© Kanata Yanagino, OVERLAP/Faraway Paladin Production Committee
The Faraway Paladin: The Lord of Rust Mountain episode 10 is a great watch in terms of pacing, animation, and tension.
I think the entire episode revolves around the character of Valacirca in particular and the team nailed that here. Dragons in classic fantasy novels are almost all massive beasts of immense strength and majestic stature. The main difference between most series is how (or if) they are characterized. Valacirca is very much an ageless conqueror, a creature who has seen so much and won so many battles that little can impress him. He has survived this long because he is superior and he knows it.
Therefore, the opening dialogue between Valacirca and William takes up half of the episode. In a sense, this is a gamble and some people may find it tedious. I think it’s both appropriate for a work of fantasy and a good execution of the allegory. The template for this scene is Bilbo’s meeting with Smaug in The Hobbit, although the tone is slightly different. Valacirca was coldly indifferent to William but was happily surprised by William’s true beliefs. I like how this plays out with the exchange of trophies and feats accomplished–it makes sense for a predator to toy with its prey a bit before pouncing.
The action sequences are also top notch. I don’t think Faraway Paladin has ever had a bad fight scene but the team gave it their all in this one. We have impressive spell effects, fluid movement in battle, and great all-around speed for battle. Do you believe that William is looking for ways to take down Valacirca and that it might work (even though it clearly won’t). I also like the overall design of the Valacirca. While it’s certainly not a bold departure from the standard European-style dragon, it does have some unique quirks (such as the front feet/claws that appear to be jointed Slightly more connected and broader shoulders). The old gashes/wounds that reveal his hot insides are another nice touch that gently lends a more unique fantasy appeal without completely departing from the more grounded tone of the series.
And there are two more small elements that make me feel especially nostalgic: magic explosions and voices. William fires a spell beam at a time framed very similarly to the Dragon Slave attack from the Lina Inverse of Slayers series, which I can’t help but feel was intentional. One connection that I don’t think was intentional but is interesting to see (or hear) is the voice modulation feature used on the Valacirca. His voice has a kind of metallic ring to it that reminds me of the same effect used for the Witch King in the Rankin Bass version of The Return of the King. It produces an alien and ethereal sound that I quite like and I’m glad to hear it’s being used.
Grant is a cohost on the Blade Thief Podcast and the Super Senpai Podcast.
Faraway Paladin: The Lord of Rust Mountain is now streaming on Crunchyroll.