The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 12 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
Given the season's overall pacing so far, this is a remarkably dense episode. While its first half is dominated by one of the biggest and most intense action sequences to date, that's hardly even the most important scene this week in terms of the greater plot.
But let's talk about the action first. Glass, the iron fan-wielder, appeared at the end of last episode and gave every indication of being a major badass. She doesn't disappoint on that front, quickly wrecking the other heroes and forcing Naofumi to try literally every trick he and his team had developed so far, but it's all so much to no avail that he ultimately flees. Clearly the heroes aren't strong enough to handle her right now, so she could be the main supernatural antagonist for some time—or is she? I can't shake the feeling that her actions are actually some kind of test. Her behavior seemed much more like someone feeling out the strengths and weaknesses of the heroes than actually trying to destroy them, and I did find it curious that the other heroes and their parties were left unharmed once knocked out. The time limit thing is also curious and speaks to a bigger mystery surrounding the Waves' true nature, something that Naofumi is wisely starting to question himself. But that aside, the exchange between her and Naofumi's team was a solid action sequence.
I have more of a problem with how the other heroes are being handled. Granted, they were pretty hotheaded over Glass's implication that they were Naofumi's servants, and they may have been more vulnerable to attack because their defenses are nowhere near as strong as Naofumi's, but they still got taken out way too easily. The series is getting to the point where no one but Naofumi and his allies are allowed to be competent, rather than a situation where Naofumi just is the most competent, and that's not a good direction to follow.
The confrontation with the King is the second major scene. While I'm sure that Naofumi talking down to the king and threatening him is going to be popular with fans, it only exacerbates an already-troubled relationship, and this time the blame is mostly on him. Still, the details that come out of this exchange are interesting, such as how the King seems powerless before both of his daughters, not to mention his curious comment about losing his family again if "[Shield Hero] and the demi-humans do as they please." There must be a great deal of backstory relevant to the current situation that we have yet to see. And as the end of the episode indicates, Melty's pointed mention of being the crown princess may have finally pushed Malty to drastic measures.
That brings us to the third major scene, excepting the whole business about Naofumi traveling to another country to advance his party. It begins with Melty throwing a tantrum over her father and Naofumi not getting along, which is suitably amusing and cute, as is Raphtalia's poor effort to dodge saying that Naofumi is in the wrong, but it finishes with the literal backstabbing that I've been expecting ever since Melty met Malty on the city street a couple of episodes ago. This should be a pivotal plot point, and I am eager to see how deep its consequences will go; at the very least I expect that Naofumi's attitude toward Melty will change. On the more cynical side, while I suppose the intent was to kill Melty and frame the Shield Hero for it, it just doesn't seem smart to try that when he's looking dead-on at the incoming assassin from the time he draws his sword, especially with the distance being too great to avoid a defensive specialist having time to overcome his surprise. Some allowances can be made for dramatic effect, but this is pushing it.
Overall, while this episode has some questionable details, its meaty content more than makes up for the speedbumps.
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