Naofumi Iwatani was transported to a new world as the Shield Hero – one of the Four Cardinal Heroes destined to save this world from the Waves of Catastrophe. If only that was all he had to contend with!
The Rising of the Shield Hero (Episodes 1-4)
Episode 1 – The Shield Hero
After picking up a light novel in his local library, Naofumi Iwatani is suddenly transported to a world of magic and monsters. He has been summoned as the Shield Hero, one of four Cardinal Heroes that will save the world from the Waves of Catastrophe. He’s excited to begin, but the other three heroes are brash and arrogant. When it comes time to pick their parties, only one adventurer opts to join Naofumi, and that’s after he originally had none.
On his first day, he buys some armour and learns a little more about the shield. He also treats his new party member, Myne to a meal and some new equipment. By morning, however, he wakes to find he’s been robbed, but it’s not just his equipment and money that has been taken. They’ve also taken his credibility as Myne has accused him of attempting to rape her and everyone believes her. With no one left to turn to, Naofumi is forced to go it alone, but that’s easier said than done.
Episode 2 – The Slave Girl
With nowhere else to turn, Naofumi buys a demi-human girl from the slave market to become his sword. She’s sickly and the trader recommends against buying her, but Naofumi has made up his mind. Once the pact has been sealed, he takes her to get some equipment and then lunch. The townsfolk still view him as a monster and everything is a challenge. Naofumi begins to train Raphtalia, gaining experience alongside her. After a while, they head to a new town to try their luck and enter a mine in search of ore. They encounter a monster, not unlike the one that killed Raphtalia’s parents. When Raphtalia is hesitant to fight, Naofumi tells her to run, but she can’t abandon him.
Episode 3 – Wave of Catastrophe
It’s time for the first Wave of Catastrophe since the heroes were summoned. Naofumi and Raphtalia have levelled up as much as possible, but now it’s time to find out whether they were ready or not. The heroes and their parties are magically transported to the location of the wave, which is close to Lute Village. Naofumi watches as the other heroes all run towards the wave, but is no one going to help the villagers? Without any help, they won’t survive. Naofumi and Raphtalia race to the village where they face zombies and giant wasps. Maybe they can buy enough time for everyone to escape!
Episode 4 – Lullaby at Dawn
After defeating the Wave of Catastrophe, the heroes are invited to the castle to receive their rewards, however, Myne informs Motoyasu that Raphtalia is Naofumi’s slave. Motoyasu challenges Naofumi to a duel. With nothing to be gained Naofumi walks away, but then the king intervenes and forces Naofumi to fight. Motoyasu is overly confident and attacks with his spears. Naofumi has a few tricks up his sleeve and soon turns the fight in his favour. That’s when Myne intervenes and gives Motoyasu the advantage. Apparently, everyone missed her interference and Motoyasu is declared the winner and Raphtalia is freed from her slave curse.
The Fall of the Shield Hero!
When The Rising of the Shield Hero first aired in the Winter of 2019 it made it onto my radar, but not my seasonal shows to cover list. I did get around to watching it later that year but never wrote down any of my thoughts. In fact, the only mention of it on this site was from my Best Anime 2019 posts. It’s a show that I’ve been meaning to look at several times since then but never got around to it. Well, that changes now.
One of the things that really grabbed me about this show was how it made me feel. I think you tell how good a series is by how you connect with the characters. They may not mirror your beliefs or how you think you might act, but if you can see the logic and understand what they’re going through, it can pull you in. The Rising of the Shield Hero left me angry and frustrated. Seeing Naofumi ripped down over and over again was tough.
Part of the reason it worked was that Naofumi was presented as a nice guy. It went out of its way to show us that this was the hero to root for. He helped his younger brother when he went off the rails and lived at home while attending college so that he could continue in that role. Sure, he liked to play video games, watch anime, and read manga and light novels. All the typical otaku things, but he wasn’t a shut-in. That all came together in how he was transported to this new world.
He was reading a book. In fact, he was standing in the library and had barely skimmed the first few pages before he was magically summoned to another world. Not your typical introduction and it showed when compared to the other three heroes who had all played video games that mirrored this world. They came prepared with knowledge whereas Naofumi was unaware of anything. It was all a set-up. The first of many.
As they were introduced to the King, he made it painfully clear that he didn’t care for Naofumi, who was now the Shield Hero. Then, when they were given parties, Naofumi was left alone after rumours had surfaced that he had no knowledge of the world. Eventually, one girl switched to join him – Myne. She showed him around and helped him to defeat his first monster.
At dinner, she offered him some wine and appeared to be flirting with him. Naofumi doesn’t drink, no doubt a byproduct of helping his brother out, so he refused Myne’s offer and went to bed. When he woke, his world was already starting to crumble. His things had been stolen and when he tried to tell Myne, she had gone and the Royal Knights had arrived to take him to the castle. When he got there, all eyes were on him and they were mad.
Myne had told them about how Naofumi got drunk and then attempted to rape her. Everyone believed her and had already passed judgement on Naofumi. Of course, the other heroes had been programmed to expect the Shield Hero to be a loser from their experience in the games so it was an easy leapt of faith. The King who already made it quite clear he didn’t like the Shield Hero was equally swayed. Of course, that’s when we saw Myne make a face at Naofumi. She had set him up!
Naofumi was furious and rightly so. He’d done nothing wrong. He hadn’t even asked to be summoned to this world and had no choice but to help them with the impending catastrophe, but they did this to him. The King claimed he would have been executed had he not been one of the Cardinal Heroes, but when Naofumi stormed out without anything but the clothes on his back and the shield, he was as good as dead. He was consumed by rage to the point that he lost his sense of taste and found himself making decisions that would have been impossible before. Amazingly, he hadn’t quite reached the bottom yet.
With nowhere to turn and no way of increasing his stats, Naofumi was preyed upon by a slave trader. He saw Naofumi’s desperation and knew how to work it in his favour. However, Naofumi bought the very slave the trader advised him not to. The fact that he bought a slave showed just how far he’d fallen, how much he was backed into a corner. That, of course, does not absolve his actions. Buying a person, demi-human or otherwise is a heinous act, however, Naofumi gave her more than she gave him. For now anyhow.
He fed and clothed her, he trained her to fight and gave her reason to get stronger. And she did get stronger. Together, they saved the villagers of Lute, but with Naofumi’s rage, he couldn’t accept their thanks. He trusted no one and it was understandable. Of course, Myne raised her ugly head once more and convinced Motoyasu to challenge Naofumi so that he could free Raphtalia from his service, leaving the Shield Hero alone once more. She then interfered in their duel, helping Motoyasu win. At this point, I was so angry I almost activated my cursed mode.
Naofumi hit rock bottom once Raphtalia was taken from him. So blinded by his rage, he still saw her as the little girl that he bought and not the strong woman she had become. He couldn’t hear her defending him to Motoyasu or the way she lambasted Myne. Even when Raphtalia tried to console him, he couldn’t hear it. However, she eventually got through to him. She was the light that brought him back. All he needed was for someone to believe him. This was the beginning of the Rising of the Shield Hero.
We’re yet to find out why Myne and the King hated the Shield Hero and would go to such troubles to discredit him, but the main hint so far is that the Shield Hero has historically been kind to the demi-humans, something that their kingdom looks down on. I think this was a fantastic introduction to the series and I’m looking forward to reliving Naofumi’s journey, especially as season two is coming soon.
Other Posts in the Series
- Season One