The Rising of the Shield Hero – 08 – Don’t Let The Hate Flow Through You

Fresh off of cleaning up the Spear Hero’s mess (carelessly introducing an invasive plant species), Naofumi, Raphtalia and Filo come upon yet another village suffering unintended consequences of a hero’s actions. This time it was the Sword Hero Amaki Ren, slaying a dragon in the mountains but leaving its massive corpse behind to rot.

That rot causes a plague in the village that has already claimed many lives. Naofumi treats those still living with his potions for 50 silvers, then agrees to deal with the root cause of the problem (the dragon corpse) for ten times that amount. When the village doctor’s nurse questions whether he’s really a savior, he remarks that he never said he was.

By the time they reach the dragon, the rot has set in to the point the corpse rises again as a zombie dragon with a nasty poison breath. Naofumi is immune, but Raphtalia is not, and his shield can’t fully protect her. Worse, Filo can’t help herself from charging the dragon on her own, since filolials apparently hate dragons just that much.

While Naofumi is struggling to minimize Raph’s exposure to the toxins, Filo is distracted for a moment, and in that moment, she gets gobbled up in a spray of blood. Just like that, barely a month into her life, it would seem the Heavenly Fowl was no more.

Naofumi retreats into his dark brooding corner of his mind, fearing he’s about to lose everything once more, when he’s suddenly visited by something best described as a curse of pure, unadulterated hatred. He’s quickly consumed by his hatred for this world, everyone in it who loathes and distrusts him, and of course, Malty.

The hatred imbues him with formidable power—enough to stop the dragon’s arm when it tries to crush him, then lops off its tail, setting the stump on fire. But it’s too much power for Naofumi to handle. Fortunately, Raphtalia is there to pull him out of his hate-trance, though she bears the brunt of the curse emanating from his person.

As for the dragon, it suddenly keels over, and Filo bursts out of its stomach, having eaten the crystal core that gave it live. The “spray of blood” was merely Filo puking up all the red fruit she ate earlier; the dragon swallowed her whole.

But while Filo is fine and the dragon defeated, Raph is in a bad way, and Naofumi’s quick heals only offer temporary relief. Naofumi offers all the silver the doctor just gave him in exchange for healing her, but the village lacks holy water pure enough to dispel the curse. Still, Raphtalia doesn’t regret doing what she did; she didn’t want the curse to take her Naofumi away.

As she and Filo rest, Naofumi resolves to continue growing stronger—for one thing, his level is too low to unlock the shield he gained from absorbing the dragon’s crystal. They’ll also need to head to a larger city with a larger church that will possess stronger holy water. But more than anything, Naofumi seems relieved his family wasn’t taken from him…not when he had just fashioned accessories for them using the crafting hammer they gave him.

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The Rising of the Shield Hero – 07 – The Victory Gardener

When Naofumi’s trader friend sends him to a village in dire need of a huge order of herbicide, he, Raphtalia and Filo soon find out why: What started as a “miracle seed”, ironically provided by the Spear Hero Motoyasu to end a famine, grew into a scourge of a vine that not only overruns the village but infects its children like a parasite and breeds plant monsters that mere adventurers can’t defeat.

Naofumi goes above and beyond his duty by not just delivering the herbicide, but healing the kids with his potion lore, and with Raph and Filo providing the offense while he provides defense and support, defeats the central plant monster, leading to the destruction of the network. It honestly isn’t that difficult a quest, now that Naofumi and his two wards are so powerful.

Having cleaned out the village elders’ entire supply of cash, he agrees to take the rest of his payment in trade; specifically, the fruits he himself developed by altering the seeds so they won’t cause anymore trouble, just bear profitable fruit. With that, Naofumi returns to the trader with the merchandise, and he in turn offers another delivery job, this time to a hot springs village.

Here, the rivalry between Raphtalia and Filo for Naofumi’s attention kicks into the next gear, with Raph learning the romantic qualities of the bath she’s in only to learn Filo is already sharing her bath with Naofumi, or when she brings milk to share with Naofumi only to find him combing Filo’s hair. Raphtalia considers Filo an interloper: she was there first, and Naofumi is hers.

She tries once again to win Naofumi over once and for all by going off on her own to find a crystal called latium (an ingredient in love potions) that can be obtained from the nest of a certain native bird, only to find Filo is on a similar quest to make Naofumi her “mate”…and collect some eggs for eating. But when Filo almost falls off a cliff, Raph catches her, and when the giant silverback they landed on chases them, Filo transforms and has Raph jump on so she can jump to safety.

The trip to the birdsnest is short and unproductive, again due to the silverback, but Raph and Filo decide not to let the boar boss them around anymore. They work together to slay it, trade it in to some villagers for cash, and use it to purchase an expensive metalcrafting hammer for Naofumi, as a token of their mutual gratitude. Insofar as Naofumi can be touched by anything, he seems touched by the gesture.

Raph and Filo can be pretty irritating when competing, but thankfully far more fun to watch when collaborating. As for Naofumi, he’ll probably never see either of them as anything other than kids…and if you think kissing will get you pregnant, you kinda are a kid.

