The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 6 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
Last week's episode ended with Naofumi's new animal acquisition Filo apparently turning into a humanoid girl. This episode doesn't waste any time explaining what's going on: apparently she's a queen-level variation for her race, which means she has superior transformation abilities. Left unclear is which exact interpretation of "queen" is being used here; does that title indicate that she's merely an elite version of her avian species, or does that mean that she has actual power or status amongst her race? She hasn't interacted with others of her type yet that we've seen, so perhaps that will get clarified later. The other question this raises is whether those transformations are by default into humanoid form or whether she just ended up that way because of her connection to Naofumi. However, that's more of a curiosity than anything likely to be relevant to the story.
Regardless, Filo gaining humanoid form firms up a more lighthearted shift in the story that began last episode. That's primarily due to Filo being such a fun character, but in general the story has at least temporarily stepped out from under the pall that Naofumi's situation has cast. The bandits the trio encounters provide a brief jab at Naofumi's low reputation, but otherwise some scenes in this episode are actually comical, whether it's the dressmaker's zeal or the early scene with Filo eating the shopkeeper's sandwich. Naofumi also seems to be lightening up as he explores the possibilities for income presented by the travel pass he was given last episode. The "pragmatic benevolence" approach he's adopting is quite sensible for his situation; he's helping people out and expects compensation in return, but only by asking for reasonable amounts, so he profits while still leaving a good impression. That helps assuage the bulk of the episode being devoted to something as low-key as a standard string of quests to put together magical clothes that won't get shredded when Filo transforms.
Thankfully there's more future storylines being built up in the background. Naofumi learning what the other Cardinal Heroes are doing shows that he's not the only one staying busy, with the rumors about the Archer being the most intriguing. The cave battle against the chimera-like creature was a good display of teamwork that shows a satisfying combat balance for the trio, but more interesting is the note with the empty chest. The obvious suggestion is that the "legendary seed" used by the Spear Hero to end a famine might have some troublesome side effects, or is it referring to something more metaphorical? Raphtalia is also advancing to a full-blown crush on Naofumi, to the point of being unsatisfied with being referred to as a daughter and even getting jealous of the attention paid to Filo. So far that content has stayed light and amusing, and frankly, I hope that romance angle doesn't get pushed too hard. There are more than enough isekai harem series to fit the bill without taking away from this story's attempts to stand out.
The English dub for the series is also available now. I only had time to watch parts of the first three episodes dubbed, but Billy Kametz seems like a proper fit for Naofumi, and Erica Mendez (who has done wonderfully before with spunky young warrior-heroines) handles Raphtalia's age progression well. I'll have more thoughts on other recurring roles next week. Overall, this episode offers more team development exercises than any major plot turns, but it works well enough in that capacity.
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