Well that was definitely a climax. It had characters, monologues, and a nice song play during the final battle. So how come I can’t muster a single bit of emotion outside of relief and exasperation that the season is finally over? OK maybe that’s going a bit far and my expectations were already kind of in the ground but I feel like this final episode is a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with this season. I have so many questions revolving around Kyo who, despite having a presence as a villain (with the majority of that being contributed to his voice actor hamming it up like mad), he still feels like such a waste of a character. Let me throw the show a bone and get into thematic parallel’s between Kyo and Naofumi because there is almost one there. I’m also going to assume that the show is aware of this as well because why else would the opening be framed in a way as if it’s implying there’s a connection between the two? It’s not like the show would do that without thinking about it right? SIGH
I’m guessing Kyo got reincarnated as a child in this new world when he died and that’s how he grew up as Yomogi’s childhood friend? Whatever, it really doesn’t matter. Kyo is clearly somebody who always had a cynical outlook on everything. He’s entitled, he thinks he’s better than everybody else but it’s clear that this is just his way of rebelling against everybody thinking that he’s lesser. He is by all accounts, a loser who wasted his life away online and is using this new world as a power fantasy in the worst way. Naofumi on the other hand, didn’t start that way but surely eroded into that overtime. You could even go so far as to say that Naofumi probably would’ve turned out like Kyo with his whole “burn it all to the ground” mentality if he didn’t come across people like Raphtalia and Filo. Maybe the reason why Kyo was so infuriated with Naofumi was because he sort of has the emotional support that helped him feel special and Kyo is just jealous? That ‘s why he wants Naofumi to be consumed by his weapon his and that ‘s why he specifically calls out that his companions his are just tools, especially with the use of the slave crests. Quick side-note, I really hope that the slave crests didn’t just continue to exist as a thing up until this point to give the villain a minor leg to stand on in calling out Naofumi.
The rage shield looked cool like it always has and I guess it was nice to get confirmation that despite the fact that Naofumi has matured, he still has cynical thoughts about the people and circumstances that he is burdened with like Risha, despite the fact that it was kind of his idea to bring her on. Then again, maybe that was just the shield amplifying emotions or putting ideas in his head his but I do n’t know, it’s not super made clear. In fact there are a lot of things that are not made clear throughout this entire finale like what the heck was Kyo planning to do if Naofumi just decided to go nuclear and destroy everything? I don’t think Kyo was expecting Naofumi to die from the shield. I was actually waiting for there to be some kind of ace up his sleeve his but no, that never came. It was just more of the “I hate you and want to sadistically kill you”. Maybe he could have used that big magical laser sooner?
But again, let’s give the show another bone and say that doesn’t matter. What matters is Naofumi and him realizing that he ca n’t rely on his rage his forever. He needs to realize that he has friends that are there for him because they want to and he’s not the cold hearted cynic that he thinks he is. Boy does that sound familiar? It should because it’s the EXACT SAME MESSAGE FROM THE LAST ARC. I said before that this arc was actually doing a better job giving Naofumi that internal dilemma that I think the show forgot to put in the last arc but 1) it didn’t really do anything with that idea despite having ample opportunity to do so and 2) even if it was going somewhere, why would you handle the revelation in almost the exact same way? Why are we still treating Ost like she had any real emotional connection to Naofumi? That message didn’t mean anything coming from her before and it definitely doesn’t now that we haven’t seen her for half the season! Doing a double beat just makes that former attempt feel even worse in retrospect and neuters any emotions to be gained from it being done now. Even when I give the show the benefit of the doubt, multiple handicaps and ignore the multitude of questionable plot points that never get elaborated on (Oh my god there are so many more then the ones I’ve mentioned already to the point that this whole review could have just been me asking questions), Season 2 of Shield Hero still can’t even stick the landing.
This whole season has been an amalgamation of poorly thought out plot points, missed dramatic opportunities, unnecessary padding, implied emotional depth and connection without doing the real legwork to support it and a complete failure to grasp the handful of things that genuinely could’ve made the story interesting outside of one or two moments. I will be honest, this has been the most disappointing thing that I have watched this season and probably in a long time. The show isn’t bad because it offends me or anything like that, it’s bad because it genuinely feels like it does everything wrong. And that speech Naofumi gives at the end about how there are more things to be done fills me with absolutely nothing. We are still slated to get another season of the show and I genuinely have no idea how you could recover from this but that’s not something I’m even gonna bother thinking about right now because I genuinely have better things to do with my time and it really upsets me to say that.
The Rising of The Shield Hero Season 2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.