The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 14 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
It's episodes like this – when the show puts down the chip on its shoulder and just concentrates on telling its story – that The Rising of The Shield Hero is at its best. If it did this more often, it would be a much stronger isekai series.
But this episode mostly works well. It doesn't do anything particularly special; Naofumi and crew find their path to Siltvelt cut off by Malty's efforts, so Naofumi decides to head toward the Queen instead. In the process, they encounter a friendly noble who knows Melty well and has a more sympathetic view of demi-humans. Sadly, one the neighboring lords isn't so kind, and he has such hatred for the Shield Hero and demi-humans that he's not above even roughing up Melty when she goes along with him to draw heat away from Naofumi. Despite having mostly been rude to Melty, even Naofumi's not above helping someone who's placed her trust in him, so off to the rescue they go. But this time it's not Naofumi's baggage in the spotlight, but Raphtalia's instead.
Frankly, the actions of this evil noble don't seem too smart unless he's secretly aligned with Malty, but he gives no indication of that. Otherwise, threatening the Crown Princess seems like an awfully bold move. I suppose he could be trying to foist the blame for his actions off on Naofumi, but the religious fervor angle hasn't been established well enough for me to buy that it would override his common sense; even pious nobles historically didn't let their religious values get in the way of a good power play. That questionable motivation is the episode's weakest point.
Still, I did like the angle being explored with Raphtalia. We knew how she survived the first Wave and that she ended up a slave but not how she reached that point, and now we're finally getting the details as the noble involved enters the story. This could have been foreshadowed more from the series' earlier stages, but Raphtalia is still depicted well for the situation (the stiff tail is an especially nice touch), and Naofumi's evident concern for her is welcome. I also like what the story is doing with Melty, and the nighttime scene she shares with Naofumi will hopefully be a step toward smoothing out their relationship. The rescue scene also allows the series to satisfyingly fill its action quota, though I suspect the ultimate result of this confrontation isn't going to be pleasant given the flashbacks so far. Throughout this episode, the musical score keeps the tone just right, which also makes this one of the better-sounding episodes so far.
On a final note, the new opener debuted last episode and shows an emphasis on water, which hasn't even been hinted at being an important element of the story so far. It also shows the other heroes with enough prominence to suggest that they will be more involved in the future. So is this foreshadowing or just misleading animation? Whatever the case, it's a small improvement from the original opener, and the new closer is likewise strong.
The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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