The Rising of The Shield Hero
Episode 19

by Theron Martin,

How would you rate episode 19 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?

There are many ways to effectively do an episode like this – where a fractured group of heroes must overcome differences to work together against a common foe – but this was not one of them.

It's frankly pretty amazing how hard this episode drops the ball. Yes, a little more elaboration on how the Pope was pulling off this power stunt and what was so special about that sword he had was needed, and that explanation does clarify what Bow Guy and Sword Guy's teams were looking for last episode. What the weapon is, why it exists, and how it works are all important and relevant details. However, the Pope's delivery came across as the hackneyed old megalomaniacal gloating of a cheesy villain. His actions have no depth or nuance; they're a naked power play couched in religious terms, with only the Pope's "true belief" in his spiel giving it a weak justification. His lackadaisical approach, even after hearing that the Queen's troops are moving on them, just serves to stretch the episode out rather than enhance the story.

However, the far worse offenders when it comes to stretching things out are the Cardinal Heroes. The conversation between Naofumi and the other heroes needed to happen, where he finally lays out everything from a position that they can't deny anymore and more firmly impresses on them that this isn't a game* and can't be won under normal assumptions about gameplay. But why are we doing that when the main bad guy is right in front of them and has outright stated that he needs time to build up for an attack? If this story were written smarter, there would be any number of ways to pace the story circumstances so characters weren't behaving with abysmal carelessness just to stall the story out long enough to end at a more dramatic point. It's pretty sad when you can tell a mere third of the way through the episode that nothing much will be accomplished by the end. Anime in general is hardly a stranger to this problem, but this is easily the worst infraction for Shield Hero so far.

At least the episode tried to balance that out with some decently flashy moments and establishing that the Pope isn't invincible if the Cardinal Heroes can just get their acts together. Seeing the heroes finally come to accept (albeit grudgingly) that they have to work together is at least a little gratifying, though I am ambivalent about how hard Naofumi pushed for his own position on the matter; in some senses it needed to be established that he wasn't going to be a pushover for the others any more, but he's still acting like an ass above and beyond what's called for. Of course, the whole point may be to show that they're still a dysfunctional bunch, but even if so, the balancing act could use some fine-tuning.

I can't give this episode too low a rating because the technical merits are at least respectable and the story is finally moving through some crucial plot points, but this is definitely one of the lowlights of the series so far.

* Or is it? It's kinda hard to blame these guys too much when the whole world has game-like pop-up screens and mechanics.


The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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