chapter  6
16 Pages

Deconstructions of the (Japanese) Nation-State in Uehashi Nahoko’s Moribito (Guardian) Series

ByHELEN KILPATRICK, ORIE MUTA

Uehashi Nahoko’s ten-volume Guardian fantasy series for young adults (19962008) creates a fantastic medieval world that is both entertaining and intensely political. In refl ecting upon a fi ctitious nation’s beginnings, it resonates with some of Japan’s well-known legends and sociohistorical imaginings, destabilizing their cultural authority. By exposing the “real” stories and behind-thescenes power plays in an extended kingdom, Moribito questions hegemonic power constructions, deconstructing how cultural myths are made, manipulated, and reinforced by corrupt leaders. In doing so, it presents an unconventional critique of many Japanese ideologies and national institutions, drawing attention to the limitations inherent in dominant understandings of, for instance, Japan’s emperor system and power politics, past and present.