Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari AKA the shield hero.
This is a fairly straightforward fantasy series. The gist of the series is that the MC is somehow summoned into a fantasy game world he regularly plays. This setup has become quite common in the past decade. It plays safe by sticking close to the general ruleset of this type of anime which is a pro for general viewers but a con for those who are looking for something refreshing.
Now, this series is based on a light novel. There is also a manga series as well as anime. I am focusing on the anime because it is far more accessible.
Meantime, I must stress that the source material, the light novel, is quite different from anime. Several important aspects have been altered to make the series fit better for mainstream audience. More on this at the end of this entry.
The MC is Iwatani Naofumi who will be mostly referred simply as Naofumi or “Shield hero”. He bears the insigma of a shield hero which is considered as the worst class in the world. It is considered the worst because the class focuses mainly on passive defense and minor healing via alchemy.
However, Naofumi’s ingenuity makes the class shine brightly.
There are other heroes in the world. Naofumi is the shield hero. There is a bow hero, spear hero, a sword hero, and a hunting hero. The heroes are hailed as potential saviors of the world and are treated well, except for Naofumi. Apparently, the shield hero has traditionally been treated pretty bad according to the world history.
The reason for the mistreatment isn’t exactly revealed clearly. Regardless, it seems the history repeats as Naofumi is tricked into being a rapist of a princess. While, as a hero, he can’t be banished or worse, he is virtually ignored by the kingdom while other heroes blindly believe the false accusation and sneer at him.
Being left alone virtually without a strong financial support heroes received, he works his way up. Since he’d like an extra hand at least due to being the shield hero (High defense, low offense), he buys (yes, purchases) Raphtalia who is a raccoon girl, basically a demi-human. She had been enslaved after her village was attacked.
Raphtalia soon becomes Naofumi’s most trusted and valuable companion.
That is how the story starts.
There are 25 episodes for the first season. The second season has been announced and confirmed but it seems Covid has screwed up its release date.
Naofumi can be seen as an anti-hero because he breaks several norms as a typical hero.
One, he does not perform any good deeds for free of charge. He demands a high payment for solving issues people have. This is not entirely his fault however. He does not receive any form of support from the kingdom until much later. In other words, he has to support himself and Raphtalia.
Even so, the people who are charged absurd amount of money are happy to pay since Naofumi actually solves roots of their issues rather than doing stop-gap solutions.
Two, he does not trust those who he helps. He firmly believes that everyone is out there to either trick him or kill him, which is one of reasons he charges so high for his service. He actually has trust issues which has been made worse by being tricked into becoming a rapist in very early episodes.
Those two aspects alone are actually a stark contrast to typical heroes.
At the end of the day, what we have in the shield hero is an overpowered MC owning everyone. The MMORPG elements become an afterthought quickly and it eventually becomes a fantasy anime after few episodes.
Having stated that it is enjoyable. But, for me, I started on this series only because it involved MMORPG elements. It’s anything but that however.
Additionally, it has a harem element where Naofumi is eventually surrounded by eligible and willing female creatures. I can’t say “women” here because not all of them are actually humans.
Light novel vs. Anime
I feel it’s very important to make it known that the source material is a different beast when compared to anime. The anime adaptation is fairly tame in everything and attempts to shed a good light on Naofumi.
In the anime, Naofumi forgives those who wronged him mostly. In the source material, however, he is either reluctant or refuses to forgive because why he should in the first place? In all cases, he wasn’t the one who started it.
Character faults have been rounded up in anime adaptation is what I am trying to say.
Another important aspect is his relationship with Raphtalia. In the source material, Naofumi does not have any kind of feelings for her whereas, in the anime, he grows romantic feelings toward her.
Basically, the anime makes it more pleasant to watch. That’s good for the general viewers. Not so good for someone like me who wants more harsh/hardcore approach.
It’s decent, nothing spectacular.
Raphtalia & Racism
Naofumi isn’t a perfect guy. However, he has one thing going on for him, lack of prejudices.
For him, it doesn’t matter who or what. As long as they serve him earnestly, he trusts them back. This plays a rather vital role in the series.
You see, Raphtalia is a demi-human. She is a racoon infused in a human form. Demi-humans exists in numerous forms. Some are mixed with wolves, some with rabbits, etc. Demi-humans are considered lesser beings and are often enslaved.
Naofumi, for his credit, wonders why, because, quite frankly, the difference is minimal. It’s just ears and tails.
Interestingly, according to the world history, the shield hero has always sided with demi-humans, becoming a sort of legend among them. Therefore, when Raphtalia learns that her new master is the shield hero, she is actually excited because the shield hero has traditionally been the hero of demi-humans.
And you know what? The history repeats. Naofumi stands up for demi-humans, and they worship him in the end. In their view, he, rather the shield hero, is the only one who stands up for them. The loyalty of demi-humans toward Naofumi becomes unshakable.
For Naofumi, it doesn’t matter who or what. As long as they trust him, so will he. A simple give & take but a really hard one in reality.
……. They (The anime studio) tried to make this series an ordinary one, but the underlying message is rather too strong. I strongly recommend the light novel over anime. The source material emits strong messages. The anime doesn’t really do the justice.
Until next time.