the Darkness, into radio dramas broadcast by NHK.
  • 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 his own family, in order to rule the New Yogo Empire effectively. Or at least that's the attitude of the court; several characters question this at times.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Kamui Fujiwara and Yū adapted the first two novels of the series, Guardian of the Spirit and Guardian of the Darkness, into manga series published by Square Enix and Asahi Shimbun Publications respectively.
  • Demonic Possession: In Guardian of the God, 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.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: New Yogo is a counterpart of Heian-era Japan, complete with the immigrant Yogo people and the indigenous Yakoo 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.
  • Sealed Inside a Person-Shaped Can: The ending of Guardian of the God has a mere twelve-year-old girl Asla sealing really bloodthirsty 'god' inside her body in order not to let it kill even more people.
  • Spirit World: Nayugu is the spiritual companion of Sagu the mortal realm. At times, the two overlap while, at others, they can be light years apart. In the anime, one of the only ways to see it or physically enter it is by drinking the sap of a Sig Salua blossom. Nayugu seems very alien but magnificent to cast and viewers.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Nayugu is the spelling used in the novels, but the anime adaptation of Guardian of the Spirit spells it as "Nayug".
  • Standard Royal Court: New Yogo features the Mikado, the royal children, the three queens, the head of the military, and the Master Star Reader who is the Mikado's pet scientist, advisor and head of the intelligence at the same time. Court proceedings are not decadent but ritualized and cold.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: The official translation leaves the word 'Mikado' (an alternative title of the Emperor of Japan) intact in all instances without explanation.
  • Wuxia: It's a fantasy/adventure epic about a wandering spearwoman seeking to atone for the eight lives she took by saving eight 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.

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