With the season being at its end and most shows starting near their conclusion, I think it's time to look back on what shows really stood out. And in my opinion, no show stood out more than 'Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari', otherwise known as 'The Rising of the Shield Hero'. With it being the most watched show of Fall 2019 according to MyAnimeList, it's not difficult to see why. The show is yet another take on the insanely popular isekai genre/setting, and it's got a cool new gimmick: the main character can't attack.
Shield Hero has had a troubled time so far. If you read the weekly discussion threads on r/anime, it's pretty clear that most people haven't really enjoyed the lighter feel of the past few episodes, and in a way I agree. The first episode really tried setting a dark and serious tone for the series, with it including topics of false rape accusations, slavery and conspiracy. So when the later episodes include a bright colour scheme, the main character generally acting like a good person, and fluffy character design, it's not difficult to see why people are dissapointed. The show hasn't yet returned to it's dark themes and world, it's mostly been fun episodic adventures. To paraphrase BestGuyEver on his Shield Hero podcast with Digibro, the show almost feels like a video game. It feels like an MMO, and each episode is just another side quest.
While I feel like this comparison is very apt, I don't think it's actually that big of a negative. Sure, even I can admit that yes, it has sort of started to drag a bit, i'm not going to deny that. But when you change the tone of the setting so drastically, when it changes back into dark and gritty again, it' going to feel so much more powerful. Rules are meant to be adhered to, so when they suddenly are broken, it feels way more powerful than if the world didn't have consistent rules. Let's apply this train of thought to Shield Hero: the series sets a rule in episode one, which is that this is a dark and gritty show. It then obeyes this rule for a while up until around episode 4, in which Naofumi duels Motoyasu, but ends up having a stronger bond with Raphtalia. In the later episodes, the rule is quickly broken, which is probably why it felt so jarring for most people. The new rule the show sets is that the show is a mostly lighthearted adventure show which occasionaly brings up some more serious themes, but those are often quicklly discarded in favor for other episodic adventure plots.
All of this is why when the next wave hits (which will of course be episode 11), this rule of easy going adventures will end, and the show will most likely go back to dark and gritty stuff. I can't wholly confirm this, as I obviously don't have any insdier knowledge, but i'm up to volume 4 of the manga and from what this upcoming wave was portrayed as then, I would be really suprised if the show didn't get dark again.
Well, that was my opinion so far on 'The Rising of the Shield Hero', but what did you think? Honestly, while the production values haven't been great so far, i'm still optimistic about the show. It's got some cute character designs and the worldbuilding so far, while not much, has been intriguing enough. If the currently airing cour doesn't pick up though, I can definitely see a lot of people dropping it (though most of the people who didn't get hooked by the first few episodes probably dropped it already).
See ya'll later, as always you can find me on Twitter @tes_star. Have a wonderful week ;)