You know I watched two anime episodes on Sunday that both seemed pretty obsessed with dragging out a farewell and yet unlike Taishou Otome Fairytale (review out later), Saihate no Paladin managed to make this feel absolutely necessary. Instead of just filling screen time this was a necessary epilogue of the opening act of what is going to be a much larger story. And I very much appreciate that this anime has taken five episodes on this opening act for Will.
Where another fantasy or isekai anime would have maybe spent an episode on Will growing up, training, and then heading off on his adventure, we’ve had five episode in Saihate no Paladin to really learn about Will and to watch him grow and prepare for the next steps of his journey.
More than that, Mary, Blood and Gus are more than just mentors who appear and then disappear or a family member buried in one episode and then mentioned but never really understood by the audience. We’ve spent near half a season with these characters and seeing their influence on Will. This absolutely gives them and their memory more impact than some nebulous relative that we might see for a single scene before they go get themselves killed prompting the hero to leave on his journey.
That this story understands that the death of a character has more impact when the audience has a connection with that character makes me feel cautiously optimistic going forward even if I doubt we can get far along Will’s journey in this season of Saihate no Paladin given the slower pace of the story.
And that slower pace makes me fear this may be another Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (which I absolutely loved) that never got a second season for the anime. I’ll be honest, Grimgar needs a reboot because the light novels are amazing and that story deserves to be animated.
Saihate no Paladin continues to impress with narrative set-up but is it too late for some viewers?
Right, so this episode of Saihate no Paladin does some fantastic work with closing out its opening act and transitions to Will heading off on his journey but while the plot and character work is very solid the visuals leave a bit to be desired.
Will concludes his fight against Stagnate and honestly while the music was swelling epically as Will delivered his flurry of sword strikes the visuals were just kind of messy. More than that, the final confrontation took place inside the darkened temple so all of the scenes were just a bit murky with a dull background.
Saihate no Paladin has managed some glorious scenery but thinking back none of the high action scenes have been particularly impressive in terms of their animation. This may be a clear weak point for the series.
Still, someone give the people responsible for the score of this episode an award. Sure it is all standard fantasy style but it works so effectively and if you close your eyes and just listen to the first half of this episode you would absolutely be swept away to an epic battle between opposing forces with everything on the line. Beautiful.
Once the fight is concluded we have the sequence with the family celebrating one final time and all the goodbyes from Mary and Blood. On the one hand it is emotionally touching and on the other I kind of feel like they are handing a lot of baggage to Will to carry forward. That thought becomes certainty the next day when Gus lays solving the issue of the sealed Undead King on Will as well. Sure Will has ten years to work on it but Mary, Blood and Gus were there for 200 years. Seems a little unfair.
The other criticism I will give this episode (and keep in mind I was happily swept along while watching the episode) is the very opening scene where Will is running toward the temple continuing directly on from episode 4 and we hear a constant internal monologue from him. I’ve mentioned this before I think with this anime but Will needs to stop narrating things the audience can clearly see or put together for themselves. Even after the fight Will feels the need to reflect on the fact that it took all three of his mentor’s skills to overcome the obstacles in the fight.
The audience just watched him fight. We know he used prayer, the sword, and magic and where he got all those skills.
That aside, it is very easy to just get swept up in this final battle. It’s been built up from the beginning, the characters have a real stake in the outcome, and neither of the combatants are suddenly pulling a new power or skill out of thin air. It’s a solid concluding fight for a narrative sequence.
Be sure to watch the after the credits scenes where we see Blood and Mary before their final battle. While it doesn’t necessarily add new information, it is just kind of nice to see these two as human before everything else and it is a lovely tribute to Will’s parents.
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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