Where the Rising of the Shield Hero Went Wrong

Where the Rising of the Shield Hero Went Wrong

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the title of this post is a tad bit clickbaity, but it’s really also not. It’s exactly what this is about, and there’s been quite a bit of controversy around season 2 of Shield Hero and why it just doesn’t seem to be stacking up to what it used to be in the first season. See, most people say it’s an issue of pacing and how they’ve changed things around, and also a bit of the first arc this season being one of the worst, but I disagree with most of that.

Spirit Turtle Yelling
(The fanbase the first time they saw this thing)


Do I think the Spirit Tortoise is one of the worse arcs? Yes, but not because it was really bad. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit towards the end and found it to be pretty exciting. It’s mostly because the series has had amazing arcs for the most part up to that point. Well, kind of. And that’s pretty much what I want to talk about. The problems didn’t really start this season. It really started towards the end of the last and continues to get worse as time goes on.


You have to stop and ask yourself why Shield Hero was so popular when it first aired. Really, you can point towards a lot of things. The art was nice. It had a big double episode to kick things off. The plot seemed like a generic isekai, but with one big twist. If you’re at all like me, and I imagine most people were, that twist is what really hooked you, and the minute it left, the series got way less interesting.

Naofumi getting detained
(Yeah, he had it rough at the start)


The main thing keeping it from being generic was its main character, Naofumi, or perhaps more the situation he was in. Rather than in most isekais, where the protagonist is this overpowered god among men, beloved by all who they dare grace with their presence, Naofumi had to start from the bottom. In this very cruel world, he should have been given the same chances as his fellow heroes, but he wasn’t. His name and reputation were dragged through the mud as the shield heroes before him were.


In other isekais, the protagonist would be worshipped for their strength. In Shield Hero, Naofumi would be exiled and hated for crimes he didn’t commit in a world where his weapon didn’t even allow him to fight on his own. It was a dark, sad world that turned against him before he was even given a chance, and to survive, he had to do some occasionally shady things, some of which may have involved buying a slave, but, you know, it turned out ok in the end.

Naofumi being a dick
(He was a bit harsh, but it was generally deserved)


Naofumi was really the main draw of the entire thing. I doubt anyone really cared about the world or its inner workings. They wanted to see this man who was wronged by everyone and everything get pissed off and violently fight back and punish all those who wronged him. It was, at its core, a very personal revenge plot. Not one undertook for someone else, but one out of pure resentment against all those who wronged you. You wanted to see Naofumi get back at them, and that was why you watched.


It was a really gripping plot. It was so intense that it made Myne one of the most hated characters I’ve ever seen in an anime, and hell, she’ll probably stay up there, rightfully so, for a long time. People loved to do things that kept them tuning in. They loved to root for Naofumi, and by god, did they love to hate everyone he hated, and dammit, so did I. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing to watch unfold, and we loved seeing every time Naofumi got pissed off and went to town on someone, believe me. It was a very visceral anime in a lot of ways.

Naofumi and the other heroes
(I guess you can still make fun of the other heroes)


With that being said, I’ve talked to people who didn’t like Shield Hero, and the common thing that was shared is that they didn’t get, relate to, or like Naofumi. And just like I always figured, Shield Hero really doesn’t have much of anything if you don’t. Shield Hero isn’t about the different heroes or this world. It was about Naofumi. It’s not about a shield. It’s about THE shield hero.


The actual world is only vaguely interesting at best. I mean, it has this thing with different heroes from different worlds, and the new season is expanding on that, which is pretty neat. It makes it an isekai within an isekai, but when you get rid of that, it’s still just a generic video game-like isekai world without anything really that interesting at all.  If you remove Naofumi and his ill fate, you have a very slightly above-average isekai at its very best.

Naofumi really mad
(Yeah, he got cooler, but he lost something along the way)


So when we got towards the end of the last season, Naofumi wasn’t only cleared of all his supposed wrongdoings, but also given the support of a queen, his own nation, and started to be seen as a hero, as well as gaining the ability to directly attack things with his pissed off, anger shield, you can see how things would start to crumble. Everything that made Shield Hero a fun, unique isekai was taken away. It got real generic, real fast. Not bad, per se, it was slightly above-average, but it was no longer great.


And that’s the problem. When you take away pissed off Naofumi, you lose what Shield Hero is. But at the same time, of course, things couldn’t stay that way forever, so there’s really nothing they could have done. Their best bet is to continue to create scenarios that make you feel a similar way, which does happen. The other heroes still think less of him, but that’s about it. I mean, pretty much everyone thinks they’re useless anyway, so Naofumi ends up becoming the real hero.

Naofumi standing proud
(When he earned the people’s trust, he lost ours, or something like that)


So I don’t really think it’s that Shield Hero fell off, it’s more that it ended the one big overarching plot point it has had from day one, and people are starting to see that it’s not as interesting without that. It’s still good. Season 2 is about as solid as some of the more mediocre parts of the first season, which is still better than a lot of isekais, but it no longer has that punch or pungency it used to have. It’s just kind of there.


And if you need proof, the last few episodes have been really well-received by the community, especially compared to the others. Do you know why? It was a return to form. New world, everyone was low level, Naofume was weak again and not really trusted. We went right back to square one, and people loved it. The proof is in the very angry at the world pudding.


Even then, the focus still changed. Old Naofumi wouldn’t have stayed his hand and waited to formulate a plan when he saw Filo being tortured in front of him. He would have gotten super pissed, charged in there waving his anger shield, and ripped the guy doing it limb from limb, regardless of who tried to stop him. Call it character growth, sure, but not the kind we wanted. Also, not really, because the guy gets brutally tortured in the source material, according to someone I saw. It’s not that we like the anger. We just like seeing it directed towards scum that deserve it. It’s what the series used to be all about.


So that’s the real problem with Shield Hero, not that it suddenly got worse, which, yeah, you could make a fair argument for, especially since the pacing is so much faster, but that alone isn’t the main reason it’s getting a lot of flack. It’s because this Shield Hero is unfortunately not the same one we fell in love with a few years ago.


Thank you very much for reading


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