The Rising of the Shield Hero // Episode 1 Review
A Darker Fantasy Anime for the Weakest of Heroes
In most fantasy games a player wants to use a legendary sword, or an elegant bow, or my axe, but not Iwatani Naofumi. He is relegated to only using a shield in this anime, and it doesn’t start off too great. The Rising of the Shield Hero, is a fantasy anime about a naive otaku nerd who is transported to another world. In modern fashion, this show feels like it is a European fantasy RPG turned real life, but there is something more.
In the first episode, the shows starts in a pretty prototypical reality turned fantasy RPG game. The twist is that is it not a game. Naofumi, The hero of our story, is a pretty normal otaku with rather lame abilities. He is transported to another realm in order to defend the Kingdom of Melromac against the horde. Not much more information is given as to the nature or origin of this ominous generic threat. Three others are transported in to serve as the four heroes of the Kingdom. Our hero, the Shield Hero, is provided with a simple legendary shield, as per the title of the show.
Unfortunately for our hero Naofumi, he is neither particularly smart, or interesting in the early goings of the show. The only major redeeming aspect of him is the comedic value of having to use only a shield as his weapon not of choice. We learn shortly that he simply cannot use anything other than the shield he was summoned with.
In contrast to the first half of the first episode, the second half picks up with a really dark turn. His original party member, Myne, turns on him. She accuses him of sexual assault and turns the entire kingdom against Naofumi. At this point the hero quickly evolves into a rather cynical character, in sharp contrast to the lackadaisical nerdy nature he entered the other world with. At last we meet a slave owner who looks like an evil circus ringmaster. In his creepy mannerisms he works to get the Shield Hero to buy a demi-human slave.
The Fall of the Shield Hero
With a one-hour runtime for the first episode, we got enough time to get the boring parts of exposition our of the way and into the exiting part. It wasn’t until the big turn at the half-way mark of the episode until it became particularly interesting. Watching this humdrum character turn rather cynical was great. He enters into a world aloof, and he has no context for and now he is left with nothing but his shield.
For a show that looked from the start to be particularly comedic, I didn’t find it to be overly funny. There are definitely a lot of jokes about how useless Iwatani Naofumi is with his shield, but after a point they almost become sad. The only party member he has backstabs him, and has all of his armor stolen. It makes the Shield Hero rather sympathetic to viewers who see this fish out of water failing. The ending of the episode makes it intriguing to see how he handles entering into the black market of slavery.
I want to know more about the blacksmith and how he knows Myne. There is a connection there that isn’t expanded upon and they both should have a greater roll throughout the series. The blacksmith was the best character outside of Naofumi through his insistence on forcing Naofumi to pay more during the bargaining. Hopefully he continues to make an appearance.
What Evil will the Slaver Bring
Returning to the evil ringmaster slaver, from the posters and promos we know Naofumi is going to come away with one of his companions from this. Hopefully it is a less dark beginning to the companionship of human and demi-human than I think now.
[Images via Official Site]