What’s it about? After being banished from the hero’s adventuring party, knight Gideon changes his name to Red and decides to live a quiet life in a countryside town.
These long light novel titles really do a lot of the heavy lifting, don’t they?
Conceptually, I love this emerging trend of “slow life” isekai. High fantasy is a genre that tends to be most associated with epic quests, grand battles, and high-stakes conflict. The idea of scaling all those familiar tropes down and offering the audience a more chilled-out, character-focused story that combines all the joys of a slice-of-life series with a magical setting, is fun.
This blend of elements is what endears me so much to shows like Restaurant to Another World and Flying Witch, and it’s what made me initially interested in this one. Particularly because the epic stakes and god-appointed warriors you might usually expect are present in the narrative, but they’ve been pushed over to the side. It provides a playful space to explore what the regular person is up to while the protagonists go about saving the world—a potential The Rest of Us Just Live Here type tale for a world drawing its inspiration from fantasy TTRPGs and video games.
Of course, a slow life show set in a fantasy world runs a dual risk: being too slow, and being a bad fantasy.
Banished From the Hero’s Party… well, it’s okay. It’s not the most impressive thing out of the gate, but I can see what it’s going for. If I were grading this like one of my students’ assignments, I’d go for somewhere in the low 70s and leave some hopefully constructive comments about “showing, not telling” and introducing worldbuilding and plot points more organically.
In fairness, I feel like much of that is possibly an adaptational issue—I’m not familiar with the source material, but I’d hazard a guess that Red’s internal monologue and expository narration comes more naturally in prose form. Here, it seems like our protagonist’s voiceover interrupts every second of silence to explain the lay of the land, the way magic works, and sometimes even events that we’ve just seen happen.
It speaks to an anxiety that your audience won’t pick things up unless you very explicitly put them down, right where they can see them. There’s an early scene where a charming little elf lad talks to Red about Blessings, and asks Red what his is. From this, we can infer that, hey, there’s something called Blessings that each person develops as they get older: some kind of innate skill or destiny, maybe? There’s twenty seconds of vaguely organic worldbuilding-through-conversation before Red’s interior narration jumps in and explains exactly what Blessings are. Thanks man! The suspense was really getting to me! (Blessings seem to work, funnily enough, almost exactly like the class system you’d find in a TTRPG or MMORPG.)
But look, clunky worldbuilding and exposition isn’t the be all and end all of the show. Red seems like a nice guy, at least, kicked out of the Chosen One’s adventuring party because of his lack of skills and determined not to get embroiled in that whole shebang again. Interestingly, it seems his younger sister is the destined hero, which potentially gives us some dynamic and intriguing female characters down the track if she comes back into the story (and the story doesn’t get weird about it).
The opening and ending credits promise the addition of a blonde, heroic girl who seems to settle into the quiet life alongside Red, though she only appears at the very end of the premiere so I can’t say too much about her yet. She has “armor” (travelling clothes?) with a hefty amount of cleavage, but it’s not the worst design I’ve ever seen and the camera hasn’t leered on her in the few minutes she’s been on screen. I’m hesitant to make any promises about how she will or won’t be treated by the narrative going forward, but she at least seems to be having a nice time farming and toasting marshmallows in the ED without being subjected to a fan service lens. Keep a weather eye out.
What have we got, in Banished From the Hero’s Party? A slow fantasy story with a hero who’s kind of bland but not a dickhead, clunky, anxious exposition, and potentially an interesting space to play with fantasy tropes of heroism and destiny. It has more plot and substance so far than, say, last season’s Drug Store in Another World, but might end up being just as silly in its own unique ways. If you’re interested in these sorts of spins on the traditions of fantasy (and iskeai anime) then give this a shot and see what you think.