I am not going to lie, I thought this was a really weak way to end the season. Although there were some really great plot points indicating some great things to look forward to in the future, these last two episodes were pretty sluggish and the humour didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
Episode 11 was… oof. Frankly speaking, it had me wishing the season had just ended at Episode 10 instead. Besides the two important developments: addressing Hestia’s feelings for Bell (and vice versa), and setting the stage for the next big thing: The Black Dragon, I could care less about this episode. I was so unimpressed with the introduction of Ares, I was left wondering if it was done better in the book. Either way, I didn’t find him funny whatsoever. For a guy who is supposed to be a War God, he is pretty stupid. You’d think the guy with that title would be a lot more like a Master Tactician, not this idiot who has a bunch of ordinary fighters who can’t even stand a chance the adventurers from Orario. He is even ridiculed by his own adviser!
…And yet, this guy just so happens to luck out that Hestia had caved in to assisting a woman who needed her to return her cart or something from outside of town despite the fact she’s not really supposed to. But she ends up being able to do so with the help of another idiot, Ganesha. And not even two seconds after she steps outside of the city, she gets kidnapped by Ares. Luckily with some help, Bell and Ais are able to find her, but the next thing we know, Hestia slipping off the edge of a slippery cliff, and the two dive in to save her.
When they ended the episode like that, at the time it had me thinking they might just encounter, or even get a glimpse of the legendary Black Dragon that Hermes had introduced to us earlier when he told Bell about the Three Great Quests. Long story short, three ancient monsters had escaped from the dungeon, two of them (Behemoth, the King of the Land and Leviathan, the Lord of the Waves) have been defeated, but the last one, the Black Dragon (said to be a living disaster,) single-handily wiped out the two most powerful familias at the time, Zeus’s and Hera’s.
But we got something a little different, and I am actually glad for it. The Black Dragon is far too important and dangerous for Bell and the others to encounter this soon. Instead, this week (episode 12) we were introduced to a different perspective of how this fearsome Black Dragon’s scales had actually benefited the local village they had taken shelter at after the fall. To the local villagers, the dragon is someone they pray to since they believe its scales are what protecting them, by dissuading monsters from attacking their village. This really raises a lot of questions about the nature of the Dragon, its role and more about the unspoken truth that is not necessarily in the lore. It makes me excited to see what kind of opinion Bell will form when he inevitably one day encounters the legendary beast. Will he take on the role of “the hero the world has been waiting for”, or will he go against Hermes’ vision, and choose to protect it instead, or will he do something else entirely?
And it doesn’t stop there. It also appears Ais also shares a history with this dragon, and man I am so ready to find out more about it. I can’t remember the last time we had seen Ais make such an expression, in fact it may actually be the first time we have seen her invoke such emotion.
Aside from the major plot points that served as the highlights of both episodes for me, there was also development in regards to Bell’s and Hestia’s relationship. Last week when they making a fuss “rules” about relationships in the Familia with the Gods, Hestia asked Bell what he would do if a Goddess told him she loved him, only for him to say it like it was the most obvious thing in the world: He’d refuse.
Goodness, he didn’t even hesitate. The way he shot her down could have killed her on the spot. For Bell, not only does he not recognize Hestia’s love for him being anything more than platonic love, but he also wouldn’t feel comfortable of dating someone of such status. And you know it’s bad when everyone in the room were like ,’ Dude… that was too much.’ Hell, even Lilli told him that he shouldn’t have responded in that manner.
The problem with the way Bell had responded was his lack of tact. Having a conversation with Miach and Hephaistios more about the subject helped him open his eyes by hearing from the deities’ perspectives as well. Although the whole predicament fell flat for me, I still appreciated how they touched on the kind of obstacles both the mortal and deity have to face and overcome for them to pursue their love for each other, as well as addressing how there are various forms of love as well. I also really seeing characters like Welf and Mikoto come out about how they harbour strong feelings towards their Goddess/God. It was also important for Bell to understand, he is not obliged to return Hestia’s love, but instead of fearing it, he should respect it.
They expanded further on the love between a deity and mortal further in episode 12 by introducing us to a dying man Karm, a former adventurer who had lost his beloved Goddess, Brigid. He spoke with Bell about his regrets, in hopes that he wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes he made. He later passes from his illness, but not before Hestia provides him a form of comfort to see his beloved Goddess one last time.
Is Bell romantically in love with his Goddess? No, at least not *yet (should his feelings for her grow stronger once he overcomes the fear of falling in love with a Goddess). But Bell absolutely loves Hestia for who she is and who she embodies as the head of their familia. It is because he respects her and wishes to protect her from harms way that he doesn’t want to her to suffer when he inevitably passes on.
He doesn’t want to hurt her, which is also why it is so difficult for him to accept her love because as someone who understands what it feels like to lose a loved one (his grandfather). Because the Gods are eternal beings, it concerns Bell that Hestia would suffer when his time is up. That is why today, Hestia took the time to tell him no matter what, she intends to stay by his side. Even if when death tears them apart, she will find him so they can be together again. And I am glad they were finally able to have this conversation.
Overall while the finale wasn’t the strongest I would have hoped for, the season as a whole was still fun to watch. Was it as enjoyable as the first season? No, I don’t actually think so. It was an okay season, but it was certainly not the best of the two. While they didn’t waste any time of diving straight into the action, they didn’t do themselves any favours of rushing the War Game arc (which is said to be a lot better in the novel). It goes without saying Haruhime’s arc was much better, and I enjoyed it a lot thanks to getting the chance to get to know Mikoto. However when I thought about it why I didn’t enjoy it as much, I realized there were two reasons for it:
- Although there were a lot of fights this season, not one of them were nearly as exciting as the Bell’s epic Minotaur Battle (remains among one of my favourite battle scenes to date) or the Goliath Boss Fight that took place in the first season.
- We didn’t get to see Bell’s crew interact as much. Instead, this season focused more on the Gods’ themselves.
Of course this isn’t a bad thing, in fact it had to be done at some point or another, especially since it’s important for us to learn more about the Gods’ personalities, how they interact with one another, and so on forth. There was also shedding light on some of the new faces, but by doing so, it came at the expense of benching most of the existing characters, which means, no new or major development for them. But unfortunately, most of the new characters who were introduced to us were either straight up creeps, unlikable or were just plain stupid. Haruhime and Aisha were pretty much the sole exceptions of the bunch.
This is actually another reason why I think it was really important for them to announce a third season so soon. Even though it won’t be until Summer 2020, at the very least we won’t have to wait long for the next big arc. Varying on what will transpire next season, I would like to think of this season more of an extended split-cour. New viewers who don’t plan to read, or at least haven’t read the novel may end up enjoying this season more if they were to watch the two seasons back-to-back. Perhaps by doing so, it would feel more balanced— but again, this all varies on who will be in the spotlight.
Well that’s all I got to say. It’s too bad it was an underwhelming finish to the season, but I am quite looking forward to catching up the novels. I intend to reread my entire collection from the very beginning (Vol 1 – 13, the 14th volume will be released on December 10, 2019), so that should indulge me until the next season!
— A.I.R (Anime Intelligence (and) Research) (@AIR_News01) September 27, 2019