The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 1 Review
Well, we’ve got this season’s Goblin Slayer with divisive rhetoric already being thrown about and once again it comes down to subject matter with rape sitting at the centre of the controversy (or in this case a rape accusation without grounds which for some viewers links too closely with women in the real world getting accused of lying about sexual assualt). Though we’ve also got slavery, a matriarchal society apparently ruled by a king and a general focus on a character who is ultimately going to hate pretty much everybody. So yes, this one rubbed some people the wrong way particularly in light of current social contexts. I’m less put off by it, though having read the light novel and already dealt with my issues with the subject matter there, the anime actually came more or less as expected so I’m just kind of riding this one out.
I mentioned in my review of the first light novel of the Rising of the Shield Hero that Naofumi is not a particularly likeable protagonist. Neither before he is betrayed nor after do I feel much in the way of sympathy for him though he does produce a number of cringe worthy moments. That said, the anime kind of captured him perfectly as he initially comes off as super generic, then super naive, and finally super angry. And that’s probably the problem with Naofumi. We don’t really get a middle ground. We get a forgettable introduction to a character who is fairly quickly thrown in over his head and then his personality is warped and if the books are anything to go by, he’s going to stay warped for a fair while.
It isn’t that he doesn’t have room for complaint. Honestly, the Kingdom summoned him and then treated him like dirt from the get-go with petty snubs, whispers and rumours, and finally outright taking everything from him, including what little reputation and moral standing he had, and more or less leaving him to die. For a Kingdom in dire need of heroes you would think that someone would have more sense and yet these characters act in a perpetually stupid manner that is kind of later explained through politics and religion but to be perfectly honest that doesn’t really justify the blatant idiocy of snubbing the guy you summoned to save your world. And yes, I get there are three other guys there but clearly you thought you needed all of them.
This first episode is double length and runs about 45 minutes, and it is kind of needed. There’s a lot of set-up to get through and by the time we’ve summoned the character, met all the heroes, established their personalities and parties, dealt Naofumi his fall from grace and then managed to portray the new Naofumi trying to cover all of that in twenty minutes would have been madness and ending the first episode without covering all of that would have been close to pointless. So there’s a great choice from the beginning.
Another fairly solid choice is in the voice casting for Naofumi. Kaito Ishikawa really brings him to life in this first episode and while some of the lines and moments could have fallen really flat, the performance managed to really keep my attention. I knew going in I didn’t like Naofumi’s character initially, and yet this first episode managed to keep me more or less on board with him and the vocals had a lot to do with that.
Visually it is so far neither particularly impressive or poorly done. I don’t actually recall if there was an OP or not (that’s pretty terrible), and honestly don’t remember any of the other music either.
Realistically, The Rising of the Shield Hero is more or less exactly what the synopsis makes it out to be and while the story will certainly get more interesting later (provided it follows the source) for now it is reasonably generic isekai fare with a slightly more hostile protagonist. That said, because it is pretty straight forward with just a little bit of edge, it will probably be enjoyable enough, provided the subject matter doesn’t throw you off.
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7 thoughts on “What To Do When The World Turns Its Back On You?”
The only thing I’ll concede right now is that Shield Hero’s hook isn’t as strong or as effective as Goblin Slayer’s one was. That one made you really understand right away why someone would dedicate himself to killing goblins. Shield Hero’s is a bit more sloppy, but from what I’ve researched and read, it is vital to the overall character arc of our hero.
There is absolutely merit in talking about how some authors use certain themes or ideas in a lazy way.
Condemning an entire show right off the bat, before you have yet to hear what it fully has to say just because it had the gall to try something different is just ignorant. Whether Shield Hero succeeds is yet to be seen, but let the horse get out of the bloody stable before trying to kneecap it.
That is a very good analogy. While there might still be plenty of criticism once the show gets going (it isn’t as though there aren’t ideas in the story that won’t annoy some people), at least then the criticism will be based on a larger sample of work with a clearer idea of where the story is going to take these ideas.
Reactions like the ones towards Shield Hero (and Goblin Slayer) is why I do not review anime episode by episode. I need to wait until a bunch of them have been released so I can get the whole context. While Hero has a sloppier start than Goblin Slayer did, it does at least try to do something with the very (VERY) worn out Isekai introduction.
I pity that this show had to come out when the real world is undergoing a discussion over the themes presented, but I think it is fair to not throw the show under the bus until it has had more time to work in the world it has built for itself. Goblin Slayer turned out to be a pretty good show about the heroism that comes from doing the grunt work. Perhaps Shield Hero will have something to say about anger, and not being able to let go? Who knows. But I will not partake in cynical point scoring for easy clicks and views.
(This is also exactly what I was talking about in regards to my conversation post)
I think discussing the themes is fine, but I also feel that the idea of a story being bad because its themes and messages don’t align with the viewer or the real world is a problem. You don’t need to agree with something to enjoy it and to consider it and to discuss it both within the context of the story and within the context of the real world ideas.
I really appreciate your bringing up current social contexts in relation to the story. Many years ago, Disney’s 1946 film Song of the South disappeared from public consumption because of allegations of portrayed racism. I’m now wondering how many other Disney films–particularly earlier “princess” films–are doomed to follow the same course. Princeton University Tigertones (an all male a cappella group) have already dropped The Little Mermaid’s song “Kiss the Girl” due to concerns about it encouraging the guy to kiss the girl (Ariel) without her express consent. How long before all the old “princess” movies are subjected to review through the filter of the #metoo movement? Not to mention, we’ll be burning a LOT of books, probably at least 90% or more of everything written before the latter half of the 20th Century. At least we’ll get some new religious options, seeing that the Bible, Koran, Torah, and most currently recognized sacred texts will be among the first (and most vehemently!) burned. . .Balderdash!
It’s a story, folks. Recognize and discuss the social issues raised within, but remember that it’s just a story. I made many people uncomfortable by discussing the human trafficking aspect of The Ancient Magus’ Bride when I reviewed if for 91.8 the Fan [https://918thefan.com/2017/the-wandering-witch-pays-court-to-the-ancient-magus-bride/], but I certainly didn’t condemn the story for its inclusion. It’s a story, folks, so keep some sense of perspective.
(Sorry, Karandi, for bringing my soapbox to your corner. I’ll behave.)
No I agree. Stories have to be seen through the social context they were produced in though can then be used as a discussion point in the modern world. But we shouldn’t be revising stories to suit modern agendas because we are limiting our own knowledge of past issues and why and how things have changed. I firmly disliked it when they started editing Enid Blyton books and I’m glad my family has a set of them before the revision.
Now Shield Hero doesn’t get the pass because it is a historical novel, I have no idea when it was first released in Japan but my English copy was released in 2013. But it does set its events in a fantasy world with different values and expectations. We might not agree with them, and they may be rife with social issues that are worth discussing, but condemning the story because it doesn’t 100% comply with your individual social values is also a problem.
There’s definitely an entire post in this one, but a lot of the problem about discussing this one is that the anime is one episode in and a lot of explanations and details that will help the discussion on this one won’t come out until later so unless people have read the source the discussion is limited to that one episode.