The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 17 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
Last episode ended with Filotaria, the long-standing Filolial queen, telling Naofumi that she'd kill the four Cardinal Heroes if they didn't start working together. She didn't sound too convincing then, but this episode gives her words more weight by clarifying that, rather than see the world fall because of a dysfunctional collection of heroes, she's willing to kill them off so she can allow for a new (and presumably more cooperative) set to replace them. She also appears more dangerous by taking Melty hostage, but that doesn't solve the underlying problem that the staff made her humanoid form too moe for me to take such a dark threat from her seriously. Also, if the Cardinal Heroes are underpowered now for what they need to accomplish, wouldn't a replacement set be even further behind? She's also ignoring that the Melromac royalty is playing a big role in making the relationship between the heroes problematic, even if she is operating from a limited perspective.
All of this undercuts any dramatic tension in the episode, instead turning it into a standard “test of worthiness” for Filo. It makes sense, given that Filotaria did originally seek them out because she had learned of a new potential queen candidate, but Filotaria's insistence that Filo's life was on the line just isn't convincing. Filo partly saves the scene by eschewing her normal high-spirited attitude in favor of her first real display of true grit, but I have to think that there was a more impactful and convincing way to handle all this.
The episode isn't a loss, however, because its more sentimental side does work. Filotaria may not be convincing as a motivating threat, but the softer demeanor she radiates in humanoid form makes those flashbacks to the Hero who raised her all the more effective. Though predictable, they were used well, as they suitably conveyed the depth of emotion Filotaria connects with what she sees as a sacred trust. This allows the late scene where she puts her head on Naofumi's lap to be genuinely sweet and melancholy, because she's using his lap to remember a comfort that she has long missed. I also have to give the episode credit for turning one of my long-standing anime character design pet peeves – the random cowlick – into a joke and a symbol of power in-universe.
In terms of the bigger picture, Filotaria's comments about saving the world vs. saving the people are interesting and now have me curious about the long-term ramifications of such a statement; it makes me wonder if that decision isn't the key to preventing the Waves from recurring vs. assuring that they do. Of course, the more immediately pivotal plot moment is the epilogue cliffhanger, where Bow Hero, Sword Hero, and their parties get lured into a trap and magic-bombed, presumably by something Malty arranged. The title of the next episode suggests that we're going to see the fallout of that right away, and perhaps the curtain will finally be pulled back on this whole counterproductive conspiracy. That climax can't come soon enough.
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