The Rising of the Shield Hero (Anime Review)

shieldhero

One thing that anime is guilty of is recycling ideas. Case in point – The Rising of the Shield Hero. This twenty-five episode series features a young adult who is transported to a fantasy world. Once there he transitions from being a complete nobody into a mighty hero, who all the girls fancy. Hmmm, where have I heard that before?

OVERVIEW

Naofumi Iwatani is the protagonist of this Isekai show, which is based off Aneko Yusagi’s light novels. A neko? I had no idea that cats wrote books. Anyway, when Naofumi arrives in the kingdom of Melromarc he discovers that he is one of four youngsters who have been plucked from Japan and tasked with protecting the land from waves of hostile monsters. Each of the spirited away chaps is given a legendary weapon to help them with their mission.

As you may have determined, from the show’s title, Naofumi misses out on winning ownership of a cool sword, bow or spear. Instead he has to make do with a magical shield. The artifact protects him from harm, which is handy, but carries the massive con of barring him from wielding offensive weapons. That sucks. I can now see why no one ever wants to play a tank in RPGs. Naofumi’s lack of attack power wouldn’t be so bad, if he could recruit some party members to aid him in combat. Alas, that is not possible due to the events that occur in episode one.

Early on in the series Naofumi is falsely accused of rape by the kingdom’s princess Myne Sophia. Just like the target of a #MeToo accusation, Naofumi is vilified by the public. Ouch. Isn’t it scary how smears, which aren’t backed by any evidence, can ruin someone’s life? Due to his tarnished reputation, Naofumi is unable to hire allies via conventional means. Instead, he resorts to buying slaves. First up he purchases a sickly racoon girl named Raphtalia, who he trains in the ways of sword fighting. Later on he also snaps up a baby Filolial (pretty much this world’s version of a Chocobo) named Filo.

CONTROVERSY

It appears that Naofumi is a bit of a loli magnet. Filo may resemble a giant bird, but viewers soon learn that she is capable of transforming into a cute cherub. Raphtalia develops a crush on Naofumi, which could be creepy given that she is underage. Thankfully the series avoids going down the Bunny Drop manga route, by having Naofumi treat his sidekick like an adoptive daughter. If two lolis aren’t enough to satisfy your questionable taste in love interests, Naofumi later groups up with petite royal spellcaster Melty. He saves Melty from assassins in one episode, only to have the authorities accuse him of kidnapping her moments later.

Back when the series first started airing it was funny to see some sectors of the internet get outraged by the show’s content. Apparently having the lead be accused of sexual assault is outrageous. Some sensitive types refuse to accept that such claims could ever be false. Much ado about nothing, if you ask me. I don’t think the series writer was making a political statement. She just used the plot device of “hero gets betrayed by comrade” to inject drama into the story. Other viewers condemned Shield Hero of promoting slavery. Again, I just don’t see it. Naofumi isn’t whipping Raphtalia and forcing her to do manual labour. He rescues her from life in a cage, nurses her back to health and treats her with nothing but kindness.

VERDICT

My rating for The Rising of the Shield Hero is three and a half stars. It’s an enjoyable series that executes the overplayed Isekai troupes of the genre better than most other anime do. Akin to Goblin Slayer, the series starts off on a serious note and proceeds to get more light hearted (and harem like) as it goes along. The story isn’t deep, but is smart enough to throw in the occasional swerve to keep things interesting. Aside from vanquishing waves of monsters, Naofumi ends up in the middle of a clergy led uprising and later crosses swords with warriors from a parallel world.

Character wise Naofumi is more mature than other fantasy leads. He grows stronger by overcoming hardship, rather than being a prodigy from the offset. Unlike the other buffon-ish heroes Naofumi strives to protect the innocent, rather than fight for riches or glory. The fact that he aids people, rather than turn his back on them, after they branded him a villain shows what a good guy he is. Someone who is not good in the slightest is Myne. I found her to be despicable to a cartoonish degree. She is rather one dimensional, but like any good heel succeeds in the role of being someone you love to hate.

