Well its definitely been an interesting month this January, between the screeching about defending borders to false accusations being hurled at school children by obtuse hordes of activists. This anime we are going to talk about today came out in the most interesting of climates. This particular work has the NPCs so gods damned triggered that they refuse to acknowledge the creators of it as women! So we are gonna have a good laugh at their expense and show why in the ever loving crap that this may not be the best show of all time, but its the best show for THIS time. Goblin Slayer you better step up your game because The Rising of the Shield Hero is gunning for your mantle!
Now as per every review like this I intend to approach this coming at the first three episodes of the series. This title WILL NOT be any exception, even if its first episode is a whopping 45 minutes long! It is my understanding that the reasoning for the first episode’s special length is not just to fully establish the world, as they want this to be an ongoing series. It takes that long for you to not only grow attached to our beleaguered hero but feel his motivation as he does. Especially considering WHAT happens to the poor man, honestly I must admit I, too, was surprised that this sort of realistic depiction came from women who are basically refusing to deny true nature of many women today. Now, with that in mind and before I spoil it completely, Let’s Hammer This In!
We start with a little bit of a flash-forward to show that our protagonist Naofumi has seen some tough times and developed a bit, but is still a nice person. He then awakens in what will be the ongoing timeline we are starting to follow. This is an isekai, or another-world anime. It goes through a day in our hero’s normal life before this, and he finds a strange book in a library called The Record of The Four Weapons: The Waves of Apocalyptic Catastrophe. Naofumi is, at his core, an otaku and therefore a brilliant stand-in for us. He is just another nerd, not a shut-in, mind you, but all he has to worry about is keeping his kid brother in line. As long as he does that he doesn’t have to worry about a thing. We even get to see that at least at first, he doesn’t think twice about the nature of people in general. I digress though. As he skims through the book he sees that it is split into four parts, each from the perspective of one of the other heroes until he comes upon the Shield Hero’s chronicle which is blank. It is here that he is warped to within the realm of the book by a group of mages.
He does denote that the ‘princess’ in this book comes off as slutty, not realizing yet that she isn’t the love interest or even a good person – more on that later. We find out here that not only are each of these heroes are summoned at once, but each one is transported here from a different world altogether. Naofumi being the most naive of the four the others. Coming from a world that VR has taken off in, Naofumi’s being the exception still shows heavy use of more standardized PC set-ups. Not even tablets are as heavily emphasized in his world from what we see of it. This suggests that each of the four are from different points of time in a world that is much like our own, though it seems that the other three are more popular. However due to their part in the story I will denote them by their titles and not their names because this is Naofumi’s story – not theirs.
At first most of the heroes just want to be sent home, and don’t want to do something and not receive a reward other than ejection back to theirs. Naofumi is the only one who is willing to hear out their story before making any snap judgements. The other three are supposed to represent the more popular personalities attributed to men. The Shield Hero is supposed to be the cool headed and methodical type who was meant to bring balance to the group and keep the other three from fucking it up.
We are then introduced to the king Melromarc and the situation at hand. From the start, the Shield Hero is treated like trash because they fail to see the worth of his weapon, but Naofumi takes it in stride because at his core he is a good man. Many would claim he is just a ‘nice guy’ but there is a difference between that and a good man.
What I mean is, a ‘nice guy’ will just do horrible horrible things while wearing a gentle demeanor on his face. A good man, however, will do the right thing even if it makes him look like a demon, regardless to the cost of his own social status. Again, more on this later.
We are eventually introduced to the ‘princess,’ after an abridged explanation of the plight set upon this world. The first goblin wave had already befallen them, and they barely survived it as they had underestimated the severity of the prophecy given to them. Now have a month left to prepare for the second wave. Each hero is given some basic equipment, and funds to do with as they need to ensure they are strong enough to handle whats coming. They are then promised lavish rewards to sate the greedy side of the three ‘main’ heroes.
