“Hero of the Shield”

「盾の勇者」 (Tate no Yuusha)

That pre-air totally caught me off guard. In fact, I was considering leaving it till the official release. But ye old Pancakes made sure to pester me until I eventually gave in, so you can thank him for making sure this post happened. *sigh*. Let’s get started, I guess.

First Impressions

A long time, I read through Rising of the Shield Hero’s light novel. It was a thoroughly compelling read that emotionally gripped me from the get go – a rarity in this day and age. Sure, it plateau’d off badly after about 5-6 volumes in. However, that doesn’t change my strong and positive emotions towards the series, because it left that deep of an impression on me. This episode confirmed my feelings hadn’t changed, even after so long.

Surprisingly, my source material familiarity came under fire. You see, the beginning of the manga heavily skips over much of Episode 1 and I picked up the light novel past these events. For example, I didn’t realise that the four heroes had actually been summoned from parallel iterations of Japan, adding a new trope to the isekai genre. And the manga also skipped the evening meeting, something that helped establish what kind of people the other legendary heroes were. Generally speaking, these additions were welcome ones and I’m glad that they weren’t cut out.

Anyway, my first impressions of the anime? The top-notch world-building draws you in, combining a vibrant fantasy setting with aesthetically appealing JRPG inspirations. Admittedly, the visuals are not outstanding (though that could be down to the pre-air leak being of inferior quality). That said, I felt that the grittiness suited the premise of vengeance and saving the world from destruction. Kevin Penkin’s musical touch is highly appreciated here, as it really sets the medieval fantasy vibe, transporting you to this other worldly quest. And the voice acting from Ishikawa Kaito has been sublime so far. He’s exhibited a wide range of captivating emotions and conveyed Naofumi’s optimism and the subsequent loss of hope in such a heartfelt way. The anime does an incredible job of establishing this contrast, by having him be so positively jittery and energetic upon arrival, then angry and brooding after he’s betrayed. They really nail that haunted look of depsair in his eyes. Again, Kevin Penkin’s incredible soundtrack does well to establish the atmosphere – with upbeat tunes to start off with before the soundtrack’s tone becoming aggrieved later on. All in all, the visuals and sounds have been impeccable.

In terms of viewer engagement with the story, there are also many questions that have been left unanswered, and I imagine you all want to know. These are the plot hooks designed to keep you around. Why did the royal court seem to have a negative predisposition to the Shield Hero even before the false allegations were made against Naofumi? How can Naofumi hope to keep up with the other three heroes or even hope to fight the waves if he’s slow at gaining levels, lacking in capable companions, not to mention completely deprived of starting gold? What’s more, a weird man has appeared, and it feels odd to trust him in light of recent events, especially since he’s also a slave trader. Very dubious. But he’s offered a proposal that’s too good for Naofumi to turn down – a companion who is incapable of betrayal. Will Naofumi stoop as low as buying a slave?

Above these unanswered questions, the biggest pull would be Naofumi’s miserable situation itself. We’re aware of his innocence. We know he’s been unfairly treated, and that makes us invested in seeing him achieve vindication. I think I speak on behalf of most viewers when I say that King Melmorac and Sophia Mein are devilspawn in need of comeuppance. Who doesn’t crave for the day when Naofumi clears his name and maybe exacts vengeance upon them?

Concluding Thoughts

Do I recommend Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari, despite knowing everything that will come to pass? Definitely! Especially if you like isekai or revenge. Now, I know what some of might be thinking. By this point, I bet your expectations towards the isekai genre are fairly low. What’s that, I hear? [*murmur* “Not another trash isekai!” *murmur*] Well, fair enough. It does seem like a lot of isekai anime feel quite generic, with a few exceptions here and there. However, I want to emphasise that Tate no Yuusha can indeed be considered amongst those few isekai that are truly unique. Most importantly, our protagonist gets the shortest end of the stick comparative to the other heroes — he is falsely accused of committing one of the most heinous taboos and suffers a ruined reputation because of it. Most male protagonists simply forgive and forget about the transgressions that have been carried out against them, taking the moral high ground. It’s refreshing to see someone react in such a raw and human way by letting it eat away at them, like most of us would, which is heavily relatable. Since Naofumi doesn’t have any ridiculously overpowered skills, compared to the other heroes, he has to rely on his own tenacity and wits to grind out results. Seeing him work hard for his goals marks a distinctive contrast from the Gary Stu who breezes through the world. Not only does this leave a viewer more satisfied, it also feels like his progression is justified.

