A week goes by and little Raphtalia is already Level 18. Kids, they grow up so fast!
Joking aside, can we actually talk about the fact that Raphtalia literally went from jailbailt to full fledged waifu after a week of level grinding? It’s bad enough that this anime pulls the tired in-universe RPG stats nonsense but this? This is just weird. I mean, I have so many questions now. Does this aging effect happen to everyone in this world? Is it just demi-humans? If that’s the case, why does it only happen to demi-humans? Does Raphtalia age further the more she levels up? If not, why did it happen this one time? What’s the level to age ratio? When you level up, are the effects gradual or do you flash like a Pokemon and evolve?
The “best” part is that everyone just treats Raphtalia hitting puberty in a week like it’s normal and that’s including Naofumi. Surely, the Shield Hero must’ve been shocked when his companion got older in such a short amount of time. He is from our world after all and I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure growth spurts aren’t that extreme. And you know, just because characters in a story treat something as normal, doesn’t necessarily mean it normalizes for the viewer. Look at Darling in the FranXX for example. All that insanity about magma and aliens and the characters buying into all of that didn’t exactly work out and NO, I WILL NOT LET THAT GO.
Anyway, if you really want to argue about character development then yes, I suppose Raphtalia becoming a mature and assertive woman is the natural conclusion in her arc. I, however, would counter by that it’s odd for this to happen one episode after she’s been formally introduced. One episode later and she’s already able to move on from her childhood trauma and face monsters like it’s a simple errand. I feel like we just skipped so many steps with this arc.
Now that I think about it, maybe this is just to make it easier for people to ship Raphtalia with Naofumi. Obviously, the easiest solution would be to just not go in that direction but clearly, this property needs to make money somehow. Even with that in mind, aging her this quickly seems like a stretch and there’s still the baggage that Raphtalia is still a slave that muddies the relationship. Actually, why is Raphtalia still a slave anyway? It’s not like Naofumi actually supports slavery and even after learning a little bit about the rumors surrounding him, Raphtalia doesn’t seem to care.
Past those really, really glaring issues, Episode 3 actually picks up considerably once the Wave hit the country. It’s a modest set piece with the three other Heroes only concerned about the big monsters while Naofumi stays out of their way and protects a small village caught in the crossfire. It’s admittedly getting harder and harder to believe that the Legendary Shield is considered useless. I don’t know, it looked pretty stinking useful here with all the different barriers Naofumi calls upon to protect the villagers. You have to wonder if maybe those priests were making stuff up…which actually would make for smart writing now that I think about it. Regardless, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed with Naofumi’s stunts and strategies in this fight. It’s less brute strength or flash moves and more thinking outside the box and considering how overpowered isekai protagonists can be, this approach is something I do appreciate.
While he and Raphtalia fight alone at first, their actions do win over some villagers and knights in the area and the Wave is fended off more successfully as a result. A bit deliberate on the writers’ part to refrain from directly calling back to Naofumi’s rape allegations. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone in the staff is trying to limit how often it’s referenced to avoid ruffling feathers again. That aside, it’s satisfying to see Naofumi earn back some goodwill. The other Heroes seem to only see the Wave as a fancy MMO event and are dead set on glory. Naofumi on the other hand, focused on the people first and foremost even when he knows he wouldn’t necessarily be thanked for it.
To be fair, the concept that Naofumi is an unsung hero who wins back the people with his actions is pretty good angle to take. It’s becoming no wonder that Shield Hero stood out among a lot of contemporary light novels. I just think, as far as I can tell, that this story could surely stand to be a lot better.
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