The Rising of the Shield Hero, Season 2: Ep. 10-12 Impressions

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9 months ago

Co-published on Publish0x.

*Will contain spoilers, so read at your own risk.*

Previously, I commented on Episodes 7-9 of The Rising of the Shield Hero. My overall impressions were very positive despite the anime taking a few liberties with the story from the light novel. Initially, I was apprehensive with the direction the anime took with Raphtalia staying by Naofumi’s side in Ep. 7. However, the anime cleverly used that change to its advantage when she did get forcibly separated at the end of Ep. 8 thanks to the villain Kyo. Ep. 9 introduced the incredibly adorable shikigami, Raph-chan, and reunited Filo with Naofumi.

After the unspectacular first three episodes, Season 2 followed up with 6 high quality ones. Now that Episodes 10-12 have aired, has the anime kept it up?

Episode 10 – Raphtalia, the Equal

This episode takes a cue from the manga where it covers Raphtalia’s perspective after she got split up from Naofumi. The light novel never delved into what happened to her as it was told from first-person perspective.

The episode does a great job developing Raphtalia’s character. The episode does not hesitate to point out the parallels between her imprisonment and the days when she was enslaved by Melromarc Kingdom. Of course, due to her adventures and experiences with Naofumi, she can act and strategize independently. This is apparent when she helps L’Arc, Glass, and Therese bust out of the Prison of Exhaustion thanks to her illusion magic.

The sequence where Raphtalia acquired the Vassal Katana is a major step forward for her development and not just in terms of fighting prowess. After becoming the Katana hero, she loses the slave crest, something she voluntarily acquired in Season 1 as a symbol of her loyalty to Naofumi. Initially afraid that Naofumi will get mad at her, she gains the resolve to not just be his metaphorical sword, but as his equal.

And yes, Raphtalia is a total badass when she became the Katana hero.

Another strength of this episode is the interactions between Raphtalia and L’Arc’s party. One of the biggest highlights is whenever the subject of Kizuna is brought up to Glass. Depicted as an extremely powerful adversary in Season 1, Glass’s personality takes a total 180 when it comes to Kizuna. When Glass is sewing Raphtalia’s clothes, the latter brings up Kizuna’s haori. In response, Glass acts very bashfully, strongly implying she has a crush on her best friend.

The one weakness I want to nitpick is the episode’s structure. I counted two times where the episode does this “2 steps forward, 1 step back” form of storytelling where it fast-forwards and then, shows a mini-flashback to explain what happened up to that event. I think the episode would’ve been better without that.

Episode 11 – A Slight Bump in the Road

This episode serves as more of a setup to Ep. 12, but that is not to say there are not good things. The character interactions and banter absolutely carried this episode. It was particularly funny whenever Naofumi teased L’Arc with waka (“young master”) which greatly annoyed the latter. The moment when Kizuna receives the blacksmith’s bill and immediately hands it to L’Arc as he’s the king of Sikul gave me a good laugh.

Kizuna, in particular, is the star of this show with her optimistic and diplomatic personality in contrast to Naofumi’s cynicism. She wants to save both her and Naofumi’s worlds from the waves. In addition, when new character Yomogi attacked the party on behalf of Kyo, Kizuna is willing to hear her out whereas Naofumi is having none of it. Her diplomacy also helps the audience learn about Kyo’s background through Yomogi.

What drags this episode down is the noticeably shoddy animation and drawings. There are times where the faces of the characters appear off with the thousand-mile stare. The animation feels stilted and unpolished. If not for the drop in quality, this episode would have been fantastic.

Source readers may feel miffed at how the episode speeds through LN9 material to the climax. In the light novel and manga, there are more events that occur between the major characters’ reunification and the penultimate fight against Kyo. That said, the anime still covers the major story beats and the content that it skipped is not that consequential.

Episode 12 – It Was Great, But...

Don’t get me wrong. I thought Ep. 12 was great and the animation, in particular, was a massive improvement over the previous episode’s. The parts where Raphtalia used her quick draw techniques and Naofumi summoned his Wrath Shield were pretty badass.

I always like it when animes pay attention to small details. This is the case with Naofumi’s HUD. If a character has levels in two different worlds, then they will combine together during a wave for a massive, but temporary power-up. While the anime does not say it, it effectively shows the audience whenever it cuts to Naofumi’s HUD.

The anime also does a good job depicting how twisted Kyo is. At the very beginning of the episode, it portrays the parallels between him and Naofumi. Both came from modern Japan and both like to online game. But while Naofumi gamed in moderation, Kyo was a total shut-in and was toxic to other players to the point he got ostracized. Kyo’s selfishness really comes to the forefront when he experiments on his “allies” to disturbing results.

Like with Ep. 6, Rishia plays a huge role at turning the tides. When Naofumi is manipulated by the Wrath Shield, he mercilessly tears into Rishia’s affection towards Itsuki, the Bow hero. Even so, she takes the mean comments like a champ and accepts the bad parts of her character. Compared to where she was at the beginning of Season 2, she has come a long way.

Unfortunately, I feel that the episode wrapped up Kyo’s fight and LN9 material a bit too hastily. I would have liked to see some more back and forth combat between Naofumi/Rishia and Kyo. In addition, the anime skipped over the concept of souls. In the Shield Hero universe, a person does not truly die unless his/her soul is also destroyed. In the source material, Kyo tried to integrate his soul into a homunculus, but Naofumi’s party foiled his plan by summoning a Soul Eater. It is possible that the anime will explore this concept later, but that is if it gets a 4th season and beyond. (A 3rd season is already confirmed.)

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Closing Thoughts

Considering the episode count restraints, I feel Season 2 managed to pull off Episodes 10-12 decently. Outside of a few weird structural choices, Episode 10 was a great Raphtalia-focused episode. Episode 11 would have been great if not for the noticeable hit in animation and art quality. Lastly, I greatly enjoyed Episode 12, but would have liked a bit more oomph. Ideally, I would have liked LN9 content to be covered in 4 episodes instead of just two, but at least the stuff the anime did cover was executed well.

There is actually one last episode left and supposedly, it will be a half-recap. I am not sure what to expect, but if it does contain a substantial amount of new material, it’d be better for me to hold off my full season review until after. I will say that Season 2 is not as good as Season 1, but it is still solid. Its biggest weakness is the rushed start. Had the first three episodes been better, Season 2 would be at Season 1’s caliber.

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Avatar for LateToTheParty
9 months ago