Original Run: April 6, 2022 - June 29, 2022] Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Isekai Based on the Sereis Created By: Yusagi Aneko
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2. Reader discretion is advised.****
Piece by piece, Naofumi Iwatani (voiced by Kaito Ishikawa) is removing the stigma that once surrounded the Shield Hero. His hard work and desire to protect have garnered him many friends and allies. But at his core, Naofumi still relies on the strength given to him by his two closest companions, Raphtalia and Filo (voiced respectively by Asami Seto and Rina Hidaka).
Although the threats from the Waves are still present, news of a new destruction reaches Naofumi’s ears. If he doesn’t hurry, too many lives and resources will be lost, and Naofumi will need all hands on deck.
But from the shadows of yet another world, forces are coming together. Naofumi and his party will need to muster all the power they can if they hope to stand a chance. If nothing is done, an even greater cataclysm than the Waves will be upon our heroes.
Although it feels like a lifetime ago, The Rising of the Shield Hero’s first season (Shield Hero 1) was a powerhouse in 2019. This site even awarded the show the 8th best anime of the year during the 2nd Annual Anime Hajime Highlights. This series was gearing up to continue its story, and a sequel should have been well on its way.
And yet, season two (and this review) was released in 2022, a noticeably long three-year gap. I am unsure if the delay was due to internal complications at the production studio or if the pandemic gummed up the works. Whatever the reason, when going into this installment, only the barest, most basic details about the narrative remained with me. Amongst them were the three lead characters – Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo – and Naofumi’s struggles as the titular (and infamous) Shield Hero.
But most importantly, The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2 (Shield Hero 2) was jumping off the success of its predecessor; it had a lot to live up to. We’ll get into more detail later, but for the moment, all I can say is:
What the hell happened?
If I’ve given the indication I intend to go off on this series, that’s – not quite – the case. Yes, season two wasn’t great, but that wasn’t because it was, in a technical sense, bad. On the contrary, on the technical side of things – animation, soundtrack, settings, etc. – Shield Hero 2 was impressively solid.
Even in 2022, anime struggles to implement decent CGI effects; the hand-drawn look still comes off as the best. Now, I don’t believe Shield Hero 2 employed zero CGI animation; no one took the time to draw that giant spirit turtle frame by frame with pencil and paper.
No, CGI had a presence throughout this season. But when used, all the CGI elements blended and meshed well within their environments. The style was noticeable, except that has never been the problem. Many shows either don’t or can’t make an effort to have their CGI not look atrocious. In Shield Hero 2, the animation was never distracting, nor did it take your attention away from what was happening in any particular scene.
When a story fails to be attention-grabbing – or, at least, it is the case with me – one tends to notice the flaws in the superficial. In this situation, the visuals are typically the first on the chopping block. Since Shield Hero 2 was pretty lackluster, but I don’t have anything negative to say about this season’s animation – nothing of significant note, anyway – said animation was not this installment’s weak point.
Additionally, Shield Hero 2 continued an aspect of its predecessor that I have grown to appreciate more and more. Especially since in between the two seasons, I have seen far too many generic isekai anime.
Shield Hero has an actual cast. It’s not just the protagonist surrounded by a growing collection of attractive sidekicks incapable of anything without their champion’s help. In the case of this series, Naofumi and the other summoned heroes have limitations with their powers.
Naofumi, for example, can only wield his shield; he can’t even pick up another weapon. Thus, nearly all of Naofumi’s skills were defense and intelligence-gathering-based. Any skill that put him on the offensive took a near-fatal toll on Naofumi, so he only used those moves under the direst circumstances.
Therefore, thanks to pure necessity, Naofumi needed a party who could not only attack but also carry the flow of battle.
In season one, the focus was Raphtalia and Filo. For season two, it was Rishia Ivyred (voiced by Natsuko Hara) and, well, Raphtalia again.