Everyone Eats and Drinks Almost Constantly in ACCA

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If you’ve been watching ACCA, you’ve probably thought to yourself: “Goddamn, they’re almost always stuffing their faces or drinking on this show!” And, well, you’d be right; they are indeed! In fact, so much of each episode is given over to eating, drinking, purchasing, or talking about food and where to get it, you could take out all the scenes without food and drink and still have a pretty sizable episode left…as I shall demonstrate:

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Episode 01 – We start with Jean and Lotta’s usual breakfast of toast with jam. Then we move on to his co-worker’s ten-o’clock snack of roll cake from Hachikuma. Once in Famasu, Jean chows down on what looks like a Reuben while Eidar orders a cheeseburger. The Five Chief Officers have tea and biscuits. The next ten-o’clock snack at Jean’s office is a five-pack of flan.  Jean buys more bread at a bakery with Knot while Rail and his colleague eat donuts. Jean joins the Five at a cafe for coffee. Jean has beers with Niino.

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Episode 02 – Jean and Lotta have a breakfast of what looks like eggs on toast with cucumbers and mayonnaise. Lotta asks Jean to buy tomato bread from Mugimaki, where he runs into Mauve. Lotta enjoys some chocolate cake al fresco at Picidae. Niino tucks into a sundae. Once in Jumoku, Jean samples the giant burgers, fries, and fruit at Basswood. Jean buys local produce to bring home. Lotta and Owl sample a nut cake at Honig. Niino and Jean have a huge dinner of meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and bread, and wash it down with beer and wine. Later, Jean takes Niino on a drunken trip to the supermarket.

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Episode 03 – Jean gives his co-workers a 10-pack of cream puffs from Hachikuma for their ten-o’clock snack, and a package of fancy cookies for Lotta. Lotta and Niino have a dinner of meatpotatoes, and salads. Lotta receives a parcel of potatoes in the mail, with which she plans to make gratin. Jean has dinner with Mauve at Veil, consisting of fine wine, rare steaks with black truffles. Prince Schwan samples some fine pastries. After dinner Jean has more wine with Niino, along with grapes, pretzels, and a selection of cheesesPrior to Schwan’s celebration, Jean, Nino and Lotta attend a catered affair at the palace with pastriesbreads, and various jamsjellies, and sweets. That night, after the King’s address, they enjoy various desserts like Dowan nut cake and strawberries.

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Episode 04 – In the episode with the least food and drink, Niino and Lotta have tea and chocolate layer cake, as she packs chocolatenuts, wine, and other gifts for the building owner. At Chez Pierre in Suitsu, Jean has a bowl of rustic stew. Warbler buys some loaves of bread. Lotta polishes off a bowl of something, as one of Magie’s underlings eats an elaborate sundae. Pastis drinks some brown liquor. Jean’s captives give him some bread

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Episode 05 – Schwan has tea and cookies. Lotta has blueberry pancakes at Kakesu. Rail introduces Magie to toast made from sandwich bread. Jean’s co-workers plan to make microwave potato chips. Lotta has a snack of some kind of pink confection with an orange soda. Later at Mugimaki she orders two-centimeter slices of walnutcheese, and chocolate bread. Birra district’s branch chief presents a spread of local foods to Jean for dinner, including rye bread (to go with the wheat bread not made there), the local grog, meat and potatoes. Magie introduces the joy of buttered toast to Schwan. Niino takes Jean and Lotta for a dinner of steamed mussels served with bread and french fries. While Jean is in Rokkusu, Niino takes Lotta out for vegetable, meat, and cheese fondue.

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Episode 06 – Jean’s co-workers have apple cake for their snack. Jean invites them to his and Lotta’s apartment building party where they have drinks, and a buffet. Both Rail and Owl give Lotta cakes as New Years presents. The Five have tea and coffee in their common area. While in Hare, Jean is treated to an elaborate, sumptuous feast consisting of grilled meat and shrimp skewers, whole fish, red and green curry, beef stew, pork belly, salad, and more, washed down with quite a lot of beer, to the point Jean refuses to share a bottle of booze with Niino later. Jean and Lotta have toast with jam for breakfast when he’s back.

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Episode 07 – Magie puruses a catalog listing all of the flavors of bread Mugimaki makes. Jean passes by fancy cakes at Patisserie Fuchs in Dowa, searching for famous flavored snowball (“Yukinotama”) pastries Lotta wants him to bring home. Niino takes him to Cafe Berg, where Jean orders the snowballs and tries one for himself, then joins King Falke over a spread of fruit and nut tartspies, and rolls. Jean and Niino have wine with a platter of sausagesmeatspatecheeses, and other snacks. Jean samples Mugimaki’s new walnut mugwort bread. Niino eats squares from a chocolate bar. While in Korore, Jean inspects all of the chocolatiers the district is known for.

Please, dear readers, I implore you: Don’t watch ACCA on an empty stomach. Have some food and drink nearby. I’m going to go eat some bread now.

