The Four Cardinal Heroes are a group of ordinary men from modern-day Japan summoned to the kingdom of Melromarc to become its saviors. Melromarc is a country plagued by the Waves of Catastrophe that have repeatedly ravaged the land and brought disaster to its citizens for centuries. The four heroes are respectively bestowed a sword, spear, bow, and shield to vanquish these Waves. Naofumi Iwatani, an otaku, becomes cursed with the fate of being the "Shield Hero." Armed with only a measly shield, Naofumi is belittled and ridiculed by his fellow heroes and the kingdom's people due to his weak offensive capabilities and lackluster personality.
When the heroes are provided with resources and comrades to train with, Naofumi sets out with the only person willing to train alongside him, Malty Melromarc. He is soon betrayed by her, however, and becomes falsely accused of taking advantage of her. Naofumi then becomes heavily discriminated against and hated by the people of Melromarc for something he didn't do. With a raging storm of hurt and mistrust in his heart, Naofumi begins his journey of strengthening himself and his reputation. Further along however, the difficulty of being on his own sets in, so Naofumi buys a demi-human slave on the verge of death named Raphtalia to accompany him on his travels.
As the Waves approach the kingdom, Naofumi and Raphtalia must fight for the survival of the kingdom and protect the people of Melromarc from their ill-fated future.
#1: "Kimi no Namae (きみの名前)" by Chiai Fujikawa (藤川千愛) (eps 2–3, 5–12) #2: "Falling Through Starlight" by Asami Seto (ep 4) #3: "Atashi ga Tonari ni Iru Uchi ni (あたしが隣にいるうちに)" by Chiai Fujikawa (eps 13-)
There are two things I noticed that are problematic with this show: 1.) it shoots its pacing and it ignores good storytelling methods to try to hurry up its narrative to the part it wants to tell and comes off as scared the calibre of its writing is not enough to keep its audience interested so it must rush as hard as it can to immediately show its gimmick; 2.) It’s trying to have its tanuki loli slave cake and eat it too. We’ll naturally go over that over the course of the review.
I want to tackle first its main potential, how it wastes
it, and what it offers instead in lieu of said wasted potential.
Isekai, at its core, is a fish-out-of-water story taken to the extreme. You have an ordinary person from a decidedly un-magical locale and/or lead drab lives before they are whisked away to a fantastical new world where they live out interesting lives full of adventure and magic.
Most videogame-isekai authors, however, seem more interested in tailoring this brave new world in such a way that it’s the one world where their otaku excels at with his given skillset. They’re not dragging the fish out of water, so to speak. They’re dragging the fish into the water.
Now, to the show's credit, there’s a limitation attached to the main character: he can’t attack effectively. It forces him to pair up with someone who actually can. Then his situation becomes untenable when he’s falsely accused of rape and any chance of him getting a decent companion is out the window. In the end, he has to buy a slave. This is a genuinely nice setup. They now have to learn to work together and grow together if they are to survive, with an added dilemma: this is just some slave he bought. Who knows if she’ll even cooperate with him? And even if she does, is she competent enough when his life is on the line? And then there’s her side. For all she knows, her ownership just simply changed. The guy is nothing to her and he has to earn her trust little by little, as she has to earn his. It has the potential for a character story of both party slowly building the bridge between them brick by brick, replete with setbacks and drawbacks along the way. It’s a setup so rife with possibilities; except that story immediately nukes half of that equation of them having to meet halfway by making the girl basically fall for him. It rids itself of one-half of its character building potential. For what? So it could hurry its shipping along?
Alright, it can still work with just the main character half. Slightly less effective sure, but it’s doable. There’s still a character-building potential of the main character half: where he attempts to find it in him to trust again after the initial betrayal. Except that we have no proper measure of him as a character before the rape accusation so we don’t really know how much of him had changed after that beyond the basic demeanor; by ridding us of the ability to make a more in-depth comparison of the before and after of the main character, it lessens its already reduced impact even more. If we had that, we’d have a better idea of what was lost in him that day and can empathize and sympathize with him.
