「紡がれる約束」 (Tsumugareru Yakusoku)
“A Promise Made”
As exciting as filolials fighting like a pair of kaiju in the forest would have been, the battle between Fitoria and Firo was nonetheless a feast for the eyes. Although I’m aware that I praise this series often for its animation quality, when the staff has lovingly detailed the frustration Firo was feeling or the occasional flickers of emotion in Fitoria, and all while depicting a fight between an immortal who looks like a child and a child who looks like a child with the utmost gravity, how can I not? This series deserves every bit of praise it gets because what it does well it does really well. As usual, Kevin Penkin’s OST was energetic without distracting from the scene, its beats lending to the choreography in the fight, and with all of these factors working together, the battle between Firo and Fitoria had to be one of the best overall in the series thus far.
But what led up to it? If I understand correctly, Fitoria’s master, a past hero implied to be a former Shield Hero, asked her to help the heroes protect the world and its people. A tall order, really, since as Fitoria explains to Naofumi, protecting the world is a much simpler task. At a certain point, the heroes will be faced with a choice – Do they protect the world and return home afterwards with their duty fulfilled? Or do they choose to protect its people, a much longer and grueling task? While Fitoria didn’t outright say, it seems that choosing the latter could very well mean that the hero never returns at all. When does something like protecting the people end? When there’s no more poverty, greed, sickness, or starvation? When the Church is no longer corrupt and the kingdoms are at peace?
How could one hero possibly be expected to create a utopia? And yet, it seems that most of the heroes wish for their successors to choose to protect the people.
At the end of the day, Fitoria is still going to wipe out the heroes if they don’t start making up and playing nice, but shows an unexpectedly kind side after both Firo and Naofumi pass her test. For Firo, it was a test of her resolve, loyalty, and potential. She’s grown enormously in every fight she’s been in, a trend which doesn’t change for her as she seems to successfully wield a spell she’s never used before in her human form, utilizing her speed and raw power to scratch Fitoria’s cheek and prove that Firo may one day be her equal. As for Naofumi, he needed to show that he believed in the strength of his comrades. Watching Firo get tossed around must have been extremely difficult for him, but if he doesn’t trust in the abilities of his party members, then can he honestly boast that he doesn’t need the other heroes to defeat the Waves? Every time Naofumi shouted encouragement from the sidelines, Firo improved, employing new tactics and taking risks. This may have been a fight Naofumi couldn’t fight for her, but let it never be said that she fought alone.
Later on, Fitoria and Naofumi spoke in private once more. She’d given him a cowlick of hers to sacrifice to his shield, unlocking the Filolial series, yet he still regarded the Rage series as his last resort. It was apparent at this point that every time she prevented him from using the Rage series, she was protecting him. If Sanity stats exist in this world, then the Rage series most likely depletes them with every use. The Barbarian Armor upgrade she gave him should protect him from its effects for a little while, but not forever. While they were speaking, Naofumi unwittingly echoed her previous master with both his words and his actions. At some point in the conversation, he asked Fitoria why she made her appeal to him – why not talk to the Spear Hero or the Bow Hero or the Sword Hero? – and she told him that she rated him higher than the other heroes since he raised the next queen, but also because she believes he’s a good person. I’d like to think that Fitoria sees her former master in him, as well, and that she moved to convince the Shield Hero because some part of her remembers the kindness of the Shield Hero who raised her. In any case, it’s clear that she has a favorite.
For now, Naofumi seems to be doing very well for himself. He’s on his way to attempt to reconcile with the two heroes he has the best chance of convincing, and with any luck Ren and Itsuki, who appear to have been investigating the origins of the first heroes when someone didn’t want them to, will still be alive and hale when he catches up with them.