The Rising of the Shield Hero – 04 – A Companion in Hell

At a royal gala celebrating the defeat of the latest Wave of Catastrophe, there might as well be a black cloud hanging over Naofumi. He doesn’t want to be there any more than anyone there wants him to be there. Raphalia tries to cheer him by offering him food, but when the Spear Hero…[checks MAL] Kitamura Motoyasu sees her, he challenges Naofumi to a duel on te spot.

Motoyasu doesn’t like how Naofumi is using a demi-human as his slave. Even if it’s legal in this world, he doesn’t think it’s right. Of course, he’s coming from a position of great ignorance in terms of the actual nature Naofumi and Raphtalia’s relationship. Myne eggs him on, and even when Naofumi refuses to fight Motoyasu, King Melromarc intervenes, ordering him to accept the challenge and arresting and gagging Raphtalia.

Clearly there are two sets of rules in this world: those Naofumi must follow, and no other rules. A duel between two people shouldn’t be something that can be thrust upon an unwilling participant, even by a king. But Melro straight up abuses his power, and nobody stops him, because he is king. All the while everyone, from the heroes to the assembled nobles, practically pelt Naofumi with a hail of insults and exhortations of disgust.

But if he has to fight, Naofumi is going to fight to win, something that might actually be possible since he’s leveled up and gained so many skills, including several that transform the shield into an offensive weapon. He has Motoyasu off balance until Myne interferes with a wind magic spell. The blatant cheating goes utterly unnoticed by everyone but Naofumi, but as a result he loses, and “Myne” makes sure to rub it in his face.

I put “Myne” in quotes because that’s not her real name; turns out she’s Princess Melty, the king’s daughter. Naofumi goes over in his head how he was set up every step of the way by Melty, using the power of her pops and manipulating Motoyasu into thinking Naofumi was The Worst. Even the other two heroes…[checks MAL] Kawasumi Itsuki and Amaki Ren saw that Myne interfered, making Motoyasu the loser.

But no one else will speak up about the cheating, and however ill-begotten the Spear Hero’s victory was, it was still a victory. That means Raphtalia’s slave contract with Naofumi is terminated. As she turns away to leave, Naofumi is consumed by some kind of miasma. But she doesn’t really leave; she admonishes Motoyasu for freeing her when she never actually asked to be freed, and tells him the truth: that Naofumi has only ever been kind to her, and she owes him her life.

Some time ago, in a moment of vulnerability when Raphtalia broke down, Naofumi was there to hold and comfort him. Now it’s Raphtalia’s turn to comfort him. He may think he’s in Hell, where no matter what he says or does, everything will be stacked against him, but that’s only the case if he completely disregards one very important fact: Raphtalia is his sword, and if need be she’ll follow him through Hell itself.

As she embraces Naofumi she levels up, growing into a grown woman in the process (a quirk of demi-humans and one reason they’re oppressed). The miasma is lifted, Naofumi rises, and is free to leave not with his slave, but with his ward, companion, and sword.

Motoyasu still suspects Raphtalia is somehow being brainwashed, but Ren and Itsuki don’t see how he can think that after hearing Raphtalia pour her heart out so publically. The King skulks away, either disappointed the plot didn’t work out or disappointed in his daughter (or both).

Best of all, when Raphtalia gives Naofumi a sandwich she made and he tastes it…he can finally taste it. It’s as if she broke the curse that made everything taste like nothing for him, either through a passive practical spell, or simply by being there for him when no one else was. Even if they got off to a rough start, he was there for her too. And so they’ve saved each other.

This was a standout episode that really got my blood boiling when things started again piling up against Naofumi, but things more or less worked out in the end. There was definitely some catharsis to him finally being cut some slack. I’m still not quite sure why Malty is so obsessively committed to making Naofumi’s life hell. It’s because she’s just, well, bad, that would be slightly disappointing. But what else could it be? She barely knows him.

After being so pissed off with the other heroes that I didn’t even bother to learn their names, Ren and Itsuki showed promising signs that their opinion of Naofumi was improving, or at least that they’d entertain his claims of unfair persecution. Perhaps that’s the first step towards the four heroes eventually working more closely together for a future Wave.

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “The Rising of the Shield Hero – 04 – A Companion in Hell”

  1. Great episode. Full of emotional power and exciting action. As for seeing the four heroes in action together. I’m not sure I want to see that. I want to see Motoyasu suffer in major torment for eons, boils, leprosy, chronic bad body odor, I don’t care. I just wanna see the smug, stupid, self-centered asshole suffer. And evil Princess Malty too. Boy is she a piece of work! I suspect we’ll see more on her motivations in future episodes. Really If I was Naofumi, I’d take Raftalia and find a way to leave the country and go lie on a beach somewhere for the duration… Like that could eer happen…

    1. The difference between Motoyasu and Malty is that at least part of Motoyasu thought he was doing the right thing, being a noble knight.

      His first impression of Naofumi wasn’t that good to begin with, and he was clearly jealous when Malty initially joined Naofumi.

      His negative preconceptions of Naofumi, combined with Malty’s accusations (and her subsequently joining of his party), conspired to put Motoyasu on the precise wrong side of the truth. But, he didn’t know that.

      He thought Naofumi was a rapey piece of shit, and now he had a slave girl under his control. Again, his contempt for Naofumi mixed with his envy over Raphtalia (which, we saw, Malty didn’t like one bit). He was not only Malty’s pawn, but a slave to his own prejudice, jealousy, and the deeper inadequacies and delusions from his own world that his new position as Spear Hero helps him to bury.

      So yeah, hate Motoyasu all you like. I hate him too! But I feel like I understand him, and why he is the way he is. That’s a credit to the writing and direction.

      But Malty? Yeah, I got nothin’. So far she’s just a horrible, spoiled person who’s bored and wants attention and to stir shit up, pegging Naofumi as the weakest of the four heroes and thus the most likely target of her antagonism.

      If that’s all there is to it, that’s that, but still disappointing. But being from the Gul Dukat School of Dimensional Antagonists (or GKSDA), I’d still appreciate more layers—even a little redemption!

      As I said in the review, there was something very inscrutable about the way her father King Melromac walked away from the whole ordeal. Is he pissed the scheme to ruin Naofumi didn’t work, or has his opinion of his daughter fallen since she couldn’t get the job done even with all his help?

      Not sure, obviously, but that’s the most intriguing thing about Malty and her dad so far. Maybe she’s trying, in her own misguided way, to show her dad she’s got what it takes to rule, which often entails scheming and bending one’s personal morals for the greater good of the kingdom.

      I just don’t see how ruining one of the Four Heroes does that, and at this point I’m introducing way more subtext than might actually end up being there…

      Regardless, the fact I’m writing so much about it at all shows that this show has its claws in me. Great episode, and strong series so far.

  2. You are right about Motoyasu I think. I think its a tribute to the show that its made me care enough for a character that I have begun to dislike his tormentor, I suspect there is more to the Princess Malty story than we have seen so far and we will see more of the royal family’s motivations etc as we go on.

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