To give Shield Hero 2 some credit, Rishia was fine. She was a bit whiny at times and incredibly jumpy. Regardless, she had enough satisfying encounters with this season’s villain, so she avoided becoming irritating.
As for Raphtalia, she gave this season an undeniable win.
Without giving too much away, Raphtalia, who was already one of this series’s most well-developed characters, got an upgrade.
By the end of season one, Raphtalia had become someone who didn’t need rescuing; she wasn’t Naofumi’s damsel. She had developed a reputation as a skilled swordswoman who was more than a challenge to most foes. Because of that, it was nice that it was she who earned more prestige.
As this series continues (as of this post going live, season three is scheduled), I hope we get to see some more awesome, protagonist-level moments from Raphtalia.
Ultimately, I have good things to say about Shield Hero 2. I didn’t hate this continuation and want to see more from this series. Unfortunately, much of my support comes from the strength of season one.
As for this installment, there’s no other way to put it. It was disappointing.
I’ll look forward to season three, but now I know this franchise is capable of stumbling. This series is in desperate need of a course correction.
We can split Shield Hero 2 into two halves: The fight against the Spirit Turtle and the adventure in the parallel, parallel world.
The second half wasn’t bad. There we got to meet the Hunt Hero Kizuna Kazayama (voiced by Miyu Tomita), Raphtalia had her badass moment, and it was overall a much better experience. It still wasn’t as good as season one, but I wish it could have been the entirety of the installment.
However, the entire second half occurred thanks to the first’s ending, which itself resulted from a story that came off as rushed, menial, and – frankly – boring.
I have no idea how – or if – Naofumi’s confrontation with the spirit turtle played out in the source material. But from the anime, this story didn’t receive anywhere close to the proper amount of time it needed. I almost want to say it was filler, but it was such a catalyst for the entire season that you simply can’t remove it to make things better.
The heart of this problem was Ost Hourai (voiced by Kana Hanazawa). She could have been fine; her personality wasn’t the issue. However, she had such an immense impact on Naofumi and his party, which didn’t feel earned.
Sure, Ost fought beside Naofumi during the battle with the Spirit Turtle, but only for a week at best. While I’ll admit, some sort of bond could form in that time, Naofumi went into the later half of the season acting as though Ost was some childhood friend he had known over many lifetimes. And, yeah, if done differently, I might have been able to buy that.
Except, Ost’s main contributions to the party were several deus ex machina moments that saved a ton of effort.
Need new information to advance the plot? Don’t worry; Ost suddenly remembers the missing pieces. Need a way to get to the main boss after hitting a dead end? Never fear; Ost has a well-time memory blast that tells her where to go. Need to get to another parallel world, but the hero is bound by the rules of his world that prevent him from jumping dimensions? Not a problem; Ost has the power to simply undo that.
That last point, especially, doesn’t make sense because Naofumi and another hero had to return from visiting the other parallel world. I get that Naofumi had special permission, but the other hero sure as hell didn’t. So, how did that work?
And aside from the mishandling of Ost’s character, the first half of this season lacked any of the impact its predecessor had. Shield Hero suddenly felt like your typical isekai anime, which was unfortunate coming from a series that left a significant mark on the entire genre.
The fights lacked grit. The characters had few chances to display their strength. The Spirit Turtle itself felt random and distracting.
The transition might work better if you’re watching the entire series, seasons one and two, in one giant marathon session. But after waiting so long to return to Shield Hero, this was a bit jarring.
I’m of two minds. Despite either, we cannot ignore that this season failed to live up to the original. But it did not kill the series; we will leave that fate to season three.
There are good things we can say about this installment. There were okay new characters, old favorites got outstanding upgrades, and the animation was stellar. This was no trainwreck.
However, things did not start off great, and it felt like the series was playing catch-up. Overall, one can’t help but feel disappointed with what we got.
Thus, on its own merits, I would say this series is a pass. But given that the franchise still has life, The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2 is watchable.
But these are my thoughts; what are yours? Have you seen this show; how would you advise The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2? Leave a comment below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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