The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 13 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
Several plot developments are brewing as this episode follows through on the consequences of last episode's cliffhanger, but the most important to me was practically an offhand revelation—the church that Naofumi visited about leveling up is not only officially called the Church of Three Heroes, but it's also the official state religion. Naofumi speaks for the viewer by immediately noting the obvious problem of excluding the Shield Hero. This establishes that persecution and exclusion of the Shield Hero is state-controlled and religious in nature, giving Malty a convenient excuse for her attitude and actions. The Shield Hero's exclusion being so important that it had to be enforced through a statewide religion remains one of the series' two biggest mysteries to date, but at least it provides a more reasonable foundation for the attitudes of some people toward the Shield Hero.
That's not the only interesting revelation. Melty brings up for a second time that the kingdom is matriarchal, and given that this feels like a more natural place for that revelation, I'm assuming that this is where it first came up in the source material. Some of what she says in the campfire discussions suggests that what we've seen so far of the king isn't really him; under other circumstances, I might assume that it's just a loving daughter's wishful thinking, but I doubt that is the case. Now the Queen wants to meet Naofumi in person instead of just working through intermediaries, so that should be interesting to see play out.
Of course, first they have to deal with being set up to look like they're holding Melty hostage. That explains why two of the soldiers were holding a globe last episode (I just figured that someone was watching on the other end) and why the attack was so obvious; it wasn't necessarily intended to succeed, just to create a scenario that could be magically Photoshopped to make Naofumi and his team look heinous before spreading it around to the masses. Perhaps it's anachronistic in application, but at least it's a more clever twist on the scene. From there, we get some effective pursuit scenes, with credit due to good use of the musical score, and a big confrontation where Melty shows that she's pretty capable with magic as well.
That confrontation scene isn't just another case where Naofumi ends up on the receiving end. Malty foolishly overplayed her hand by feeding into exactly what Naofumi was claiming about her, and at least Ren seemed to notice. (Motoyasu is so much of a buffoon that I consider him a lost cause at this point.) There have been enough inconsistencies and examples of prejudice toward Naofumi that anyone who isn't thoroughly brainwashed should have at least some suspicions about what's happening, even without factoring in that Malty clearly wants that title of crown princess. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for the consequences of this to unravel, as well as discovering the extent of Malty's role in all this.
So basically, the series is finally starting to come together better. I would question the wisdom of waiting this long to deliver some key revelations, but clearly the story was written with the assumption that the target audience would relate enough to Naofumi not to be troubled by the weak justifications for what happens in his story. While it would have been more appreciable to establish more reasons for his persecution up front, it might not end up being necessary.
The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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