Following last episode, the conclusion of the subplot for Rishia and Itsuki draws to a close, but not before a fight between them.
And as expected, justice prevails!
The series has been shown to feature a lot of characters with their own quirks and personalities, particularly for this season. But it is only in this season that we learn more about Naofumi’s fellow Cardinal Heroes. Motoyasu loves women too much, Ren is overconfident, and of course we already know about Naufumi’s tough personality.
But it is Itsuki who is arguably the most troubling.
What sets the Bow Hero apart is his obsession with justice and destroying evil. That in itself isn’t inherently wrong—heroes are meant to fight evil—but Itsuki takes it to such lengths that he speaks in a broken record. Worse yet, everything he says is so twisted and unreasonable that he comes off as irritating and self-righteous, to the point that he attacks Naofumi in the very start of his match with Rishia.
Obviously, Malty is a major factor in his delusions, feeding him lies about Naofumi’s actions (where did she even get them?). But maybe it is already natural with Itsuki. After all, he was a prodigy in his past life, only to fail and be placed in the lowest section of his school.
And while it is a sad backstory, it can’t deny the fact that he has both an inferiority and superiority complex, making him less of a hero and more of a villain. In fact, the power of his Curse Bow is derived from his proud nature, allowing him to turn every target his arrow hits into his mindless worshippers. He even acts like a deranged cult leader who believes in his own lies.
Thankfully, Rishia is there to beat some sense into him.
Rishia is the kind of character we couldn’t help but love. While she is initially introduced as a comic relief supporting character, she has grown significantly during the past season and the current one, both physically and mentally.
And that growth culminates in this episode. For the first time, we catch a glimpse of Rishia’s full potential during her fight against Itsuki. She is overpowering him in every way despite his power as the Bow Hero, to the point that she could get out of his ultimate attack, the Bull of Phalaris.
While her training played a huge role in this mismatch battle, it is also Rishia’s resolve that strengthens her; that resolve to save Itsuki from the pits of darkness through compassion. This contrasts the Bow Hero’s motivation, which is purely for his ego.
But what is arguably her greatest moment, and this episode’s highlight, is when the Bow itself gives Rishia the power to shape her ki into different sorts of weapon, almost as if she is a Hero herself, which allows her to completely defeat Itsuki.
The implication that a Cardinal Weapon is sentient opens a host of possibilities, not the least of which is that it can choose to betray its wielder if their heart isn’t pure. And since it helped Rishia, this battle simply proves the purity of her heart, making her a better Hero than Itsuki could ever be.
Despite his defeat, Itsuki’s pride is so great that he simply runs away in denial of his lost. An expected outcome, but even more expected is the revelation that Malty and his party has left him—and with a lot of debts too.
The situation feels eerily similar to what Naofumi has experienced. But unlike the Shield Hero, Itsuki couldn’t handle the consequences of his actions, to the point that he faints from shock
Thankfully, Naofumi is kind enough to allow him to stay in Lurolona. And while Itsuki’s mind is heavily affected by what Malty did, Rishia is always by his side to support him.
Of course, Itsuki needs to see the error of his ways before he can fully recover. But if the other heroes can do it, no doubt he can as well, especially with Rishia’s help.
With the end of Rishia and Itsuki’s subplot, the Cardinal Heroes are reunited at last. This episode is a nice and heartwarming conclusion to yet another subplot, with moments of great action. Obviously, the highlight is Rishia, giving her another boost in her character development as well as Itsuki’s
Episode score: 7.5/10