In terms of Shield Hero dislikes, I can’t say that I was a fan of the show’s CGI. The computer effects weren’t terrible, but some of the action scenes would have looked better without them. On a personal note, I also don’t get why MMO mechanics are inserted into a story that takes place in a genuine fantasy world. Why do the characters level up and learn skills from a menu? Can’t they just train hard and research magic from books? Raphtalia even evolves from a cute girl into a mighty lady, akin to a Pokemon, after earning enough experience. Now I am confused. We can’t lewd ancient characters who look like prepubescent girls. Is it okay to lewd a child who evolved into an adult? I’m not touching that with a ten foot pole. Sorry Raphtalia. I don’t want the FBI knocking at my door, so I am picking Queen Mirellia as best girl.

29 thoughts on “The Rising of the Shield Hero (Anime Review)

  1. The hack writers always need something to get offended at. I guess the situation with Raphtalia is awkward, but it’s a massive stretch to say the series promotes slavery (in the real world, is that really what they mean?) because of it.

    But did I read that right about Bunny Drop? Does the manga really go in that direction? That would be weird for at least a few reasons.

    • I’m not sure how well it is handled, as I haven’t read the manga, but yeah I hear the later chapters turn the father/daughter relationship into a couple. I guess the author was going for the “like mother like daughter” route. Shame, as the appeal of the anime was how a single dad raises an adoptive daughter. Was hoping the protagonist would end up with the single mother.

      • That was just how I felt about the anime. Turning the main character into Woody Allen seems like a weird choice.

  2. I loved this anime, I thought it was one of the best surprises this year. I didn’t understand the whole MMO thing in the fantasy world but it worked with this series and that’s what I think made this series interesting. I’m hoping for a season 2 in the future.

    • Another season would be great. Guess it depends on how popular the first series was and if there is enough source material to adapt. Seeing characters level up, like in an MMO, is a bit weird. That wouldn’t happen in Lord of the Rings haha. Many anime shows do this sort of thing though. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime comes to mind, for example.

  3. Isekai isn’t my favorite genre, but a lot sound at least somewhat interesting. This one… nope. Too many out there that have more intriguing plots and doesn’t have this one’s issues of lolis & more.

    • I dropped the Shield Hero manga after one volume, but ended up enjoying the anime. One token loli is okay I suppose, but as an adult I do feel a bit uncomfortable watching shows with such a young cast. Maybe I should check out the new Isekai show featuring a mother instead haha.

  4. Don’t recall this one but then again, as I soon as I see the words “transported to another world” in the plot synopsis, I back off, since this is becoming the equivalent of the harem premise for the modern generation. There is about half a dozen or so of these shows already in the current season which is why my reject list is one of the highest yet! 😮 :\

    • Some of those fantasy shows are good, but I can’t blame you from being turned off. It’s becoming a bit like zombies a few years ago. When so many similar shows come out at the same time people start to reject the lack of variety.

      • I realise it is a case of “If it works…” but the sheer volume of titles with the same concept now is becoming borderline offensive, as if they think anime fans are so dense they’ll swallow anything put in front of them. :\

  5. I enjoyed this. Yeah the biggest pop shield hero got is from the outrages. I mean, how in blazes can anyone defend and be in denial over false accusations?. One chap on twitter, got really sensitive over how Myne got handled in the trial. Yeah, Naofumi finally got vindicated from it all and this chap was like nope, look at the jiggly bobbies moving etc. Honestly, as you said some are just hyper sensitive and are just looking for drama to be made, when there is none to be found. Rise from madkid is one OP I really liked, maybe because the lyrics resonated with me.

    • People who are offended should probably stay silent. When they make a noise it makes curious people check out the show they hate, to see what the fuss is about. I wonder if Goblin Slayer would have gathered so many views, were it not for the outrage. Sometimes I wonder if these people really are offended or if they just pretend to get clicks, as being mad at stuff is a good way of getting internet traffic.

