The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 4

The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 4

Lullaby at Dawn

You know a series is doing something right when it makes you feel something for the characters. And, this week’s episode of The Rising of the Shield Hero did just that. No, I didn’t feel bad for Naofumi and everything he’s gone through, but I did feel angry for him.

Also, before you ask, no, TenSura doesn’t make me feel anything and that’s part of the reason why it’s a mediocre anime.

Unfortunately, while Naofumi does get mad, I don’t feel like he gets nearly mad enough. He embraces his role of “scumbag,” but based on the amount of abuse he gets from everyone, I’d expect him to do something a lot more drastic.

The royalty, nobles, general population, and other heroes are all against him, and yet all he does is cry about how everyone’s being mean to him. Ainz from Overlord brutally murdered a bunch of adventurers simply because they walked into his home, why can’t Naofumi take a page out of his book?

Well, actually I see Naofumi as more of an anti-hero than a villain so maybe he shouldn’t emulate Ainz, but I’d at least like to see him actively do things simply to spite everyone else. They don’t like that he had to resort to buying a slave because nobody would join his party? Just buy more slaves to make them even more mad.

Or, when Raphtalia is freed from her slavery curse, he could have still ordered her to leave with him, which she would have done without question. That metaphorical mic drop would have been a great way to assert his dominance after the duel, and would have kept up his “bad guy” persona.

The Slavery Question

So, as I’ve implied Naofumi is challenged to a duel by the Spear Hero, Motoyasu, over his purchasing of Raphtalia as a slave. It’s easy to see why Motoyasu would have such a problem with Naofumi’s use of a slave, but at the same time we do have to remember that there’s a reason slavery was practiced for most of recorded human history, and undoubtedly even before: it’s useful.

Did Naofumi necessarily want a slave? No. But, did he use Raphtalia as a slave anyway? Yes.

Even though he mostly took care of her and treated her with respect, she wasn’t free and could be physically forced to do whatever was ordered of her. And, even if Naofumi did free her, she has nowhere else to go, which is in itself is a form of slavery.

However, while it’s true that Naofumi is a slave owner, the idea to “save” Raphtalia from him didn’t originate from Motoyasu. Instead, this idea was planted by his party member, Myne, who originally made false accusations about Naofumi to the King and other heroes.

As we learn later on, Myne is actually Malty Melromarc, the crown princess of the kingdom. This is why the king goes along with all of her accusations and looks the other way any time she or the Spear Hero do anything wrong.

I also found it quite amusing that in a country where slavery and the persecution of demi-humans is perfectly legal and acceptable, King Melromarc acts as if Naofumi is some sort of monster for having Raphtalia as his slave. Despite this, he and Myne don’t even try to hide the fact that they clearly think of demi-humans as, well, sub-human.

Shield vs. Spear

As for the actual duel between Naofumi and Motoyasu, I fully expected Naofumi to lose fair and square. Interestingly, this isn’t what we saw. Naofumi actually won the initial duel, but then lost in the end due to Myne interfering to save Motoyasu.

But, the contents of the actual fight itself aren’t what interest me, as usual. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the things we can learn from this fight in regards to how the world works.

Shield Hero Naofumi Iwatani vs. Spear Hero Motoyasu Kitamura from the anime series The Rising of the Shield Hero
Naofumi vs. Motoyasu

At one point in the duel we see things from Motoyasu’s perspective, and this gives us a glimpse into the leveling system of the world. I don’t remember their exact levels, but Motoyasu is something like level 41, while Naofumi is around level 23.

With a level gap like that, we would typically expect Naofumi to be easily defeated, but as I mentioned this isn’t what happens. So, based on this information, I think it’s safe to say that one’s level doesn’t affect their stats directly. More likely, leveling up unlocks better or more skills, but doesn’t give an inherent advantage.

I also considered the fact that perhaps since these two were participating in an official duel, there was some kind of system in place to even out their stats, you know, like any real MMORPG would. However, if this were the case, then we would also expect interference in their duel to be impossible, which again, wasn’t the case.

The final thing I’ll mention about this duel itself is that neither of the combatants took damage. We see Naofumi get injured, lose blood, and have his clothes torn, and yet none of this lasts. Somehow when the fight is complete, and even during the fight, both men and their outfits are in pristine condition.

Curse Series

Now let’s move onto something which I think is going to be fairly important moving forward in the anime, the curse series. It’s not entirely clear how Naofumi unlocked this series of skills (at least that’s what I’m assuming it is), but I’m pretty sure it’s linked to his hatred of the world increasing past a certain point.

