One thing I am really loving about Saihate no Paladin is that the music is suitably over-the-top dramatic. Will gets ready to fight some skeleton demon thing and we get this fantastic swell of music that you’d expect from a fantasy movie back in the 1970’s as the hero prepares to charge into a fight. Sure it’s a little cheesy but as a viewer I can’t help but feel excited by the scene because of the music.
But how was the rest of the episode?
Saihate no Paladin isn’t rushing through its set-up.
Over episode one and two of Saihate no Paladin there’s been a fairly deliberate pace. Instead of just mashing Will’s upbringing and training under the three guardians into a single montage, we’ve spent two episodes now seeing his experiences as he’s aged and learned. I can understand that for some viewers this would feel quite slow and if they haven’t really connected with these characters this opening act probably wouldn’t work for them.
It is impossibly for me to judge whether I’d like this as much if the anime was my only experience with the story. I came in knowing at least where this will go in the next little bit and I already quite liked Will as a character and the world that this story is set in. Still, I think these first two episodes have done enough in building up the characters and combine enough action scenes (even if they are training related) with the talking and exposition.
Basically, I am so far really enjoying Saihate no Paladin. My only real concern is that LiveChart has this anime listed as 12 episodes and that kind of indicates that at the current pace we aren’t going to get very far into this story. I really hope that they have considered where they are ending this season and it doesn’t just sputter to a stop like so many anime from the Summer 2021 season.
Anyway, this episode has Will still learning about the world from Gus including a bit of history of the gods. He’s also been working with Mary and has just completed a 5 day prayer ritual. And Blood decides to test him out against a demon skeleton, only Will defeats it apparently much easier than Blood expected. Rather than praise, what Will gets is lead into the city of the dead and left to fend for himself as a more challenging test.
The audience and Will are increasingly aware that Blood, Mary and Gus are withholding information from Will. Though it is really difficult to figure out their overall intentions. In this episode, Gus particularly takes a number of actions that certainly make you question his overall goals and even when Will directly confronts him and demands and explanation he says nothing.
It is interesting watching this relationship between Will and Gus play out in Saihate no Paladin. Prior to this point Will has always followed the instructions or what he thought his teachers wanted. The experience with Mary in episode 1 where he entered the temple against their instructions taught him the value in listening to them. Yet as he approaches his fifteenth birthday he’s finally gotten to a point where he at least wants to know why.
When Gus refuses to elaborate on his reasons, Will refuses to follow his most recent request which is to lose an upcoming match against Blood.
The other key moment in this episode was Will realising he had to pick a god to swear an oath to once he becomes an adult (at fifteen) and he clearly hasn’t decided yet. The importance of his oath is explained to him by Mary and Gus and we’re certainly left wondering just what Will intends to do.
All things considered, Saihate no Paladin is doing exactly what I needed it to. It has a real sense of being this epic fantasy story just starting out. The visuals work well enough and about the only real complaint would be the sheer amount of voice over from Will at times, particularly when he’s telling us things we’ve already put together. Less would be more in some cases. That said, so far I’m really enjoying this.
You can read the full season review here.
Images from: Saihate no Paladin. Dir. Y. Nobuta. Children’s Playground Entertainment. 2021
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