  6. Hahaha this post made me laugh a lot. I really like your wittiness at the start of the post.
    To be honest this seems like a very strange anime, which makes me want to check it out for myself. A sword wielding raccoon girl, a giant bird-girl thing and a royal magic girl, topped of with the main character being accused of really f-ed up things, all sounds like it would make for some very weird viewing 😂
    Great post!

  7. Great review, I have had this series bookmarked for a while! Now I will have to check it out as your review has some really quirky observations. About 80 something episodes into Black Clover and I just don’t see what all the fuss is about, G.E.N.E.R.I.C. Not every anime can (or tries to) re-invent the wheel, but I need a little something to keep me engaged. I recently watched Wise Man’s Grandchild and at only 12 episodes was a quick, lighthearted arc, 25 episodes of Rising of the Shield Hero sounds about right.

    • Black Clover seems to be really popular, in terms of viewership figures. I haven’t checked it out though, as I avoid long shows. Guess I have a short attention span haha. When a series pads things out with filler I turn to switch off. Twelve-episodes isn’t a bad length for a season, but I am glad Shield Hero got twenty-five. Any shorter and they would have had to rush things.

      • Hello The Otaku Judge,

        I am still watching Black Clover, it had some potential but it is pretty generic, but the worse thing is that the main story has stopped at some point and they are just wasting time with filler episodes and too much goofing around; right now it feels like watching a show that ended already, but for some unknown reason they are still making episodes but maybe at some point the main story will continue again.

        -John Jr

  8. Man it seems like they throw CGI into everything nowadays. Definitely looks like a pretty fun show, I can see myself checking it out at some point. It might not be the next grand slam or anything, but it looks like a pretty well rounded show that will deliver on fun moments.

    • Some of the monsters Naofumi fights are CG. Not sure why so many studios keep trying to squeeze in CG into their shows. Maybe it’s cheaper/quicker to animate? Hopefully the traditional anime 2D look doesn’t get replaced with 3D in the future.

      • I think it is supposed to be cheaper, but I definitely also hope that 2D doesn’t go away. I still think that 2D is years ahead of 3D right now and just looks so much more polished. It’s always hard to look at 3D the same way. It doesn’t bring the emotions across as well for me

  9. Hello The Otaku Judge,

    Thank you for reviewing The Rising Of The Shield Hero, I saw a YouTube video where someone mentioned it, and I was wondering if my brother GC and I should check it out one day or not.

    We have seen Overlord, That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime, Sword Art Online (we are almost done with the latest season which is the worst so far in my opinion), and Goblin Slayer; and so maybe we will check The Rising Of The Shield Hero out one day.

    -John Jr

    • Overlord is a show that I still need to check out. If you liked the fantasy shows you mentioned I am sure you and your bro will enjoy Shield Hero. Your remarks on Black Clover remind me why I avoid long running shows. Sucks when the story grinds to a halt. That usually happens because they caught up with the source material or the original creator is padding things out, because they don’t want to end a series that is making money.

      • Thanks The Otaku Judge.

        I guess Black Clover learned the art of filler from Naruto (Filleraruto), they are definitely padding their show right now, but I doubt they will beat Naruto which is maybe 60% filler. 😀

        -John Jr

  10. The “Modern dude transported to fantasy world” isn’t just common in anime. Western cartoons, movies, comics, pretty much every form of media, you can find it. I remember running into that in cartoons when I was a kid. I’d hesitate to say it’s overdone, because it’s a really broad thing that you could probably do well in specific instances, but most of the time, I wish they got their fish out of water from somewhere else.

    • You are right, the transported into another world idea has been around for yonks. It feels overdone in anime though, as lately we have gotten a load of shows that use that premise. No one complains when the shows are good, but some releases are uninspired and just seem to be following the popular trend.

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