Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari

Title:Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari
The Rising of The Shield Hero
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Kinema Citrus
SETO Asami
Naofumi Iwatani, a modestly otaku sort of young man, was looking at an odd book in a library when he was somehow transported to an alternate reality that was described in it. Much to his own surprise, he is hailed as one of four legendary heroes whose services are needed to avert an apocalyptic end to this world. As luck would have it, however, he is by far the weakest of the four, being equipped only with a defensive shield (though it has strange capabilities). Things do not go well for him, and before long he is impoverished and operating entirely on his own.

25 episodes

See also: Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari 2
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 8 6 8 9 Ggultra2764 [series:3639#1552]
Rising of the Shield Hero is the latest popular isekai title making waves and one that actually offers some worthwhile storytelling potential. A young man named Naofumi Iwatani and three others are warped into a medieval-like parallel world where each gain possession of one of four legendary weapons that they must learn to wield to combat hordes of interdimensional monsters called Waves. Armed with the Legendary Shield, Naofumi finds himself on a unlucky streak as the kingdom of Melromarc doesn’t provide him with allies to aid in his adventure and he gets framed by the kingdom’s princess who falsely accuses him of raping her. Untrusting and cynical of the kingdom’s royalty and citizens due to their prejudice, Naofumi purchases a demi-human named Raphtalia from a slave trader and raises her to fight on his behalf, as both attempt to improve their abilities to fight the Waves and deal with the kingdom’s attempts to sabotage their efforts.

I’ll admit before seeing Shield Hero, I had been tiring of isekai anime due to oversaturation and anime studios not seeming to make much effort at offering up anything engaging for many titles they hammer out. With this series though, there is a solid amount of deconstruction it does to buck a number of the typical storytelling cliches offered up from recent isekai titles. While Naofumi is summoned as a “chosen one” to help protect a parallel world, he has to deal with the corruption of the kingdom’s royalty attempting to hinder his efforts to perform his duties as said “chosen one” and the cynical streak this leads him on becomes a source of character development where he has to get over said negative attitude to earn the respect of the parallel world’s inhabitants and earn their respect. The other three heroes also get deconstructed as they believe their adventuring is comparable to role-playing games they play, yet their inexperience with actual combat gets them in trouble dealing with major threats and their attempts at heroic deeds cause more trouble to those they aid due to not considering potential ramifications that could effect nearby inhabitants. In comparison, Naofumi takes the time to explore his surroundings to better understand the parallel world and strategize against potential threats. There are other elements of Shield Hero’s story and characters that get deconstructed throughout its run, but will leave folks to see how these play out if they have interest in watching it.

Outside of deconstruction, Shield Hero also offers up a solid foundation for world building, as well as story and character development. While having RPG elements with characters leveling up as they gain battle experience and buying or finding rare items and weapons, the series also takes time to explore the problems within Melromarc with the corruption of the royalty and church, as well as the prejudice and slavery faced by demi-humans within the kingdom. Outside of Naofumi and the three other Heroes dealing with their ordeals in Melromarc, Shield Hero also explores the developments of several other relevant characters who are fleshed out in exploring how the Waves and/or Melromarc’s problems impact them, and each undergo varying degrees of development throughout the series. The story also dabbles more into the intentions of Melromarc’s royalty and church as episodes progress, while also providing some foreshadowing concerning the true nature of the Waves that have to be fought. The latter element is left unresolved as the series would continue into a second season for its anime adaptation and has a third season currently in development.

In short, I admit I was surprisingly engaged to Rising of the Shield Hero in spite of what issues I have with many recent titles within the isekai genre. The series offers up effective deconstructions of typical cliches of the genre, while also having a solid foundation for world building, storytelling, and character development with the ordeals faced by Naofumi and his party. In spite of hearing about the rather rough reception many had with Shield Hero’s second season, I am at least still interested enough in the series where I’d like to continue viewing it whenever I have a chance.

