It’s been a while since I did a review of an anime season so I thought I would come back to a show I just loved for my return to reviewing them. What I liked most about season 1 was how the character development was masterfully done, but now that we’ve seen all that happen season 2 focused more on what those characters did after those experiences. Season 2 really does several things differently than the first season as it shifts from a character-driven narrative to more of a world-building one. Additionally, we have a much shorter season with only 12 episodes instead of 25 and these changes do make a big difference.
Now that Naofumi is no longer a social pariah, since season one showed how the accusations made against him were all a lie, we immediately get a different feel going into season two. Naofumi is now quite a bit more jovial with the other characters and does a lot more to work with them. He also has a new party member to add to the mix Rishia. However, because of the shorter season, you notice the changes in pace right away. It really felt like the first few episodes really sped up the pace to get to the big story element which in this case is the Spirit Tortoise rampaging across the world using the souls of the people to pause the waves. I do get why the pacing was faster, but it does mean that season one has the edge in story execution because it had the luxury of taking its time. The spirit tortoise arc was an enjoyable one to watch but speaking honestly it’s my least favorite part of the entire series so far. It’s fun to watch the combat and seeing attacks from armies on a giant kaiju-like monster was a site to behold and it was great to get more information on the lore such as the function of the Tortoise and learning about how in addition to the four cardinal weapons the world has eight slightly weaker vassal weapons to go with them. The thing is that the emotional weight of the start of season one simply makes a much stronger impression than the combat at the start of season two. I did love how the arc ended though as it did bring back some moments of character development that I was hoping to see. I won’t spoil what happened though.
The second half of the season is an entirely different arc focused on Naofumi going into an alternate world as the person behind the spirit tortoise attacking was a vassal weapon wielder from that world. Here we get kind of more of the feel of the show that we got in season one where you have a nice mix of character and world development. We get introduced to heroes from this world and the lore behind it which was a lot of fun to watch. We also get to see some excellent character development from Raphtalia which for me was one of the most amazing moments of the entire season.
One thing I loved in how season two stood out was a departure of how the emotional moments were handled. In season one pretty much all of the high emotional moments featured Naofumi as the focus, but in season two he’s got a better handle on his feelings, and the focus on those moments shifts to his party members. Raphtalia and Rishia get a lot of development this season, especially Raphtalia and because she is a character we got to bond with from the very beginning when those moments happen they are incredible.
To talk about the season overall it’s much faster paced of course and that does sadly affect the overall quality, but Rising of the Shield Hero managed to make that work to tell the story effectively. Season 2 dives more into the lore of multiple worlds rather than a character-focused narrative and personally, I feel like character-focused narratives tell stronger stories but we got so much of that in the first season that a departure from that made season 2 stand out. The only real flaw in season 2 is that it is noticeably less entertaining than season 1. Now that’s not a bad thing as both seasons were fun to watch but it is a big difference.
This season was a lot of fun to watch and seeing all this lore was incredible. A much-needed change for the show in order to set up future amazing moments from these characters. It was fascinating seeing bits and pieces of the world that were hinted at but not explained in season one. However, it is easy to go into this thinking you are going to get something on par with season one and you’re just not. This season appears to do more to set up story moments down the road for what I predict will be a very incredible season three and for that reason, I can’t wait to see where Naofumi’s story goes next.
Normally I would end the review here but I have one more thing to mention. Sadly between seasons 1 and 2 the original voice of Naofumi, Billy Kametz, passed away. Billy really did a great job bringing the character to life but now that torch has been passed to Stephen Fu who carried it splendidly. Bravo Stephen for doing such a great job. Billy may you rest in peace and thank you for everything.