The Faraway Paladin
Episodes 1-3

by Grant Jones,

How would you rate episode 1 of
The Faraway Paladin ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
The Faraway Paladin ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
The Faraway Paladin ?

Episode 1

I will admit, I was hesitant going into The Faraway Paladin. It checks a lot of boxes for shows that I typically do not enjoy. “A fantasy isekai where I'm trapped in a baby's body” personally sounds like the usual recipe for disappointment, and even the ones that eventually win me over usually take a few episodes to get going. But here, I found myself hooked pretty much from the jump.

Nothing here is necessarily unique or original, but it doesn't really have to be. The execution in The Faraway Paladin is very strong. Will as a super aware and intelligent baby is really only the initial framing device, and our introduction to Mary, Blood, and Gus as his surrogate family is terrific. Most isekai series let me down when they become almost eye-rollingly-obvious wish-fulfillment, but The Faraway Paladin has a genuine sense of tension, dread, and mystery to it.

The mystery is really what grabbed me from the get-go. Will is obviously a young man full of potential, but what exactly is going on here? Why are Mary, Blood, and Gus all undead creatures? What circumstances brought Will from the other world and into their care, specifically? Why is the nearby town so lifeless, and just where is everyone else? What are Will's caretakers training him up for, exactly? Why is Mary praying and why is she wreathed in flame while doing so? There are plenty of interesting hooks scattered about and the characters are compelling enough on their own that I'm quite eager for the show to answer them. There seems to be a heavy focus on gods and mythos, possibly implying that some kind of divine struggle will be a key theme here, but I suppose only time will tell.

The presentation is strong too. Animation, direction, and voice acting are all solid if not necessarily exceptional. None of them elevated the experience nor detracted, which is fine since I was well and truly hooked on the core material. Color me excited for what comes next.

Rating:


Episode 2

Jump forward five more years and Will is becoming a young man. He continues to grow and be challenged, particularly in the realm of magic and Gus's teachings. I particularly like the magic system's emphasis on magic words; the use of Ignis in particular reminds me of my days playing the Ars Magica tabletop RPG (and, of course, echoes lots of other fictional systems that use magical incantations).

Blood also decides to take Will into the city itself, which turns out to be a ruined wasteland of some bygone era(?), again echoing the familiar elements of traditional tabletop RPGs. While what happened previously to create these ruins is anyone's guess, it's a deserted urbanscape rife with dungeons to explore now. The Faraway Paladin definitely hews closer to the “old-school” image of a dungeon as a cold, lonely, and violent place rather than an opportunity for high fantasy combat spectacle – or perhaps that's a consequence of the immense popularity of Souls-like games and not old-school at all?

In any case, I like this whole excursion since it showcases a lot of interesting world-building tidbits. Magic dwarven blades, undead magic-using demon skellymans, and ghost wizard betrayals – it's all great entertainment. Will's shield having a glowing enchantment is also one of those dungeon-delver 101 details that I love, since it frees up a hand from having to hold a torch.

Once again, mysteries abound, and this time they are centered around Gus. What I dig about this new wrinkle is not only the reasons behind Gus's betrayal, which obviously interest me, but that it adds another layer of uncertainty into the dynamic between Will and his caretakers. Not only are Blood, Mary, and Gus keeping something from Will, but now Gus is keeping something from Will and Blood and Mary, while at the same time Will is keeping his knowledge of Gus's secret from Blood and Mary. It adds some great tension to all of their interactions for the rest of the episode, even the most innocuous of scenes.

Rating:


Episode 3

This one sure has some content in it, doesn't it folks? The scene where Blood and Will peep on Mary after getting drunk is awkward, to say the least, but the fact that it results in a lot of awkwardness for everyone, and particularly Will, does at least make the scene feel more grounded than it would in most series. Often these scenes are meant to be eye candy for the audience, but here it is framed as a very bizarre bit of pseudo-Oedipal embarrassment that, well, no one really seems clear on how to process. It's messy and embarrassing and confusing – emotions that are certainly relatable for those of us who have gone through our own awkward teenage phase, even if the specifics of drunkenly peeping on one's surrogate mummy mommy is not relatable in the slightest.

The duel between Will and Blood is the real emotional high watermark for this first trio of episodes. It's clear that the buildup has been towards Will becoming capable enough to venture out on his own, and everyone wants him to spare Blood's pride. Obviously the tension of “will he throw the fight or won't he?” is strong enough to carry the episode, but it's the follow-up revelations that hit the hardest: Blood is capped at his current skill due to being undead, Will is unlikely to ever be able to return home to them again, not to mention all the smoking god-beings, calamitous implications, and impending magical duels. Whew Lordy, this is great stuff.

In terms of the old three-episode-test (is that still a thing?), I feel like The Faraway Paladin passes with flying colors. Tension, mystery, excitement, world-building – I'm genuinely eager to see where this one goes this season. And for me to say that about an isekai is about the highest praise I can give.

Rating:


Grant is the cohost on the Blade Licking Thieves podcast and Super Senpai Podcast.

The Faraway Paladin is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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