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

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

Tuesday , 2, April 2019 18 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

  • 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.

    • Kai says:

      Ah, thank you. I didn’t watch the show but I was in the room while my boyfriend watched most of it and every time I looked over something magnificently cringy was happening – Like, whoever wrote this definitely felt people had “done wrong” to him and he’d been itching for a platform to play out his revenge fantasies. (Also the bird-girl’s voice makes me want vomit.)
      Glad I’m not the only one who’s weirded out.

  • Goblin Slayer says:

    This show is too intelligent for you then. Lol.

  • julian says:

    i agree it is one of the best isekai anime and the ones that disagree are just like myne and don’t have a shred of logic in there arguments

  • FanGirl says:

    Thank you for this!! I mostly agree and kind of don’t agree. I think that the show is completely unrealistic because of how easy everything is for him, and also because of how fast he makes a switch from nerdy otaku to badass hero. And because of how he just forgets his 20 years of living. But I still think it’s a fun show to watch.

    • Anthony says:

      I honestly didn’t HATE the show, I just disliked the way it pretended to be different while offering the exact same sort of escapist fantasy as every other isekai.

    • Lucky says:

      I am sorry, but exactly what was easy for Naofumi? His second day in that world he was accused of rape, and only escaped with his life due to the fact that they NEEDED him as a hero. He had to buy a SLAVE in order to get by. How exactly is any of that easy????

  • Lucky says:

    I honest to God do not believe we watched the same show. I am not sure how anyone walks away from the show thinking it is to easy on the protagonist. I keep thinking over and over and OVER but still can not come up with a shred of logic for this argument. To me this isn’t a matter of diffirence of oppinion on a show, but they are simply lying about what actually happens. I feel bad that these people were unfortunate enough to likley see the show with many many scenes taken out. That is genuinly the only way I can believe they are not lying.

    • Lucky says:

      I will admit my comment is a bit heated, and yes everyone is indeed allowed to have their own oppinion. Personally, I have always been the person who can argue something both ways. This is why I have a very very very hard time believing a side that I find no solid basis for. I will admit though, your part about the harem stuff is true, and tbh I have just given up fighting them at this point. You can’t have a decent iseki without harems nowadays. However that is a matter of prefference, so it is not an argument as to why it is bad criticaly. No matter how anyone tries to spin it, the protagonist did NOT have it easy. If he was overpowered compared to others, that would be due to the diffirence of experience and what not. He had nothing and had to clean up the other’s messes. The show even talks about how the other three let their status go to their heads and made them lazy. That is an entire unspoken plot that comes to a boil when they are at the tavern and Naofumi confronts them. The king was only powerless once the actual ruller came back and put him in his place. Before that, no one would lift a finger to aid him, and their church even declaired him the devil himself. If you choose not to like the show, that is by all means 100% fine, but a person can not simply claim things that are in fact, lies, and most importantly, you can’t use said lies as the foundation for your claim critically condenming it. Because the argument can’t claim it is bad for xyz if xyz simply isn’t true.

  • Anthony M says:

    Right, but what I said is true and you’re not addressing what I said.

    Naofumi had it hard…for a very short period of time. About four episodes, 12 at most and I’d argue not really. And that’s the point. You set him up as down on his luck, so the audience relates to him, but the show very quickly turns into an extremely standard isekai power fantasy. For that, it’s probably slightly above average compared to others because it showed SOME struggle, but the bar is extremely low.

    Also, the harem is objectively disgusting and objectively poorr writing, not just not to my taste.

    And I wrote this before the show even took its real nosedive, with onee of the unintentionally funniest episodes of an anime I have never seen where the Queen just rewrites an entire religion. Imagine the Pope announcing that Satan was just misunderstood and really a pretty cool guy. Yeah I’m sure the people will just accept that.

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