Saihate no Paladin episode one introduces us to Will, a human child being raised in the city of the dead by three undead characters. There’s a priestess, a warrior (who is a skeleton), and a sorcerer (who is a ghost) and no that isn’t the opening line to a bad joke. Mary, Blood and Gus have been raising Will since he was a baby and each of them have been passing on their respective knowledge to him. Throughout this first episode we get a glimpse of Will’s upbringing and the relationship he has with these characters.
Saihate no Paladin is setting the scene.
As will become apparent to anyone who watches through what I assume will be the OP that appears at the end of the episode, the story is going to take a far more epic scale and Will is going to venture out from this city. But it is nice that in the tradition of epic fantasies and hero journeys of the past, Saihate no Paladin takes the time to establish Will’s baseline and childhood first rather than rushing into the call to adventure.
Now just so we’re clear, I have read a bit of the manga, though apparently the anime is adapted form the Light Novel. That said, it was impossible for me to go in without expectations.
However, one question I had while reading Saihate no Paladin and is still a question I have after watching this first episode, why bother with the reincarnation angle? I do get that it becomes somewhat more significant later in this story but it feels like an unnecessary detail in an already cluttered mythos for this fantasy world. Here we have gods and blessings and magic through words and there’s a rich history and lore in this world. Do we also need Japanese protagonists being reincarnated into it? Particularly when said character barely remembers his previous life?
But lets look at this episode and how it opens up.
For some viewers I suspect this first episode of Saihate no Paladin may come off as a little slow given they are largely just establishing the character. We don’t know what the long term goal is or what direction the story will take. We’re just watching Will go about his days (at 3 and 8 and a few other ages) as he trains and learns. This won’t be a problem for binge watchers when there’s more episodes but for episodic viewers this first episode didn’t land with a bang. It’s a much quieter introduction to the world than other anime might have given you.
We do however get some beautiful moments, like when Mary carried baby Will out of the temple for the first time and he got to see the city of the dead. It is a glorious visual. Likewise, when Blood and Will are walking in the evening together the quiet scene with the purple sky is actually pretty lovely to look at.
Equally, the three characters, Mary, Gus and Blood all have enough individual personality and their interactions are actually quite fun as they contrast but complement each other nicely.
If we’re looking for a weak link with the characters here it is Will and that’s largely because he’s currently lodged in nice guy protagonist mode. As the story progresses it would be nice to see him develop a bit more and feel a bit more like a fully realised character rather than the blank-slate he’s currently resembling.
The episode of Saihate no Paladin does close in dramatic fashion with Will disobeying a rule to not enter the temple when Mary is there. The resulting situation leaves him injured and perhaps having learned something from the experience. That said, this episode ultimately leaves anime only viewers with more questions about the world, the gods, and the three undead raising Will than it does give answers.
I’m looking forward to seeing where they go next with Saihate no Paladin.
Images from: Saihate no Paladin. Dir. Y. Nobuta. Children’s Playground Entertainment. 2021
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