Instant Classic! The Rising of the Shield Hero, Season 2 Episode 3 “Shaking Land” [Review]

The Spirit Tortoise continues on his soul snatching “rumbling” and Naofumi’s plan to stop it gets put to the test.

A Perfect Beginning to Set the Stage

For the first time this season, we get a dramatic start to an episode that sets the stage for what is to come for the rest of the episode. Highlighting the massive nature of the Spirit Tortoise with a reverberating roar, using CG for its movements was a great tone setter at the very beginning scene. Then in the next scene, the use of dramatic and suspenseful music of intense anticipation at the “war room meeting,” continues setting the tone as a precursor for the many dramatic events that will unfold.

“So, y’all got this right?” – Queen Mirellia

Naofumi Finally Gets His Due

As everyone gets set to battle the Spirit Tortoise, the people are cheering Naofumi on for maybe the first time ever? Being over 3 years out from the first season and seeing how much he was treated for the majority it—it was one of the rare times we got to see our protagonist actually get cheered on. Naofumi smiling and having that heroic feeling of “that’s my guy,” sent chills down my spine. That proud intense feeling of cheering for your character and finally seeing him get his just due, juiced my testosterone and amped up my adrenaline. Let’s get errr’ done Naofumi!

These are the moments that really tap into the viewer’s biology to get you set up for all the epic moments that may happen down the line. Creating memorable moments is what the previous 2 episodes severely lacked. It is nice to get that feeling of “oh crap, something big is about to happen” moment; or the “I can’t believe that just happened,” moment.

Action Scenes Make Up For the First Two Episodes

As the battle commences, we get to see Naofumi’s party all get a little shine in the action against the familiars. With the lack of action the past couple of episodes, we finally get a taste of some cool animations that we got a glimpse of at the end of the episode one of the 2nd season when Naofumi used his “Wrath Shield.”

Not knowing much about Ost Horai and what she is capable of, it was shocking to see a “did my waifu just do something tight” moment. Out of all the people to start attacking the familiars, having Ost Horai set it off with her technique—beginning the hype train of back-to-back attacks from the whole crew was a satisfying sequence.

The Spirit Tortoise continues its advance as the siege attacks fail and the short-lived “bomb dudes” take another “L” by giving their lives to momentarily stop the Spirit Tortoise. A little bit half-way through the episode, it feels like things are on the right path, but of course something unexpected occurs as Rishia opens up a book that Ost looks into. We then learn that the Spirit Tortoise can launch long-range attacks!

Dire Straits

As the battle turns to dire straits, we learn that Naofumi is forced to turn to his next plan involving the mages. The dire-like intensity of the scenes pick up as the Spirit Tortoise’s long-range attacks starts to mow down multiple troops, leaving one character left, Ake (エイク) to fend for himself.

Ake has been one of the few characters that has had Naofumi’s back from the very beginning of season 1, so it was a nice to use him as a barometer to emphasize how tragic the battle was turning out. It was too bad that the anime couldn’t milk this portion of the episode or get any more important characters injured in the process. Honestly, there was too many “cannon fodders” out there that caught the brunt of the Spirit Tortoise’s attacks. Nevertheless, considering how much they packed into one episode, this was still pretty well done.

Naofumi is still left with his next plan, which involves the mages summoning the “Judgement” technique that was used towards the end of season 1; to take out a leg or render the Spirit Tortoise immobile. As Naofumi’s party inches closer to the Spirit Tortoise, another strong familiar pops up to hit a snag in his plans.

Very quickly, Ost Hourai pulls a rabbit out of her hat again to slow down the familiar, along with the other soldiers; leaving Naofumi’s party to get within attack distance to try to decapitate the Spirit Tortoise.

Maybe I’m just so used to certain scenes being dragged out, but everything that happens during these scenes comes out a mere convenience. The parasite familiar showing up could have had a bigger impact for other characters. Ost already did something in an earlier scene that kind of mirrors the same impact. This could have been a chance for Eclair, the Old Woman or other characters to do something different. Again, a lot happened during this episode, so its not a surprise that they had to get to the last set of events in this episode. In the end, it’s more of a nitpick than anything.

Here, the mages finally finish the one time incantation use of the spell “Judgement.” The music starts to turn climatic as the scene shifts to Queen Mirellia praying for ending sequence of events for the episode.

Once the mages activated “Judgement, resulting in a gash in the Spirit Tortoise’s neck, Naofumi sends Raphtalia and Filo to finish it off. They end up making a big gash in the Spirit Tortoise and Naofumi uses a shield technique to keep the gash open with his shield.

Again for the 3rd time, Ost Hourai comes out of nowhere to boost the shield’s power to enlarge the shield stuck in the Spirit Tortoise’s neck. For the second attempt at the beheading of the neck, Rishia uses her ability to manipulate ki to give Raphtalia and Filo a power boost. They commence for a second attempt, as they end up slicing the Spirit Tortoise’s neck off in emphatic fashion.

Everyone begins to celebrate as the battle of the Spirit Tortoise seems to be over.. or has it? Ost Hourai mentioned in the prior episode that beheading the Spirit Tortoise would finish it off, meaning she would disappear as well. Strange thing is.. There is another cliffhanger and the cliffhangers ends with Ost Hourai once again.

Last Thoughts

In terms of the action and animation during this last sequence of beheading the Spirit Tortoise, I found it marvelously done. For being only the 3rd episode, this felt like the ending to an arc minus all the character development that would have made it more impactful. Of course at the back of our minds, this is ONLY the 3rd episode of the season. If this anime can replicate these kinds of climatic episode build-ups with a healthy balance of character development & context in-between, then this season as a whole is making me jump back on the hype train.

This episode was all about getting everyone somewhat important involved. From the very beginning of the episode, we were able to feel tension that set the tone for a roller coaster ride of an episode. Things looked good and then looked bleak. Some sacrifices were made and a lot of death occurred, albeit it wasn’t anyone of importance. They did use probably the most likeable character in Ake, to build that sense of dire-morale drop of a scene, which was needed to contrast the more epic end sequence of Naofumi’s party beheading the Spirit Tortoise. With all that said, the pacing of this episode felt mostly natural. The transitioning of scenes with the music and change of mood felt appropriate. All-in-all, this episode was really enjoyable to watch.

This episode was 100% needed for me to buy back into the excitement of this anime. Still, there were some missed opportunities and moments that I think this anime should be capitalizing on. That linear feel of emotions is something the previous 2 episodes mostly gave us. It’s good to see this episode toy with our emotions like a Will Smith-Jada Pinkett relationship. This wasn’t an “Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 2 Episode 27 ‘Retrospective'” good, but it had many of the same qualities that made it a top-notch episode. Cheers to the first good episode of the season!


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