Since my esteemed colleague stardf29 has already provided the basic premise for this show, I shall forgo the usual pleasantries and jump straight into my reaction.
Watching this first, 45-minute-long episode, two things struck me as different from the manga. First, the anime helps fill in some of the details, making the story easier to follow. Second, it refers to four heroes as the “Four Cardinal Heroes”. (The official translation of the manga calls them “Legendary Heroes”.)
If you’ve studied Classics or the Middle Ages, you will remember that there are four virtues known as the Four Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude. These are called “Cardinal” from the Latin word meaning “hinge”, since these were seen as the “hinges” that made all other virtues possible.
Might the Cardinal Virtues find embodiment in the Cardinal Heroes?
Heh heh, nope! Quite the opposite!
I was quite struck by how the cast failed to model these traits:
- Temperance: The virtue of balance that keeps all the other virtues working harmoniously together. By contrast, the heroes are forced to work separately from the outset, meaning they will be unable to benefit from each others’ strengths.
- Justice: Rendering to someone what is due to them. Of course, justice goes out the window when the other heroes (and the king and his citizens) condemn the Shield Hero for a crime he didn’t commit.
- Prudence: This term gets horribly misused today. It actually means being able to select the right means to reach an end. (Being able to choose the right end was called Wisdom.) Using a hammer to affix a nail, for example, instead of using a screwdriver or your baby brother. Of course, people have a higher dignity than things; this is why it’s wrong to “use” people, and why calling someone a “tool” is so demeaning. In the story, the other heroes use the Shield Hero as a target to mistreat in order to make themselves look better; and the people of the nation, in turn, largely treat the heroes as a means to warding off the invaders.
What about Fortitude? Here we actually see the virtue displayed pretty well by our protagonist. Thanks to the false accusations, he loses everything: his stuff, his money, and his reputation. Without detailing all the hardships he goes through, let it suffice to say that he starts from ground zero and perseveres in the face of some very discouraging circumstances. He even sleeps outside in the woods!
I would further add that this seems to me to enable him to start exercising the other Cardinal Virtues as well. Since this first impression is already pretty long, for now I’ll leave this as an exercise for the reader.