Well, this was a nice surprise. Let me explain: I’m pretty ambivalent to the isekai trend. I always found the concept pretty interesting to explore characters and see new worlds. Most of the time, though, they’re power fantasies that I can't get into. That’s not to say I don’t like isekai; it just takes something special, such as the narration in the So I’m A Spider, So What? novels. I decided to give The Faraway Paladin manga a shot because of the praise I heard for the light novel. Surely if the novel is well-written, the manga must be as well. After reading this first volume, I’m glad to report that I’ve found another isekai I want to follow.
Will's new life begins like many isekai: Will, a person who has lived a wasteful life, dies and is reincarnated in a fantasy world. But things start to be different when he wakes up in this new world. The first things he sees are a skeleton, a ghost, and a mummy looking down at him. He tries to scream, but only baby gurgles come out. Things look bad for Will. That is until the mummy strokes her hand against Will’s baby cheeks. Then, she lovingly wipes away his tears. These are not the undead you see in various other fantasy stories: these are loving and kind. They want to raise him like a son. Will, hindered with the regret of failing his parents in his past life, isn't going to make that same mistake again. This is his chance to become the person he should have been all along.
Living in a remote castle, Will is trained by his “parents” in the realms of muscles and magic. This opens up lots of mysteries. Who were the undead like before they died? Where are all the living people? How was Will found? All these questions and more are asked and answered in this volume. While the mysteries make the book intriguing, I kept reading because of the great characters.
Will is a good protagonist, and I’m not just saying that because we share the same first name. The name Will traditionally means “guardian” or “protector” and it’s a good indication of how Will develops in the story. After failing to have any meaning in his previous life, he wants to become a better person, someone who can protect his family. His inner struggles are something that people who try to better themselves go through. Even though we get stronger, there’s always that inner voice of self-doubt saying you’re not getting better. I ended up being attached to Will, rooting for him to overcome his emotional struggles. It is easy to do when the people he wants to protect, his parents, are ones you love as well.
For being undead, they sure do have lots of life. Blood, the skeleton, is a dumb warrior and I love him. He uses action instead of words to communicate affection, which gives Will’s training a nice subtext. When Blood does try to use words, it’s very sweet to watch him stumble over his speech. He just so outwardly cares about Will, it's very endearing.
Gus, the ghost, meanwhile, is the opposite. He is the stern teacher type, always pushing Will in magic and academics without remorse. He doesn’t show much love to Will, but you can tell he cares deep down. There’s a reason behind this, and the reveal has a strong impact. I must mention Gus’s spats with Blood and Will, they are so fun to read.
Then there's Mary, the mummy. She is the healer and nurturer. Mary teaches Will about farming and praying. She is kind but firm. She doesn’t get the same focus as Gus or Blood, but she is no less important. Plus, some of her bickering against Gus and Blood are really funny. If you can’t tell, the camaraderie between these characters is well fleshed out. They know how to push each other’s buttons, and it leads to some entertaining dialogue. It is small, inconsequential exchanges like these that make them feel like a family. When conflict does arise in the latter half of the book, it wouldn’t be nearly as emotional if those exchanges didn’t exist.
That’s what makes this isekai stand out from the rest: It cares about its characters and the bonds that connect them. There’s no harem, only family. In the absence of a power fantasy, emotional growth takes its place. It has a story to tell with a meaningful message, something that I feel is missing from many isekai. Now that the manga is out, I hope people give this book a chance like I did.
The Faraway Paladin Manga Omnibus Volume 1 features story by Kanata Yanagino and art by Mutsumi Okubashi.
In the city of the dead, long since ruined and far from human civilization, lives a single human child. His name is Will, and he’s being raised by three undead. The three pour love into the boy, and teach him all they know. But one day, Will starts to wonder: “Who am I?""
Will must unravel the mysteries of this faraway land, and unearth the secret pasts of the undead. He must learn the love and mercy of the good gods, and the bigotry and madness of the bad. And when he knows it all, the boy will take his first step on the path to becoming a Paladin.Add to CartLearn More