「呪いの盾」(Noroi no Tate)
For those of you who wanted to see the angrier, more hateful side of Naofumi again, I ask only this, “What have you done?”
From the start, it was pretty easy to see we were in for big things this episode. The animation quality was drastically improved, to the point where the crispness of the character designs and artistic backgrounds felt like something out of a feature-length movie.
Naofumi’s compassion for the villagers continues to win him friends among the common people, while the other heroes seem content with what is effectively level grinding. I don’t doubt that the Spear Hero and Sword Hero don’t mean to cause any harm, but as Naofumi surmised, they’re still treating this world like it’s a game. Most likely, this has to do with their vaster amount of RPG experience, whereas Naofumi really had none so he was treating these people like people ( as opposed to NPC’s ) from the get-go. Even so, with him becoming a traveling merchant and helping out the locals, he really does remind me of those Skyrim players who never complete the game because they’re too busy getting sidetracked by mini-quests.
While Naofumi certainly has grown more cynical due to his treatment, he’s also matured a great deal. This positive development seems to have stemmed from his interactions with Raphtalia and Filo. However, there are risks to entrusting the entirety of your emotional well-being to one demi-human and a bird. For example, what if one of them were to, say, be swallowed whole by a dragon-zombie?
After the Sword Hero neglected to clean up his mess when he slew a dragon, the meat began to rot, poisoning the villagers and any adventurers who went near it. Filorials just so happen to instinctively despise dragons, which led to an absolutely horrific sequence where Filo was gobbled up like a cherry pie. If you remember that near-miss when Raphtalia was ‘freed’ of her slave mark a couple episodes back, this was like that but multiplied by a thousand. We got a superb visual of Naofumi being literally consumed by hatred when he unlocked his Curse Series, before he proceeded to make that dragon-zombie wish it’d stayed dead.
His words towards the end about there being different kinds of strength and cowardice were surprisingly heartfelt and poignant. Since Naofumi wields a shield, his role is to protect, which means having the strength to trust in one’s allies. It must be unbelievably hard to see the people you care about in danger and not immediately step in, but as Raphtalia has said many times before, she is his sword. Given that seeing her and Filo in danger is what pushed Naofumi past his limit, one might even say she’s a double-edged sword.
Despite the main conflict being resolved this week, it looks like the party can’t relax just yet. Raphtalia still needs to have those curses Naofumi accidentally inflicted on her treated, and beyond that, there’s trouble brewing on the horizon.