Blood Sacrifice // Shield Hero Ep. 20 Review
Battle of Good and Evil: The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 20
The Rising of the Shield Hero has been on a roll these last couple of episodes, and episode 20 is a fantastic culmination of this mini-arc. This episode is almost season finale worthy in all of the plot lines and character arcs it brings together. Its a fantastic balance of the power of friendship undercurrent we have had throughout most of the series so far.
So much of this episode relieves a lot of the frustration from the series. Naofumi has been butting heads against the rest of the heroes every so often. Finally seeing them work together and succeed feels so satisfying.
The Four Cardinal Heroes
This episode is the most cohesive we have seen the Cardinal Heroes so far in the series. Naofumi may have spent a lot of time in the last episode taking the other three to task, but this episode he finally realizes the promise he made to Fitoria, the filolial queen. They are trapped in this giant cathedral the Pope has summoned. The heroes don’t have a chance of escape unless they do come together and actually work as a team for once.
Naofumi’s first attack on the Pope is such a great feat of strategy. Having Motoyasu attack him to generate an explosion is a genius way of calling back to their constant battling of each other. Now when the Spear Hero attacks the Shield Hero, it is to actually attack someone else. Its really the first way in which the plot threads start to spin together. Naofumi is showing growth in both trusting/utilizing his team, and showing how well he knows how to use his powers in unique ways. Its just that the Pope is just that much more powerful than the heroes.
A Deal with the Devil
As the heroes realize that they aren’t going to beat the Pope, they also see that he is getting ready for his final attack. Naofumi is taken aback when Motoyasu asks him to shield against this. It makes sense seeing as he is the SHIELD hero and all. This just means that Naofumi must go to his last resort, the Curse Shield.
This is really the culmination of everything the show has been pushing towards. When Naofumi activates the Curse Shield he is tempted by the spirit of the zombie dragon. All of the fear, anger, hate, and suffering he has been dealt is leading him to the dark side. Flashing back to various scenes where he has been tricked or done dirty by the other heroes really makes a compelling argument for him to give in to the hatred of the shield. To really become the Devil of the Shield.
Just like how the show has been setting up this side of hatred, its the power of friendship that saves him. His relationships with Raphtalia, Filo, and even Melty turn out to be stronger than his anger at the other Cardinal Heroes. I feel like his ability to express himself in the last two episodes has tipped the balance of power in favor of love. He gave everyone their what for already, so the power the zombie dragon holds over him is not as powerful. The rest of his party are hurt in the process of his transformation, but he is strong enough.
When Naofumi falls the show does a great job of playing it off as the heroes have lost. He looks like he is down and out for the count as the blood pours out of him. The Pope looks upon him and prepares the final blow. Its all for naught as the Curse Shield summons this dragon chain beast out of the ground to swallow the Pope.
Its a great moment to see the Pope get his comeuppance in The Rising of the Shield Hero episode 20. His plot against the Cardinal Heroes has now brought them all together, and released Naofumi from the shadow hanging over him. The actual attack the Curse Shield executes is terrifying. It will be interesting to see how many more times he can use it. The show leaves us right on a cliff hanger of a bleeding Naofumi. It doesn’t look good for him, but fortunately the Queen has arrived.
Queen Mirelia Q. Melromarc
Finally we get to actually meet the Queen of the Melromarc Kingdom, Mirelia Q. Melromarc. This is one of the plot lines that has been annoyingly pushed back each episode as the characters keep encountering some other setback. Now we meet her and realize how powerful a character she is. Her introduction in the beginning of the episode sets up our heroes escape later.
In the last episode the disciples of the Pope are concerned that if they don’t defeat the Cardinal Heroes in time the Queen’s forces will be upon them. Once we see the Queen at the beginning of the episode it is a foregone conclusion that she will factor into this episode. Once she arrives its all over for the Pope.
Not the Season Finale
The Rising of the Shield Hero episode 20 really feels like it is a season finale. Bringing together so much of Naofumi’s character development is one of the biggest parts of this. All of his relationships with the different characters feel like they really matter in this episode. Naofumi’s actions and thoughts when he is struggling against the Curse Shield are highlighted in magnificent fashion. Its also the teamwork of the heroes that highlights some of the finale like action
Its pretty common to hear the opening song play in the background of a season finale. It was jarring to see the show cut straight from the opening scene of Queen Mirelia to the heroes in the magical cathedral. The music kicking in behind the heroes’ action shots is such a hype moment. I am left absolutely stunned after three amazing payoff episode in a row. There are six episodes left in the season. I only hope they can continue to top the last couple.