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Naofumi and the Cardinal Heroes - The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 21

The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 21 Review

Naofumi's Triumphant Return: The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 21

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For as much satisfaction as I expected to feel out of The Rising of the Shield Hero episode 21, I almost still feel like something is missing. Its just deserts for Naofumi presiding over the trial of the King and Princess. Everything we could have ever wanted to happen is coming true for our hero.

I still feel like there is no clear explanation for why Naofumi was targeted by everyone. The reasoning behind everything else is clear, and it makes perfect sense how we got to this point. The princess has ulterior motives that fit within the ambition of the church. With everyone working to ostracize the Shield Hero, they could all distract the Queen. This would set the King and Princess up for absolute power.

The Devil of the Shield

They keep beating around the bush when it comes to the real reason the Shield Hero is the odd man out. The big event of the episode is the trial of the King and the Princess Malty. They are accused of a number of crimes including falsely accusing the Shield Hero. Queen Melromarc is totally satisfied by the King answer to why he went through all the trouble. He hates the Shield Hero.

We still don’t have an explanation as to why he hates the Shield Hero. We just knows that he, the Church of the Three Heroes, and Princess Malty just hate Naofumi. The episode was so close to being perfectly cathartic watching the two writhe in cuffs in front of the kingdom. All their crimes are out for the world to know now. Why can’t we just get an explanation as to why they all hate the Shield Hero?

Based on the constant reference to the “Devil of the Shield” in the last couple of episodes there must be something to that. Naofumi asks if he just hated the last Shield Hero, but I don’t feel like that makes sense in the loose timeline we have. Naofumi’s curse shield must have successfully corrupted a previous Shield Hero almost dooming everyone. If they had just confirmed this, or otherwise answered this question it really would be the most nourishing episode.

A Stay of Execution

There was a cathartic release from this episode. Watching Malty and the King be sentenced to public execution is in a sad way great to watch. This show is one of the most infuriating anime to watch week to week as the hero is beaten down and cast aside despite the promise of greatness. The disrespect that Naofumi has received is almost unforgivable. Clearly it is though.

Its obvious from the outset of the episode that the King and Princess are not going to have a good day. When Naofumi’s conversation with the Queen becomes private it becomes obvious she is not going easy on her own husband and child. Her telling Naofumi well before is a ploy to get him to appeal for their release. It works of course.

Heel Turn

The most unexpected part of the episode is not that Naofumi shows that he has a heart after all, but how he shows it. Once the sentencing is done and everyone is ready to chop off the heads of the King and Princess, Naofumi asks for their pardon. As the person who has suffered the most at their hands he is definitely in the right to be the one to ask for a pardon. You know its coming throughout the episode. There is no way he is going to let them die because of their stupidity.

Its the full heel move he pulls that as a real wildcard moment for me this episode. I also think it is a brilliant multi-part move. By using the pardon as a chance to inflict reputation damage on the King and Princess, he keeps his own intact. The people want blood for being lied to, so by deflecting their bloodlust towards humor at their names, he saves them.

Just simply asking for a stay of execution would be out of character for Naofumi. We have seen enough times where he is not interested in taking the highroad anymore. He is done with this kingdom and the people here. Its time to take the next exit and get out of this kingdom.

The Future of the Cardinal Heroes

We still have five more episodes to go in the first season. I am interested to see how much more of this “Devil of the Shield” storyline we can squeeze out in the next couple of episodes. Naofumi is no longer going to be in the Kingdom of Melromarc, so maybe we can get some answers. Its been many episodes since we saw Glass. Perhaps its almost time for an appearance by her?

[Source and Further Reading]
[Episode 20 Review]
[Image via Crunchyroll]