Last updated Tuesday, August 16 2022. Created Tuesday, August 16 2022.
Rent Stretch [series:3639#628]
(Rent- or Watch+)

(All episodes watched):

I had been beginning to fear that there might not be a single truly intriguing and fun new anime during the the Winter 2019 season when Tate came along. While this is another story taking place in an alternate reality which happens to operate much like a video game (with 'levelling up' and stuff like that), this show quickly grabbed my full attention and stood out as having some unique touches. For instance, Naofumi getting the embarrassing role of being the 'shielder' for an adventuring team, namely a defensive player that is often looked down upon. And then he is betrayed, framed, and winds up as an outcast--his fall comes as quickly as his rise. It looked like one heavily handicapped person would have to avert the apocalypse all by himself, which was intriguing. Having been scorned by the elites, he forms his own adventuring team out of whoever he can find. Naofumi is transformed into an angry and bitter man, but given what he has had to endure it's hard to blame him. Episode one is actually around 45 minutes long, which was fine with me. In episode two Naofumi buys a cheap female slave, a half human, half raccoon 'demihuman', named Raphtalia, and procedes to train her as his offensive fighter. He is stern and demands much of her, but clearly comes to care for her and doesn't want her to get killed. At one point he almost sacrifices his own life for her sake. This is neat; I like the way the minds of the two main characters are taken seriously and also the chemistry between them. In general, after the first few episodes this show was looking pretty neat: an intriguing tale which makes sense, seemed more sophisticated than most, and was moving swiftly along. This quickly became my favorite show of the season.

However, it slowly became clear that this show as a whole wasn't as good as episode one and two had suggested it would be. In episode three Raphtalia has somehow transformed from a traumatized child into a confident and mature grown woman (and a deadly swordswoman) overnight. Was there an episode 2.5 that I had missed? She almost seemed like a different person. The first 'wave' of the apocalypse arrives and is fought off, but in general I felt that this episode didn't really advance the plot much--or maybe it advanced it so much so fast that I couldn't keep up. Episode four was better. Another attempt is made to frame and humiliate Naofumi, but it doesn't go as smoothly as the first one. What was this 'curse mode' that comes into play? Why is Naofumi so confused about whether he can trust the Raphtalia? Are the two factors related (and why am I so confused when this show was moving so smoothly earlier?)? We get an explanation of sorts why Raphtalia bounces back and forth between a mature appearance and a childlike one--I had previously thought that it was just carelessness on the part of the animators. There seems to be a trend here--this show doesn't explain what's going on as well or as soon as it should. Still, it remained my favorite of the season. I felt a distinct thrill at the moment when the Curse Mode was activated.

Episode five sort of took a break from the main plotline and was almost a comedy, what with the strange pet that Naofumi and Raphtalia acquire--Filo, a bird that grows rapidly to the size of a horse, which is what they are used as. Not nearly as sophisticated as episode four. I read some reviews written on ANN after the first episode, and was surprised to find that several people hated this show right from the start because of the false rape accusation (made by a woman), that it included. At least one reviewer interpreted it all as a sign of misogyny on the part of the author himself. Nobody gave the show more than three stars. I would argue that if Myne, the false accuser, is the worst character in the series, Raphtalia (also a woman) is the best one. She talks Naofumi out of completely losing all trust for other human beings which he was moving towards. But why did Raphtalia agree to become a slave again in episode five (and why did Naofumi allow it?)? That seems like a cheap gimmick to titillate male Japanese teenagers. As a result I was on the lookout during episode six for sexist themes, and I suppose there are some, but not much more than is usual in action anime. Episode six was largely another lightweight, borderline comedy episode as Filo grows and matures. She can transform into a lolicon human girl if she pleases, and Raphtalia shows a touch of jealousy. The gruesome way Raphtalia slew a monster made me laugh.

Episode seven left me feeling that this show was drifting towards being a goofy comedy and away from the serious and gripping tale it started out as. That is not a good idea! While he's still somewhat cynical, the question of whether Naofumi would lose his trust in all fellow humans seemed to have been unceremoniously discarded. And why are the characters fooling around when the next wave of the apocalypse is looming (it is, isn't it?)? It began to dawn on me that if there was time for this, Tate might be a two season show rather than a one season show as I had assumed. Episode eight was a little more serious. We see curse mode, which happened during Naofumi's duel with the Spear Warrior, again: there's some sort of mode he can go into if he completely loses his temper which gives him amazing power but apparently only at the risk of losing his mind. It's fairly frightening. I liked it, because, again, it is something serious and intriguing rather than the silly hijinks we'd been getting recently. But in general a good deal less attention is paid to truly intriguing elements like this than to less serious ones, and I couldn't be confident that we would ever get a thorough and satisfying explanation of it (and ultimately we really don't). I was pretty sure that this plot element would crop up again at some point, but it didn't exactly feel like the makers of this show were trying all that hard to make it a central part in the story. Early on, I thought this show was a lot like Goblin Slayer from last season, but with time it didn't seem to be nearly as good.

