The Rising of the Shield Hero S3 Ep 6 Review
An interesting fact about Ren Amaki from Shield Hero: he’s a pretty obvious expy of Kirito, the main protagonist of Sword Art Online. AKA, one of the stories that made isekai a popular genre from the 2010s onwards. People know Kirito as either this lone-wolf gamer with a heart of gold or a sword-wielding badass. The anime makes it all the more apparent with Ren sharing the same seiyuu, or voice actor, as Ren in the native Japanese. Unlike Kirito, though, Ren is more of someone who wants to be a badass yet fails miserably when it counts. Case in point, this episode of Shield Hero shows Ren’s mindset before getting summoned and how he ended up the way he is now.
Kicking off with a flashback to Ren’s life before the present day, fans see how much of a contradiction the young man is. On the one hand, he likes being the strongest or being seen as the strongest and having others sing his praises. On the other hand, though, he’s a lone wolf who is unsure how to interact with his peers, and thus fails to understand the value of the teamwork. As a result, when he got isekai’d, his whole party only fed his ego, exacerbating the problem. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Ren kept thinking he was all his party needed, and neglected their own growth. Which came back to bite him tragically when his party got slaughtered by the Spirit Tortoise.
Then, in a move surprising no one but himself, Witch robbed him of his gear and money. After that, the same guys who attacked Naofumi’s party try to kill him, only he’s got no party to help him; no deus ex machine like S’yne; and none of the townspeople want to help him. He’s all alone. And that leads him to activate not one, but two, cursed series for his Cardinal Sword and become a bandit leader.
The difference between Ren and Kirito is that, while Kirito started out as a lone wolf, he managed to grow out of it. He opened himself up to others, made friends, and even got a girlfriend. Ren was never willing to take that first step, though, despite dying saving someone else’s life. He never had the kind of people that Naofumi found, which only served to reinforce these negative qualities. All of these things ultimately drove Ren to the point where Naofumi finds him. Wearing a tuxedo mask, fighting Motoyasu, and corrupted by the curses of gluttony and greed.
Ren Gets a Reality Check
Clearly, Ren is in need of a reality check, and where Naofumi fails, his friend, Eclair, steps up. And, since we skipped out on the second season, Eclair is the daughter of the Lord that ruled the land that Lulorona Village’s a part of. When he died, she hunted down the slavers who kidnapped the villagers, only to get imprisoned by the Three Heroes Church until Naofumi brought them down.
The fight between Ren and Eclair is short but important for two reasons. Firstly, despite him being a Cardinal Hero, Ren gets his butt kicked by Eclair, showing him how weak he is. It’s even implied that Eclair wasn’t fighting him seriously, to boot, driving the point home further. Secondly, Eclair cuts to the root of Ren’s problems: he doesn’t know what he wants beyond the role he was given. He lacks the resolve needed to point his strength towards something worthwhile, stagnated from that, and hates himself for it, since it means he got his party killed.
That is the power of the “fight no jutsu” and “talk no jutsu” at work in tandem.
With the main conflict now resolved, the episode wraps up with the two assassin’s from before attack the group while they’re recovering. However, Motoyasu kills them both in two seconds thanks to taking Naofumi’s training advice, and Raphtalia kills their souls so they can’t come back. One less problem to deal with, and two of the Cardinal Heroes now willing to listen to Naofumi.
This wasn’t one of the most exciting episodes of the season, but nonetheless, it was an enjoyable one. We got to see inside Ren’s mindset and learn why he is who he is. Furthermore, getting to watch him see reason was very satisfying. With six episodes left in the season, the only hero left to find is Itsuki. Fingers crossed, Naofumi finds him before he can get hurt or cause too much trouble.