Sometimes there are shows that I watch where there’s no good reason that I like them. iKnight made an interesting comment on his blog that “I like it” and “This is good.” can be two totally different things.
Seirei no Moribito was one of those shows for me. To be honest, really what threw me off about this series was the first five episodes. To give people a basic idea, there’s this badass bodyguard named Balsa who’s asked to defend Chagum, the younger prince, from his father who’s trying to kill him.
Sounds like a great set up? Well it is. I won’t spend to much time gushing about how well the fight scenes are choreographed, or how amazing the animation is. A lot of other bloggers have done that better than I could and with a lot more depth.
But after that great setup, I was expecting a Run for Your Life type of story. But that initial onslaught of action quickly gets pushed to the side, and we spend episode after episode exploring the day to day life of Chagum and Balsa as they’re in hiding. As I was watching it, I kept thinking to myself, “Geez, I should be really bored here. Absolutely nothing is happening.” In fact, the majority of the series nothing happens. Or at least that’s what I thought.
That’s when I realized that the story isn’t really about Chagum getting hunted, or “how are they going to get out of this scrape?” It’s really a Coming of Age story both for Chagum and Balsa. And each of these episodes are really life lessons that Chagum or Balsa are learning as they grow closer.
To be fair, the series does have it’s problems even at that angle. Chagum is interesting because unlike other young anime heroes, he’s very reserved. He doesn’t whine, doesn’t complain, doesn’t get angry (except toward the end of the series) and doesn’t wail against his fate. While this is refreshing, I couldn’t help but think that he’s too reserved. There are a lot of times when the lack of tension between him and Balsa actually made me want him to whine a bit more.
To be honest, I’m not sure whether these thwarted expectations are a good thing or a bad thing. After how much people complain about how X character is just another Y type, I would think that playing with those expections would be excellent. But on the other hand, Seirei no Moribito may play with those expectations too much and too often. Both on a plot level and on a character level, so while it’s an enjoyable series, it never really captures the level of dramatic tension that I want from a character driven story, or the level of physical danger I want from a plot driven story.