Balsa (Haruka Ayase) is a 30-year-old female bodyguard-for-hire. Her life changes when she saves Imperial Prince Chagumu who is being carried away by a raging river. They then attempt to return the great egg of the water spirit, which is in Prince Chagumu's possession to its source in the sea. Along the way, they are hunted by hired assassins.
Cast & Credits
- Ayase HarukaBalsaMain Role
- Kobayashi KaiChagum [Second prince of the New Yogo Empire]Main Role
- Kimura Fumino[Chagum's mother the 2nd Empress]Support Role
- Fujiwara Tatsuya[Emperor and Chagum's father]Support Role
- Takashima ReikoShaman TorogaiSupport Role
- Higashide Masahiro[Torogai's apprentice and Balsa's friend Tanda]Support Role
The story isn't something that hasn't been done before, but it's really entertaining, and there were more fantasy elements than I initally expected. I think the pace was perfect, not too fast and not too slow, so you can get to know the characters but it never gets boring. That being said, I must warn you, it ends with a cliffhanger (season 2 starts in January).
The acting was pretty good too. I have never thought that Ayase Haruka was a really good actress, just an alright one. And I really didn't see her playing a credible action heroine. And yet, she really surprised me. She's great throughout the 4 episodes, and she has a very strong presence that makes for a great lead character. Most of the rest of actors were good too. I've always liked Higashide Masahiro a lot, and he's really good here. He's very funny and charismatic. Takashima Reiko was really funny too. Kimura Fumino is pretty good too, specially in the first episode. Kobayashi Kai is a bit annoying, and not the best of child actors, but I must admit the role was very difficult. Lastly, I won't say much about Fujiwara Tatsuya, because I've hated him for a long time, so I'm too biased (he overacts SO MUCH, it's incredibly annoying). Thank god he doesn't appear much.
The music was spectacular, it felt like listening to a movie soundtrack. Actually, most about this drama felt like a movie. All the technical aspectas were miles better than in the average j-drama. It's clear that they had a pretty big budget. The cinematography was great, and so were the costumes (even if a few of them were a bit ridiculous). The special effects were great, considering it's a J-drama (effects in j-movies aren't much better...). But mostly, I was shocked by how good the fight scenes were. They're the best fight scenes I've seen in a Japanese prodcution, drama or movie.
To sum up, I was pleasantly surprised by Seirei no Moribito in almost every way. I can't wait for the second season, even if there are still 8 months left. I guess in the meantime I'll have to watch the anime adaptation.
I found that the setting for this story was really intriguing, despite some, in my opinion, overly weirdly portrayed elements, and this is coming from someone who neither saw the anime or read any form of the books, so I'm crediting this merely from its own merits.
For a four episode season, it would be hard to get bogged down and there is no way you'll find this season even slightly boring.
All the action scenes with Balsa and her spear were very rewarding, and the last episode especially made her look very awesome! :D
Throughout the show, you were able to see as characters progressed and grew and saw the rewards of their labors and the results of hard work. I felt some of the characters were barely fleshed out at all, but I'm sure we'll see more of them in the second season, since this was just 4 episodes anyway. Keep in mind though, our main characters are by no means 2-dimensional.
Most of the acting was good.
I'd only ever seen Ayase (Balsa) in a feature film where she had a much different character and I wasn't very impressed with the movie, but she really pulls this off and I found her acting to be mostly very impeccable.
An incredible soundtrack! From the moment that opening piece played, I was in love with the music. I would call it orchestral with Asian elements throw in, which is definitely right up my alley. I have this soundtrack on my phone and it is my most listened to Asian drama OST, with many of the tracks being in my all time favorites. I'd rank some of the tracks equal with pieces by John Williams, Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer. In fact, track 8 (of the top of my head) transports me right into Zimmer's score for Interstellar. I'd watch this whole thing again just for the music.
Rewatch Value (8.0):
I really am not a rewatcher, as I've stated in some of my other review. I only watch productions more than once if I really, really, enjoyed them or if plenty of time has passed. I really enjoyed this, but it wasn't per se an all time favorite; that being said, I can definitely see myself rewatching this in a few months.
Highly Recommended! Be prepared for some awesome fighting scenes, some weird looking creatures, a vibrant world, real characters, unrealistic Kings, more awesome fighting, an amaaazing soundtrack... Oh and there might be a minor cliffhanger, but it's okay because it's not the main story of this season... However, it will still have you rushing to season 2!
P.S. I found some of the cinematography a bit... questionable, but it doesn't detract and certainly has it's own place I guess...