Naofumi is getting ready to go berserk! This episodes hints at Naofumi’s psychological and internal dilemma over the missing Filo and Raphtalia.
The beginning of the episode addresses 2 major concerns: Filo looks to be captured by a slave master similar to Naofumi’s world & Naofumi is hell bent on doing whatever it takes to get Raphtalia back.
Kizuna takes Rishia and Naofumi back to Sikul where she requests aid from Ethnobalt, who is the “Boat Vassal Wielder.” In order to obtain a lead to find Raphtalia, Ethnobalt uses Raphtalia’s hair and the blood of Naofumi to create this cute little creature called a “Shikigami.” This unlocks Naofumi’s new shield called the “Shikigami Shield.”
Both, the Shikigami made for Glass and Raphtalia point to a country called “Raybul.” This poses quite the concern because Raybul and Mikakage are allies, in which they locked Kizuna in the “Infinite Labyrinth.” Using Ethnobalt’s ability to travel the link between the Return Dragon Vein without actually needing to be at the hourglass comes in handy this episode.
The episode continues further as Naofumi, Rishia and Kizuna make their way into saving Filo. Coming across her captor, they devise and plan and save her from the grasp of the slave master, who turned out to be a noble’s son. After saving Filo, the episode ends on a cliffhanger once Naofumi’s slave crest with Raphtalia gets disrupted. What has happened to our beloved Raphtalia?!
Naofumi is Finally in a Real Struggle
For a majority of this season, Naofumi has been level headed and quick to make very important decisions. This is the first episode this season where Naofumi is acting on vengeful impulses, regardless of consequences. They hint at this a couple times with the foreshadowing of the purple shield enigma thing. It happened once, at the beginning of the episode where Naofumi is enraged and set on immediately going back to save Raphtalia. Then, it came up again when Kizuna told the people of Sikul that the Shield Hero came from another world.
These outbursts from Naofumi feel out of character from what he’s built up until the point of Ost Hourai dying. Remember the significance of Naofumi choosing not to kill Ost. I think from then on, the focus has been on Naofumi’s motivations to stop Kyo Ethnina. First, he feels the anger and wanting to exact revenge for Ost. Now, this crescendo of wanting to exact revenge and rage out is coming to a max, as everyone is assuming the worst possible scenarios for Raphtalia. To highlight even more of Naofumi’s rage, even Rishia has to put the halts on Naofumi from making a regrettable decision.
It is the first time as the viewer, that I can feel and relate to the direct dilemma that Naofumi’s in. He must contain his own emotions and anger for witnessing the enslavement of Filo. Could you really stand there and watch your loved one be abused and not do anything? It’s kind of like being at a trial where your loved one is in court with the abuser. You must restrain those inner emotional ambitions to want to drive a stake through that abuser. For once this season, the plot has several potential negative implications that ways heavily on Naofumi’s mind. Depending on what actions he takes, there can be serious consequences. Will he play it cool and calm or just go straight for the kill?
This season has been all fun and light-hearted when it comes to making fun of the show’s use of camps & dinners as ways to develop characters. Of course, the creators had to throw in ANOTHER camp scene to show Filo & Naofumi develop their relationship further as kind of like a father-daughter bonding moment.
There’s nothing wrong with characters providing the exact abilities to proceed the plot, but sometimes it’s just WAY too convenient. Like Naofumi’s quick plan to escape the Infinite Labyrinth, this time Kizuna just says, “hey, go grab this guy that can do everything we need to do.” It IS the town that summoned Kizuna and everything IS at her disposal. Those scenes with Ethnobalt were just meant to continue world building. It would have been nice to see the characters face at least a little bit of resistance by Ethnobalt or the other people of Sikul. At least in the prior episode, it was nice to see a Naofumi plan that didn’t just conveniently workout as planned.
A Missed Opportunity
If there was one issue I had with the episode, it was the climatic plot point of saving Filo from the son of the noble guy (slave master?). It was such a great lead up that was teased at the beginning of the episode. Little by little, they showed Filo in distress; all the way to when Naofumi finds her. When Naofumi is “trying” to come up with a plan to save Filo out of the cage, we get to see Naofumi be quick witted and devise a plan in real time, rather than a sudden time-skip. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS I’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT!
This is what makes Naofumi shine as an admirable protagonist. What we haven’t seen enough this season is Naofumi in the process of solving a problem, rather than just showing it. This is the kind of episode that elevates Naofumi back into being the center of attention.
So, the biggest issue I had was when Naofumi used the shield to terrorize the slave master noble son. The anime could have made it a bit more dark and epic, driving home further the shield’s cruel ability to mentally unwind the slave master. This was a crescendo moment that deserved a bigger payoff. While the point came across of what happened, once again they make a sudden transition into the camp scene explaining everything that transpired.
In an episode that had very little action, this is a well executed episode that hit every mark that each scene was intended to. There were new characters introduced that clearly defined what they were about. I’m sure the cute little fuzzy shikigamis are going to be a huge hit with the ladies. When it came to Naofumi facing the impulsive vengeful feeling of inflicting harm and even wanting to “kill” the slave master, this correlates directly to the viewers internal morality. In those moments, you know exactly what Naofumi is going through. It’s these kind of moments and decisions the character makes that can make or break your view of the character. Kudos to a pretty good episode.