The Rising of The Shield Hero
by Theron Martin,
How would you rate episode 9 of
The Rising of The Shield Hero ?
Episode 9 theoretically features a pair of surprise revelations, though neither actually ends up being surprising for substantially different reasons. The first is that Melty, the noble-looking girl who Naofumi encountered detached from her escort, is actually the second princess of Melromarc. That twist was given away early on when we saw her under the watchful eye of one of the Queen's ninjas; it wouldn't make sense for a girl of lesser status to be observed so closely, and while the ninja could have been there to keep tabs on Naofumi, it's all just a little too convenient. The similarity of her name to Malty's was also a clue. The second unsurprising reveal is that Melty is the designated successor rather than Malty; based on what we've seen so far, no sane person would trust the flaky and duplicitous Malty enough to take the throne if there was any other reasonable option, and the Queen gave no impression of being a fool in her brief appearance. No doubt she's more aware of her daughter's true character than anyone else.
The introduction of Melty also provides some interesting opportunities for the story. She's clearly much more sensible than her older sister (her distracting affection for Filolial notwithstanding) and has only seen Naofumi in a positive light so far, thus providing an avenue for Naofumi to get some positive official recognition. Indeed, she's practically offering it outright by the end of the episode. Given his experiences with her sister and father, why Naofumi flatly refuses is perfectly understandable and consistent with how hesitant he was to trust Raphtalia. I'm betting that something will have to happen for him to accept that she's not like the other royals, and since Myne is clearly not happy about being humbled by her sister, I'm betting that she'll have something to do with that. I think it's less a matter of "if" an assassination attempt on Melty will happen and more a matter of "when" Naofumi will save her from the attack.
For all that Melty's identity is important to the plot, (what kind of name for a princess is "Melty," anyway?) this is mostly just a fun episode. The initial interactions between Melty and Naofumi's party are amusing, especially the bit where Naofumi and Raphtalia briefly believe that Filo might have eaten Melty and then discover how overwhelmingly fluffy Filo is in bird form, and there's a good instant rapport between Melty and Filo that I hope we get to see more often. The Spear Hero also gets groin-kicked again, and even before that his behavior toward Filo is entertaining for its ignorance. Why the soldier was so diligently trying to track Naofumi down is a mystery that will apparently have to wait until at least the next episode, and the fact that several guards are only reluctantly going along with Myne's directive is also telling. On a more serious note, seeing Naofumi act concerned about Raphtalia's status is reassuring; I can't ever picture him as more than a father figure in that relationship, but I'd be fine with the series keeping it at that. The emphasis on the damage to the surrounding buildings from the duel, and Motoyasu's obliviousness until this is pointed out to him, also reinforces one suggestion I've seen that the other heroes still don't fully accept this as a "real" world.
On the downside, it would appear that the increase in visual quality for the series was only a temporary thing, as we're back to having pretty rough shots throughout this episode. The musical score that adeptly transitions between being fun and being tense in later scenes partly makes up for that, but I guess expecting consistent animation quality is asking too much right now. Regardless, the episode sets the story up well for the fallout next episode.
The Rising of The Shield Hero is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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