Potentially concerning things? I won’t deny that there’s a touch of misogyny ingrained within the series stemming from Naofumi’s hatred towards Sophia. If that kind of stuff makes you uncomfortable, then you might want to give this a pass. Nevertheless, I’d argue Naofumi’s more of a misanthrope, hating King Melmorac and the other heroes, albeit to a lesser extent compared to Sophia. So make of it what you will. You’ll invariably have your cynics out there who’ll groan and accuse this show of being this season’s Goblin Slayer, in terms of controversy. Some might claim that portraying false rape accusations like this can inadvertently harm general perceptions of legitimate accusations, and there is merit to be had with such a statement. But I’m not here to argue about right or wrong, as opposed to expressing my own opinion on why it’s less contentious. While it could be argued that Goblin Slayer’s debacle was an excessive way of demonstrating why goblins were evil creatures that needed to be purged, because killing innocent people is already sufficient, the false rape accusation is fundamental to the characterisation Naofumi undergoes. There’s no denying that it has added something substantial to the story, and there aren’t many other turn of events which could have brought Naofumi to such a low. As such, I think it’s permissible. Not to mention there’s nothing to be construed as particularly fanservicey. It’s evident that Kinema Citrus didn’t want to take away from Naofumi’s plight or make light out of such a sticky topic, and I’d applaud them for approaching things with the appropriate sensitivity, where other production teams might have included gratuitous implications.

My verdict? You will rarely ever hear me maintain that the anime lived up to the source material. This is one of those times where I will say that Kinema Citrus have actually exceeded the source material, giving Tate no Yuusha the proper premiere it deserves. Altogether, an excellent start worthy of my utmost praises, though we’ll have to wait and see whether they can continue to put out this level of quality.


    1. Well semi spoliers here. While those morons will not get what they deserves, waves and world of tnyn is quite brutal which they will learn hard way. Regarding bitch hereslef well…….. dunno about ln or manga but in wn it was worthy it truly every single moment that you may wondered why she is still alive or why naofumi will not just kill her already since she totaly deserved, it was repaid in such satisfying and ironic way, that i was willing to forgive every bullshit story thrown at me so far. Long story short she would beg if she could at that point, to be given to goblins.

  1. Flawless adaptation. With just one or two phrases that where omited to highlith some aspects with original material, it was one of the most perfect adaptations I’ve ever seen in more than 20 years watching anime. Of course it works because it was a 45 minutes episode. With 23 episodes remaining, they have enough time to adapt the first great arc of this story. I hope they keep the flawless work, because they put the bar quite up.

    1. KinemaCitrus the studio behind have also animated made in abyss

      im alway checking director and studio when a new anime releases, they are both important for the quality you can expect.

      some anime studio do terrible adaptation no matter the material they got to work with.

      kinemacitrus did a good job on made in abyss, karakamon , tokyo magnitude 8

      solid studio

      1. The reason that Sophia acts the way she does is Show Spoiler ▼

  2. While it could be argued that Goblin Slayer’s debacle was an excessive way of demonstrating why goblins were evil creatures that needed to be purged, because killing innocent people is already sufficient, the false rape accusation is fundamental to the characterisation Naofumi undergoes.

    Goblin Slayer fan reporting for duty, sir! Taking defensive positions! XD

    Playing Devil’s advocate, couldn’t the same argument be used the other way round? While rape is fundamental to characterise the goblins as a plague that has to be exterminated, because just “killing innocent people” would make them mere bandits instead of horrifying parasites (“Look, a race with a different skin color who speak gibberish and raid our settlements and kill our people for food and resources! That’s so evil! We must kill them all, including their babies!”), Naofumi could have been falsely accused of a different crime for his fall from grace. Why did it have to be rape?

    Let’s be honest, the real reason both series use it is because of the “rape is a special kind of evil” trope. The main difference is that Goblin Slayer is too visual about it (if the anime is bad, wait until you see the manga). Tate no Yuusha isn’t that visual because the rape is false to begin with (which, as you point out, opens a completely different can of worms).

    As a fan of the manga (I confess I haven’t read the novels), I 100% agree that Naofumi is a misanthrope, not a misogynist. The series ticks some boxes that can put people off (Isekai and Revenge Fantasy, yes, but also Slavery), but I’d dare to say that Tate no Yuusha is one of the few examples that can navigate those waters successfully.

    1. Yeah, frankly you just shouldn’t try to defend the use of rape too much in either case. They both are just stories, yet they both also have problems.

      And misogyny is VERY much an issue in this story, particularly with how Naofumi ends up dealing with the princess, at least in the light novels that I read. Maybe the anime will handle it all with a bit more class.

      It also has the weird slave thing that a lot of isekais like to use for some reason. I think it works better in this series than in most because it’s less about Naofumi being pathetic and/or wanting a sex slave, like in many isekais, and more about him having lost all faith in individuals and needing a straight up slave in order to trust that they won’t betray him.

