Inside his local library, Naofumi Iwatani gets sucked into a new world and spawned as the infamous “Shield Hero”. As one of the four heroes with mythical weapons, he is responsible to protect the kingdom from an invasion of monsters. Early on, he is accused of sexual assault by a member of his party and is outcasted by the entire kingdom. Here, he learns that he is unable to attack or use any weapons other than his shield. Dejected and hated, he seeks out party members that can become his sword so he can level up and take on the waves of monsters.
Naofumi Iwatani is our main character and tragic hero. Naofumi is given the mythical shield weapon. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons. Reason one: Everyone in the kingdom of Melromarc fucking hates the shield hero. The entire kingdom worships the three other heroes. Yes, you heard that right. These waves threaten the entire world and this kingdom’s religion only worships three of them. Reason two: He can’t use any other weapons or gain experience by defeating enemies. This show buys into the MMO tropes pretty hard, enforcing things like parties, experience, gold, skills, classes, etc. For some reason the shield cannot gain experience from killing, so he needs a party member to kill. Reason three: The heroes are supposed to have knowledge of the kingdom before they are transported, Naofumi did not. Not only does this make everyone mad, but it makes him look like an idiot.
When parties are formed, the king allows the supplied adventurers to choose which hero they go to. No one but Myne stood behind the Naofumi and she quickly betrayed him. On his first night there, she not only omitted the knowledge that they had to be partied for him to get experience when they farmed, but accused him of sexual assault and stole all of his armor. She then reveals that she is the king’s daughter and turns the entire kingdom against him through her royal connections.
How does he respond? He sinks into a deep depression, leans into the villian role that everyone gave him, and buys a demi-human slave named Raphtalia. As one does. Naofumi’s rage for how he was rejected in this world is a critical part of his character. He struggles with being rejected in a place he did not ask to be and ostracized by people for something he did not do. His rage feeds into his cold nature and his trust issues.
Raphtalia is a raccoon. Actually, she is a demi-human slave who is part raccoon and part human. Not sure who thought this was interesting but she has cat ears and a tail so people on the internet love her. Naofumi purchases her from a slave trader and uses her as his sword. Raised as his daughter and as a fighter, Raphtalia’s character is very cute and very powerful. The leveling system in the show accelerates her growth to be an adult in just a couple months, which feels weird and convenient for the plot. She is always vying for the attention of Naofumi and is instrumental in his growth as a person after he was rejected by the rest of the kingdom. Personally she struggles with the emotional trauma of losing her parents to an earlier wave of monsters and being taken as a slave by a local lord. Naofumi helps her learn to be confident and teaches her how to defend herself and others, which becomes a defining part of her personality.
Myne Sophia is a fucking bitch. I wish there was anything of substance to this character but she lies all the time about Naofumi for no apparent reason and is obsessed with the spear hero. She has no use in the show other than being the emotional villain for nothing other than her own entertainment.
Motoyasu Kitamura, Ren Amaki, and Itsuki Kawasumi are the spear, sword, and bow hero respectively. These characters are pretty underwhelming. Not only are they weak in fights, but they also dislike Naofumi for no apparent reason, they only cause issues, and they offer no meaningful dialog.
Naofumi and Raphtalia are really the only characters that change in any way over the course of the show. The development of the characters was entertaining while watching, but are one dimensional and nothing exemplary.
I’m not a huge fan of protagonists being transported into a new world. I am even less of a fan of the MMO features. Not just in this show, but all of them. With that said, I was more favorable of the emotion of the show than not.
I have no interest in discussing the statistics behind false sexual assault. I had a friend in high school who was accused, but camera footage showed the girl lied. I also have girl friends who I believe without question. It is not my job as a reviewer to review if this concept should be there, only how it is performed.
Rage is a lot like my grandma’s perfume, cheap and powerful. Most people can relate to the anger of rejection or being accused of something they didn’t do. The show really feeds off of that. Above all else, the cycle of rage is expressed perfectly. Seeing Naofumi go from confusion to anger, to indifference, and finish with despair was not only heartbreaking, but relatable. The issue is what they did after the release of tension. The viewers were wound so tightly against the rest of the cast that the soft release of tension gave no satisfying end. The tone of the show flips on its head here and the writers can’t seem to decide if Naofumi forgave everyone or if he still hates them. Great start out of the gates, didn’t run enough laps to finish the race strong.
