The Rising of the Shield Hero – 12 – The True Battle Of The Wave

Glass dismisses three of the four heroes as nothing but “servants”, and her appraisal isn’t off-base, as their best meteor attacks fail to put a scratch on her, and all three go down with one strike, no doubt wounding their egos as well as their bodies.

That leaves Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo to deal with her, and while she’s somewhat impressed by his stout defense (as befits the Shield Hero), nothing offensive he can throw at her is any more effective than his beaten fellow heroes.

She breaks out of the Shield Prison immediately. Filo’s kicks are fast but still can’t touch her. Poor Raph’s swordsmanship isn’t even “worth mentioning.” She even calmly basks in the enveloping flames of Naofumi’s Rage Shield like it’s a sauna; “too cold” to burn her. This Glass lady is tough, and if the first Wave seemed to easy, it’s clear the difficulty level has risen exponentially.

That brings us to Naofumi’s final trump card, the Iron Maiden, so effective against the soul eater. Turns out it’s just as useless on Glass as Shield Prison. Glass’ withering criticism of her opponents’ attacks almost grows tiresome—we get it, Naofumi can’t beat you at his present level—but just as she’s ready to take him out, a countdown starts on his HUD, which indicates the Wave “period” is about to end.

Rather than give Glass the last word, Naofumi has Raph cast Fast Light, and the two of them jump on Filo who gets them the hell out of there. She doesn’t chase, and her attacks aren’t effective at long range, so she calls it a draw, this time. But when the next Wave arrives, she promises to kill them unless they grow stronger. Much stronger.

The second Wave disperses, and Naofumi is quickly summoned back to King Melromarc’s court for some backhanded thanks and demand that he explain how he gained so much power—more than “befits a Shield Hero.” Naofumi, no longer having any more shit from this royal family, tells the king he’ll talk…if he bows down and grovels.

This act of disrespect leads the king to call in his guards, but Naofumi is quite right when he says he can take them all out and walk out the front door without any difficulty, and the guards waver. When the king says he’ll punish Naofumi’s “slaves” in his stead, that really rankles him, and he promises him if anything happens to his underlings on account of more dirty tricks, the king will “wish he had never been born,” then stalks out unopposed, like a boss.

Princess Melty later hears of the “hostile” exchange between her daddy and Naofumi, and tells her father that their country will be put at risk until they reconcile. Her older sister Malty intervenes and tries to make a stink of matters, but Melty shuts her down almost immediately, and with good reason: she’s the one who was trusted with the title of crown princess.

Naofumi shakes off his unpleasant experience at the palace and gets re-outfitted by Elhart, who fills the wagon back up and throws in some gifts for good measure: a new sword for Raphtalia, along with a bladeless mana sword, a shield scanner thingy for Naofumi, and gloves that will increase Filo’s strength.

Naofumi is looking forward to being nowhere near the royal city, royal family, or the other hero jerks. Unfortunately, the peace doesn’t last long, as Melty and her retinue track his party down and urges him to return and make peace with her father. Naofumi is as stubborn as the king, and his strong passes ignite Melty’s secret weapon: the Entitled Person’s Tantrum.

But as she protests his obstinance, Naofumi senses something’s UP—set-up to be precise. Of what kind, he soon finds out: one of the knights who escorted Melty rushes at her, sword drawn, and Naofumi draws her back and shields her…with his shield.

Obviously, these knights are in Malty’s pocket (I doubt the king is awful enough to off his own heir). Honestly, it kinda just makes her look foolish and pathetic—why try to assassinate her sister in front of the Shield Hero, who could easily protect her? In any case, if Melty doesn’t re-join the party next week (or whenever the next episode airs), I’ll be shocked.

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The Rising of the Shield Hero – 11 – This Wasn’t In The Game…Because This Isn’t One

With his wagon bursting with medicines, spare weapons, and other supplies, Naofumi and his suddenly larger party teleport to the site of the second Wave, teleporting us from the safe, familiar capital to another chaotic and brutal magenta-skied war zone.

The rapid transition and immediate dive into the battle is effective, and now that they have more numbers, Naofumi’s team can more quickly and effectively evacuate and defend the village closest to the Wave. Naofumi, Raph and Filo handle the tougher baddies while the others handle the small fry.

Once the village is cleared out, the underlings stay behind with the ex-adventurer Granny who Naofumi once saved, enabling the core trio to join the other three heroes, two of which are already locked in a heated battle aboard a flying pirate ship with a kraken attached to its keel. And immediately, there’s a problem: nobody’s working together.

When Naofumi arrives, Kawasumi is on the ground, while Motoyasu and Amaki are bickering over whether to defeat the Skull Captain or Kraken bosses. Naofumi attempts to bring order to the chaotic situation, and determines that the bosses themselves aren’t the proper targets; their shadows are.

Once Raph and Amaki have stabbed those shadows, numerous soul eaters emerge and combine to form one big nasty one that’s immune to the Shield, Bow and Sword Heroes’ fire-based attacks. Naofumi orders Filo to use wind and speed magic to attack the boss, but between her and Raph, there simply isn’t enough damage being done.

They’ll be there all day and there’s no telling how much destruction will occur in that time, so Naofumi reluctantly whips out his Rage Shield, knowing full well how hard it is to control. Raphtalia offers her moral support, and Naofumi ends up back in that “in-between space,” where this time he’s confronted by the enraged soul of the zombie dragon he defeated.

Once he has his Dragon Zombie Shield, Naofumi begins to press his attack on the soul eater, all while the other heroes and their parties are standing around twiddling their thumbs. Raphtalia reprimands them, basically shaming them into finally finally assisting Naofumi—and in a support role, no less.