We also see the proof that the heroes are in a VR-type MMO when it’s brought up that there is an icon just out of the field of their vision that they can pull up if they look for it. We get to see this from Naofumi’s point after the Sword Hero brings it up and opens the in-world status. We are also told that the four are encouraged to work separately, as these mystic weapons repel each other by their nature and therefore limit their usefulness overall. This gives Naofumi an increased handicap, due to the defensive nature of his weapon, although technically he could use it with hand to hand combat as a sort of bludgeon. The tactics he takes are a little more misconstrued because of the character traits attributed to him by the discrimination of the people of this world.
Our ‘princess’ comes to ‘assist’ Naofumi after everyone turns their back on him, only to rob him blind and accuse him falsely of rape while he is unawares. It’s here that we are told this world works under a matriarchy. In short, the sort of gynocentric crap we deal with day in and day out. That’s right these mad ladies came out and said it! Now you know why this is so hated by those we find arrayed against us. It shows their entire fucking playbook piece by piece. We also get told that in this world if he wasn’t one of the four he would have been murdered on the spot with no questions asked. Even now they aren’t willing to give him the time of day because of their prejudices against him. We then sort of find littered through, that Naofumi is basically a 20 year old incel who wants to find love but has just been given a hard black pill to swallow.
This is further complicated by the fact that he is not allowed to use any other weapons than his shield. It’s shown that it must devour the bodies of monsters killed in order to be upgraded and made stronger. We are also given an idea of how the shop system and black markets of this world work. This is because there is a darker aspect to all of this. The only way to replace any of the heroes is if all four heroes die, meaning that they are all expendable. This shocks them even when they buy the bitch’s treachery hook, line and sinker. As a true man he stands up and pushes off any attempts to restrain him, throws away the dirty money of bigots and leaves. With not a cent or shred of trust to his name Naofumi, as the Shield Hero has to go out into the underworld, he embraces vocally what he has been dubbed, while we go into our second part of the story.
A shopkeep that he was dealing with before the princess made her accusation looked into his eyes as he was about to punch him and realized what really happened. As such, he gives Naofumi a cloak to make sure he doesn’t look as trash as he seems to the people of this cruel world. He then starts to work on his level and is beset by smaller enemies all through the night. He uses the nature the Shield gives him, ability to withstand pain, to force people to give him a fair price. He also shows that he is a good man by repaying his debts honestly. It is here that he levels up and finds out that not only can he unlock new shields but can keep the traits of other shields as he masters them. While starting out behind the gate, Naofumi here encompasses adaptability by showing how quickly he catches on to things.
To end off the first episode, three hoodlums try to scam him but he tells them flat-out that the only way they’ll get anything from him is if they earn it; full-blown meritocracy. After they try to mug him he takes them down out right, predicting the attempted bullshit. Again, he catches on quick!
Its here that we are shown to the real underbelly of this world, slavery. We find out that not only do demihumans exist in this world but that they are enslaved. The enslavement in this world is done via a powerful seal curse that doesn’t allow the slaves to lie to or betray their master at the cost of being killed on the spot if they do. As he has no other choice, he plays along in word but in action he does much different. This makes him the demihuman hero.
The country from which the king takes his name practices ‘human supremacy,’ which can be equated to sort of what we are dealing with considering the leftist supremacy we are currently dealing with. They talk pretty words about being so good and just, because of how they treat women, but they see anything ‘different’ from them as trash and only their to serve their hedonistic endeavors. Any good man given a choice would WISH them to suffer their fate but would save them anyway because its the right thing to do. To save them from themselves.
He then explains that he understands that slaves in this world aren’t people, and to gain the trust of the slave trader, explains that training a demihuman to fight is no different than upgrading his shield. So as his slave, he takes upon the young raccoon girl named Raphtalia. He is told that she is mentally deficient and diseased as her previous order enjoyed torture. At first she reels in fear but as the second episode goes on, through his actions, he tells her that this is so eventually he can free all demihumans and ensure no one else suffers her fate. They work well together, as they have both been through the wringer.
