Well, the whole slavery mess was resolved with Raphtalia actually being set free, and proving by her own accord she chooses to remain and fight by Naofumi’s side.
It’s an understatement to say the episode was extremely frustrating to watch, because Naofumi was just being outright bullied, and was attacked by the King and Myne (his daughter) collaborating with each other. For whatever reason, they like the Spear Hero (Motoyama) who is nothing but an ignorant fool being played by both of them. While the other two heroes were also fooled for the time, they did notice and pointed out Myne interfered with the duel, and Motoyama actually lost— only after Motoyama was freed. I suppose one can interpret it in one of two ways, A) they deliberately waited so that Raphtalia would be set free, and be able to choose on her own accord if she wished to stay by Naofumi’s side, or B) their characters were made to say it out of convenience so that Naofumi doesn’t get screwed over for the second time. I would like to think of it as the first idea, but honestly the way was presented, it felt more like the second. A lot of that had to do with how every god damn person at the party and watching the duel was against Naofumi.
And frankly, I thought everyone’s reaction was an overkill. To think they had the audacity to criticize a guy who only has a shield as his source of weapon, for using Balloon Monsters? (And I for one was glad to see he had the balloon monsters on him!) What’s next, were they going to complain if he used a sword? And if that wasn’t stupid enough, to complain about him locked Motoyama up?! Unless the guy was going to be able to break out, that’s his loss! It’s just one of the handy dandy abilities the shield has, but nah, everyone thinks that’s “playing dirty”. Ugh seriously, this whole fiasco was so full of double-standards, it wasn’t fun to watch. More than anything it made me want to rip my hair out. I enjoy underdog characters, but depending on how they are executed, there are times when it doesn’t take me long to get sick and tired of being bullied by the same people over and over and over again. That’s why it will be interesting to see how often they plan to use this approach, because if they use it too often, they might end up killing my interest in the series, which would suck because even though it has only been four episodes, I have been enjoying it.
Although this episode was terribly frustrating to watch, it did have some good moments. I would say the most interesting part of the episode was when we witnessed what happens to a Hero when he gets devoured by his despair. Today’s ordeal of being screwed over once more, triggered an ominous power known as “Curse Series”. We didn’t see much of what it does, and honestly I kind of wished we did. But it looks like it was better that it didn’t, because while it didn’t fully activate, we did see the marks it left on him which later disappeared.
We also need to appreciate how cleverly Naofumi used his shield’s various forms. Even though he doesn’t exactly have the “flashiest” weapon on the block, it is certainly way more effective when used in creative ways! It was really neat to see him use it offensively for a change.
Another thing I wanted to point out the confusing delusion Naofumi was experiencing. What he was seeing was completely different to what was happening in reality, so it made me wonder if someone (like Myne) was using illusion magic on him or something. Or maybe it was just the result of the Shield’s power consuming his despair. It wasn’t exactly clear to me how or why this was happening, so I found myself lost for much of that scene.
Last but not least, it was nice to see Naofumi get the comfort he so desperately needed. I felt for him when Raphtalia told him she would believe in him, the words he has been starving to hear. It was really cute to see him fall asleep at the stadium and be able to taste food again. I think he lost his taste because of his depression, which is an understatement after all the shit he has gone through. Although the world is still against him as always, Naofumi can start moving forward again, this time with Raphtalia as a true partner than being confined to a contract.