All we have now is a world dedicated on shitting on the main character and we’re supposed to root for him with full justice boner on just because he’s the main character. And there’s so much bullshit we have to put up with with the contrived way he is being put down. Yes, while I did praise the setup the show arrived at, the way they set that up is contrived. The series as a whole feels contrived.
Thanks to the light novel and web novel readers, I’ve been spoiled to hell and back on the major plot points of how the rape accusation ends and why the main character was singled out (seriously, if you don’t like spoilers, stay away from the episode discussions because a lot of readers there seem incapable of using the BB code for the spoiler tag). And all I can say is that the characters who are not the MC did the absolute stupidest things they can do just to make this plot-point happen. Expect a lot of idiot balls handed to the casts to simply move the story along the lines the author wants it to move without necessarily making logical sense. In fact, the anime seems more intent on telling us what things are and how they work even when things explicitly running counter to what was said runs in the background.
Again, it rushes its narrative to get to what it thinks is the good part: the shipping of the main character and the raccoon girl.
[Insert Street Fighter 1994 M. Bison soundbyte here: “OF COURSE!”]
Sure, why not. Let’s get to the meat of the show then. It’s about a cute raccoon slave loli falling in love with the first guy to ever show her kindness in quite a while. Two words come to mind: Stockholm syndrome. It’s not exactly accurate but you get the idea of how imbalanced the power dynamics in the relationship is. He buys her from an abusive slave owner. He’s kind to her. Boom! Love.
The story even takes care to make sure that there’s no male character that can outshine the male protagonist because then it might be hard to justify her settling for him when there are better options. Other male characters of significant note to the story tend to be written in such a way that they’re usually evil, incompetent, obnoxious, or old enough that the otaku cannot see them viably as a threat. Because when all the otaku has to offer is kindness, a decent respectable male is kinda a step up. Can’t have them buzzing around M’lady.
Oh, and they un-lolify the loli. Not really sure if she is mentally an adult or a child, but you know, she’s not physically loli anymore. Yay~! She's legal. /s
It’s a change I’m guessing was hand-waved in to avoid controversy of having a child-looking humanoid who, we would be given to assume, has underdeveloped mental faculties to make correct decisions fall for her slave owner for the trivial reason that he’s kind to her and no one showed her kindness in a long time (or if ever at all).
If you’re here for the adorable raccoon girl, have at it. If you’re here expecting something better, sorry man. But hey, it has a RACCOON GIRL. And she’s cute. I think. I mean, they keep talking about her in episode discussions.
I’ve never been a fan of the “isekai” genre. It was never alluring for me and neither is it now. The mere fact that a person was “transported” to another world, for me, invalidated everything that happened to the said person in that “another world”. I could never fathom (and I still can’t) why the hero can’t start off as a regular person in the fantasy world instead of being transported there from our world. Originality is lost in this process as the “another world” of most isekai anime are basically the same with similar power system and the same old cliched stereotypes that have
become quintessential trademark of the isekai genre.
“The Rising of the Shield Hero” overcomes some of the immutable traits of the generic isekai anime and is, not a refreshing take on the genre, but is a good take nonetheless. The story is similar to what you’ve probably seen a billion times - world is in danger; four heroes will appear and save it. That basically summarises the plot. Four “heroes” are summoned to an alternate world to try and stop the dark forces who are trying to eradicate said world. I have heroes in double quotes because they consist of two college students and two high school students, not the kind of people that comes to mind when hearing the word hero.
Here’s my first problem with the show. The four main characters show no confoundment when they are magically transported to a world different than their own. They all adjust to it as easily as adjusting to a new shirt that is ever so short. They simply accept their fate and are ready in minutes to risk their life and save a world with which they have no connection whatsoever. It’s like they’re the most complacent people in the universe. It is not yet explained as to why the heroes need to be summoned from a different world, because to me it seems like there are enough magicians and warriors in their own world who could help cull the demons.
Second problem – the setting. It’s set in medieval times (like the billion other isekai anime), but it doesn’t feel like it (like the billion other isekai anime). There is no atmosphere to encapsulate the feeling of medieval-ness. It basically feels like a village from the past or something.
