When I first picked up this anime, I didn't expect much. It just one of the anime DVD that I happened to come across upon and bought without much thoughts to it. It wasn't until I got home and looked at the cover that I started to anticipate what is coming because there I saw it, this anime was produced by Production I.G and directed by Kenji Kamayama.
Yeah, I have a thing for the production studio especially when Kamayama is involved because he has never phailed me before.
Seirei no Moribito (or Guardian of the Sacred Spirit) is not your typical normal anime. Instead of hero rescuing a heroin, we have the opposite. Balsa, is a spearwoman warrior who takes the task of guarding to atone for her past sins. The story starts when she is put in charge by the Empress to guard a prince who said to bring catastrophe to the land. So the Emperor himself has ordered his own son to be killed. It was up to Balsa to save the prince's life.
You can't talk about Seirei without mentioning the stunning production. It blew my fucking mind away and my faith in Kamayama is affirmed. It was like you were watching a movie instead of an episodic anime the entire time. Never have I seen anime that has such beautiful and stunning background before. The level of details that were put in and the way they enhanced the atmosphere with vibrant and striking settings, were unbelievable. The use of cel-shaded CG has also been put to good use in Seirei. This means that the scenes such as in town or in the palace are brought to life with a higher level of details to match the surroundings. Everything was done so marvelously fluid which will left you with an amazing feeling of fulfillment. It has certainly left a profound impression on me.
One of the things that captured my heart was the fighting sequences. Kamayama has so cleverly used camera angles to make the fights more engaging while not drawing away from the choreography. I dare not blink because I don't want to miss a single thing. I want to soak it all in. It was that fucking amazing. I think I squealed and fangasm a lot during these moments.
The characters were designed with realism in mind, facially and physically. The designs are exceptional throughout the show, including the animals. For once a horse looks like horse, if you get what I mean. These, I think help to pull the viewer into the show in a big way.
It goes without saying that the star of this anime is Balsa. Hands down, she is one of the most strongest and unique female lead in anime world today. She possesess many skills and has a strong sense of right and wrong. Chagum (my favorite character in this series) is exactly how you expect a young prince to be, spoiled. However, throughout the episodes, he receives a lot of character development, as much if not more than Balsa, and in the end, he turns out quite a different character then when he first started. As these two characters develop, we will see changes in their relationship as well.
Other characters such as Tanda, Touya, Saya, Jiguro, Shugo etc also receive a decent character developments because of their association with Balsa. What interesting though, the developments are often linked to the development of Balsa and/or Chagum. The various references and flashbacks to these characters will slowly begin to make sense as the series progresses which also provides us a better understanding of Balsa as a character.
There is a slight romance going on between Balsa and Tanda and I was hoping they get it together in the end, but alas, Balsa is not your typical woman although in my fantasy land, I kinda imagined that she and Tanda will make babies eventually.
Like any other great anime, Seirei is emotionally engaging. I remember crying in certain scenes like during Sagum's death and when Chagum says goodbye to Balsa. It was sad knowing that he might not be able to be as carefree as when he was with Balsa. Even if Seirei is meant to be a serious fantasy action drama, there are some genuinely humourous moments too.
The OP of Seirei is a very nice and rather catchy J-rock/pop ballad called "Shine", which was performed by L'Arc-en-Ciel but never released as a single. The rest of the music in the show is composed by the well-known Kawai Kenji. The music delivers in every respect and is a really crucial contributor to its dramatic impact. The score is produced in a traditional cinematic way to fit it with the visual style of the show which served its justice. The sound effects are exceptional as well. Every grunts, clucks, clashes of steel, etc breath into life in this series which makes the show more "real".
Once again, Kamayama has successfully created a visually captivating series. Seirei no Moribito is a fine example on how to make a good fantasy action anime, the right way.
Finishing the series is like finishing a good book that you just couldn't put down. You realize how enjoyable the trip has been and sadden by the fact that it is over.
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