Note: Review copy supplied by Manga Entertainment
Title: The Rising Of The Shield Hero Season One Part Two
Anime Studio: Kinema Citrus
Publisher: Manga Entertainment
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Isekai
Released: July 27th, 2020
Language: Japanese / English
Geeky university student Naofumi Iwatani goes from 2nd class citizen to 2nd class hero when he s summoned to the videogame like kingdom of Melromarc. Known as the weakest of four heroes, the Shield Hero, he s tasked with defending the world from calamity. But when Naofumi ends up betrayed and belittled from the start, will this cynic even be willing to help?
I was thoroughly impressed by The Rising of the Shield Hero – Season One Part One and was hopeful that this second part would take the positives of that release and grow from there. In many ways, I wasn’t disappointed.
We pick up where we left off, and are very quickly hit with the revelation that something has clearly gone horribly wrong. The four heroes are supposed to each be summoned and protect different countries, but here, all have been set to stand in one area. From there, things progress steadily, with various plot points coming together to bring the story arcs started in part one to a satisfying point.
These first seven episodes do an excellent job with the world-building. Best of all, when we start seeing things like the political intrigue, the church, and the truth about the Four Heroes intersecting, it all makes sense. Meanwhile, the core cast of protagonists continues to grow closer too, and at a natural pace.
This run of episodes culminates in Naofumi being cleared of the charges made against him by Malty. This whole sequence was superb; we got to see some justice for our hero, and his response to the sentencing of his tormentors not allowed him a measure of revenge but saw him acting thoroughly in character. In a way, what he does seems harsh, but it’s actually a mercy, and that sums Naofumi up perfectly. He’s jaded and, in some ways mercenary, but he has a good heart.
If the season had ended there, I would honestly have been happy with that. Instead, we got another four episodes that are, in my opinion, a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong, these final episodes are absolutely worth watching. At their best, they give us an extended glimpse of some of the series’ key strengths.
First among those is the action, which is wonderfully integrated into the storytelling. We get a proper look at the Vassal Heroes, and as Naofumi battles them, we get thrown straight at the next big arc for him: he was summoned without consent, but the Vassals are fighting with the pure intent of saving their world. In short, Naofumi got to show off his strength and finds himself in a moral quandary by the end of it.
Raphtalia too continues to shine throughout the entire release. We get to see a flashback to her past in the first arc that foreshadows the end of these final episodes, and her relationship with Naofumi feels very natural. She is easily as important as Naofumi for the plot, and it’s no wonder she’s so popular.
For all of the positives though, these four episodes also give us some of the series’ flaws in a compact package. It makes sense that, even after being cleared, Naofumi’s reputation still comes into play. News travels, but it’s only fast when those controlling it want it to be. As a result, some strangers still think poorly of him due to his perceived crimes. The other summoned heroes though? They have no excuse. They were there and saw how things played out. They now know the truth. Yet they continue to act the same as they always have.
Honestly, I didn’t expect them all to be instant best buddies. I did expect the other heroes to at least try to get along with Naofumi though. Instead, they continue to look down on him and shun him, even with their own flaws and his strengths clearly demonstrated. The complete lack of progression for these characters is a real annoyance.
On the flip side, we also see Naofumi comes to terms with the moral issue very quickly. That rushed progression through his concerns was strange and felt off against the slow burn progression style that most of the series has utilised. I’m happy that he did work through it, as it gave us some beautiful final scenes that brought Naofumi and Raphtalia even closer together while also growing his power base. It just felt strange.
It isn’t enough to derail the release though. Overall, I think this is slightly better than the first half of the series. The animation and audio remain consistently great, the story continues to shine, and the main characters are wonderful. The Rising of the Shield Hero – Season One Part Two brings some intriguing arcs to a close, pushes others forward, and introduces some new elements, and all in an effective manner. Minor flaws prevent this from getting full marks, but it still scores a high 4.5 out of 5 from me.