A new year, new anime season, and now a new isekai anime to do a first impressions review for.
The Rising of the Shield Hero is a series I had never heard of at any point until it popped up on Crunchyroll yesterday, and I was initially planning to ignore it if only because the synopsis seemed bland and my hopes for the quality of shows this season was recently inflated by the premiere of an introductory OVA for The Case Files of Lord El-Melloi II (which I might do First Impressions for when the series proper starts airing, spin-off be damned), and I wasn’t particularly eager to have my hopes stamped out so quickly.
I am pleased to announce that, after viewing Crunchyroll’s 45-minute early premiere, my hopes have not been stamped out! Not because this show is good, oh heavens no, but because it’s bad in a way which is just. Delightful to watch.
The Rising of the Shield Hero doesn’t really introduce anything new to the Isekai genre, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, provided it handles its content well, but this show does… not. This series is melodramatic, comically cynical, and profoundly tone deaf, giving us a protagonist who is ostracized for no adequately explained reason who becomes the victim of theft and a false rape accusation at the hands of his alledged party member Myne… something, and within 3 days goes from a good-natured and plucky college student to an edgy bastard who threatens shopkeepers with monsters and engages in the slave trade. He copes with being catfished well.
The world-building is flat and contradictory (we’re told the kingdom is a matriarchy, and yet all the leaders, shopkeepers, soldiers, and… pretty much everyone else we see working is male), the mechanics of the Heroes’ powers are contrived, and the art design tends to be pretty generic, with most crowdshots bring off-model. The music was largely forgettable, and the show’s apparent interest in being “dark fantasy” doesn’t really mesh with other aspects of the world or story, such as how the main character gets his start fighting balloons. Or that he uses those balloons to threaten people. Which is silly. I think it was supposed to be cool, but it was silly.
This series is a mess. I’ll probably stick with it because it’s a fun mess, but I won’t fault anyone for skipping it.