Rising of the Shield Hero
Naofumi transported to another world as one of seven heroes needed to fight monsters appearing from portals. At first things seem fine as the heroes come up to speed on how they'll need to train to fight increasingly strong waves. But not long after forming a party, Naofumi is betrayed by his partner. Worse still each of the heroes is bound to a particular weapon, and Naofumi is only allowed to use a shield.
Left in abandoned and in a state of despair, Naofumi turns to buying a demi human slave girl in the hope that she may be able to assist him. The road will be long and hard, but now from the lowest point, the shield hero will rise.
While I intended to praise this anime in many respects, I realized I only like parts, and I feel indifferent and/or sceptical about the direction it's going in. As a whole I think it's pretty good watch though.
Shield Hero borrows a few MMO features to explain how Naofumi perceives the world, but doesn't lean too heavily on the MMO crutch. It doesn't take long for everything to go wrong for Naofumi, with the anime laying it on pretty thick in a way that feels contrived. I'm not complaining since I don't want to watch 10 episodes of Naofumi getting shit on for proper character development, so it's an acceptable shortcut. Naofumi becomes very cynical and jaded, leading him to meet Raphtalia.
Raphtalia is a sickly slave girl who is also at the lowest point of life, waiting for illness to claim her life. Naofumi pushes her to live and fight for him. She slowly gets stronger, finding purpose and hope. It's the story of Naofumi and Raphtalia which I really loved and most remember this anime for. It's an endearing story and a great way to develop the relationship and characters. At some point I realized Raphtalia was no longer doing much in the anime, having become "another character" later on.
Naofumi has various adventures, using his abilities and wits to actually help the people of the world, not just act as a demi god like the other Heroes. I enjoyed these parts sprinkled throughout the show, between the Heroes fighting waves, and other character related stories. But that leads into the bigger plot detailing what the waves of monsters are, who the Heroes are, and why they fight. The more the show gets into the details the less I find myself interested. My gut feeling is that this stuff will turn into a dumb overarching plot I won't like, but Rising of the Shield Hero is thankfully more than that. While the beginning with Raphtalia is by far the best character driven side story, other side stories are good too. It's like a hamburger where everything is great except the actual meat. It seems like that misses the point, but when you're actually eating it you find it's not so bad.
I liked Rising of the Shield hero and would recommend it among the 100 other shows featuring a guy transported to another world. I'd say it's certainly front loaded with the best content that tapers off as it goes. It's an ongoing story that hasn't concluded in the anime, but felt my interest wane in the big story so I wasn't bent out of shape about the lack of conclusion. Worth the watch.
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