Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is a troll series. It trolled me so hard. Animated by Production I.G. and directed by Kenji Kamiyama I figured this was going to be the next series that made me scream, “ZOMG THIS SHOW IS FUCKING AWESOME!” And yeah, it started out that way.
Moribito starts with a bang. After all, coming from a legendary animation company, and the director of the amazing Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, how could it go wrong? The first three episodes were amazing. Not only did they feature stunning, fluid animation, they had perfect pacing, an intriguing mystery, and fantastic action sequences. After a number of exciting battles, the fourth episode slowed down to give us some exposition.
Exposition is all fine and good, but the problem is that the rest of the series was nothing but exposition. There was no more action. That’s it. Only three episodes worth, and they blew their wad from the get-go. The remaining 23(!!!!!) episodes are a non-stop thrill ride of talking, staring pensively toward the horizon, meditating, running away from danger, more talking, doing research, boiling water, and still more talking. It was fucking ridiculous. In fact, now that I think about it, this was completely intentional.
Kamiyama fucking trolled everyone. He must have been thinking, “What’s the biggest dick move I can pull on all these otaku?” Well, he figured it out. That move was to tease us with the promise of another intelligent, action-packed show like his previous series. Like a drug dealer, he lured us in with three solid episodes to get us hooked. And then, like crackheads jonesing for more, we couldn’t stop watching. We kept watching, episode after episode, trying to get our next fix. But it never came. Nope. Denied. We got fooled with the old bait and switch. Moribito became Bore-ibito.
You can’t start a series with a shitload of awesome action scenes, and then completely take them away. That’s like going to see a zombie movie, having the first 15 minutes be about zombies, and then the last hour and 15 minutes are a shitty Nicholas Sparks romantic Mormon film. I think Kamiyama knew exactly what he was doing. He did it just to get a good laugh at our expense. The major issue I have with Bore-ibito is that it tries to sell itself as something it’s not in an attempt to lure in viewers. If their intention was to make a slow-paced, thought-provoking series, and not an action show, they should have made that obvious from episode one.
The sad truth is that Bore-ibito never becomes interesting again. The story is extremely tired and over-done. Balsa (last name Wood?) is a female warrior who must protect a young prince who has a spirit living inside him. That sounds like the plot of an action series to me. But with no action, and nothing important happening on screen for 20 minutes of every 22 minute episode, this heavily recycled story quickly becomes tedious. Also, the premise is that Balsa is protecting the young prince, and the bad guys are hot on their trail. Unfortunately, the pace of the series plods along with no sense of urgency. You never feel as if they are in any real danger. They hang around in town or the woods for over half the series, living a seemingly carefree, and incredibly boring, lifestyle.
The other troll move was, I think, targeted directly at me. Kamiyama probably knew how much I hated unrealistic samurai tales (i.e. ones with magical powers like Basilisk), and decided to pull another fast one. Bore-ibito started out with some badass, realistic action sequences. People seemed to exist in the real world and didn’t rely on retarded super powers while in combat. There are priests, shamans, and multiple references to the supernatural world, however, there was no evidence that this supernatural world actually existed. This was great because I thought we would get a rare samurai story set in the real world. But wait, no, sorry, BrikHaus, you’re wrong. It turns out that there are real spirits, the shaman talks to some penis-headed fish people, and in the final three episodes, a whole bunch of warriors have to run away from giant, translucent, octopus-crabs. Goddammit Japan!
Well, I guess it should be expected. I shouldn’t think that any anime, no matter the pedigree, can be immune from being a huge piece of shit. Bore-ibito is a fucking disaster of pacing, is devoid of interesting things happening, has no characters worth caring about, has a cliche premise, and overall is very poorly executed. About the only thing going for it is good animation quality. Of course, when the entire series consists of people meditating, talking, and staring pensively at the horizon, how could the animation quality be bad? Skip this one at all costs.