Naofumi unlocks the Curse Series from the anime The Rising of the Shield Hero
Curse Series

But, while we don’t really know anything about the curse series yet, I’m interested to see how exactly it’s used in the narrative. Some questions I have regarding this are:

  • Will the skills in the curse series simply be overpowered?
  • Will there be drawbacks to using these skills? (Hence the “curse” in curse series.)
  • Are there other, similar, series of skills? And, will they be unlocked by any of the other heroes?
  • Is Naofumi able to control these skills or do they happen automatically when he gets mad? (Like the Hulk.)

Regardless of the answers to any of these questions, I think it’s safe to say that the curse series is here to stay and it will play a significant role going forward. In fact, we see what I assume is a curse series skill being used by Naofumi in the OP when his eyes turn red and red lines cover his face.

From the OP we also see that Naofumi is apparently reverted back to his normal self by Raphtalia grabbing onto him. This could be significant and may be hinting towards the curse series skills being both involuntary and potentially harmful to Naofumi.

I think I’ll be fine with the curse series as long as it remains a sort of sub-specialty for Naofumi. If his use of these skills surpasses his use of shield-specific skills, then there’s a problem, but I don’t see that becoming the case.

Raphtalia’s Devotion

After the duel between the Shield and Spear Heroes, Raphtalia is freed of her slave curse mark despite the duel being rigged in Motoyasu’s favor. At this point I completely expected Raphtalia to secretly be put under another curse to make her go against Naofumi. But, surprisingly the King and Myne seem to truly believe Raphtalia would turn on Naofumi the second she got the chance.

More surprising, however, was Naofumi’s initial rejection of Raphtalia’s devotion to him. How could he have that little faith in her after spending so much time alone with her? Of course Raphtalia wasn’t going to abandon him at this point.

I think part of the issue here was that Naofumi hadn’t really been seeing Raphtalia for who she was. Remember, until now, he still saw her as the same kid he bought from the slave trader. He didn’t even realize that she’s grown up, despite it happening right before his eyes over a relatively short period of time.

Oh, and we finally got the explanation about how demi-humans grow, which I already covered during my review of the previous episode.

But, now that Naofumi realizes Raphtalia isn’t a mere child anymore, is their dynamic going to change? Is Raphtalia going to slide into the love interest role from the daughter role? I honestly can’t tell at this point.

On one hand, Raphtalia becoming Naofumi’s primary love interest would mean we’d get more cute Raphtalia scenes. But on the other hand, I really do like Raphtalia’s role as “Naofumi’s sword” as she puts it. I want her to be a strong, independent, female character who “don’t need no man.”

Conclusion

Overall, I thought this was a good episode of The Rising of the Shield Hero. It made me feel things and we got some good character development for a number of characters. However, some of the scenes which were supposed to be emotional didn’t exactly come across that way.

Specifically, the scenes involving Naofumi and Raphtalia after the two are reunited in the arena were a bit bland. I get that the dark, blank background was supposed to emphasize the two characters and their relationship, but it didn’t really do it for me.

What did you think of this week’s episode of the best currently airing isekai? Did it make you feel anything? Do you think Naofumi’s curse series skills are going to be overpowered? Or, did you like when Motoyasu threw his glove on the floor to signify his intent to duel? Let me know in the comments.

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My review of the next episode is available here.

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2 Replies to “The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 4”

  1. And here is where the first arc ends where also the scarcely “original” that owns the work ends.
    In brief if people believe that a story that generates emotions in basis only for victimize their characters with cartoon villains who hate them for no reason only so that the protagonists “have it difficult” it’s better. then the other authors just waste time, have all the animes are like akame ga kill.

    1. I’m assuming this is in response to me saying that this series is better than TenSura, so that’s how I’ll be responding to it.

      By no means do I think Shield Hero is a perfect anime. It’s good so far, but that’s about it. As I’ve mentioned in other episode reviews, the conflict in this story does feel “cheap” at times, but I’ll take that over the general non-conflict of TenSura any day.

      And, while I do agree with you that there isn’t really a reason for Myne and the king to hate Naofumi, it was explained that the Shield Hero is widely regarded to be useless by the people, so I’d argue that’s where their hatred for him is coming from. Again, not really a good reason, but maybe we’ll get some well thought out antagonists later down the line.

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