Our story really starts when the shield hero, our main protagonist Naofumi, is incriminated of sexually assaulting his party member who also happened to be the King’s daughter. Everyone in the world, for some yet to be explained reason, had a deep-seated feeling of aversion for the shield hero from the beginning which is only augmented after hearing the about the harassment of the princess. The shield hero is kicked out of the palace and left alone to conquer his quest while avoiding everyone’s contempt.
The characters in this show are what differentiate it from other of it’s kind. Though there are some cardboard cut outs, the main characters, Naofumi, Raphtalia and Filo are all disparate from the characters present in other isekai shows. Pro No.1 – the show eschews fanservice; this really shouldn’t be a pro, but given the current state of anime and fan-service, it is. At first, I perceived Naofumi as a typical insular otaku but there’s more to his character than just that. We see his compassion through his actions and not by monologue. His magnanimity is shown via his action of saving Raphtalia and is not just pushed onto the audience. Raphtalia, another character whose temperament is shown by actions she takes and not by monologue, is also a great character. She was a slave who was orphaned due to a demon Cerberus killing her parents and is rescued by Naofumi. We see this friendship develop between her and Naofumi which feels candid and not just some forced “nakama” shit. The character writing is eloquent and we have new character Filo introduced in episode 5. I hope she gets the same treatment as the rest of the characters and is not some expendable loli. Since we’re only 6 episodes in, other characters don’t get that much focus but that’s to be expected since we’re only 1/4th into the show.
The animation is awesome, the background looks realistic but the character animation is nothing to fawn over. The character animation is pretty untenable and sloppy at times but when it really matters, it gets better.
The music isn’t remarkable and with the exception of the opening, most of the pieces are instantly forgettable. Still, fire OP though.
I binged six episodes in two and a half hours and it was a ride. I’m gonna put this show on hold and binge it once it finishes airing. Overall, it’s a pretty good isekai (never thought I’d ever say this), and I hope the quality doesn’t degrade as the show goes on. I can’t put my finger on the one reason as to why I like this show, I just like it.
The Isekai genre in anime has grown by a large number ever since SAO became popular. Due to it being over popularized, some people have long since gotten sick of it . And if you are one of those people, trust me you are really missing out by not watching this anime.
Tate No Yuusha is another Isekai anime where the Main Protagonist : Iwatani Naofumi
gets send to another world along with 3 other male characters. Each of them were summoned to fight The Waves of Calamity in this RPG game liked world, which is a mysterious phenomenon that occur every so often in the
world and warranting the summoning of the Four Saint Heroes (The Sword Hero, Bow Hero, Spear Hero and Shield Hero) to confront. As you can guess Naofumi became the Shield Hero which is know to be the weakest out of the four, and compared to the other Heroes , and had close to no knowledge of this world. Due to that, when adventurers were asked to join the Heroes' party to aid them in getting stronger, no one was willing enough to join Naofumi's party. Luckily, a lady by the name of Melromarc Malty or Myne was generous enough to join his party. Everything seemed good for Naofumi at first, Myne was able to make up for Naofumi's lack of attacking capability due to him being unable to use a weapon ( The restriction of being the shield hero ) and helped Naofumi gained a better idea of this world. After their tiring day of killing monsters, both of them went ahead to have dinner at a pub where Myne tried to make Naofumi drunk by offering him wine to drink. Naofumi declined her offer and went ahead to his room to sleep early. However, the next day he found his stuff and most of his money missing before getting approached by guards and was forced to go back to the castle.
It was then that it was revealed that Myne had accused Naofumi of rape and was apparently deceiving him the whole time to get his stuff and money and give it to the Spear Hero. Naofumi, tho innocent had no evidence at all whereas Myne had planted false evidence leading to everyone believing her instead. Enraged, Naofumi ventured out on a journey alone with the intention of clearing his name and getting revenge on Myne.
STORY : 7
This is one of the Isekai that distinguished itself from the others where the main protagonist is not super overpowered from the start. It is really satisfying to see how Naofumi turns the tide around and clear his name as he set out on his journey and gain allies on the way. The false rape accusation is very accurate to the ones that happen in real life and we get to see the perspective of the victim in this scenario and how he copes with it. This shows us that not everything is what it seems and that we should not trust the rape accuser easily without concrete proof. This is a very interesting storytelling standpoint and I am glad that the author decided to go down this route as it allows for many interesting plot twists and satisfying moments. However as I continue to watch the series there are times where it creates opportunities for many interesting plot points and fails to deliver.
