It’s time for Under Your Radar! This time, we’ll be discussing The Rising of the Shield Hero (Japanese title: Tate no Yūsha no Nariagari). It was a web novel written by Aneko Yusagi, which updated daily until its conclusion. It was then adapted to a light novel, actually having editors this time, which then received a manga adaptation. I’ll be talking about the web novel today, but I recommend reading the manga. The story received notable rewrites when the editors got on board to make it into a light novel. The light novel and manga have been licensed by One Peace Books, with releases having already started two weeks ago.
The story is thus: Our protagonist, a college student named Naofumi, is called to a fantasy world as the hero of the shield. There are two other heroes, corresponding to a spear, sword and bow. Most humans hate the hero of the shield, while the demi-humans love him due to the previous hero of the shield being especially nice to their kind.
This fact ends up really saving Naofumi, because he’s falsely accused of rape on his first night by the princess of the kingdom. While the other three heroes are heralded as the ones who will save their world from an incoming disaster, Naofumi is left with nothing and isn’t even allowed to go home until everything is over.
So Naofumi ends up alone and near-broke, his only choice being to purchase a demi-human slave and have them fight for him (a shield isn’t the best of weapons unless you’re Captain America or something). He must deal with prejudice from this false claim as he claws his way up, rising to become the hero they need, though not the one they deserve. It turns out the other three heroes were too pampered and ended up weaker than him.
The story has plenty of neat twists and turns, and certainly doesn’t leave Naofumi unscathed. He quickly moves from idealist to cynic, and has to work hard. The villains all get their comeuppance, though some of it goes too far. Eventually, the false accusation is revealed for what it truly is, and Naofumi ends up not dealing with such shackles anymore, but the damage to his psyche had been done.
I do have some criticisms, but they’re spoilers. Firstly, the epilogue chapter. So many characters are apparently forgotten by history or doubted by historians, which really irks me and was an unnecessary thing to add. Secondly, Bitch dies three times and that is idiotic, and I don’t really like how they handled Trash towards the end of the series. Thirdly, the ending decided to have its cake and eat it too. My fourth criticism is how immediate Naofumi’s situation changes when the queen shows up, though I’ll admit it was satisfying. I hope the light novel/manga smooths out these issues now that actual editors are on board. After all, the series did nearly end at a stupid point before outrage forced the series to expand a bit to its real conclusion.
The web novel for this series is only available via fan translation. As previously noted, the light novel and manga have been licensed, the manga already being available via less-than-legal methods.
It’s a compelling read that I would easily recommend. I see it getting an anime in the near future.
I’m hearing that the light novel splits from the web novel at a certain point. I can only hope the result is good.