The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 25 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
The Rising of The Shield Hero has had its ups and downs over the course of the series, but its finale is one of the “ups.” It may even be the most satisfying episode that the series has produced to date. Unlike all of the episodes that preceded it, it never stumbles when trying to land key dramatic beats and doesn't weigh itself down with distractions.
The first half of the episode serves as the action spotlight and continues the battle against the alleged heroes from another world, this time including Glass. She confirms that like L'Arc and Therese, she's a hero from an alternate world that is also suffering from Waves and likewise insists that killing the heroes of this world is the only way to save her own. She also clearly sees this as a necessary evil, so she's not a villainous presence, but the trio are still reticent to explain how the status of this world is relevant to their own. As much as the series is dodging this question, I do hope that a good reason will eventually be given – assuming that more Shield Hero gets animated, of course. There's definitely no shortage of source material left.
Regardless of their reasons, both sides put on quite the combat show. This is the kind of display of explosiveness, teamwork, and inventive use of powers that makes for stimulating fantasy battles, and the series definitely doesn't disappoint on that level. I daresay the producers spent most of their focus on the first half, because the second half has frequent problems with characters being off-model. The soul-draining face on the shield in particular is impressive for its effectively intimidating nature, but the overall battle sequence does just about everything right. It even nails the desperation and determination of Glass and L'Arc decent and caring nature despite his mission to kill Naofumi.
The second half of the episode is the series' wrap-up, which is at least as satisfying. Naofumi's decision to become the lord of Raphtalia's homeland and promise to rebuild it is a beautiful acknowledgement of her devotion, but even more importantly, he's no longer being standoffish toward her obvious feelings. He still offers no indication of romantic interest on his side, but his firm commitment that he's not going to leave her and return to this world is a major step forward. This is the first time that he's acknowledged that he may be better off staying in the world of Melromarc, as the culmination of everything he has experienced in the series so far has gradually changed his attitude toward the world. Rather than it just being a duty to fulfill so that he can return home, Naofumi wants to protect the world because there are people in it he deems worthy of protecting. Seeing so many of the villagers he previously encountered making cameos as they move to his new lands is also a nice touch too.
Overall, the series has had numerous rough spots along the way, but it does bring things together by the end. Now we wait to see if more is ever going to be animated.
The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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