ART : 8
The visuals in this anime is quite good and a good amount of budget can be seen put in the fight scenes so far. This is nowhere near the animation level of shows like Kimi No Nawa or Violet Evergarden but the visuals in this is definitely worth the praise. The art style/character designs are very like that of an normal Isekai anime and any fans of this genre would love this.
SOUND : 9
I mean what can I say? The OP and the ED of this anime is a BANGER. The OP ' RISE '
made by MAD KID is a really good J-pop music and suits the anime perfectly with the hype that it brings. The ED ' Your Name ' produced by Chiai Fujikawa is a soothing music and is a good contrast to the OP of this anime. The voice actor behind Naofumi is the great Ishikawa Kaito who voiced many great anime characters ( Kageyama Tobio from Haikyuu , Sakuta from Bunny Girl Senpai ) and the voice actor behind the lovable Raphtalia is Seto Asami who voiced Sakurajima Mai from Bunny Girl Senpai. You can get some vibes of Bunny Girl Senpai just from Raphtalia's and Naofumi's dialogues sometimes xD.
CHARACTER : 8
Naofumi's character underwent through an interesting turn. He was seen as your average happy go lucky Otaku that was transported into another world, but his character changed drastically after the false rape accusation and he can be seen taking a darker tone. However, even with this change in character, deep down he is still a kind and caring person. His companion , Raphtalia is a lovable female demi-human with a great personality resembling that of Rem from Re: Zero. She is one of the few people that truly knows Naofumi as a person and cares for him deeply. She is one of the few reasons why Naofumi is able to withstand against all the hate given by the people in this world due to the false rape accusation. There is also the cute Chicken I mean Philo Rial who can change between her human and Philo Rial form at will and provides many comedic moments for the show.
ENJOYMENT : 10
I myself have truly enjoyed Tate No Yuusha, however I do understand if people do not like it due it being a bit too rushed and cliche which I can agree with to a certain extent. I have also heard about the controversy surrounding this anime and I can say that those are just people who looks too deep into things or just get offended way too easily. I mean it is just anime? Why not just enjoy it.
OVERALL : 8.5
It is genuinely a really good show, thou flawed, and deserves all the popularity that it gets. It provides a very unique story along with many incredible characters. I would not be surprised if this becomes one of the more well known anime out there.
So should YOU watch this? If you are one of those people who just like Isekai and want to have fun watching anime, YES go ahead. However if you are one of those people who looks for perfection in an anime, this probably would not be of any good to you.
Hoooooo bois n gals, after Tensei Slime (going downhill now at the time of this review), another popular isekai is here to take over the isekai space, and that is the ever-beloved Tate no Yuusha. Similar to how Tensei Slime took off with the human protagonist getting warped off to another world after some wizardry sucked-in magic of an unfinished magical-legendary storybook, this fairly young university adult called Naofumi Iwatani is going to experience life-changing moments and challenge his open-minded perception that twists the people and even the summoned world to its knees.
Before starting the review proper, I just wanted to say that I really
respect director Takao Abo. Being the failure of a director that is Norn9 in 2016, he learned from his mistakes, gave himself sometime back to doing storyboards, episode directings, and even helping fellow colleagues with animation that harkens back to the days of Escaflowne, and literally hit the ball out of the park with knowing how to handle this series along with the never-ending backlash that is the infamous premiere episode, even helping out with the storyboards (for that and Episode 4).
***Minor spoilers which if you hadn't seen the 1st 6 episodes***
With how this series starting out the now-infamous "false reality" that is the Goblin Slayer premiere episode formula, it definitely triggered all of us out from head to toe, in spirit and in light, through the book (and thorough exasperation by the Melromarc Kingdom) that we learn the unsatisfactory truth and crux of the story: Out of the 4 summoned heroes, apart from the Sword (Motoyasu), Spear (Itsuki) and Bow (Ren) heroes, the Shield (Naofumi) is the utter disappointment, a blame-ful rejected outcast, the worthless defender that not even the Kingdom and its people would acknowledge to support, much less than having to solve the problem in the nation that is the "Waves of Calamity" with the other heroes. Not to mention that Malty (check the OP for her status) doesn't let the open-minded Naofumi have his way, after being recognized that the Shield Hero doesn't have a status that's as equally regarded, and his isekai experience from there on is not just rough, but one that is set on a deadly course. It's like Naofumi is a broken Jesus-kun, and he is there to exemplify that the Shield Hero is worth taking a look at, after being blindsided by everyone around him.