With help from Raphtalia, Naofumi doesn’t allow himself to be consumed by the dragon’s hatred, and regains his composure, rebuking Malty’s comparison of him to nothing but a wild beast. He summons Iron Maiden, a titanic prison of spikes that closes in on the boss and crushes it.

The other heroes can only look on in awe at Naofumi’s power, as they don’t have anything like what he just demonstrated. Motoyasu backs down from his sore loserdom when Filo transforms into the cute little girl he loves so much, but the Waves are curiously not going away.

Turns out that mega-soul eater wasn’t the final boss for this particular Wave. Instead, it’s another maiden—a raven-haired on with two fans who introduces herself as Glass. She was watching the four heroes and only deems Naofumi to be worthy of going against her.

This was not only a return to the high-stakes, high-intensity atmosphere of a Wave (accompanied all the excellent Kevin Penkin music), but some decent development in the relationship betweeen the heroes. For the first time, they’re all fighting in the same place, and it’s clear they’ll need each other to defeat some of the tougher foes the Waves throw their way.

Amagi Brilliant Park – 07

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Amagi Brilliant Park gave us a lovely, wacky, riotous seventh episode set in the water theme part of the park this week. Almost everyone in the cast that has had screen time was there — including the trio of ‘normal’ girls hired last week.

In addition to the joyously absurd and funny story it told, episode seven’s biggest achievement may be in how well it juggled all of it’s characters. That I even knew who they all were and could give you more than a sentence about what they were doing in the park, their social relationships, and what mysteries each presents us with at this point in the series is nothing short of amazing.

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Shirobako is the only other show with such a large cast and, by comparison, I couldn’t even tell you who 75% of those characters are without constant name blocks popping up and even then, and all but two or three of them are one-line-worthy archetypical characters.

That’s not the case here, and I can’t quite explain why. Maybe it’s just the advantage of the mascot theme character design? Maybe it’s that each character is part of the park’s structure AND that the park’s cast have a family / societal relationship?

Whatever the reason, ABP’s cast just works and, as I understand a lot of details about all of them, I care for them in addition more than just a source of silly jokes.

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So what happened?

Macaron, Moffle and Tiramie are entertaining the kids at the water park and Kanie-kun tries to spice it up by sending in Sento and the Fairy Quartet to play fight in sexy pirate gear.

Unfortunately, Sento’s acting range is limited (she is a Royal Guard after all) and only the quartet’s resident airhead Sylphy brings any passion to the table — and even she’s off-target with her creepy shark hand puppets instead of a gun or cutlass and random Chinese(?) sayings.

Also Jaw the Shark mascot apparently turns into an actual, horrifyingly-realistic shark when he gets wet.

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Then all hell breaks loose when the gate that connects the Magic Land and earth ruptures. Jaw and Chuujou Shiina, who’s still pronouncing everything wrong and dirty, are swept away.

Then real magical Pirates emerge from the gate, intent on launching a raid into the park.

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The real pirates make quick work of the pretend pirates, subdue Moffle and Macaron (Tiramie immediately betrays them at the prospect of lady slaves), and even captures Princess Latifah, who was just passing by.

All the while, Adachi Eiko is narrating the events and translating the fairy and mascot chatter to the guests, who’ve been tied up and are confused but generally enjoying themselves. She’s delightful and her come-hither/kid-friendly hybrid voice is perfect for the loopy goings-on. (more mystery: Adachi appears to understand all these different languages…she’s no ordinary AV-starring human!)

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After grabbing the mole people, Kanie-kun saves the day using the pirates’ own ship and their fear of Jaw against them. In addition to the pirates being seals, who instinctively fear sharks, Jaw is much scarier than usual because he’s wet, and a red-snow-cone-syrup-covered Bandou Biino happens to end up stuck in his mouth).

All’s well that ends well and the day ends very well for the park: They’ve gained a new attraction, more cast members (the subdued pirates) and above all else the guests were very excited about the day’s visit. Even Jaw wins, as he’s promoted to the new pirate cast’s boss, earning him a place of respect and purpose at last.

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Amagi Brilliant Park is the 4th best show airing this season but what does that mean? What makes it less impressive than Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (#1/2) but more impressive than InoBato (#5)?

Obviously, ABP is very well-crafted. Its art is vibrant and drawn well, and has space to breathe and depth. It’s story holds a steady pace, the characters and humor are quirky but clear. It even knows how to slow down and give us quiet, thoughtful breaks to develop its characters and emphasize the moments of action.

But those points only explain why it’s a great show, not it’s relative place.

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What sets it above is InoBato is a clear sense of purpose. Wacky it is along the way, but we’re reminded at the end of every week, if these people don’t improve the park’s attendance, tragedy will strike. It just has more purpose than InoBato’s harem target-of-the-week format with occasional tangents.

In fact, it can be argued that the wacky antics and happy framework around this conflict create a subtle underlying dread beneath everything. That’s not even getting into Latifah’s mysterious (and hinted at: sad) backstory with Seiya nor Sento’s desperate bid to win his love and respect, park be damned.

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However, this same clear, purposeful but nuanced structure loses out against Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso’s relentlessly emotional, focused story of loss and unfulfilled love. ABP’s characters are rich, interesting, and specific, but they aren’t believably real people.

And ABP may be well drawn and full of lively action, the extremes of that action (within the confines of real space and peoples’ imaginations) lack Uso’s masterfully personal touch.

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Regardless, this week was so funny it made my sides hurt. Moffle and Tiramie remain high marks for the juxtaposition of their happy kid-friendly/adorbs exteriors and deeply deranged adult interiors.

Even without them, the show continues to add mystery without feeling bloated and string us along with the good stuff. Humor and tragedy. Longing and satisfaction. ABP remains great stuff!

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