Its here we can discuss the opening animatic. This is because we find out the true nature of his powers, as they assumed he was just a defensive class with no way to fight for himself. Early on this might be true, but I see something different through what the opening shows. He is actually a casting class. Sure, he has high physical and likely magic defense, but he can also eventually attack with heavy attack magic, and heal. The problem is getting himself up to that point. Getting Raphtalia started is a little heart-wrenching, as she is a child, but we eventually see her grow into her own and likely become stronger from her ‘enslavement’ as we progress in the story.
It’s while she is being cured of her illness after fighting by Naofumi that we find out that Raphtalia is a survivor of the first wave, and that her parents, who told her the Shield Hero always treats the demihumans well, died protecting her. This gives us her motivation throughout the series. She is seen as disposable as Naofumi is, to everyone BUT Naofumi. She of course suffers PTSD from the affair as well as a fear of blood. Once she hears Naofumi’s conviction to fight the Catastrophe, her will is bolstered. We then see them clear a mine out and mine ore. It’s at this point where he loudly states his intent on saving everyone, showing only her his true nature as a good man. She gains her strength here, and saves him. This solidifies their bond as outcasts, as we start episode three.
We time skip one week, and they have leveled and refined their fighting tactics somewhat. However the second wave is almost upon them. Naofumi decides they need to upgrade what equipment they can, and prepare for the onslaught even though he is still a little sloppy. We also learn that demihumans age quickly, but as such have shorter lives than normal humans do. This is of their nature. Naofumi just assumes the country is full of lolicons by their reactions to her. Raphtalia’s newfound confidence surprises him a little, including her desire to no longer being seen as a child. Of course, since he only knows her as young, he doesn’t like the idea of seeing her that way. He cares for her platonically, and that is it. but he is her Hero so she has a much stronger love for her savior.
After a day his upgraded Barbarian Armor is presented to him. He views it as almost looking like a villain’s armor instead of what a hero would wear, but considering the way this world views him it might as well be fitting as well as fitted. Now we learn just how the Heroes are informed of their task, by seeing the Dragon Hourglass held within the Church. Of course, due to his nature as the Shield Hero he was left out of the loop by the bigots here.
The other three try to charm Raphtalia but she has none of it. He also will have none of their crap. They then head forth after she gives him her gratitude for what he has done for her. She shows her pride as his sword. The wave comes, and they are warped to the Wavepoint, as I’ll refer to it, near the Village they were at. Naofumi is the only one who goes in to save the Village of Lute.
People outside of the capital castle now see his true nature as well. The other “heroes” seem to be complete louts, so-called white knights who care only for themselves and whoever they find attractive at the time. They show no sense of urgency or responsibility whatsoever, unlike Naofumi who has had to take responsibility for others even in his own home. It’s this attitude that encourages the villagers to stand at his side and fight with him for their home. That shows a payback for his investment in their better natures.
Its at this point that we see their overall levels, Raphtalia having just gotten to level 22 and Naofumi still at level 19. This gives us an idea that a fighter type with demihuman traits gains more experience quickly, due to their shorter-than-normal lives. Its a trade-off but one that works out here, as it means Naofumi can still quickly level with a very loyal supporter.
After the villagers evacuate, we find that the knights from the capital arrive to kill the monsters, not caring if anyone was there raze the village. They are shocked to find the Shield Hero not only there, but having survived, showing their lack of care for anyone outside of their precious castle town. This is the same attitude that one can see of cities like New York or San Francisco towards the American South or MidWest, a complete disdain, seeing them as unworthy hovel-dwellers and that they are the only ‘good people.’ This type of bigotry angers Raphtalia, and she jumps at them in a fit of rage, not that I blame her one bit. I really have to hand it to Aneko Yusagi, the author. She really has a handle on human nature and the ugliness beneath the perceived glitter of the elite.
Naofumi recalls her once she declares that she views them not as noble, but as ignoble, and they try to show their ‘superiority.’ Naofumi mocks them when he sees them quickly jumped by a horde from behind. This goes to show that the elite are always so out of touch that when they think they are mighty warriors, they are actually nothing but inexperienced whelps in tinfoil. What’s more, he shows by example that they not only know nothing of what they are doing by saving their unworthy hides, but reveals to them that they are nothing but simpering cowards lording over braver souls than they. The cowards calling themselves ‘knights’ flee, as Naofumi and Raphtalia break the narratives of the elite right in front of them and go to the other three ‘heroes’ to attain ‘glory.’
