An Ending We Will All Forget.. The Rising of the Shield Hero, Season 2 Episode 12 “Reason to Fight” [Review]

What sounds good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate onscreen. This episode gets close to the bottom of the barrel of an overall disappointing season..

A Forgettable Villain

Wow.. I can’t really believe what I witnessed from this episode. Raise your hand if you liked Kyo’s explanation of his backstory.

Yep. No one.

In one of the worst endings to an arc I’ve seen in a while, Kyo as an underwhelming character meets his underwhelming end. In what seems to be a rushed explanation, Kyo himself never explicitly states what his goals and reasoning for doing what he is doing. So his backstory was that he was just some random fat otaku that finally gets to live out a better life? Is this some kind of abstract intertwining of fate between Naofumi and Kyo that is suppose to suggest something? It just ends up being a piss poor backstory that adds very little value to the character.

What Kyo ends up doing throughout the whole episode is what he’s been doing the whole damn season; just antagonizing Rishia and Naofumi with lame insults. From a writer’s perspective, he needs to continually antagonize Naofumi, so we get to see Naofumi’s arc from a “fiery vengeful rage” to a “friends-forever” self-realization.

Putting the story aside, stylistically, the way the episode presented and referenced the similarities between Naofumi and Kyo’s life was done beautifully. That style of narration that flips between Naofumi and Kyo’s voices was very effective, even though it doesn’t add anything deeper to Kyo as a character.

Sounds Great on Paper, But Terribly Executed Onscreen..

A guy that turns girls in chimeras and despicably turns a dead character into a homunculus.

A guy that pits loved ones against each other.

A guy that manipulates and convinces people of his lies to get his way.

That all sounds pretty awesome on paper, but lacks one very important aspect, the emotional connection to the characters. At any point, the show could have explored any of these demented and sick scenarios. The show just showed rather than graphically, emotionally, weave together a story displaying character depth, narrated by jaw dropping displays of climatic moments making the audience tense, balling up fists of who this dark-twisted character really is. Of course, we got none of that with Kyo.

There’s no meat.

There’s no riveting context.

There’s no real defining moment for Kyo.

Everything ends up being very surface level.

Anyone can write anything that sounds good on paper, but execution is everything. What we got from Kyo was just a vague sense of what his motivations are. Adding a character like Yomogi is suppose to help add to that context, but sadly doesn’t at all.

The Not so Epic Raphtalia vs Kazuki Part 2

It was the long awaited rematch that never was.

It was a conflicting perspective at odds that never was.

It was a fight against a character we know almost nothing about that becomes a zombie with a spirit of a mirror in it..

Homunculous Kazuki or just human Kazuki? It doesn’t really matter which one showed up because they did almost nothing for this character.. In the end, he just represents another pawn in Kyo’s quest for power?

When something like the Mirror Vassal gets mentioned, you would think there would at least be a little insight to the significance of it. Nope! This episode just glosses over the fact that there was a Mirror Vassal soul inside the Kazuki Homunculus. We didn’t get any explanation of why and how that all happened. Was there any explanation of this Vassal Mirror in a prior episode? I don’t think so. It would have been nice to get some insight on the weapon that would ultimately help Naofumi defeat Kyo. Raphtalia, Filo and Yomogi literally pick it off the ground after defeating Homunculus Kazuki and wind up using it with Naofumi.

The Not so Epic L’arc, Kizuna, Glass & Therese

If you were expecting anything epic to happen with these characters, then we are both sadly disappointed. Coming up off a great cliffhanger, you would think there would be a little more screen time for these characters to do something significant. Instead, they’re just toiling away against random creatures for a couple scenes. Only until the fight was over between Naofumi and Kyo, did we ever get to see these characters make any lasting impressions on the audience. What a total waste for an otherwise great 2nd cast of heroes.

Naofumi Gets His Revenge

As Kyo continually antagonizes Naofumi, he hits a boiling point as he calls upon the depths of the Wrath Shield that manifests an entity that’s suppose to represent his anger and rage that could turn everything around him into flames.

The show has been teasing Naofumi’s yearning for revenge, since they entered Kizuna’s world. Every time though, the party around him was able to help quell his anger. This time, it was no different. It just so happens the character with the most self-awareness tries to bring Naofumi back to his senses.

As the flames of the Wrath Shield try to make a deal with Naofumi to use its powers, the spirit of Ost shows up to remind Naofumi that “HE gets to choose what to do.” Also, reminding him that “he doesn’t need the flames and he’s not going to kill my precious friends, right?” Snapping out of his rage, he is happily welcomed in arms by Filo and Raphtalia.

If you know how I feel about Ost as a character, then her randomly showing up to tell Naofumi this “friends-forever” crap is going to be negatively viewed by me. Like c’mon!

Instead of killing Kyo in an all out rage, while eliminating his friends in the process, Naofumi kills Kyo, while the whole crew is there to stand by him. As Kyo gets blown away leaving his Vassal Book behind, he makes a snarky comment as he is laughs his way to his death.

Ultimately, Naofumi accepts that he has some “negative feelings,” but will “learn to accept and grow from it.” The reason he gives for defeating Kyo isn’t about “being a hero” or “doing it for anyone else,” it’s about “doing it for himself.” I still don’t quite understand how this helps quell his anger.. Does he not still end up killing Kyo for revenge? He just doesn’t accept the flames.

After the aftermath of the battle against Kyo, Naofumi’s party meets up with L’arc’s party and they eventually part ways with Naofumi, Raphtalia, Filo and Rishia returning back into their world.

What Are We Supposed to Take Away From Naofumi’s Character Development?

You can boil down Naofumi’s character arc this season as someone resisting his motivation for revenge. Add in the “I have to protect my friends” trope, it becomes even more undeniably basic. Again, sometimes it can sound good on paper, but when you have characters like Ost being the main driver for Naofumi’s motivation for revenge, then it just becomes lacklaster. Like, love, hate her, she kind of just came out of nowhere and lasted only six episodes. Five, if you don’t count the cliffhanger on episode one. He’s literally getting revenge for a lady he just met. Not only that, she helped instigate wars to steal souls. That sounds exactly like a worthy person to get revenge for.. Not!

What does make a lot more sense is when Kyo separates Filo and Raphtalia from Naofumi. A path to a very dark road was there for Naofumi if anything actually happened to Filo or Raphtalia. Slavery and imprisonment? Sounds pretty bad. These acts of cruelty that Kyo purposefully intended for Naofumi to experience by taking away his closest comrades could have been explored in a more terrifyingly sadistic way. Instead, it ended up being no real negative consequences towards Naofumi and the group. I love the idea of Naofumi being separated from Raphtalia and Filo. It built character and put them in fresh new situations. My biggest gripe comes down to whether not Naofumi’s internal struggle for revenge resonates with the viewer. As you can already guess, it did not with me.

Last Thoughts

The biggest surprise of the season would have to go to Rishia. Out of all the character arcs of the season that made the most sense, it was hers. Once again, she displayed her best qualities and the result of her growth as a character like she did in episode 6 of this season. She’s the only character that can easily handle Kyo in a 1v1 and was the catalyst that talked Naofumi out of his rage until of course—Ost comes to hijack that scene to make it more dramatic.

What was the highlight of the episode? It certainly was not any of the fighting. It has to be Naofumi being consumed by the Wrath Shield. This episode wasn’t about crazy fights, it’s about Naofumi overcoming his feelings of hatred and lust for revenge. It’s him making his own decision and on his own free will to save all of his friends. With all that mentioned, you as the viewer must determine whether this was a satisfactory conclusion. You can already guess mine..


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