Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Seirei no Moribito)

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Seirei no Moribito) 2007

I suspect some folks would have felt that Moribito was a slow series but I’m pretty comfortable dismissing that notion – character development doesn’t equal ‘slow’ for me 😀

In fact, there are plenty of fight sequences and interesting magic too, along with enough secrets and character conflict to keep things engaging all the way through. By the end, I found myself pretty disappointed that the second novel hadn’t been animated too, actually.

Should you end up hunting this one down, I think it’ll be clear that series is adapted from a story written by a novelist – as the overarching storyline, sub-plots and character development are all handled so well. Having said that, I would have loved a bit more time spent on a few characters but that’s the nature of switching mediums – some things have to be changed.

But there’s a whole lot to compensate: the beautiful colour palette used throughout, the vaguely familiar ‘historical’ setting and costuming, the music which was equally stirring and haunting, and some really sleek battles too.

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to really remember scenes that feature somewhat lesser known weapons, and here in this case, the spear fighting really caught my eye, it seemed like a perfect mix of drama and realism.

And though Moribito features a female lead don’t expect fan-service – Balsa is more like a mix between stern warrior and parent-figure, one who undergoes some soul-searching about her role in life as she strives to protect the runaway prince.

Watch this if you’re interested in a historical action/drama anime with supernatural elements and a pretty moving story – especially that ending.

5 Stars

Battle Angel (Ganmu)

Until the start of this year I’d never seen Ganmu – which I realised was odd, since I do consider myself a cyberpunk fan. At the time, the then upcoming live-action remake (Alita) prompted me to finally watch Battle Angel and while I still haven’t seen the CGI-version yet, I did at last watch the OVA.

Battle Angel (Ganmu) 1993

And while it’s far too short, it remains equal parts powerful and frustrating. I still really enjoyed every minute – and everyone is probably well-aware that Kishiro never planned to have more than two episodes made, and so there’s nothing remotely like a resolution to the main conflict with the OVA. It’s more like an (effective?) funnel to the manga.

And so I guess I’d say that Battle Angel is still worth seeing due to its place in the history of cyberpunk anime, for that distinctive art style, grim vision of the future and great charactarisation (save for Hugo – a touch more on that later*).

The OVAs have their share of gore here and there, which adds to the general darkness of it all, and fits the tone of the episodes too, both of which are around 30 mins long compared to a ‘regular’ series at 23ish, so there is a touch more time to reveal a bit of character development and establish atmosphere.

Each fight scene is pretty ace too – at times I got an Astro Boy vibe (which makes sense of course) but I don’t consider that a bad thing at all and again, I do think that Battle Angle is worth seeing at least once, even if there’s no way to finish the storyline in two installments.

It’s still a classic and one that I still wish had been given more episodes!

4 Stars

*This is hard to judge for me – because I suspect the manga explores Hugo’s motivations deeper, but in the anime he represents a causality of ‘compressed storylines’ where important things must of a necessity be left out, and I didn’t think his motivation was sold (to me, at least) well enough to justify his flaw.

Claymore (Kureimoa)

If you’ve read about Claymore you’ll know it’s quite violent and almost relentlessly grim.

Claymore (Kureimoa) 2007

It’s not without hope however – and heroes do actually exist in the show. And while the muted colour-scheme adds to the oppressive feel of this medieval series, vivid uses of green, pink and blue sometimes provide nice levity throughout.

For me, what was most engaging were the characters – obviously Clare, but the ‘half-monster’ hunting ‘true monsters’ set-up allowed for a lot of other interesting players to feature too, but I won’t spoil anything there.

(I will note that without voices, close-ups and variation on hair style and eye-shape, the key players would be hard to tell apart from one another at times.)

What did disappoint me was that after 20 killer episodes with consistent rising tension, the last few fell quite short, especially given the build up. For me, things fell apart pretty much right after the Rigaldo fight sequence.

Not sure whether the creators planned a second season and it just never got green-lit, but a few plot threads seemed simply abandoned – and I do mean ‘abandoned’, compared to ‘left unresolved’, which I’d have had no trouble with as a viewer.

Another key problem for me was that vengeance sub-plot. It definitely becomes a key reason to keep watching but the way it is handled by the end is kind of baffling – again, if I accept that the writers thought they were going to have a chance to adapt more of the manga, then it possibly makes sense!

Still, I think the series deserves the ‘classic’ tag as it’s compelling, even when disturbing and a few times, it can be kinda heart-rending.

If you’re a fan of Beserk you’ll probably like Claymore, if you haven’t already come across it – after all, the anime is a few years old now.

4 Stars

Get used to this colour scheme – even if I’ve highlighted plenty of the more colourful moments.
Not sure if this is promo or fan art, either way it’s great