Moribito II – Guardian of the Darkness (Novel)

Posted by DiGiKerot in Novels at August 7, 2009 on 8:14 pm

I’m going to preface this by mentioning that I’ve not seen a single episode of the anime Moribito. I’ve got the first two DVDs that Media Blasters put out an age ago, but right now they’re just buried under the ever increasing pile of unviewed media I have building infront of the tellybox. There’s really nothing like a protracted gap of indeterminate length in a release schedule to completely destroy any interest one has in watching something.

I mention this because, as I mentioned when I reviewed the Haruhi book, overfamiliarity with a properties anime adaptation kind of have a habit of rendering a read through of the original novel something of a tedious experience. With that said, just bare in mind that everything I’m saying here is from a position of not really knowing about the content of the book I was going into.

Which probably makes this useless for everyone reading.

Although saying that, I don’t really have a vast amount to say about the book anyway.

After the events of the first book, Balsa returns to her home country with the intention of meeting with the family of her deceased foster father. It turns out, however, that there was even more to their rapid departure from the country all those years ago that even she had believed. Which, whilst bad for Balsa, is probably just as well – it’d have been something of a short and uneventful book if it was just Balsa having a short chat and a pleasant cup of tea.

As the Scholastic label it’s printed under perhaps suggests, Moribito does skew rather younger than most of the novels we tend to see making their way to the English-reading world. It doesn’t place any huge demands on it’s readership – it doesn’t expect you to keep track of multiple factions and their motivations, it doesn’t have any overlapping timeline weirdness, you aren’t expected to have to mentally process any bizarre, non-sensical philosophical nonsense, and it certainly doesn’t require any arcane otaku knowledge.

Not that any of this is especially negative, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t expect anything staggeringly complex out of it. Infact, it probably all works to Moribitos benefit anyway – it’s hard to complain too much about the stories single-tracked nature when it constantly moves forwards with such breathless momentum. Nahoko Uehashi doesn’t really mince her words – there’s nothing here that comes across as wasted or merely existing to pad out the running time. It’s somewhat refreshing, truthfully – it’s nothing that’s going to stick with me, but whilst it lasts, it’s a brisk, yet fun, read, and not in the slightest bit a chore or tedious.

Though this brings me back around to where I started, though – would it have been as entertaining if I’d seen the anime first? Probably – the anime didn’t actually go past the first novel, so the entire opening section of this review was kind of pointless. It does all hold true for the first book, though, and I did fail to actually write a lengthy review of that one.

Presentation wise, there’s not really much to say about this release – as you’d probably expect from a non-niche publisher, it’s impeccable. It’s a nice hardcover volume with a beautiful dust cover. The page layout is good. The print quality on both the text and the images is perfect, and the paper quality is excellent. It’s a fair cry from the oft-embarrassing paperbacks Tokyopop often put out. It’s just kind of a shame that all this means it’s rather more pricey than the kind of audience this material should really be reaching (the tween market) would probably consider being worth it for such a book. I’m sure it’ll come out as a paperback eventually, but I guess it’s not like it’ll get any more promotion than the hardback release got anyways (heck, I completely missed it’s release until it was raised on a forum I read).


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