After only a few episodes into The Faraway Paladin, I was already convinced it would be one of the best anime of the season, if not the year (for its genre). The world building in what could have easily been a stereotypical isekai blew all other competition out of the water, and had me hopeful we’d continue on that trend through the season. Unfortunately, I learned all too soon that the people and place I had come to love were mere groundwork for the story to come, one that would be far inferior to the legends who paved the path.
I know my opening paragraph is pretty negative in terms of my view towards this show, given that the backstory lasts almost half of the season at five episodes. That souring opinion stems from a follow-up arc so disappointing and lackluster in originality that it almost made me drop the show despite loving the beginning so much.
That start gave our protagonist an unconventional family as a re-do from his previous life; he’s discovered as an abandoned infant in a land devoid of humans and overrun with demons. His saviors are three undead: a skeleton warrior, a zombie nun, and a spectral wizard. Together, these former heroes who sacrificed themselves centuries past to save humanity, form a parental unit more fulfilling than I could have imagined. From the warrior, Will learns how to defend himself, fight, and perhaps more importantly have confidence in his strengths and the fortitude to improve his weaknesses. From the nun, he inherits unwavering devotion and meditation–from the wizard, magic creativity in the face of the most difficult foes. I didn’t want their time together to end, and for perhaps a new adventure to begin as he came of age and they took him out into the world.
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end, and when it does for this “peaceful” life, Will ends up alone once more. This time, he carries with him not only the memories and lessons of his family but also the blessings of his patron goddess–a blessing that compels him to seek out wrongs to right and bring lightness to dark. The order is a tall one, and I expected us to charge straight into another fantastic story, but that isn’t what happened. We sauntered into a far less interesting narrative involving a hostile elf and the first humans Will had seen since his previous life. In true Will form, he’s eager to make new friends and create his own party reminiscent of his mentors’; reality turns out to not be so friendly.
While it was nice to see our protagonist moving on and not letting his grief hold him back from seeking others, I can’t help but feel this entire next arc lost almost all of the momentum built up from the beginning. The new characters lacked, well, character, and Will turned out to be another overpowered lead, regardless of us knowing how hard he worked to get there. After all the emotions of gaining and losing his family, it was difficult to feel any attachment to this new setting and cast.
Thankfully, the following story arcs pick up a bit of energy and we see Will struggle once more against not only his enemies, but his own shortcomings. The hits never land as high as the initial arc, but they do save the show from being my biggest disappointment of the fall. We’re set up into the perfect position for a sequel that has already been announced, and I’ll be there when it airs in hopes of it continuing the upward climb. If the next journey can capture a hint of the joy I felt at the beginning, then we’re already headed great places.
Rating: 1 dango
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.