Updated: Jun 7, 2020
So I'd been enjoying an anime called Rising of the Shield hero, when I read an article from CBR that mentioned how Shield Hero and it's protagonist support bigotry and slavery. That is one of the worst takes on the material I've ever seen and I wanted to refute it voraciously.
So let's crush that right now.
First, for anybody unfamiliar, let's go over the basic story. Four heroes are summoned into the kingdom of Melromarc to save the kingdom from oncoming waves of monsters. The four heroes each use a different weapon and are known as The Sword Hero, The Spear Hero, the Bow Hero, and the Shield Hero. The Shield Hero, our boy, is named Naofumi and right away is insulted and made to feel like he's a lesser hero. He's told the that the Shield is the weakest holy weapon and by far the most useless. Naofumi, having never been a big gamer, has no clue about the world he's in or the mechanics of it. He was more of a book guy than a gamer — based Naofumi.
Because he stands for nothing, he falls for anything, at least at first. This leads him to be lead astray and falsely accused of rape by Myne the King's daughter. She takes all his money, his clothes and gear; then accuses Naofumi of rape before she runs off to hide behind the spear hero. This leaves Naofumi with nothing but his own rage and the disdain of the entire Kingdom.
He storms off from the kingdom without trying to clear his name, because he didn't think they would believe him anyway, and trudges into the town and wilderness beyond to make it on his own. Now, Melromarc summoned him, but doesnt want him, and Myne betrayed him at this point in the story; but he has nowhere else to go. He can't fight monsters on his own due to the shield having almost no offensive capability, and Myne's accusation and the King's decree left him with no money. In the light novel he thought about killing himself at this point of the story, but his divine protection made even that too difficult. In the end, he makes enough money to do the only thing he can think of. He buys a slave to fight for him — Enter Ralphtalia.
Here is where idiots want to believe that Naofumi supports slavery. Because he buys a sick young girl to fight for him, and then doesn't immediately free her. The reason why? Not because he believes in slavery, but because he doesn't believe in himself. He thinks that given a chance, anybody will run away from him and leave him alone in a world where he has nothing. He's not supporting slavery, he's giving up on everyone, including himself and relying on immutable systems to keep him moving forward.
Ralphtalia is weak, sick, unwilling to kill anything that bleeds and scared of dog-type monsters. Naofumi stays up at night protecting her as she screams from nightmares, blends medicine to cure her ailment, and works with her to grow her courage. He treats her like his own child and she responds by loving him and believing in him when nobody else would. He gives her a reason to smile and she gives him someone to to fight for.
This continues throughout the series as Naofumi battles his own rage and fear of being alone again and again. His strongest enemies are not those who fight him with holy weapons or politics, his greatest adversary is himself. He is bound and enslaved to his own hatred and lack of confidence. The reason he does not believe in others is because he never believed in himself. So through his journey step by step he proves to himself that he can do it, that he can do anything he needs to. This is the rising of the Shield Hero. It's Naofumi breaking his own shackles and no longer being a slave, to Melromarc, to his obligations, and most importantly to himself.
So how can he support slavery, when he is himself a slave to Melromarc and the system?
Answer: He doesn't and never did.
He doesn't support slavery, he defies it in every form. He raises Ralphtalia like a daughter, he later raises a bird-child that he names Filo. He protects and cares for them both, to the point of setting up their lives to be fruitful and significant even without him. He does this so that whether he and the heroes fail or succeed, Ralphtalia and Filo win. He even sets up a village to save the other demihuman slaves and take care of them, to give them a place to come to should they falter or need asylum.
In truth, he was given a gift at the beginning of the series. He was shown what it was like to fail. The other heroes were propped up, their victories loud and hollow, but not Naofumi. He had to earn every step of his journey and because of that, he was ready to face what came later. He failed many times, and had to rise up every time and fight again. That was the best lesson he could have learned, because if you're not prepared to fail, then you're not ready to succeed.
How does any of this support bigotry or Slavery?
It doesn't. It supports the opposite — Liberty.
Remember kids, don't do journos. Their opinions are weak, their research is worse and they smell funny. Me? I'm just a dude that likes to write. Check out Bladenite.com and join the mailing list to become a Blade and cut our way to a better future. Sins of the Fae will be launching soon in both Light Novel and Graphic Novel Form.
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