By Kadokawa - Commons.wikimedia.org
A story that expresses criticism and takes a deeper look at false accusations and their harmful repercussions, the Rising of The Shield Hero is an isekai manga, light novel, and anime that focuses on Naofumi Iwantani. He lived an average life in Japan as a sophomore in college and one day, he goes to get some new books. He finds about how four heroes will be summoned to a fantasy world and fight off these phenomena called Waves, in which monsters fall from the sky and attack the people. The four cardinal heroes are the Spear Hero, Sword Hero, Bow Hero, and Shield Hero. Naofumi just so happens to be the Shield Hero and is sucked into this fantasy world. At first, he’s excited and curious but he soon finds out that this world despises the Shield Hero and thinks the Shield Hero can’t fight because he lacks offensive skills and knowledge of this fantasy world.
Naofumi is ostracized by most of the people in the nation of Melromarc, a kingdom of the world he was summoned to, and even framed for rape, robbery, kidnapping, brainwashing, and being the devil, but he meets loyal and trustworthy people who help him along his journey. Like the anime, the Goblin Slayer, has been criticized for it’s display of rape and oversexualization of female characters. The Rising of the Shield Hero has been extremely controversial because of the main character’s actions and how the first episode mentions a rape allegation, but if you start this show with an open mind, you can make your own opinion on this exciting yet emotional animation.
Naofumi is summoned to a beautiful, game-like world with fresh air and diverse plant and animal life. Despite appearances, this word isn’t all great. The Kingdom of Melromarc, along with the other nations of this fantasy world, harbor similar problems we have here on Earth like racism and discrimination. In some nations, including Melromarc, human supremacy is practiced. This allows demi-humans (part human, part animal) to be discriminated against, and demi-human slavery is legal in Melromarc.
This should raise some flags as you watch the show. I wouldn’t blame you if you feel uncomfortable about the main character buying a demi-human slave to fight for him and the fact that this demi-human seems to be extremely attached to Naofumi. It’s unsettling to say the least, but Naofumi has his reasons. He’s been discriminated against in this world and he can’t fight because he only can use the one shield that was given to him, so he was running out of options. If one were to enter this show with an open mind, they’ll be able to see Naofumi’s development and the factors that lead to these changes in his character. He started off as a lighthearted and kind individual, but the unjust situations that Naofumi goes through pushed him to being filled with rage and hatred toward all living things of this world. A world he was summoned to by force.
A show like this is really carried by the main character, Naofumi Iwantani. Yusagi does a great job with showing the internal turmoil going on in Naofumi’s head and how he is trying to cope with the false allegations against him. After Naofumi was cast away by most of the people of Melromarc, he had to find money and help where he could before one of the Waves hit. He wanted nothing more than to go back home at that point but, in order to do that, the Waves had to be stopped or the four heroes would have to all die and new ones summoned. Therefore, he changed. He didn’t feel like anyone would believe him so why should he care about those people? You can really see his personality change. The people of Melromarc did not just turn Naofumi to be colder, but to something extremely vulnerable. To something that is relatable.
There are times in some of our lives in which some people feel alone and that there is no one out there to trust. This show can resonate with viewers because The Rising of The Shield Hero really displays how, when the world is against someone, one can be capable of doing anything to guard themselves and it’s a long road to overcome these things.
I don’t think this show is for the faint of heart. There are some really bad things that may trigger you or make you feel upset but, if you think about what happens out in the real world, how racism, discrimination, supremacy, how all of these things are real problems, this fantasy show won’t seem bad at all. You just need to approach it with an open mind.
You can watch The Rising of The Shield Hero on the Crunchyroll website or app. Since this is an anime that has both the English sub and English dub episodes, viewers can choose if they want to read the subtitles or listen to the show in English. The first season is finished, but you can catch up and watch those first 25 episodes on Crunchyroll. The second season is supposed to be released sometime in 2020, but there is no official release date yet. It has been postponed due to the spread of Covid-19. Also, if you are watching on Crunchyroll, beware. Crunchyroll free has a ton of ads. Crunchyroll premium, which costs $6.95 a month, gets rid of those ads.