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The Rising of the Shield Hero; A Unique Take on the Isekai Genre

How does an anime manages to stand out when there are so many other shows using the same formula? The Rising of the Shield Hero is an example of using those formulas the right way and coming out as a distinct anime that managed to rise in the popularity chart. It’s a unique take on the isekai genre that breaks the typical gimmicks and fan service. It has an intriguing plot, great character development, hateful villains, top-notch animation and interesting world-building.

Synopsis

The Rising of the Shield Hero follows Naofumi Iwatani, a 20-year-old university student who was whisked away into a fantasy game-like realm of monsters and magic after discovering a book about Four Heroes. In a realm where people suffering from a disaster named Waves of Catastrophe, Iwatani is chosen as one of these four and given the mantle of the Shield Hero. The other three were also summoned from different worlds similar to Iwatani’s and given the roles of Sword, Spear and Bow Heroes.
Being the least charismatic of the bunch and having a shield for a weapon, Iwatani is ridiculed by everyone around him, whereas the other heroes are provided with resources, comrades and a place to train. One woman joins his party only to be betrayed by her soon. His belongings get stolen and even gets accused falsely. He was then ostracized and shunned by the king and discriminated against by the people for what he never did. With rage and pain inside, Iwatani sets out to regain his honor and rank up in this cruel world.
This is the story of the rising of the Shield Hero.

Info

  • Genre: Isekai, Action, Fantasy
  • Episodes: 25
  • Airing Season: Winter 2019
  • Studios: Kinema Citrus
  • Age Rating: 13+

Review

Setting

Fanart of Raphtalia in the bazar
Fanart of Raphtalia in the bazar

The setting is a fantasy world just like every other isekai anime, with medieval-looking towns & villages, the existence of magic & monsters and for some reason, there is Chocobo like Final Fantasy. The heroes have HUD or Heads Up Display like video games showing HP, MP, etc. It’s a world of JRPG, to be frank. The heroes can level up, unlock skills and upgrade equipment. It’s a unique concept that can keep track of the progression.
And just like a typical fantasy anime, there is discrimination where the poor suffer and the rich are spoiled, gullible citizens who believe every lie and power-hungry villains. Under the surface, there’s the darker theme of slavery and political manipulation. Lately, the gullible citizen trope has become very annoying. It’s as if the basic level of intellect is removed from their brains, which is explanatory since the power-hungry people took away the education system. Our hero, Naofumi Iwatani comes out on top of all that.
Despite having a demi-human as a slave, he never abuses her. He treats her like family, takes care of her and taught her how to fight. He does become popular in time but never falls into the harem gag. He travels around, looks for quests to complete, fixes the other heroes’ mischiefs, helps the neglected & poor citizens and a bunch of other stuff. Instead of fighting all the time like the other heroes, he finds a rational solution to the current problem. The biggest help he does to people is that helps them to stand up on their own, teaches them to survive and improves social economics. It kind of becomes a world-building simulator from an action game. Thus gaining the trust of everyone in the kingdom.

Plot

The plot is where it shines the most. How do you make the audience engage in a show? You break the main character’s heart and beat them to a pulp and make the villains so vile that everyone wants to punch them in the face. It connects the audience on a deeper level. It’s always satisfying to see justice prevail in the end without rushing, forcing or because of the plot. We see the hero going up against all odds, facing unfair challenges, overcoming obstacles and several sabotages by the villainess. The anime uses its world as the hero’s progression as he ventures into various locations, helping the needy and destroying monsters attacking the innocents. In his journey, he gets stronger, finds friends he can trust and grows as a person.

Criticism

The irritating thing about this show is that the plot keeps interrupting the fights. Fights often end in a lackluster way. Some of the events get dragged long for no reason. Some flashbacks start playing out of nowhere. Some characters make stupid decisions to do something stupid. And why’s all that? because how else can Iwatani be the real hero of the story?! They are all wrong so that Iwatani can be proven right. It almost doesn’t feel like there’s an actual, heart-trembling threat. All of these are there just to create a false sense of insecurity. Such plot devices are just plain cheap. Even in the end when all issues were resolved, the citizens just accepted Iwatani like they were always on his side, even though they were the ones who ostracized him. They never question anything or show any doubts, just like NPCs from a video game.

Character

The characters are well written in this show. We see the main characters bonding and slowly maturing. The whole first season is about their development and it’s handled well. The designs are also cool. The side characters are where the show falls short.
Besides the queen, everyone else doesn’t seem to be doing something worthwhile. They are just there for Iwatani to take over. The other three heroes aren’t smart or strong to do something useful. They are just arrogant fools. Either they mess up, create inconvenience for the people or get the main characters into trouble. Their mistake is what gives Iwatani the chance to shine. They don’t even think of this world as real. To them, it’s still a game and people are NPCs just like in their previous world.

Villain

The villains are the worst. The show does a great job of making them as vile and hateful as possible, but they lack what makes a villain intimidating. They are just power-hungry schemers, do every underhanded cheap trick by the book and only manage to annoy the audience. We all just had to wait for the entire series to see them fall. Only one antagonist presented a real threat to our heroes, in terms of power and cunning.

Animation

The animation is top-notch, no complaints here rather praise only. The breathtaking background & scenery art makes it feel like a fantasy world. The character animation and fight sequences take the cake. Kinema Citrus never falls in short when caring for the animation and always does the job masterfully.

Sound Design

The sound design and the music are handled masterfully. Kevin Penkin’s amazing talent took this show to the next level. It always feels like out of this world when it comes to Kevin Penkin. The SFX for different scenes and the voice acting are also handled very well.

Conclusion

If you are looking for an action show for a laid-back experience, then The Rising of the Shield Hero is for you. It’s a break from the typical isekai gimmicks of OP protagonist, harem or fan service. But it has great character development, well-paced progression, good music, good fight scenes and villains to hate on. All in all, it’s a great anime.

Thank you for reading ♡ ~

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Written by Rurouni_XYZ

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