If there is a certain genre of anime that I enjoy more than any other, it is good ol’ portal fantasy! For those unaware, portal fantasy refers to any story line where the main character begins his journey in the world he or she was born in, but then through magical or technological means, they are brought to another world. They are typically forced to participate in whatever the major conflict is and resolve it in order to be sent home.
The Rising of the Shield Hero is a prime example of this genre!
Iwatani Naofumi, a run-of-the-mill otaku, finds a book in the library that summons him to another world. He is tasked with joining the sword, spear, and bow as one of the Four Cardinal Heroes and fighting the Waves of Catastrophe as the Shield Hero. Excited by the prospect of a grand adventure, Naofumi sets off with his party. However, merely a few days later, he is betrayed and loses all his money, dignity, and respect. Unable to trust anyone anymore, he employs a slave named Raphtalia and takes on the Waves and the world. But will he really find a way to overturn this desperate situation?
This story starts off like many others where the main character, Naofumi, gets to a new world and is informed that he, along with three others, are fabled heroes who are there to save the world from ‘waves’ where portals emerge and pour forth terrible monsters that ravage the land.
While the other three heroes wield a spear, bow, or sword, Naofumi gets a shield. He immediately is treated differently from the others and looked down upon by his peers. Again, the concept that the main character is lesser than others is not really original when it comes to anime.
What makes the main character’s situation even worse is the fact that he is incapable using any sort of weapon due to a game like restriction. So he relies on others to fight on his behalf.
Now this is where the fun begins! While most anime series have overpowered protagonists who have the ability to overcome any obstacle with sheer will power and screaming alone, Naofumi does not. From the very beginning he is mistreated and ultimately his reputation is destroyed which hits even harder because of how weak he already is.
This causes Naofumi to become jaded and bitter with the world and acts out in ways a hero shouldn’t! We are now watching an anti-hero on the rise as he does what ever it takes in order to grow in power to ensure he can even survive. This leads him to purchasing a young slave demi-human girl named Raphtalia. Though ill and feeble, Naofumi forces her to fight on is behalf so they can gain enough levels to be formidable against the incoming waves.
At the time of writing, there are only four episodes released with the first one being 47 minutes long and the others a standard 26. Every single one of them is packed with adventure and character development. You can tell the writers are hard at work to provide quality content, the animation is crisp, the combat top notch, and the aesthetics are everything you love about fantasy RPGs.