Episode 22: “Time of Awakening”
Summary: Picking up from last episode, the remaining 6 Spears have found out where Jiguro and Balsa are. Jiguro goes on to fight them by himself, telling Balsa to run away from here and leave the fight to him. He faces the Spears and asks them to sheath their spears and go back to Kanbal and stop this meaningless pursuit. They refuse this, so Jiguro has no choice but to fight them in order to protect himself and Balsa. He manages to defeat all 6 of them. Balsa narrates that at that point, it wasn’t about being a King’s Spear at all; that all it was people trying to kill each other. At that time, Jiguro’s soul was lost along the 8 souls he had to kill for their own safety. Chagum learns that the 8 souls she spoke of on the night she took him under her care belong to the 8 Spears that Jiguro killed.
Balsa tells Chagum that Jiguro and herself were forced to live a harsh life because of Rogsam but the 8 Spears didn’t have to die in a meaningless way either, so her life has been built upon their sacrifice. Chagum realizes that that’s why Balsa vowed to save 8 lives was to try to repay the 8 ones taken by Jiguro. Balsa confirms this and says Jiguro advised her against doing it. Chagum tells her that if she hadn’t made that vow, then he would have been dead by now. Balsa says she has that vow as a reason but Jiguro had no reason to save her life other than the fact that her father was a close friend of his. She never really knew the reason why Jiguro would fight just to save her life. She still doesn’t understand why Jiguro stayed by her side even though he had nothing to gain by protecting her. Chagum says he’d like to know Jiguro’s reasons too. He thinks that he might be able to accept the situation he is in a little more if he knew. Tanda then calls them over for dinner.
Over dinner, Chagum asks Balsa what she did after the fight with the Spears ended. She says that after Jiguro’s rigorous training, she was skilled enough to be a match for any warrior. She was already 16 at that time, so she felt Jiguro’s pain even more, so she told Jiguro that they should part ways. Flashback to that moment… She told Jiguro that he has saved her many times before but now she thinks she can manage to protect herself and that she thinks Jiguro should try and find happiness for himself. Jiguro responds that she must feel like she owes him a lot but asks her not to think of the past in such terms since it will only make her feel empty inside. He adds that despite everything else, he actually likes Balsa and the life they have created together. Balsa was speechless after hearing that. Present Balsa tells Chagum that despite what Jiguro said, he tried his hardest to avoid fighting his friends. Even though he said he liked her, it wasn’t been the case in the beginning. She says she never found out what Jiguro was thinking when he first decided to take her as a child and run. She recounts that Jiguro died 5 years later after he fell ill. By that time, King Rogsam had died so they no longer had to fear assassins. 15 years have passed since they left Kanbal. At his deathbed, Balsa promised Jiguro that she will save 8 lives to atone for the Spears’ souls. Jiguro informs Balsa that it’s more difficult to save lives than to take them, asking her if she’s trying to become a hero. He adds that trying to save a life is not a task one takes on lightly, then tells Balsa not to push herself so hard. Looking back, Balsa knows that Jiguro believed it sinful for one to not put their capabilities to use even if there was no gain to be had, and that to Jiguro, being a national hero and saving a nameless human being were of equal merit. He even tried to save the lives of his pursuers as well. Balsa tells Chagum that she finally came to understand all of that after becoming his bodyguard.
Tanda and Balsa are seeing off Torogai-shi who is leaving for the hot springs, saying that there’s no way she would spend the whole winter trapped in Hunter’s Cave like that. She tells them she’ll be back by the time the snow melts. Chagum then goes over to Balsa asking her to teach him martial arts, saying that he wants to be able to protect the egg and himself when the time comes, adding that it’s his duty since he is the guardian after all. Balsa is touched to hear this and hugs Chagum, assuring him that she won’t let him die. As the Yakue rice planting song plays in the background, winter passes by, Chagum learns to fight, etc. After their practice sessions, Balsa is watching over Chagum as he sleeps when she notices Tanda staring. Tanda tells her he was just remembering when Jiguro would watch over her when she slept after practice too. Tanda then goes on saying that it’s been a good winter and with Chagum and the 2 of them together, he found himself wishing that the winter would never end. However, spring is fast approaching and they’d be risking their lives soon. When this is all over, Tanda suggests to Balsa that the 3 of them could live together just like they did this winter. Balsa stops what she was doing. Tanda informs her that he was hesitant to say this and thought that he should wait until she’d fulfilled her vow but even if he did wait, she wouldn’t notice since life-or-death situations must be in her blood. After a few moments of silence, Balsa says she doesn’t know what to do about it and asks Tanda if he has any cures for that. Tanda sadly says that if she can’t think of him as the “cure” itself, then he guesses there’s no point in his waiting. He then gets up and walks away. Balsa mumbles to herself that Tanda is an idiot for making her think about that at a time like this. Apparently, Chagum was awake and heard everything.
The next day, Chagum is washing his face when he suddenly screams out in fear. Balsa runs in and asks what’s wrong. Chagum looks like he’s in shock and doesn’t seem to hear Balsa. Chagum then speaks and says he can’t see the ground and that he’s in a deep valley. Chagum then yells again, exclaiming that he’s falling. Balsa is standing behind him with her arms around his waist. Tanda then arrives informing Balsa that Chagum is being pulled into Nayug and that she must become a pillar to ground Chagum where they presently are in our world (Sagu). Tanda then whispers in Chagum’s ear, using his Shaman knowledge, telling Chagum what’s going on and that he’s fine. He tells him to feel Balsa’s arms around his waist and slowly bring his spirit back to where they really are, asking him to remember how things inside the cave looked. Chagum successfully does this. Balsa and Tanda reckon that it’s the egg’s doing. It’s almost spring, and they think that the egg inside Chagum is starting to feel this too.
Meanwhile at the palace, Shuga, Gakai and the rest of the star diviners are running against time trying to decipher everything they can from the stone tablets regarding the La Lunga (the egg eater) and the place of celebration. Shuga informs Gakai that he was able to find out the exact location of the place of celebration. Gakai tells him that they would do their best to decipher the stone tablets to learn more about the La Lunga and the event.
~ end of episode
My Impression: It’s such a heavy load that was thrust upon Jiguro and Balsa. Even though he didn’t want to kill, he had no choice since he had to fight for their own lives. I liked the fact that no matter what happened, he really did protect Balsa and didn’t allow her to fight with him as long as it can be avoided so she won’t have to carry the burden of guilt of having to kill someone. Like Chagum, I’m also curious why he changed his mind and accepted the fate of protecting Balsa at the last minute.
Poor Tanda. He finally decided to tell Balsa how he felt, but unfortunately he got brushed off and she couldn’t give him a straight answer. I’m rooting for Tanda, and hopefully, he and Balsa would end up together. It doesn’t necessarily have to happen in this anime, it’s most likely to be included in the books.
Speaking of which, I’m glad that Scholastic picked up the license for the first book in the series (which is this one) to be released in North America. I’m definitely anticipating it’s release and will buy it *prays that it’ll also be sold where I’m at*. Hopefully, it’ll be followed by the rest of the Moribito series to be translated and not just the first one.
The egg is starting to awaken. Lucky for them Tanda was with them and knew what to do or else Chagum may have gotten lost in the Nayug world. La Lunga will finally make an appearance on the next episode. It’s only 4 more episodes before this series concludes.
Next episode: Spring has arrived. The egg has awakened, so did the La Lunga. The fight against La Lunga to save Chagum and the egg has begun.
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