「アルゴノゥト (英雄回帰)」 (Arugonouto (Eiyuu Kaiki))
“Argonaut (Hero’s Return)”
The Ideal Hero
I expected a final showdown for the ages between Bell and Hermes. But things moved even quicker than that. Hermes avoids being involved with direct combat and attempts to set up a situation where some Xenos willingly offer themselves to be slain by Bell, to buy their brethren safe passage and to restore his lost honour. Hermes has absolutely no regard for Bell’s feelings, and views the Xenos as nothing but pawns to further his aspirations of forging Bell into his ideal hero of the masses. However, there’s a lot more than he could ever bargain for thanks to Freya’s influence – since her desires directly conflict with those of Hermes.
She wants to send ridiculous challenges to Bell and give him complete freedom to decide what kind of hero he wants to become himself. Not to mention she even kept the Loki familia on lokidown to prevent any possible intervention. Freya really didn’t hold back on pulling out all the stops. The more unpredictable, the more daring, the better. And much to her delight, Bell exceeds all expectations by contravening Hermes and his wishes – essentially challenging the Gods.
More importantly, by preventing anyone else from intervening, Freya sets up the stage so that Bell becomes the only capable adventurer left to protect Orario’s residents from the rampaging minotaur who can petrify everyone with a mere roar. And it’s a call to arms that Bell answers without hesitation. Up until this point, he’s always had this tendency of going beyond his limits and rising above the occasion, frequently pulling out victory from the jaws of defeat. Bell Cranel might be this story’s hero. But that doesn’t always mean that he won’t get utterly destroyed – as we saw today.
The Rematch: Asterius vs Bell
Asterius might have lost his arm. But he shows up for a rematch against the adventurer who killed him in his previous life and haunts his dreams – Bell Cranel. If the Loki Familia’s elite members failed to win, what kind of hope did Bell have? Nevertheless, Bell refused to give up. Even when he was so hopelessly outmatched, he continued to give it his all. The Minotaur’s overwhelming brutality and intensity was self-evident.
It was absolutely clear that Bell was thoroughly out of his depth. That said, it was incredible to watch him hanging on as much as he could, pushing himself past his mortal limits attempting to punch back wherever he could against a raw primal force that could singlehandedly defyt top tier Familias. In the end, it proves too much. Even with Argonaut active, the Ox Slayer’s Blessing and being thrown a sword by Ottarl after his red dagger shatters, Bell gets blasted into the sky before Asterius gigaton gut punches him through the floor of the Colisseum, obliterating him through to the underground arena – leaving Bell incapacitated and writhing in agony. That whole sequence was absolutely breath-taking. After Season 2, I didn’t expect J.C. Staff to pull out such pristinely animation and exquisite choreography – so credit where it is due.
But Asterius’s objective is not revenge. Merely an honourable rematch. Of course, Bell lives to see another day. And with Asterius having his arm restored, Bell has an insanely long way to go if the minotaur ever decides to return and rumble for a third time.
Wow, what a reversal. Seriously, after how much I disliked Season 2, I couldn’t see myself blogging yet another season. Yet here we are. Bell was forced to face an uncomfortable question. Furthermore, he faced a situation that could not be purely resolved through adventuring or fighting. Who is he meant to point his blade towards? The townsfolk of Orario? The very people he seeks to protect? And since it was impossible to change their xenosphobic perceptions, he has to settle for the compromise. It’s not perfect, but at least the Xenos have safe refuge and avoid being the victims of genocide.
Furthermore, Bell well and truly rose beyond the challenge, proving his mantle as a true hero through and through. From the naive, rookie adventurer who was green around the ages, this season was entirely about his coming of age. His realisation that sometimes, sacrifices are necessary to achieve his heroic ideals, with his reputations in tatters as he’s subject to hatred and ire – as well as the fact he willfully pointed his blades at his beloved Aiz to stand up for what he believed in. Although his desires were in contradiction – being a hero to both the Orarians and Xenos – he was able to make it work through his sheer force of will and tenacity. The highlight of this season was definitely Wiene’s death and resurrection. Dia Orpheus was an insanely powerful moment which will definitely be remembered. And it plays heavily into what I perceived to be S3’s theme. That sometimes, sacrifice is necessary to clear a path to the future.
Anyway, that’s about everything I wanted to discuss. While we know there’s another OVA on the way, I sure hope that Danmachi gets a fourth season. I’ve heard it might just be the best one yet, if that’s even possible, due to its focus on Ryuu and her mysterious backstory. As always, thanks for reading all these posts – and see you next time for Best of Anime 2020!