Moribito series

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Cover of the Japanese edition of Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, the first in the series

Author Nahoko Uehashi
Translator Cathy Hirano
Illustrator Makiko Futaki
Miho Satake
Yuko Shimizu
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Genre Fantasy series
Publisher Japan Kaisei-sha (Hardcover, 1996 - 2012), Shinchosha (Bunkobon, 2003 - 2007)
United States Scholastic Corporation (Hardcover and Paperback)
2008 - 2009
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback and bunkobon)

The Moribito series (守り人シリーズ, Moribito shirīzu, translation: "Guardian series") is a twelve volume series of Japanese fantasy novels, written by Nahoko Uehashi. The first novel in the series, Guardian of the Spirit, has been adapted into numerous media, including a radio drama, manga series, and an anime adaption.

Scholastic released the first novel in English in June, 2008. Media Blasters has confirmed that they acquired the rights to the anime.[1] The series premiered on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block in the U.S. at 1:30 a.m. on August 24, 2008 EST, but was dropped from the schedule without warning or explanation on January 15, 2009 after two runs of the first ten episodes. The program returned to Adult Swim during the summer 2009 line-up with an airing of the entire series.[2]


Moribito is set in a fantasy analogue of historical Asia. The setting includes several nations, such as Kanbal, a rugged, Himalayan-like kingdom, and New Yogo, a fertile empire that combines elements of feudal Japan and Southwest China. The supernatural plays very prominently into the world of the series, with the physical world being referred to as Sagu and a parallel spirit world being referred to as Nayug.


The series primarily features Balsa and Chagum. Balsa is a wandering spear-wielder from the kingdom of Kanbal. Despite claiming to be a simple bodyguard-for-hire, in reality she wields her spear in order to save lives in atonement for the eight lives that were taken to protect her when she was a child. Chagum is a young prince of the New Yogo Empire, who throughout the series struggles to protect his empire from ruin.

In the first novel, Balsa agrees to become the bodyguard of Prince Chagum as her eighth and final job after she happens to save his life. Chagum, the second prince of the Imperial family of Yogo, carries a powerful spirit within him and has become the target of assassination by his father, the Emperor. Balsa must protect Chagum from relentless assassins as well as the spirit within her young charge as he attempts to master and understand his own powers.

During their journey, Balsa and Chagum are aided primarily by Balsa's childhood friend, a Yakue healer named Tanda, and his teacher, Madame Torogai. Chagum's tutor, the star reader Shuga, is also featured as a prominent supporting character and strives to learn the truth behind the spirit contained in Chagum's body and restore the prince to his rightful place when he begins to suspect that Chagum is still alive.

Publication history[edit]

The novel series was published in hardback by Kaisei-sha as children's literature, though the series has garnered many adult fans. Shinchosha began its publication in of the series in bunko size in March 2007. The Moribito and Tabibito strands of the series split after the first book, Guardian of the Spirit, and merge again in the chronologically final book, Ten to Chi no Moribito.