The second 'Wave' comes along and along with it a mysterious human (or semi-human) opponent known as 'Glass'. Naofumi is the only hero who can hold a candle to her, and the only thing that saves him is that there seemed to be some sort of time limit on the Wave. I noticed that nobody important (and maybe nobody at all) got more than a bruise, which doesn't exactly make the threat seem all that serious. Might Glass be some sort of summoned heroine herself? One encouraging bit was Naofumi wondering what exactly a Wave is. Much more fun was his meeting with the king, who he has lost all respect for and treats like the asshole that he is.

Naofumi decides that the only way to deal with Glass is by going to another country to upgrade his skills. He learns of a plot to assassinate Princess Melty, who he has met and sort-of befriended via an extremely unlikely coincidence. The plot is probably orchestrated by Myne, her half-sister, who would replace her as Crown Princess. Yet another attempt is made to frame him, but these were getting tiresome. The show had definitely wandered away from the basic conflict of whether this guy could save the world despite his disadvantage of being an essentially defensive fighter. I wish more effort was put into the relationship between Naofumi and Raphtalia but this show seemed to be pandering to shallow-minded teenagers who only wanted cheap, visceral relationships. Perhaps Tate would have been better off if it had limited itself to one season but kept focused on the basic conflict.

In episode 15 Raphtalia gets a chance to take revenge on someone who once was sadistically cruel to her; (spoiler)She doesn't, but predictably the person finds a way to get himself killed, so we get the best of both worlds--she doesn't sully herself, and he gets what he deserves anyway. There is, however, a mention of the plot strand that she has tamed Naofumi's own extreme cynicism and contempt of everyone but himself. This seemingly important concept had gotten so little attention recently that I had begun to think that maybe it had wandered into the plot completely by accident. That seems kind of typical here: there are touches of brilliance amid all the time wasted on weak jokes and unimportant diversions from the main plot.

A powerful figure demands that Naofumi either make up and cooperate with the other three chosen warriors, or she will destroy them all and find four new ones. Why doesn't she present herself to the other three and make the same demand, rather than expecting him to fix everything? The stakes are extremely high, so it only makes sense. This seems like more of a diversion from the main plot than an integral part of it. Then yet another conspiracy (this one orchestrated by the state church) to screw Naofumi turns up, and it didn't make a whole lot of sense either: who will fight the 'Waves' if the four heroes cannot? I was getting pretty tired of all the bullshit that is dumped on Naofumi without him making much progress towards solving the basic problem. Even with two seasons, time was running out to find a way to defeat the increasingly dangerous Waves. At least it was fun to see the 'Pope' get what he deserved in the end.

I had heard that in episode 21 Naofumi would finally get the justice he deserved, and sure enough that was just what happened. He has an opportunity to finally take revenge upon the people who have wronged him so much, and must make a choice. He makes the right one, and the episode ended in such a cathartic, moving manner that I wondered if it might be the end of the series as a whole, at least until a third season came along. Dealing with the Waves seemed to have been demoted to an afterthought in comparison to Naofumi's battle to clear his name. We get a surprise--some people, Arc and Therise, that Naofumi and friends run into, are actually heroes from another parallel universe and in order for their universe to be saved this one must be destroyed. Who or what is behind this inter-dimensional competition? Other than Naofumi's brief thought on the matter earlier, that question does not seem to occur to anybody within this show. And in the end you sort of wonder why this twist was introduced to begin with, because there is no resolution to it. The waves will continue (if I understood correctly) and there doesn't seem to be any way this Bokurano-like contest can end happily. Are another two seasons of this anime on the way? Naofumi does some good deeds, which shows that he has changed significantly, but the end has a sort of bitter taste to it since a colossal problem (plus what Naofumi and Raphtalia's situation will be in the future) remain unresolved and I have little idea whether they ever will be. As I think back about the show as a whole, I can't help thinking that it didn't 'flow' smoothly; too much time and effort was spent on plot strands of lesser importance, which had the effect of watering down the truly important ones. The fact that there is no real resolution to the basic problem only made that even more frustrating. If all the different elements can't be integrated well, it might have been better to slash all the nonessential ones and just make a one season show. The show had a goofy tone at times rather than the serious and intriguing one it originally seemed to feature. At least the characters were likeable and I suppose I would continue to watch if a continuation ever comes along. It was good enough to be worth watching to the end, but not as good as I had originally hoped.

Last updated Friday, April 08 2022. Created Monday, January 21 2019.

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