Kyoukai no Kanata – 06

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In order to afford her expensive bonsai habit, Mirai vows to defeat a nonviolent plant-type youmu on the roof of the school for the 500,000-yen bounty, but it releases a torrent of horrid-smelling liquid that soaks her and Akihito. He tells her the youmu likes girls, so Mirai dresses up to distract it so Mitsuki can take it out; the plan fails, and Mitsuki is drenched in even more powerful stink, which won’t go away until the youmu is defeated. Hiromi says the youmu also likes singing and dancing, but the first attempt fails because Mirai can’t sing, drenching Hiromi. After a week of training with AI, the group puts on a idol performance that has the youmu fully enthralled  but didn’t decide who would deliver the decisive blow, and it douses everyone once more.

A curious cold open, in which idol outfits lie on the floor covered in yellow liquid, and Mitsuki furiously pumps an empty shampoo dispenser, is the harbinger for perhaps the funniest, most inventive, and most satisfying episode of Kyoukai no Kanata yet; one that helps the show take one more step out of the shadows of its KyoAni forebears. It’s the story of a fiasco that starts out as seemingly easy way to make big bucks, but things snowball out of control quickly as this youmu Just. Won’t. Go. Down.The gang jumps from one plan to the next, Wile. E. Coyote-style, learning a little bit from their mistakes each time, but following them up with new ones each time. The episode was also most impressive in that it somehow managed to integrate not only fanservice but a friggin’ idol concert into the episode by making those elements crucial to capturing the youmu and therefore relevant to the story. Yes, there are times when the characters act a little bit too dumb or short-sighted, but the episode knows this as well as we do.

In fact, it revels in it, as things go from bad to worse, despite the gang exerting more and more energy each go-around. Perhaps most hilariously preposterous is the group’s ability to put on a perfectly polished (and beautifully-animated) idol performance in just one week, and turning Mirai’s tin pipes to gold. Again, the episode is quite aware how ridiculous this all is and milks it for all it’s worth – even juxtaposing scenes of the concert with scenes of the torrid week spent training for it, making it seem like far more than a week had passed, and with it, an epic amount of trials and strife. The youmu itself is suitably freaky-looking and confounding. Best of all, it isn’t defeated by the end of the episode; we end up back at the beginning, with Mitsuki pumping that empty shampoo bottle, because she’s already had a hundred showers and used it all, to no avail. The fourth episode showed us this show’s dramatic potential; this episode just as ably demonstrated its comedic chops.

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Rating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Mirai has a surprisingly frank, casual discussion with Akihito about her underwear before remembering who she’s talking to, then whining on her blog.
  • “Shocking Pink” is the episode’s title, which refers to the pink discharge the youmu shoots at Mitsuki, as well as Mirai’s pink honeypot outfit.
  • Everyone in gas masks around Mitsuki seems like overkill against the stink, until Hiromi comes in without one and after a momentary flash of poise, becomes violently ill. 
  • Mitsuki as a bubble girl: another great sight gag.
  • Just wanted to reiterate, too-perfect concert inter-cut with the over-the-top training scenery was just brilliant stuff.
  • On that note, the fact that everyone practiced so hard they all forgot someone had to actually capture the thing.
  • Remember…all this was to make enough money so Mirai could tend to her pricey bonsai and afford to eat – a very random but awesome cause.

Zetsuen no Tempest – 04

Mahiro and Yoshino take a bus to the countryside where a Fruit emerges from a mountaintop. Yoshino tries to save an elderly couple and a pair of boys, but they succomb to Black Iron Syndrome along with every living thing in the area. Mahiro breaks into a house and takes a bath. Yoshino cooks dinner while talking to Hakaze about how he met Mahiro – and how he was essentially forced into being his friend, and eventually went along with it. Hakaze also asks Mahiro, who concludes he probably wouldn’t still be around if he’d never met Yoshino.

After lots of action, this episode slows things down and offers up some character building, and it was still great. Yoshino and Mahiro are safe for the moment, but are still living day to day, so there’s not much to do except maintain. Meanwhile, Hakaze, ten time zones away, has little to do on her deserted island. She has time for those stories people deem too long to tell, and Yoshino is happy to let loose. Mahiro was a spoiled, privileged little brat, you see, who one day got hit by a motorcycle while walking home. He just happened to survive, and Mahiro just happened to be chosen to visit him in the hospital, against his will. He’s ultimately dubbed “Mahiro’s Guardian” (complete with name tag), and he runs with it.

But just like the grown-up version, this young Yoshino did his duty without complaint (well, with few complaints), even investigating the accident when Mahiro asks him to (not confident adults would listen) and concluding a disgruntled former employee of his father’s ordered the hit and tried to make it look like an accident. Then as now, Mahiro did what he wanted, because he could, while Yoshino did what he was told, but did it his way. We like how Hakaze gets both sides of the story, but Mahiro’s is so much more succinct – after all, he’s more interested in a future in which he gets revenge than he is in the past that got him to this point. Mahiro, on the other hand, still sees Aika when he closes his eyes.


Rating: 8 (Great)