Book Kanji title Romaji title Original title, literal translation Notes
Publication date ISBN English publication title
1 精霊の守り人 Seirei no Moribito Guardian of Spirit 1 Volume
July 1996
March 2007 (Bunko)
ISBN 978-4-03-540150-6
ISBN 978-4-10-130272-0 (Bunko)
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit
When Balsa saves Prince Chagum of the New Yogo Empire, a boy with a mysterious spirit living inside him, she is hired to protect him from the assassins his father has sent after him and the dangers the spirit inside him brings.
2 闇の守り人 Yami no Moribito Guardian of Darkness 1 Volume
January 1999
June 2007 (Bunko)
ISBN 978-4-03-540210-7
ISBN 978-4-10-130273-7 (Bunko)
Moribito II: Guardian of Darkness
Balsa returns to the country where she was born to face her tragic past, but consequences of that past, and the secret that lies buried under the mountains, make her task a difficult one.
3 夢の守り人 Yume no Moribito Guardian of the Dream 1 Volume
May 2000
December 2007 (Bunko)
ISBN 978-4-03-540230-5
People start becoming trapped in their dreams. Tanda's niece, Chagum, and the First Empress all dream of a flower with ties to Torogai's past. Only a man with a supernatural singing voice can save them.
4 虚空の旅人 Kokū no Tabibito Traveler of the Void 1 Volume
July 2001 ISBN 978-4-03-540270-1
Chagum, now the crown prince of the New Yogo Empire, and Shuga are sent bearing greetings to a southern country, Sangal, for the new king's coronation ceremony. However, a black shadow is reaching towards Sangal and the would-be-king of Sangal is fatally wounded.
5 神の守り人 Kami no Moribito Guardian of the God 2 Volumes
January 2003 (both volumes) ISBN 978-4-03-540280-0 (God's Appearance (来訪編, Raihō-hen))
ISBN 978-4-03-540290-9 (Return from the Hard Journey (帰還編, Kikan-hen))
When Balsa encounters a brother and sister being sold by a slave trader, she impulsively takes the girl, Asra, away when she notices the girl has a strange aura. However, Balsa comes to wonder if the girl is a divinely appointed guardian or a child of disaster as a dark secret of the child begins to emerge. As Asra grows fearful of her power, she draws closer to an awful god while her powers are felt in the Kingdom of Rota, now divided in a civil war between the north and south. Balsa must protect Asra from the forces that threaten the girl while eluding Shihana, an undercover agent from Rota who pursues them.
6 蒼路の旅人 Sōro no Tabibito Traveler of the Blue Road 1 Volume
April 2005 ISBN 978-4-03-540310-4
Following the events of Kokū no Tabibito, Sangal is being engulfed by forces from Talsh, which now draws nearer to the New Yogo Empire. In order to protect his country, Chagum must make a perilous journey alone.[3]
7 天と地の守り人 Ten to Chi no Moribito Guardian of Heaven and Earth 3 Volumes
January 2007 (Volume 1)
January 2007 (Volume 2)
February 2007 (Volume 3)
ISBN 978-4-03-540320-3 (The Kingdom of Rota (ロタ王国編, Rota Ōkoku-hen))
ISBN 978-4-03-540330-2 (The Kingdom of Kanbal (カンバル王国編, Kanbaru Ōkoku-hen))
ISBN 978-4-03-540340-1 (The New Yogo Empire (新ヨゴ皇国編, Shin Yogo Ōkoku-hen))
Balsa sets off for the kingdom of Rota to rescue Chagum, the Crown Prince of New Yogo, hitherto believed dead. To protect his homeland from ruin, they undertake a dangerous quest to reach the king of Kanbal to forge an alliance between Rota and Kanbal to end the influence of the neighbouring nation of Talsh, which threatens New Yogo. With Balsa's help, Chagum returns to his homeland after a Talsh attack takes many civilian lives. While Chagum leads New Yogo against the Emperor, Balsa finds her old friend Tanda injured by the war.
8 流れ行く者 Nagare Yuku Mono The Wanderer 1 Volume
April 2008 ISBN 978-4-03-540360-9
A collection of prequel stories to the series: "Uki Momi" (浮き籾), "Rafura" (ラフラ), "The Wanderer" (流れ行く者, Nagare Yuku Mono), and "Kan no Furumai" (寒のふるまい). Tanda, a sensitive eleven-year-old boy, adores Balsa, who is drifting about with her "stepfather", fleeing from a plot against them. They try to find out about a curse in the village and discover the painful secret of a dead wastrel.
9 炎路を行く者 Enro o Yuku Mono Those Who Walk the Flame Road 1 Volume
January 2012 ISBN 978-4-03-540380-7
A collection of two spin-off stories. The first is "The Flame Road Traveller", which tells the story of Talsh Empire secret agent Hugo Alayutan as a young man. The second is "My Fifteen Year Old Self", which traces the story of Balsa the spear woman.

The series also includes Balsa's Table (バルサの食卓, Barusa no Shokutaku) (ISBN 978-4-10-130278-2), a non-fiction volume that includes cooking recipes with photos of the cuisines described in the series; and Complete Guide to Guardian of the Spirit (「守り人」のすべて, Moribito no Subete) (ISBN 978-4-03-750140-2), a extensive guidebook with background information on the setting and characters and a new short story, [春の光] "Haru no hikari" by Nahoko Uehashi, about Balsa and Tanda's relationship.

U.S. Release[edit]

The English translation of the first book, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, appeared in the summer of 2008; the second book's translation appeared in April 2009. Due to unsatisfactory sales, publishing of the series in the U.S. has since been indefinitely suspended by Scholastic.[4]

Title Publication date ISBN Notes
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit June 2008 (hardcover)
April 2009 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-545-00542-5 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-0-545-00543-2 (paperback)
Moribito II: Guardian of Darkness May 2009 (hardcover) ISBN 978-0-545-10295-7 (hardcover)


Moribito has since been adapted into numerous media, including radio, manga and anime adaptations. NHK has begun to air a drama in March 2016

Radio drama[edit]

NHK-FM Radio Drama "Youth Adventure" (Seishun Adventure)

The Guardian of the Spirit (2006) 10 episodes 7/8/2006–13/8/2006 weekdays 22:45–23:00
The Guardian of Darkness 10 (2007) 10 episodes 16/4/2007–27/4/2007 weekdays 22:45–23:00

TV Drama[edit]

The Guardian of the Spirit (2016) television series produced by Japan's NHK network consists of 22 episodes covering three series from the Moribito series of novels. Four episodes adapting the material in Seirei no Moribito were released in 2016, and another nine covering the Kami no Moribito novels aired in 2017. The remaining nine will begin in November, 2017 and continue into 2018. It appears this third and final season will adapt Yami no Moribito, which takes place in Balsa's home country of Kambal.[5]


The series has been adapted into a 26 episode anime television series, produced by Production I.G and directed by Kenji Kamiyama, which premiered in Japan on NHK from April 7, 2007. The anime was based entirely on the first novel in the Guardian series and greatly expands the midsection of the novel.

At the Tokyo International Anime Fair 2007 in March, Geneon announced that they have acquired the license to the anime and Scholastic announced they have US distribution rights to the novels.[6] After Geneon discontinued its distribution division, the rights transferred to Media Blasters. The series premiered in the United States at 1:30 a.m. on August 24, 2008 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, but was dropped from the schedule without warning or explanation on January 15, 2009 after two runs of the first ten episodes.

On June 13, 2009, the series was back on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block in the United States at 1:30am Sundays, but was moved to 2:30a.m. Eastern time, swapping it with Fullmetal Alchemist in November.


External links[edit]