Since they are using the framework of an MMO, this clearly shows by such examples why a true gamer will always win out in the end. Even someone stuck at a low level who knows what they are doing can do more than a so-called high level who bought their level with real-world money and just mashes at the keyboard. A hack like that can never win the game.
Wow, discrediting lootboxes and SJW/NPC wannabes in one fell swoop. Yusagi-sensei you have earned my respect.
However, a few who came in with the cowards start thinking ‘wait a minute….something here doesn’t pan out.’ Near the end, we see the other three working together and while at first it seems like they might be better, we see also that they’ve likely been sticking together, despite the ill nature it means for their weapons.
We also see that the princess has decided that the ‘spear’ was her taste, if you catch my meaning. Yes this is likely a dick joke. There is also a lot of ass-kissing and the like, since they beat the ‘boss.’
Now we see the true aftermath of the battle. Lute is in shambles, and its people, wounded or dead. From here, Naofumi and Raphtalia handle the stragglers and survey the damage. He has been given the Village’s appreciation. He keeps his distance though, as to not let them be smeared by his ‘reputation.’ With this another cycle begins with our third episode’s end.
So do I recommend this series? If it wasn’t already obvious, I do. I am looking forward to seeing how this series pushes onward, and if Raphtalia buys the false narrative when they reveal it to her. I wager that she won’t, because she, with her likely heightened demihuman senses would be able to tell when the princess lies. Notice I’ve only referred to the king, the Shield Hero, and Raphtalia by name. Like I said before, ultimately they are the only characters in this story that honestly matter outside of the initial judgements made about Naofumi. This is showing itself to be a brilliantly and realistically written tale with solid mechanics for its world-building. Much better than say, Sword Art Online. I also find the Upgrade Grid of the Shield and how it can change back and forth on the fly to be very interesting, something the other so-called heroes don’t do as far as I can tell. This shows their lack of ingenuity and adaptability, which I find you need to be able to fully enjoy something like an MMO.
Granted, they likely wouldn’t have the budget to design transformations for all the weapons on the fly like Naofumi, and will likely level the different styles off-screen, but they likely won’t be as powerful without changing on the fly. Everything has a drawback, and I can give PSO2, which I’m currently playing, as example. In PSO2 you can change classes between quests and have a main and a sub-class. Your subclass only gives you tertiary abilities from what would be in that class as a whole, though. My main classes are Braver and Bouncer, usually a fairly strong pairing, with Braver being considered a range class, and Bouncer being a striking class. As a Braver, my ability to use dual blades from Bouncer is limited to Cross-Class Weapons, but I can use all their special attacks. I also gain the stat and ability bonuses as well. Say anyone is standing next to me as I use a single-person healing item, then that person gets a little bit of healing as well, though not as much as if Bouncer were my main.
I describe this with the intent of showing how they will likely go forward depicting his shield, because I noticed he had been changing its forms constantly throughout the episode. It’s my guess that while traits do carry over between weapon forms, it’s likely only limited, meaning he can get better use out of abilities if he goes to the form he got a specific skill from. For example, whenever he crafts medicine, he has the shield that gives him that crafting trait. But if he needs reach with a rope, he shifts to the Rope Shield which also gives him the ability to shield with air from afar. He might have started ignorant, but he learns quickly, which is his strength. The other three knew things from the start, but likely are slower on the uptake, which is why they believed the THOT so readily.
Whether my predictions will come to pass will be realized by Spring. Next time, I’ll get back into Zeta Gundam by doing an overview of its protagonist Kamille Bidan – the man named after a woman. Wait… did you guys think I was gonna tackle that MAGA hat incident, since I’m originally from Kentucky? That’s silly, although the people who still rant about the kid’s “disrespect” don’t know the landmine they set off with Covington… its gonna be funny as fuck, and I don’t want to spoil that for you. Let’s just say they poked a grizzly bear here and leave it at that. Enjoy and Please Remember to Game Freely!
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