cover image The Faraway Paladin (Omnibus Vol. 1)

The Faraway Paladin (Omnibus Vol. 1)

Kanata Yanagino and Mutsumi Okubashi, trans. from the Japanese by James Rushton. J-Novel Club, $19.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-71835-930-7

Yanagino and Okubashi (the Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash series) open this manga adaptation of the web-published light novel saga with an intriguing found family scenario. Human Will was a baby when he was discovered in a ruined city by Mary, a mummy; Gus, a ghost; and Blood, a skeleton. The trio determine to raise him, teaching him about the gods of the world, how to fight, and magic words of power. Over the course of the first arc, readers follow Will as he grows up and comes to remember parts of his past life—and also how his caretakers helped seal away a demon king 200 years ago. Once he turns 15, he must fight to keep them all safe. The characters tend to take on stock roles (Mary as a mummy-mother figure, for example), but distinct personality quirks—and regrets—distinguish them. The character designs are fantastically drawn, though Will’s can disappoint, as he doesn’t change much as he gets older, making it hard to track time passing. Okubashi’s panel arrangement and background work flows cinematically both through action and slice-of-life scenes, so the story line doesn’t stagnate despite its slow burn. Readers will be eager to follow Will in future installments. (Aug.)