Episode 10 – The Rising of The Shield Hero Season 2

I think we found it, everybody! An episode in season two of Shield Hero that had decent pacing, proper build-up, and an overall satisfying emotional conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still far from perfect. I called the majority of the plot points and twists in this episode a good five minutes before they even happened (like Raphtalia getting the sword the MINUTE it was mentioned) and the show still does that thing where characters just…know things without it being clear to the audience. In fact, I think the episode could have reached greater emotional heights if some of its moments were allowed more space to breathe, but then again, I’m also really starved for some legitimate emotional pathos. That said, I want to break down the parts of this episode that worked well because I do think they overshadow the bad.

First, kudos to Shield Hero for shifting the spotlight away from Naofumi and onto Raphtalia for a full episode. Raphtalia has always come across as more of a companion / moral compass to Naofumi – someone to prevent him from going too far with all of his angst her – than a realized character on her own. So the fact that she was separated from Naofumi and had to navigate this completely new world without him is a step in the right direction. While she still needed to rely on the help of the vassal hero trio that we ‘ve known before, a lot of the emotional weight in this episode rests squarely on her shoulders. I may not fully understand the correlation between the beast people’s age and level, but the fact that she starts this episode as a child and then evolves into a fully realized, independent adult by the end was not lost on me. That one of the vassal weapons is a catalyst in this growth was also a good creative choice, as it raises interesting questions about how the mechanics of this world are going to work with an outsider utilizing one of its most prized weapons her.

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Finally, let’s talk about the slave crest disappearing. It’s a development that I wasn’t expecting but was so glad to see, because one of my biggest issues with the crest as a concept is that I feel like it should’ve been dropped early on in the series when Raphtalia made her choice to stay with Naofumi. However, this episode actually questions whether that was the most mature choice for her to make. While it is a thoughtful gesture to willingly give yourself to somebody, doing so from a place of stilted maturity and emotional codependency isn’t the right way to go about it. I like how Raphtalia seems to have realized that deep down she wants to stand next to Naufumi as an equal, not as a subordinate. When Naofumi comes in at the end and she realizes just how relieved he looks to see that she’s alive, I felt that! The accompanying music also helped, with many tracks being used effectively at appropriate junctions throughout the episode. Now, for the first time in this entire series, I feel like I can look at Raphtalia as a character and less as a mascot. There are a lot of directions to show can go with Naofumi and Raphtalia’s dynamic moving forward, and I’m going to be hopeful that future episodes will continue to treat it with the same level of care as we see here.

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The Rising of The Shield Hero Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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