Humans tend to deal with devils of their own creation. While this may not have been intentional by the writers, it was well done. The citizens of the kingdom know that the cursed shield exists, so they ostracized Naofumi. Naofumi only learned of the cursed shield because he was ostracized. So the kingdom members created the devil that they hated and hated the devil they created. The irony only comes in when the other heroes are so imcompetent that they have to resort to the mercy of their own devil, hoping he becomes a demon in the eyes of their enemy.
I feel the need to say again that MMO anime tropes are tired. What I will concede is that the skill tree shown on the shield was very interesting to me. I had never seen anything like it before. The idea that you “feed” material to your weapon was interesting and made me wonder what possibilities there were. The possibilities only opened up more given Naofumi’s rage was able to be fed to the shield. I immediately wondered if there was a flip-side, where Naofumi becomes holy and gains powers in his shield that way.
Doomsday clocks are not subtle. No one will tell you that. Yet, I think that these mystical hourglasses that calmly count down until a portal to another world open are mysterious. We were given very little information about these hourglasses and the people don’t even seem to know all the locations of them. I can picture an intern mage who did a bunch of shit they weren’t supposed to and accidently opened this portal. Once it finally closes they all breathe a sigh of relief only for that guy to say, “Nice work guys! Should we make something to let them know when the next portal opens?” Dang interns.
By far, the best part about the show was the pacing. The show does a solid job of immediately introducing the problem, building the resentment between the kingdom and Naofumi, and then depicting his rise to dominance. A lot happens in the beginning of the show, but they create an air of stagnation through Naofumi. This works really well. Towards the end of the first season you can see how they are setting up for later seasons, so it’s a bit hard to judge the season as a whole show, but they did well. The only issue I had was the arc where he deals with the Church of the Three Heroes. That felt very forced, far too short, and too removed from our main party.
The animation could have been so much more. The fight scenes were interesting enough to keep my attention but not my memory, I don’t see many montages coming from them. The issue is that at random times someone would get slammed into a rock, then be on a beach in the next frame. No rocks in sight. Small oversights like this really bugged me. I noticed at least three scenes like that.
I also can’t shake the feeling that everything could have been more. The fights could have been more grandiose, the villages could have been more unique, and the characters could have had more interesting detail. The most interesting that anyone ever got dressed was Raphtalia during the beach episode. Yes, the beach episode. The Rising of the Shield Hero feels like it could have had good animation, but the simple mistakes and lack of attention to detail held it back.
I could not name one interesting place in the show. Being brutally honest, the world itself is not original in many ways. An MMO based show is nothing new but the show makes semi-passable by showing the skill trees of the shield and having a new dynamic there. The kingdom is like every other kingdom in any other anime. We see the same four or five places inside the castle and visit only three other towns. These towns were not particularly interesting either and really only served as side-quest-like pit stops to understand what the other heroes were up to. Overall, nothing in the world distinguished itself and made it worth discussing in detail.
I struggled to decide if the music was a one or a two here. The Gaelic style music that we hear in the castle is pretty fun. I really enjoyed that. Sadly, the rest of the music is largely just piano and orchestral music that feels bland and uninspired. If I was given a stock pack of music for an MMO, I would imagine this was the same pack that Shield Hero used. Does the music fit the show? Yes. Does it further the mood? Yes. Does it do anything else impactful? No.
|Category||Points Given||Points Possible|
|I am interested in the characters in the story||2||6|
|I liked the emotion the story made me feel||4||6|
|The story brings up interesting ideas||3||6|
|I felt the pacing of the show was appropriate||3||4|
|The animation in the show is beautiful||2||4|
|I am interested in the world that the story takes place in||1||3|
|I felt that the music added to the story in a meaningful way||2||3|
The Rising of the Shield Hero is a “meh” anime. It is not a great or terrible anime. If being transported to a new world is your thing, you might like this show. It is clearly set up for the next two seasons that are coming out soon, but I can’t say that the first season got me excited for any more. If I have some free time, I will give the second season a shot. By no means are you really missing anything if you skip this one, but I would point you towards giving it a shot.