「四聖勇者」 (Shisei Yuusha)
“The Four Cardinal Heroes”
After misunderstandings and confrontations galore, the four heroes are finally working together. This could be a monumental development that will allow them to reach their full potential as a team, but for now, their alliance is admittedly tenuous, and according to Naofumi, undoubtedly temporary. We all know he’s a bit of a grumpy bear, though, so hopefully fending off a common enemy with his fellow heroes will warm him to the idea of future team-ups. To even say their cooperation is a miracle, though, is a massive understatement. The way these four bicker and cast blame amongst themselves, you’d think there wasn’t a Pope recharging the ultimate weapon with every intention of killing them standing nearby.
Speaking of His Grace, the weapon the Pope used to create that giant smoking crater is an amalgamation of the four heroes’ legendary weapons. It was said to have been lost, but this turned out to have been another lie that the Church has propagated for generations. During their search for answers, Ren and Itsuki happened to find a book on its creation which confirmed their suspicions that the Church couldn’t be trusted seconds before the trap that had been laid for them was sprung. Luckily, they were saved by one of the Queen’s Shadows. I’m sure no one was expecting them to die, but it’s still nice to be given something of an explanation, though how she managed to shield the entirety of Ren and Itsuki’s combined parties when Naofumi barely managed to fend off God’s Judgement the previous episode will forever remain a mystery.
Something interesting about the Pope, besides the fact that he looks like a kindly grandfather even when he’s calling down fire and brimstone from the sky, is the rhetoric he uses. By calling the Shield Hero a Devil, he is repainting the battle and those involved in black-and-white, an epic showdown between the unquestionably Good and unquestionably Evil. And his disciples listen to his every word, they rally behind this simple yet strong rhetoric, because as history has proven, it’s effective. Particularly for those who have lost faith in the current system and are desperate for something to believe in. Thanks to the antics of the heroes and Myne, there are villages filled with overtaxed and starving people, hundreds if not thousands of refugees, and as for the town that was poisoned by the dragon and the town that Motoyasu inadvertently cursed, those who survived will know that their misfortunes stemmed from the deeds of the heroes they were told would protect them. Although I’m sure the Church has been building up its followers for generations, it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them were recent recruits who joined as a direct result of the heroes and their mistakes.
Take Motoyasu for example. He’s so ridiculously self-absorbed that he shoved Naofumi out of the way to get back in the Pope’s direct line of sight. It was actually pretty amusing, as were Naofumi and his group’s expressions and commentary regarding the proceedings, so I’ll give this show another point for it’s visual comedy, but it also goes to show that Motoyasu is a glutton for attention. It’s a trait we’ve come to accept, although not necessarily a traditionally heroic one. None of the heroes really fit the idea of what they were supposed to be, and with the possible exception of those Naofumi helped, the people have stopped believing in them. And isn’t that just grand for the Church? It’s amazing how something as simple as splitting up the heroes from the beginning, then sending them out in the world with limited information, has led up to the events that are playing out now.
There’s still time to fix things, though. And it all starts with mending the very first bridge that was broken, even if it means putting the entire battle on hold so that Naofumi can thoroughly chew out each of the heroes. As satisfying as it was to see, couldn’t he have waited until after the battle? Or did he think Motoyasu, Ren, and Itsuki wouldn’t listen to him once they no longer needed his help, because… You know, that’s actually a valid concern. Still. It serves as a pretty good indicator that Naofumi is not solely unflawed. The narrative paints him in such a sympathetic light that trying to get a good grasp of those imperfections can be like swimming upstream, yet even with that being the case, one only has to look at Naofumi’s latest and greatest meeting with the king to see how anger can cloud his judgment. Though he may have very well refused to work with the other heroes out of hand if not for Fitoria, his decision to keep his promise to her tells us that Naofumi is learning from his past mistakes, as well.
Now, with them all on the same page at last, the way they should have been from the start, it’s time to find out what the Four Cardinal Heroes are truly capable of.