Even after "acquiring" Raphtalia, a raccoon demi-human slave, he's on the verge of breaking down, but nope, with hard work and earned recognition in mind, the Shield Hero that is Naofumi goes on a journey that is unlike the other 3 heroes. And so with his kindness (that's not to be taken advantage of, otherwise get ready to be screwed tremendously upside-down) and maturity that is through raising Raphtalia like his own, and realizing that his oppressing anger is not worth it to people screwing his own life and putting others' lives on the line, Naofumi is left in his own devices to not just repair the Shield Hero's reputation, but bring his goodwill around. So with that, the story of the anti-hero, or should I say Naofumi Iwatani the underdog leads into our way, and with the Chocobo-turned-loli Filo, his life is going to change every step of the way, for the better (or for worse if the bastards show up again, which they will).
Unsurprisingly, or to many surprises from everyone (even to myself), the ever-so-praised VA couple of 2018, Bunny Girl Senpai's main cast Sakuta (Kaito Ishikawa) and Mai (Asami Seto) comes back in full force to wow us the audience with similar engaging but another-level voice talents, that if we thought that Bunny Girl Senpai was the best-of-the-best, we haven't even seen the ultimate limits of the duo yet. I'm sure we can all relate with Naofumi that we all want to be good and law-abiding citizens no matter where we are, but if we get screwed over, we're gonna retaliate 10, 100 times over, and that's exactly how we're always crying out foul when Naofumi gets the short end of the stick, EACH AND EVERYTIME.
Assessing that bitchy princess Malty's rip-offs and backstabs doesn't do any favours to Naofumi (much less than the stupid and abominable Spear Hero (Motoyasu)'s ignorance to our disgustful chagrin), we're always cursing her actions over and over, but first recognize that that's her role: to support her dad (the King)'s advances to put Naofumi to shame, no matter the depth of backlash and suffering until he's done for good...that is until the Queen starts to notice and show favour to Naofumi (which changes the atmosphere greatly in the series to come, be expectant of it). And I really cannot praise Ishikawa-san's VA talents enough, because it really spoke volumes to all of us of his (undeserved) sufferings. Not to forget that now Mai, er I mean Raphtalia's in the picture, she's just as fierce and loving as the former with her full support for Naofumi, realizing the enormous danger that he's in and ending his (angering) foolishness along with rekindling his true self to his surroundings that he doesn't need to fear anymore, and I love every single moment of it.
When it comes to art and animation, Kinema Citrus took a huge stride from the experiences that are Made in Abyss and Revue Starlight, and made this series stand out in true style and perfection, and I cannot stress this enough: Even with the dark-fantasy-esque setting, the ever-gripping drama saga that is Naofumi vs. the Melromarc Kingdom, perfectly paced action-adventure that always has us gripping in our seats (for anime onlys), this is a show that is not for the faint-hearted (like how Tensei Slime initially started, just with a calm mood). And no matter what situation our man Naofumi is in, you'd bet he will serve it with conviction and in his true colours that will put smiles on others' faces. And again, the music is by far the best thing about this series, and if you know the works of the now-famous Kevin Penkin, his works are not wasted here as it's awesome in every way, sparking countless emotions of anger and happiness. OST is also awesome, MADKID's OP another best Winter song of a banger and the sweet, sweet ED releasing the calming presences of Naofumi's party.
If you're ever gonna high-five praise an Isekai series from this year (and going forward) (heck even Crunchyroll named this series the No. 1 most popular of the season), make sure this is in your AOTS list of 2019, but first, give this series a very-focused watch. And for anime onlys who don't know a single thing about this series, I'd recommend you go into this series totally blind, wait for the immense drama, and prepare yourselves for an adventure that you'll never forget.