      Again, there’s a lot in this series that is sort of problematic, but it’s handled mostly okay and if the adaptation grinds off some rough edges it could be great.

      1. Lol you and Zaiden need to chill out with your obsession with misogyny. Hating someone that falsely accused you of rape and therefore ruined your reputation is not “misogyny”, it’s being a rational human being. This is some insane victim blaming right here.

      2. In the real world, yes. In a fictional story, nothing that happens in the story matters. What matters is why the writer wrote it. Whether or not NAOFUMI is a misogynist is irrelevant, the question is whether the WRITER is. And given the LN has multiple page long rants about the evils of women, yeah, I’d say misogyny is in play.

  3. Shield Hero’s anime is a Kadokawa x Crunchyroll co-production. Unlike most anime which target the local Japanese market, Shield was made to target foreign anime viewers, especially the West (it was one of the early WNs to be fully fantranslated into English, and commands popularity among Western readers).

    Kadokawa’s producer admitted they were seeking LN titles to make it big overseas, and Crunchyroll’s producer pitched this title to him.

    It’s surmised the Western market is a big factor in the good treatment the anime’s getting, from composer Kevin Penkin to its half-year runtime and visual quality.

    TLDR Foreign viewers, this anime was made for you so please support it.

  4. How much content could the anime cover, given its half-year run?

    I’m aware there’s currently 19 LN volumes, which are still adapting the original WN content.
    I’ve also heard some of the later content is significantly rewritten; and includes some original LN-exclusive story arcs too.

  5. https://randomc.net/image/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2036.jpg
    After what happened with Goblin Slayer’s first episode, I’m kinda curious about people’s reaction on false rape accusation and slavery.

    Putting that thing aside, the menu interface is really nice to look at.

    One Pinch Man
    1. IIRC Shield Hero was among the 1st WNs to openly use the “game menu interface in a game-like world”. Death March ‘s WN would follow suit 5 months after Shield started on the web.

  6. https://randomc.net/image/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari%20-%2001%20-%2024.jpg
    I knew it was too good to be true, but I just thought it was all about the money. How things escalated was rather surprising. Still, he was right with his assessment from that book.

    Can’t really tell if he’s in on it or not. Won’t put my blame on someone just cause he’s a jerk. His reaction when Naofumi threw those coins made me doubt his culpability. With that said, I don’t really have a negative view of the heroes, unlike the locals.

    This anime has piqued my interest. Can’t say I took much notice of the rape accusation or slavery. I guess I separate anime and real life quite well, and view them with different glasses at that. But there is one thing that worries me. To quote the article, “Sure, it plateau’d off badly after about 5-6 volumes in.” Here’s hoping they have a good cut off point somewhere, but I am hoping that at least Sophia will get her due.

    1. Being able to separate fantasy and reality is a very important skill, but being fantasy doesn’t necessarily give something carte blanche to tell any sort of story it wants without consequences.

      Rape and slavery are both story elements that can be… sketchy. That doesn’t mean that no story can feature either of them, but it does require a bit of tact, something that LNs don’t always excel at. We’ll see how this goes. I read a bit of the LNs for this a few years back. IMO, it’s better than most particularly in how it handles the slavery (the rape less so, but still not as bad as some), but it still has some iffy parts later on in the story from what I remember.

      1. I agree. I also think the scenes in this episode are rather light. Didn’t really think much about it. Though I can’t say if it was tactful or not.

        Another example is Goblin Slayer. While I find the first rape scene to be a necessary evil, I’m glad they skipped the next one. It was in a way central to the story. But here, the rape accusation was a petty attempt in a rigged jury. There’s a lot of wrongs in that whole scene, can’t say any one of them really stood out.

        Getting a wee bit more apprehensive after reading that though.

    2. As far as what the anime did with Bitch, I think they did good. Even if you don’t know the source you can tell that there’s something at least a little off about her, but like you said, it wasn’t obvious what she was planning. She could’ve been the type that didn’t want to work hard and sponge money off the most naive/vulnerable hero, or sent by the king to lead him astray, both types we’ve all seen before and seen redeemed before. Instead she took a hard turn straight into inescapable bitchdom and wholly set the tone for the first few arcs of the series.

  7. https://randomc.net/image/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2053.jpg

    Expecting great things from this.

    Brought to us by Kinema Citrus, makers of Revue Starlight and Made in Abyss(both their most recent works). Both shows which I really love. Just by the soundtrack and voice acting alone-so far, it already delivers.

    I hope they retain the dark, dangerous atmosphere that lingers in the latter half.

