The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 18 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
This episode's title – “A Conspiracy Linked” – indicated that major revelations about the conspiracies underlying Melromarc's leadership would be revealed, and various scenes over the past few episodes have strongly implied that the Church was intrinsically linked to those conspiracies. So I have to give the series credit for pulling a mostly-logical twist on the truth that I didn't see coming.
Even though that twist composes only the last couple minutes of the episode, it dominates everything else that happens into near-irrelevance. Of course Motoyasu has been fooled into believing that Naofumi is responsible for killing the other two heroes, even though Naofumi has had no such power or opportunity. Of course Malty is behind all this, and of course Naofumi's attempts to talk things out are met with stubborn violence. The fight amusingly shows that Filo can still whip Motoyasu, and it brings combo moves into play on both sides, with the Filo/Melty combo in particular being pretty sweet. All of that alone could have made for a decent episode, but it needed a strong conclusion, and boy did it get one.
Ever since the Church was introduced as being unfriendly toward the Shield Hero, there's been every indication that they was working with – if not actually for - Malty. Not until the beginning of this episode was there even the slightest hint that the pope had something duplicitous in mind, and even that scene was vague enough that it could have easily meant fulfilling some combined ambitions with Malty. It turns out that the church was using Malty even more than she was trying to use them, and their real goal is to get rid of all the heroes and the Royal Family in one fell swoop to install a new government, presumably a theocracy. That's a pretty damn bold goal.
I see a number of problems with this scenario, however. The attempt is at least somewhat justified by the Church regarding literal hero worship as heretical and the heroes as generally harmful to the world, which is backed up by the unwitting disasters the other heroes have left behind in trying to do good. But has the pope actually thought any of this through beyond that? Do they have a plan for dealing with the Waves without the Cardinal Heroes around? Otherwise, this attempted power grab just seems silly and stupid. Presumably more details on this are forthcoming, although the title of the next episode suggests that the other two heroes will show up to disrupt the pope's little party.
Whatever happens, the fallout should be quite interesting to witness, especially where Malty is concerned. She hasn't just been betrayed, she's been so completely undercut that she's now is in mortal danger herself. Will she be able to work with Naofumi and his crew to save her own skin? The execution of the Judgment spell was also handled well, and combined with the central plot twist, this sequence lifts up an episode that hadn't been too special up to that point.
The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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