It’s a battle between two heroes!
The penultimate episode of the series is action-packed from start to finish. Shun faces off against Hugo for the fourth time, and unlike before, this is a no-holds-barred fight. Both combatants are out for blood, though it seems that Shun definitely has the advantage this time.
For one, his Dragon Power grants him near-invincibility against all magic, making Hugo’s skills practically useless. Moreover, Shun is really just the better swordsman of the two, and soon the fight turns into a one-sided duel, which further breaks Hugo’s already broken mind, rendering him incapable of doing anything else but wallow in self-pity.
Perhaps it is better this way though since that forces Sophia to remove him from the fight to begin the “main event”: a battle with the entire party of Shun. And this time, the odds are no longer in the Hero’s favor. Instead, Sophia curb-stomps everyone else, with the exception of Fei who remained an observer.
The fact that despite Shun’s skills and his party’s teamwork, they are still soundly defeated, displays the sheer gap of power between reincarnations who are reborn as humans and those who are revived as monsters. Even if we consider Merazophis’s and Wrath’s assistance—the former being the same Mera who guarded Sophia’s parents, and the latter being none other than Shun’s best friend, Kyouya—Sophia still did most of the fighting and would have won if not for Fei’s offer of surrender.
One thing that makes this fight interesting is how it brings out the worst attitude Shun has: his stubbornness and misplaced faith. Even his friends know this, especially Fei, which further shows how naïve Shun could be, and how these traits might lead to his friends’ deaths someday. The fact that Oka behaves the same way, though partly because of Potimas’s obvious manipulation, doesn’t really bode well for the Hero’s party.
Unfortunately, the chief of the elves has already gotten what he wanted: using Shun as a distraction to complete the preparation of his trump card, an army of machines. This might come as a shock to audiences; after all, the world is set in a fantastical land of magic and monsters. However, the existence of the System greatly hints that this may not be the case, along with the truth that Kumoko has discovered after maxing out her Taboo skill.
Things are not looking good for Wrath and Sophia then as their regular attacks prove ineffective against the robots. Fortunately, Ariel finally sends out her most trusted commander: the enigmatic White.
Overall, episode 23 is a great penultimate episode. The animation quality may not look fine in some parts, and people would probably cringe at most of Shun’s dialogues, but it is a nice way to set up a climactic season finale.
Episode score: 8.5/10.