SUPERVERSIVE: “The Rising of the Shield Hero” is the worst kind of isekai

Tuesday , 2, April 2019 8 Comments

Image result for the rising of the shield hero“The Rising of the Shield Hero” is everything wrong with the isekai genre. It just pretends otherwise.

The show is a trick. It pulled the wool over your eyes. The first twenty minutes or so are some of the worst I’ve ever seen in the genre. They do basically everything wrong – give us a boring protagonist whose only trait is “kind of nerdy”, make his reaction to being forcibly kidnapped into a fantasy world bizarrely blase, and make the fantasy world itself as generic a medieval setting imaginable. Everything it does it does badly, and the worst of all is that reaction. Almost every protagonist of these sorts of stories reacts the same way to being ripped from their homes and families against their will – bland acceptance. It is bizarre, and strikingly unrealistic. This kid had a job. He had a family. And his reaction is seriously just going to be “Eh, let’s see what’s up?”

“Log Horizon” had a similar problem, but because “Log Horizon” is actually a great show that manages to push itself beyond wish fulfillment fantasy it explores the backstory of its protagonists and recognizes their inherent tragedy, which at least lightens the blow. To be so obsessed with an MMO that you’re not even unhappy about being stuck there implies something seriously messed up about your real life – and we do, in fact, learn that our protagonist Shiroe used to be suicidal. “Log Horizon” knew its characters weren’t normal. “Shield Hero” completely ignores this, and it’s absurd.

Of course the main hook of “Shield Hero” is that look guys, it’s totally not a wish fulfillment fantasy at all! The Shield Hero was accused of rape and everyone hates him now! His life sucks! Isn’t that interesting?

And that’s the trick. That IS interesting! The problem is that that’s not the show – not even a little bit.

We are twelve episodes into the show. That is a single season. Let’s explore where the Shield Hero is at:

  • He is the most popular hero by far among the people of the land. Everyone loves him
  • He is easily the most powerful hero, to the point that the other heroes are referred to as his “servants”
  • The king who hates him is so much of a non-threat that the Shield Hero basically spits in his face and walks off afterwards scot-free
  • He has a harem featuring a buxom raccoon girl and two lolis. Not one, but two of the people in his harem refer to him as “master”
  • His original two main antagonists, the Spear Hero and Malty, have been reduced to Team Rocket villains, except not nearly as funny
Image result for raphtalia

Our raccoon slave girl Rapthalia

The last real moment of hardship for Naofumi (our titular Shield Hero) came in episode 4. Yet even here we see the problems pop up. Here Naofumi gets into a fight with the Spear Hero; if he loses Rapthalia, his buxom raccoon companion (technically a slave, but yeah, no), will be free to leave his party.

You know what would have been cool? If Naofumi actually lost the fight. Except…he doesn’t. He wins, until the Spear Hero cheats. Except it doesn’t matter, because Rapthalia stays with him and now the other heroes realize he’s actually not so bad. Even when the Shield Hero loses, he wins!

And that was literally the last time in the series we see Naofumi suffer for longer than a couple of minutes. Episode FOUR of the show. Yeah.

Naofumi is the worst kind of isekai protagonist: An edgy badass with a harem of hot chicks and lolis, except he’s SO badass and EDGE-EE he doesn’t actually notice how totally into him they are, and this makes him EVEN COOLER (we even get an awful, cringey hot springs scene for good measure). He’s the most powerful, most beloved, most desired, and most awesomest hero in all the land. Girls want him; guys want to be him.

The false rape actually helps the wish fulfillment. All of those twelve year old boys who feel like the world always has them down, man, who nobody understands, they can relate to the Shield Hero. They’re edgy loners too, but in reality if only everyone appreciated them they’d be the greatest hero in the world with a harem of beautiful women, exactly like the Shield Hero!

The animation is mediocre. The action is mostly mediocre. Some of the characters are all right, but the lead is Just Another Isekai Protagonist, with extra EDGE-EE. And yet, it really is probably the best isekai since “Log Horizon”.

And what that tells us about the genre isn’t good.

Skip “The Rising of the Shield Hero” and turn on “Log Horizon” instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Just for fun, an English cover of the “Log Horizon OP

8 Comments
  • Nathan says:

    Avoid Arifureta this summer. At least Naofumi and Shield Hero are somewhat redeemable.

    • Anthony says:

      Oh believe me, I have every intention of avoiding it.

      And you’re right. The show is watchable and occasionally entertaining. Naofumi is tolerable and I kind of like Raphthalia a little? It is by no means a trainwreck of a show.

      It’s just not good, for all the same reasons every trapped in a video game isekai isn’t good.

      • Nathan says:

        Shield Hero, like Kaguya-sama, went viral, taking attention away from BoogiePop, Raildex, Dororo, JoJo, Fairy Tail, Karakuri Circus, and other more notable series. When the Twitter dust settles, it’ll be forgotten.

        Shield Hero’s good point is that it approaches anti-hero isekai with a Jerk with a Heart of Gold approach. Arifureta and the rest of the genre likes Jerk with a Heart of Jerk instead.

        • Anthony says:

          I really enjoyed Kaguya-Sama. It started off a but slow but I laughed and it got better. I only tried one episode of Boogie Pop and it didn’t impress me.

          Dororo I haven’t had the opportunity to see, but I really want to.

        • Anthony says:

          I started watching “Iron-Blooded Orphans” a couple days ago and now I’m over a dozen episodes in. Absolutely awesome, easily the best mech show I’ve seen since “Gurren Lagann”.

          …Not that I watch a ton of mech shows, but still, it’s awesome.

  • Albert says:

    I feel that it started decently enough. Then Spear Hero and his redhead turned into Team Rocket villains. Then it turned out that that the evil princess was a paper tiger all along, and the real princess totally admires Naofumi while the real ruler completely supports him.

    Plus gratuitous looks-like-Christianity bashing.

  • Anthony says:

    It was decent – not great – for the first 4 episodes, then it was just a slow descent into medicority.

  • Goblin Slayer says:

    This show is too intelligent for you then. Lol.

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