Babylon 5's Delenn is a member of the Minbari race. The Minbari are known for their great devotion to the lifepath of whichever caste they have chosen; this devotion is similar to the Japanese concept of giri, and Minbari conflicts between the individual's conscience and duty to her or his caste are similar to the Japanese dramatic trope of giri-ninjo. In Babylon 5, the Minbari fill the SF/fantasy niche of the elder brother race.

The Minbari are an alien race on Babylon 5. The Minbari are slightly older and more advanced than humans, and are quite similar to them. They have one distinct physical difference: a large portion of external bone around the top and back of their heads. I expect this has evolved because of their traditional hand weapon: an extendable pole/pike. I'm sure the bone helps to protect them from this pike.

The Minbari have a highly developed culture of three groups:

  • The worker caste, who build the cities, temples, spaceships, etc.
  • The religious caste, who resolve personal matters and ensure tradition and belief is followed. They teach wisdom to the people.
  • The warrior caste, who defend and fight for the Minbari.

The Minbari world is governed by a group called the Grey Council. This council lives on a war ship in space. The group originally consisted of three great members drawn from each caste. During the Shadow war, the Grey Council was dissolved by a genetically-chosen Minbari named Delenn. Civil war broke out shortly after this: With the direction of the Grey Council lost, the warrior caste tried to take over the whole of Minbar while the religious caste (including Delenn) was helping to fight the Shadows. After the Shadow War, Delenn returned and restored peace and reassembled the Grey Council with five members from the worker caste, two from the religious caste, and two from the warrior caste. Her intention was that the workers be looked-after by the religious and warrior castes, rather than simply controlled by them.

The original Grey Council chose not to make contact with humans. This was a mistake: When the humans finally caught up with the Minbari, they mistakenly assumed that the Minbari's open weapon ports were a sign of aggression and fired the first shot toward them. This touched off a war lasting several years. The Minbari forced the humans into retreat, eventually pushing them back to Earth. Before destroying the planet, the Minbari decided to see the enemy up close one more time. They brought in a human star fury fighter pilot named Jeffrey Sinclair. They discovered in him a Minbari soul. Instantly pacified, they chose not to kill any more humans, and by extension any more Minbari souls. They offered their unconditional surrender.

During the story of Babylon 5, we discover that Sinclair has been sent 1000 years back in time, along with the entire Babylon 4 space station—to set up a base station for the losing Minbari (who were involved in the previous Shadow War). Sinclair, genetically modified to appear as a Minbari so that he would be accepted on arrival, is now called Valen. It is explained that Valen mixed with the Minbari, that this led to Minbari blood never being pure again. With the help Valen and Babylon 4, the Minbari were able to defeat the Shadows in this time period.

Minbari architecture is also worthy of mention. Their buildings are made from a reflective crystal with many of the properties of water, featuring wonderful lighting and refraction, creating a rainbow of colors. Internally, they have many large open spaces and long, wide hallways. For bedding, he Minbari have hard, diagonal planks with small, thin, triangular pillows.

As far as I can remember the Minbari cuisine is simple, mostly vegetarian, and bland.

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