This is also known as “Guardian of the Sacred Spirit” or “Guardian of the Spirit”
Synopsis: Balsa the spearwoman is a wandering warrior, who takes on the task of saving lives in atonement for a past sin. On her journey, she happens to save a prince and is tasked with becoming his bodyguard. And he is going to need one, for his own father, the emperor, wants him dead.
Genre: Fantasy, drama, adventure
Status: Anime – (April to September 2007); Novel – 10 books (completed)
Thoughts / Review:
TO START OFF… The opening song, “Shine” by L’Arc~en~Ciel, is pretty catchy. It may sound a bit too pop-ish for some, but I think it sounds awesome. I especially like the beginning/chorus of the song. I think the lyrics captures the relationship between Balsa and Chagum very well. The ending theme is a nice ballad entitled “Itoshii Hito e” by Sachi Tainaka.
The story centers around Balsa the spearwielder and her quest to protect and save others, her “road to redemption.” She is a female warrior who has recently undertaken the job of a bodyguard. It is later revealed that she herself as a young child was entrusted to a bodyguard (a man named Jiguro) to protect her life and in that process, Jiguro’s friends became enemies as a bounty was offered in exchange for Balsa’s life when she was young. She grew up to be a warrior and has decided to be a bodyguard to make up for all the lives that was taken for her sake. Balsa is around 30 years old. She is a very skilled warrior and clever as well. Since she began her road to redemption, she has not killed a single opponent.
ON CHARACTERS… Episode 1 introduces us to BALSA and her fateful meet with the young prince Chagum. CHAGUM is the 2nd prince of the imperial family. A couple of months earlier in the story, his body became “possessed” by a water spirit originally defeated by his ancestors. It is later revealed that this water spirit inside him is an egg, and he acts as a guardian until that egg hatches. Due to this, his father (the emperor) wants him killed in order to get rid of the spirit which is considered a “taint” to the imperial honor. An attempt to kill him happened while Balsa was around. The ox dragging the prince’s cart suddenly went out of control and fell on the river. Balsa rushes to his rescue and manages to save Chagum in a very impressive move with her spear and her cool bracelet. She was later invited by the 2nd empress to the palace and was asked to protect Chagum’s life. This meant that Chagum would leave the palace and his mother and stay with Balsa while the bounty on his head exists. This is basically about their adventures together.
We also meet a number of other characters like TANDA – a skilled herbalist/doctor and a bit of a shaman. He is an old friend of Balsa since they were little. TOUYA and SAYA – orphan boy and girl, respectively, who were saved by Balsa previously. They regard her as their elder sister and would do anything to help her out. SHUGA – a star diviner who was Chagum’s tutor and a friend of the 2nd empress.
MY IMPRESSION… It is based on the first book of the Guardian series of novels written by Nahoko Uehashi. Considering this, it can be pretty much dialogue heavy so some might probably find it boring since there’s a lot of talking. Remember that character development is the primary thing for this series. I think this anime is pretty cool. It has impressive animation with cool camera panning and backdrop settings. Although it has limited fight scenes, they were animated awesomely! (you’ll see what I mean when you see episode 3 when she fights against the elite shadow warriors of the emperor and in the Jiguro arc). The writing is done well. The story isn’t too fast paced, but it isn’t slow either. It unfolds gradually with enough elements to explain what’s going on and learn some of the characters’ backstories.
I think this is one of the best anime series that I’ve watched. It’s sort of reminiscent of Rurouni Kenshin with the warrior’s quest storyline, but it’s also unique and impressive in its own way. If you’re fond of the adventure/fantasy genre, you have to check this out. It’s really pretty good! ^-^
Have you seen it too? What can you say about it?
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