Anime Reviews Episodic Reviews

The Rising of the Shield Hero – Ep 1. “The Shield Hero” Impressions

(Via Crunchyroll)

The Rising of the Shield Hero (盾の勇者の成り上がり)

(Anime 2019)

Created By Aneko Yusagi

So I decided to give this series a shot because of all the uproar I’ve been hearing about it. To be honest,  it looks like the typical “gaming” light novel story with similarities to Sword Art Online. However, I do find it a bit engaging to have a male protagonist that doesn’t necessarily follow the typical hero stereotype we see in shounen/seinen anime series and in chivalric literature.

The Rising of the Shield Hero is about four “heroes” from different parallel universes joining together to try to save a country being attacked by these strange forces.

© Kadokawa Pictures Inc.

The main protagonist of the story is Naofumi Iwatani. He has a limited understanding of the world that he has been transported to and so, our view is based primarily on Naofumi’s perspective and the subtle facial expressions that the characters give, hinting at some important information we may need to know for future episodes.

Even though we aren’t knowledgeable about the parallel universe that he has been transported to, we are given a feeling of suspicion towards the people of this country. The king and the people do not respect Naofumi even though he’s a legendary hero. They believe that true heroes wield a sword and attack enemies as opposed to a shield that’s only sworn to defend. In other words, the sword weighs more than the shield in terms of providing protection and so, the other three heroes are respected more than Naofumi. So when the legendary heroes are summoned to greet the king, everyone gave their introductions except Naofumi which already hints that Naofumi isn’t appreciated. Also, the other heroes think lowly of him since he doesn’t seem to understand standard role-playing games and isn’t quick to pick up on how this land works. In fact, these other heroes seem a bit obnoxious and arrogant. I found it ironic that these people don’t show any sign of respect for Naofumi especially when he was summoned by an ancient ritual and that it’s his destiny to save the people. Ironically, now, he has to save the people that labeled him as an outcast.

© Kadokawa Pictures Inc.

Naofumi was really optimistic about this fated task. However, when his only trusted “friend” betrayed him, he realized that he can only count on himself. I think this naive mindset comes from the fact that he is this “closet otaku” and a high-functioning hikikomori (though he denies these labels given to him). The reason why I say he’s high-functioning is due to the fact that he is able to be friendly with others despite being a bit of a socially awkward character that doesn’t seem to understand that there are some screwed up people in this world.

© Kadokawa Pictures Inc.

Since the beginning, Naofumi was treated like garbage and it only got worse once he gets accused of rape by his only party member, Malty Melromarc. It is this traumatic moment when he changed his outlook on people. As a result of being falsely accused, he decides to go “rogue” and defeat the enemies on his own without the help of the other legendary heroes. In fact, when it was revealed that the legendary heroes could possibly die in this world and not return back home, the other three heroes realized that they may actually have to work together. Yet, Naofumi lost trust in them because they decided to turn against him, and so now you have a disjointed group of legendary heroes.

© Kadokawa Pictures Inc.

Naofumi was crafted to be a likable character in the viewers’ eyes. He’s charming, charismatic, and optimistic. He doesn’t have that stubborn main protagonist vibe that we often see in shounen series. However, his likable persona becomes questionable now since he lost faith in humanity and makes decisions based on his own personal gains. In fact, in the next episode, we will see him buy a slave. Yet, I personally find his character development refreshing. We have an anti-hero that’s on a rampage for revenge. He’s broken goods and as a viewer, we question his motives. Is he’s going to save the people of this country or let it rot in hell? How is he going to save the people – is it through rightful means or is he going to do some immoral and questionable acts? Naofumi is obligated to help these people who don’t care about him, or else he will die in this world and not return home. I’m excited to see how his character will unfold because he isn’t the typical hero we are used to seeing.

Lastly, The Rising of the Shield Hero brings up an interesting concept: sometimes we are forced to help people that don’t necessarily deserve it. I think this is an indisputable truth. It’s in our government, the legal system, the wars we fight, and also in our everyday actions.

Anyways, I personally will watch this series because of my curiosity and also the fact that the main protagonist, Naofumi Iwatani, is a bit problematic and difficult for a viewer to understand and I like that.

You can watch this series on Crunchyroll.


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