Shield Hero: an isekai anime that's been trending among others as of today. This show features a main protagonist named Naofumi that starts off being transported to another world along with three others in the stereotypical fashion of how this genre of anime goes at first.
Just when things seem to go smoothly for him in this brand new world, he was back stabbed from his party member, Malty the princess, from his equipment and money being stolen and her lies of him raping her. Thus, the guards were called to escort him to the king's throne room to be confronted.
No one in the throne room gave him a fair say and instantly looked down upon him; believing in every word Malty said of how he "forced her to bed and taking advantage of her" when he, in fact, never committed that action.
From there, he felt utterly betrayed; causing his personality to change from being a typical protagonist in isekai to someone who is cold and harsh towards others that give him crap.
This causes Naofumi to "shield" himself from others as that's how his weapon he was transported with represents him. This is so that he never has the feeling of being betrayed ever again and has trouble trusting others; practically protecting himself from social harm. Even his cape represents being shielded from everyone else around him as that signs the deal that he truly changed.
What his shield also symbolizes is the people of the kingdom he protects. Sometimes they are taken advantage off of from the Spear Hero, Sword Hero, and Bow Hero's actions and Naofumi has to clean up their mistakes and serve proper justice.
Opening of Shield Hero
Ending of Shield Hero
The beginning of the first episode indicates that Naofumi is your run of the mill otaku that doesn't have a social life and keeps to his lifestyle. He shows to be content with how his life is with being privileged with parents to provide for him and leisurely spending money on books to read.
His hobbies include reading light novels and watching anime as that's his form of escapism from the outside world so as to "shield" himself from social life and living comfortably.
Being transported to another world defies his lifestyle as it can be interpreted as nothing in life can ever be easy. While someone may live leisurely at first, anything can happen that can challenge someone on how they live.
And so, Naofumi realizes that he can no longer view this world he was transported to as his form of escapism as he did with keeping himself to his otaku lifestyle. And so he accepts what's actually real and has to pull through what his betrayal caused.
The message to be brought up about this is that one can't always be clear from dangers in life as Naofumi is practically fighting for surivival from fighting monsters to gain exp without a party to selling the scraps they drop upon the first episode.
Reality isn't something that can please everyone as it can hit people the hardest at points in time. Instead of "shielding" himself as an otaku, he "shields" himself to never be back stabbed again as he'll have to face what misfortune was brought to him thanks to no longer receiving real support from the king and by almost every citizen within the capital.
Some may view Naofumi's actions of forcing Raphtalia to train under forced commands in the second episode as harsh. But in truth, he's preparing her to be ready for what life brings that won't be easy for her or himself.
She was captured and sold as a slave, already the first phase of facing such a terrible time for her. Yet he selflessly chose to buy her out of every other slave as he can see himself within her.
Eventually, Raphtalia learns how to properly fight and grows attached to Naofumi. While he can't wield a sword, she'll be his "sword" to fight alongside and face judgment together with him; especially for being a demi human that not everyone in human society accepts and knows how Naofumi feels.
Despite the amount of loyalty she gives to Naofumi, he still appears to be iffy with trusting her completely as a companion before they fight their first wave together. At that point in the anime, she tells him that she'll stand by him as his sword.
Naofumi does reply with a bit of acknowledgement for what she says to him, but his face shows otherwise as he doesn't want to go through the same kind of betrayal he endured all over again.
Later on in the anime, Raphtalia comforts Naofumi in a time of distress to show that he can fully trust her and for him to become a "true shield" for her. He even sees how she's no longer a child like she was before growing up both maturely and physically from leveling up.
Sure, it's obvious from the following episodes after episode 2 that he shows great care for her. But after having comforted him, Naofumi then develops great trust for her; thus creating a much stronger bond. As long as Raphtalia acts as her "sword," he'll act as her "shield" to protect from others that dare take her away from him ever again.
I Need You
While his shield represents "shielding" himself from society and to protect Raphtalia (and eventually Filo), it also represents the people that truly need to be protected; even after how the other heroes "helped" them out.
Since he's not supported financially well from the king, he has no choice but to become a traveling trader; allowing him to do quests for others along the way. Even though he helps out villages he visits, he charges them for his services and is adamant on not doing anything for free.
Despite all this, he shows great concern and frustration towards the messes he has to clean up after the other heroes' quests they were contracted with.
He even has great understanding of this world not being like a game; unlike how the other heroes treat it as such. In games, there are often quests to go through that seem heroic such as slaying a dragon and helping out with revolutions.
But in truth, they have dire consequences the other heroes don't realize as they believe they are doing justice. In reality, they create bigger problems that the Shield Hero takes care of to end the villagers' suffering.
Despite his coldness towards the villagers and always asking for fair payment, they are grateful for his actions and his sense of civic duty to truly solve their problems once and for all.
The Sword Hero, Bow Hero, and Spear Hero go out and complete quests for the sake of "heroic" actions and to "please" the kingdom's people while the Shield Hero connects more with the people affected by their actions.
Naofumi's shield not only represents justice but symbolizes his buried hatred and rage tucked within him. While he shields himself from others and acts tough against those who give him unfair treatment, his anger within him gets built up to where it becomes vulnerable to losing either Raphtalia or Filo.
If either of the two's lives were lost or taken away from him, all the hatred he "shielded" deeply within his heart erupts and for the Rage Shield to spring into action. In which case, that shield type overpowers Naofumi; especially with how big it is compared to his other shields as well as having the color black to truly represent the state of his heart.
The only way he's able to not fully succumb to his hatred is all thanks to Raphtalia and what she said to him back from his time of distress. With her voice and kind demeanor stuck to Naofumi, goodness can still reside in his heart to not be taken away from his hatred as well as to prevent him from "shielding" himself even from those close to him.
Thanks to her, he can use the Rage Shield upon command if the need ever arises to fight against foes. Not only that, but can build up upon its skill tree to further annihilate his enemies with offensive force; not under the motivation of hatred but under determination and willingness to protect.
Shield Hero: a true representative of the people in dire need while protecting himself from mistrust caused by others. He keeps on his toes from everyone and everything he faces as well as being serious with tough reality.
This can even be an interesting anime to take a moral lesson from as while life may seem pleasing at first, it may end up giving you hell in the long run.
I, the one writing this blog post to you all, can very much relate to this anime as at first I thought chasing dreams and fantasies would be easy so long as you have determination. But later on I found out that it's not that easy to get through life's challenges.
And so I always keep improving upon myself on how to overcome them while being in a serious manner (but don't worry, not as cold as Naofumi's hehe).
I hope this has made you all intrigued with watching the anime in case you guys haven't yet. Despite all the controversy this anime caused, there's more to it than how others have judged it. Have fun watching it!