  8. I don’t know why but i just really hate this kind of story. Maybe because they using gaming term take my out of the story, maybe because they make all characters 1 dimension flat like a pancake( the main character is the only sensible one, the rest either stupid or just been an asshole).

    Archaon The Everchosen
  9. https://randomc.net/image/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari/Tate%20no%20Yuusha%20no%20Nariagari%20-%2001%20-%2016.jpg
    Prejudice of the Chosen One by the followers they collect. That’s fairly new to me. I’m interested in this.

    And I hate to say it, but a “hero” who gets taken and robbed again and again until they turn cynic is much more Real Life than any fantasy novel. This is another plus in my book. Human nature being as varied as it is, why shouldn’t the local ne’er-do-wells take advantage of the Hero? Won’t the Hero just make more gold, by virtue of his being an adventurer in the first place? (I’ve seen this attitude overseas quite often used against me, an American, by foreigners. The “give me your money because I don’t have it but you make so much you won’t miss a little or a lot, because you’ll make more”.) Naïvety is a resource soon used up and replaced by suspicion and cold-heartedness, which Tate No Yuusha is showing us. Growing up to “the Real World” for a home-bound college student can be harsh, especially up-front and in a medieval world, not just the modern world.

    1. I always feel a combination of sadness and ‘where did you go?’ when people say this about going abroad. I’m an american and have lived and traveled abroad for the last decade and have been treated very well. I’ve certainly experienced some verbal prejudice, but very little of anyone trying to take advantage of me. I literally lost a bag with my passports, money, computer, and phone in it and had it returned to be in a couple of hours.

      I’ve had to deal with straight up organized crime (the Yakuza, it was a weird evening) and they were very polite and reasonable with me. I’m not going to pretend bad things don’t happen, but having lived in multiple countries and visited many more, most people I’ve met are nice.

  10. Saw this and instantly decided that its on my pull list until the end. Well paced and good character development in a short time. The MC even seems to look and act older than his years which is a bonus in an industry that seems to to carter to the 10-15yr old MCs. God I miss anime with adult characters…Where are the Monsters type anime of 2019 and beyond??

  11. Saw this and instantly decided that its on my pull list until the end. Well paced and good character development in a short time. The MC even seems to look and act older than his years which is a bonus in an industry that seems to to carter to the 10-15yr old MCs. God I miss anime with adult characters…Where are the Monster type anime of 2019 and beyond??

  12. Read some of the WN long ago, and Naofumi is definitely a character I can get behind. I too did get lazy around the middle of it, but it also left a strong impression on me. The episode didn’t disappoint and I’m excited to get the anime version since it’s usually more engaging than reading words due to the wordy WN/LN nature.

    My memory is fuzzy on the specifics but I roughly knew what was coming this episode so it was difficult to watch the still innocent guy get betrayed, I wanted to get it over with because watching the whole process was suffering. Even so, I like how he doesn’t mope after his burst of anger and starts getting things done quickly with the hand he’s given. He’s distrusting and edgy – with a good reason! (Or more like, if he’s still naive after all that I’d be annoyed haha)

    I can’t remember why but I disliked the other heroes quite a bit (except maybe one but I can’t even remember who, maybe Ren?), so I’m surprised they didn’t really give me that strong a feeling this time other than annoyance.

  13. I hope they animate the spear hero’s spinoff story. He basically goes back in time to when they were summoned but he’s now a much better person. He tries to help the shield hero as much as he can and is heavily disgusted by the bitch princess.

  14. Well written.

    I didn’t realize who the composer was while watching the episode but I loved the soundtrack during the betrayal scene in front of the King. I’m a sucker for violins used in an epic track. At first, it made me wonder if Lindsey Stirling was an inspiration for the piece but now that I know it was Kevin Penkin, I now know why it also reminded me of the violin tracks in Made in Abyss.

    You’ll invariably have your cynics out there who’ll groan and accuse this show of being this season’s Goblin Slayer, in terms of controversy.

    Naturally, we live in a period of outrage culture where virtue signaling is just another method for receiving social validation.

    > Some might claim that portraying false rape accusations like this can inadvertently harm general perceptions of legitimate accusations
    The rape accusation felt really poorly handled to me. They should have at least removed her giving the armor to the spear wielder. Or else, they need to make the weapons/armor shop owner an accomplice since he knows who purchased the damn thing. Do the soldiers also ignore how all the other valuables were gone from his room?

    However, given the way rape accusations with shaky to no evidence have been weaponized to smear people as of late (Neil deGrasse Tyson being a recent one that comes to mind), I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief much for this. That said, this LN was obviously written before the SJW culture started gaining traction in the West. May Japan stay free of PC for a while longer.

    1. Show Spoiler ▼


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