Upon reading an unusual book in the library, Naofumi Iwatani finds himself one of four people from (parallel versions of) Japan summoned as the Four Cardinal Heroes for the kingdom of Melromarc. Tasked with fending off impending Waves of monstrosities, each Hero is given one “weapon”: Sword, Spear, Bow, and unfortunately for Naofumi, he gets stuck with Shield. Having a “weapon” with no offensive capability and unable to wield anything else, Naofumi is considered the “dud” hero and of the twelve warriors set to form parties with the heroes, only one wants to join him. Things go from bad to worse when the one person who did join him, the beautiful girl Myne, ultimately betrays Naofumi, taking everything he has and accusing him of taking advantage of her, thus killing his reputation. With nothing but a newfound anger against the world that summoned him, Naofumi is given a tantalizing offer for a party member that cannot betray him: a slave.
The latest isekai light novel to get an anime adaptation, The Rising of the Shield Hero (Japanese title: Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari) does at least offer something somewhat different in presenting a protagonist who is not overpowered at all, and is actually rather weak and oppressed by the world around him. This does have the side effect of giving us one of the edgiest isekai protagonists we’ve seen in a while, so there’s that. Overall, though, I found this first, double-length episode to be okay but unremarkable for the most part; edgy protagonists aren’t particularly interesting to me, and honestly, the whole idea of Naofumi’s life getting ruined over a false rape accusation is a silly way to force drama to me. That said, the most interesting part of the episode is also likely the most controversial: the end where Naofumi looks toward buying a slave. Slavery is something that comes up fairly often in isekai stories and Naofumi has more reason than most to get one, even if that reason is not very honorable. Those who find the idea of a protagonist owning a slave repulsive will definitely want to stay away from this show, but otherwise this could be an interesting way to explore the moral minefield of slavery. I’ll probably watch at least a little more of this show to see how this aspect plays out.
The Rising of the Shield Hero is streaming on Crunchyroll.