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.

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OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Stretch [series:3639#628]
(15 episodes watched):

Well, I was beginning to fear that there might not be a single truly intriguing and fun anime this season (Winter 2019), but here we have one. 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 looks like one heavily handicapped person will have to avert the apocalypse all by himself, which is intriguing. Having been scorned by the elites, it looks like he will form 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 you can't blame him. Episode one is actually around 45 minutes long, which was fine with me. In general, pretty neat: an intriguing tale which makes sense, is more sophisticated than most, and moves swiftly along. This may well be my favorite show of the season.

I finally watched episode two and it did not disappoint me. 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. Yes, I think it's safe to say that this is my favorite anime of the season.

Episode three didn't impress me quite as much. 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 missed? She almost seems like a different person now. 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 good. 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' (or something like that) that comes into play? Why is Naofumi so confused about whether he can trust the Raphtalia? Are the two factors related? 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 remains 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 (flightless?) 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 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 is drifting towards being a goofy comedy and is drifting 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 will lose his trust in all fellow humans seems 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?)? If there's time for this, I wonder if this will be a two season show rather than a one season show as I had assumed. Episode eight was a little more serious. We see again something that happened during Naofumi's duel with the Spear Warrior: 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 like it, because, again, it is something serious and intriguing rather than the silly hijinks we've been getting recently. But I can't say that I am confident that we'll ever get a thorough and satisfying explanation of it. I'm pretty sure that it will 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. In episode ten a new character, 'Melty', appears. I remembered that in the OP sequence she appears alongside Myne, but surely they couldn't be related or anything like that, could they? Yet they are. It's a fantastic coincidence which is hard to take seriously and seems indicative of corner cutting. If such a thing must happen, at least take the trouble to make it a little more plausible, rather than just running into such a person at random! Early on, I thought this show was a lot like Goblin Slayer from last season, but lately it isn't seeming 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 she be some sort of summoned heroine herself? One encouraging bit was Naofumi wondering what exactly a Wave is. 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, probably orchestrated by Myne, who would replace her as Crown Princess. Another attempt is made to frame him, but this is getting tiresome. The show has 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 seems to be pandering to shallow-minded teenagers who only want cheap, visceral relationships. I suspect this will wind up being another show that lasts for two seasons but could have been done better in just one.

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 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.

Last updated Friday, May 10 2019. Created Monday, January 21 2019.

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