When The Rising OF the Shield Hero began to air on January 2019, it really got the attention of many anime lovers mostly because of it’s gripping story.
The story follows 20-year-old Naofumi Iwatani, the main protagonist the series who lives a carefree life as a college student, that is until the day he reads a mysterious book at his local library. While flipping through the novel’s pages, Naofumi is suddenly sucked inside and reawakens in a fantasy world alongside three other characters: Motoyasu Kitamura, Ren Amaki, and Itsuki Kawasumi.
Four of them are informed that they have been summoned to the Kingdom of Melromarc to wield the four legendary weapons: Spear, Sword, Bow and Shield. Motoyasu Kitamura is the Spear Hero, Ren Amaki the Sword Hero and Itsuki Kawasumi the Bow Hero, while our protagonist ends up as the Shield Hero. As the four legendary heroes, they must protect the world from ‘Waves of destruction’ that descend upon the land.
However, it’s not long before our hero Naofumi realizes something isn’t right with the kingdom’s treatment of the Shield. While the other heroes quickly build up parties of capable adventurers, Naofumi is left with no one until he practically begs for assistance. Even then, the one adventurer who happens to be the princess of the kingdom joins his party later betrays him by stealing all his items and accusing him of raping her!.
Despite Naofumi’s protests, everyone still sees him as a guilty offender and as the other heroes and the townspeople turn their backs on him, Naofumi finds himself full of hatred for the kingdom and everything in it. He even goes so far as to buy a slave just to have someone in his party to help him level up (as the Shield Hero is defensive and has no way of dealing damage to enemies). Naofumi will do anything he can to make his way forward in this unforgiving world, no matter how dirty, but underneath his kind nature remains.
Let me talk about the whole “The Shield Hero always sucks” device for a moment. We never received an explanation for why everyone thinks the Shield sucks right from the beginning of the anime to the end. The king holds a personal grudge against all Shield Heroes, sure, but why would anyone else go along with it? The peasantry doesn’t give a toss about a king’s feelings.
The first few episodes of The Rising Of The Shield Hero are difficult to watch. As Naofumi descends into darkness the series is grim, but it does manage to stay moderately realistic at least. Once you get past these episodes the show lightens up a bit as Naofumi and his slave companion Raphtalia form a beneficial friendship. We also get to see more of the other three heroes and although they’re not on Naofumi’s side, they still bring something interesting to the story.
One point of conflict arises when Bitch Princess learns of Raphtalia. She yells about how the Shield Hero is reprehensible for keeping a slave. To nobody’s surprise, everyone sides with her in wanting to lynch him. Doesn’t this kingdom have rampant slavery of demi-humans without checks and don’t all humans, royal family included, treat demi-humans like trash? Why should any one be concerned that he has a slave?
As if that’s not unreasonable enough the Spear Hero challenges him to a duel, where the princess cheats for him (everyone sees this, but she says she didn’t cheat), the conflict is explained away by one of the heroes finally agreeing that she cheated, and then forgotten like the rape before it.
Late in the series, the queen of filolials comes to the Shield Hero and says that if the four heroes don’t learn to work together, they won’t be strong enough to conquer later waves of the apocalypse. She will kill them to summon four new heroes who can do better, should it come to that. Remember how I said that all conflict resolves through hand waving? This threat resolves the hatred from other heroes – never mind the stupidity of not making this clear from the beginning, you absolute. incompetent. imbeciles!
That’s not the worst of it. She says the following to him, in regards to his conflict with other heroes: “Did you every try to get along with them? Did you ever try to defend yourself? If you don’t defend yourself, it will be seen as an admission of guilt.”
Not only was he the friendliest on arrival and not only did he try to defend himself from the very beginning, this logic is utterly moronic. For one, they want him to be guilty.
While The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 1 Part 1 gets off to a grim start there is undoubtedly an interesting isekai story underneath it all. How much you like it will totally depend on your ability to put up with the injustice being laid upon the main protagonist.