The Faraway Paladin
Will is a human boy raised by three of the Undead, who embarks on a mission to protect other humans (or, if that's no longer possible, to at least redeem their souls), under the aegis of his patron goddess, Gracefeel.
I'll give this show credit for one thing: while its setting looks Tolkienesque, its model is a little different (at least at first) than the one Tolkien, and most other fantasies using a medieval setting, follow. While it's common to depict ordinary (or just slightly extraordinary) humans pitted against a supernatural evil (or faux-supernatural: see Scrapped Princess), any supernatural force for GOOD seems to be AWOL; the poor humans are usually left to their own devices against such a powerful foe. Stacking the deck in favor of the bad guys makes for better drama, I guess.
But The Faraway Paladin, despite its medieval setting, instead follows the model of the ancient Graeco-Roman cosmology: the "good" gods (and goddesses) here are as active in human affairs as the troublesome ones, though they may perform their works through human agents like Will. Gracefeel tasks Will with returning souls wandering the Earth "to the cycle", though it's clear that Will wants an exemption from this requirement for the "family" that raised him: Blood (a skeletal warrior), Mary (who wears the vestments of a nun, though she's said to be a mummy), and Gus (the ghost of a wizard.) We learn that Will had a previous life in "our" world, but he's achieved HIS Isekai transfer through reincarnation, being reborn into this world (a la Tanya the Evil), rather than simply walking into it as a teenager as most protagonists in Isekai shows do. (I really hope future installments of this show give us a little more info about Will's previous existence than we get here, especially since there seem to be some guilt issues involved. And while we DO get part of an episode devoted to Blood and Mary's backstory (from when they were alive), I was hungry to get some more information about THEM. The show gives us a "recap" episode (after Episode 7), but I would have much preferred more of the cast's backstories.)
In my opinion, the early part of the show, with Will receiving instruction from his three ghostly guardians, is by far the best, despite Blood's questionable method of providing sex education to his young charge. Will leaves them to go into the human world with a "Demonblade" and fighting skills provided by Blood, with magic spells taught to him by Gus, and with- what from Mary?- well, I guess her strong sense of ethics, and Mary's emphasis on choosing a powerful god or goddess as patron; and Will makes a great choice in Gracefeel, who seemingly has more mojo (and is MUCH less vindictive) than the one Mary herself swore allegiance to. (The gods and goddesses here have rather descriptive names; one of the bad ones is Stagnate, who keeps the dead in limbo, and in Stagnate's own service.)
This all leads to my major problem with the show- Will is JUST TOO POWERFUL. Routing run-of-the-mill demons for him is a piece of cake (this world's demons seem to completely lack the tenacity of the ones in the Demon Slayer franchise), and he even seems to be able to deal with dragons while barely breaking a sweat (and dragons are USUALLY pretty challenging, as we know from other Isekai shows.) A hero needs to have a vulnerability of SOME kind, and if Will has none as a fighter...well, the show will have to find his weakness somewhere else.
The characters he meets in the "human" world are also much more conventional (and thus less interesting) than his three guardians. He befriends a half-elf named Meneldor, which grows into a "bromance" sort of thing, with a few rocky spots of course. (Like many young male characters in anime, Will is voiced by a female, and really I think this all might have been more interesting if Will's character had simply been made a girl in the first place.) We have a merchant named Tonio, who proves that merchants are really pretty boring unless accompanied by wolf girls. And there's a halfling named "Robina Goodfellow", AKA "Bee", who's supposed to be a bard. She's incessantly chatty, and I kept wondering if the nickname is because of her habit of buzzing around and annoying people. And we have one Bishop Bagley, who seems to be wearing Christian vestments, a little strange in a polytheistic world where Christianity doesn't even exist.
I vacillated between three and four stars on this one, but finally went with the higher rating, mainly on the strength of the endearingly strange early scenes with Will and his Guardians, and also in the recognition that there are some hints of deeper stuff waiting to be explored. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No sexuality (unless you count Blood's abortive "lesson"). Mature themes and violence. I'd go PG-13 here.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
The Faraway Paladin © 2021 Kanata Yanagino, OVERLAP/The Faraway Paladin Production Committee
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