As the Fall 2023 anime season carries on, some series carry the hype that others can only hope to achieve. One chart-topping series everybody knows by this point is The Rising of the Shield Hero as it enters its third season, with a newly-changed status quo and new challenges for the protagonist, Naofumi. In an effort to gather money to continue freeing slaves, Naofumi and his team fight in a series of matches at a coliseum, where the wealthy place bets while remaining watchful for cheaters. In my mini-review of The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 3 Episode 2, we find out how successful they are.
A Tournament Arc Where the Protagonist Bends the Rules
I love a good tournament arc, even when the series that feature them start to blend. For stories like Record of Ragnarok where the tourney is the sole plot focus, it’s interesting how aware of the circumstances the characters are, and what others like Brunhilde will do to get a fighting chance. But this is Shield Hero, so what do they do?
Simple: they use illusion magic to look like every victory is a difficult, hard-fought one, which in turn decreases their odds of winning, meaning they can cash in bigger. The result is a tournament arc where the protagonist bends the rules in order to achieve their means efficiently, and in a meta sense, keeps the plot from dragging.
New Allies Joining the Fold
The team interacts with other combatants in the coliseum in this episode, namely a fighter under the stage name Nadia. They eventually wind up being set up against each other, with Raphtalia recognizing Nadia when she assumes her killer whale form, and her true name is revealed: Sadeena. Sadeena gets the truth revealed to her about Naofumi’s mission to free the slaves from Lurolona Village, adding to the new allies joining the fold. Among many fascinating moments in the series, there’s some pretty spectacular usage of chain lightning, a classic RPG offensive spell that feels convincingly animated and accurate.
A Team-Up With Interesting Motivations
Once Sadeena switches sides, angering those observing the tourney (who wish to see some results invalidated) the newly unified team goes against the Murder Clown. It’s here that Naofumi and Sadeena quickly synergize their abilities to secure the win.
But if you’ve been paying attention to the episode, you might note this is a team-up with interesting motivations: Sadeena was impressed by how Naofumi could drink more than her. It’s bizarre, but given her flirtatious behavior and the potential for the story to otherwise take a more pathos-ridden, emotional reason for her wanting to join his cause, I appreciate this whimsical take.
The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 3 is proceeding through this portion of the story efficiently, with some amusing twists on JRPG ally recruitment tropes. The animation is reasonably exciting but not going to blow any minds, but it’s elevated by a clever narrative featuring characters with unique personalities and uniquely stranger abilities.
This review of The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 3 Episode 2 was made using a screener provided by Crunchyroll. Shield Hero S3E02 premiered on Friday, October 13, 2023, at 5:30 AM PT, and is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
- This article was updated on October 13th, 2023