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MORIBITO by Nahoko Uehashi

MORIBITO

Guardian of the Spirit

By Nahoko Uehashi (Author) , Cathy Hirano (Translator) , Yuko Shimizu (Illustrator)

Age Range: 10 - 12

Pub Date: June 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-545-00542-5
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

This newly translated 1996 Japanese fantasy has spawned nine sequels, a radio drama, a manga comic book and an anime television series in Japan. In New Yogo, a magical land that vaguely resembles medieval Japan (as a typical Western fantasy vaguely resembles medieval Europe), children and adults work together to save the nation from ravenous demons. The wandering spear-fighting heroine Balsa is hired as a bodyguard for the Mikado’s 11-year-old son. Prince Chagum is possessed by a water demon, and his mother is afraid that the Mikado will have the boy killed. Balsa spirits the boy into the woods where she spends a winter teaching him independence and martial skills. Balsa, 25, with her tragic past and love story, is the real protagonist here, with Chagum’s coming-of-age playing second fiddle to her heroic adventure. While the disparate ages of the protagonists might seem unusual to Western fantasy fans, seasoned manga readers should be less surprised. Jam-packed with monstrous combat, ethnic conflicts and complex mythologies, Balsa and Chagum’s story will win many new fans for this series. (Fantasy. 10-12)