‘The Rising of the Shield Hero’ Volume 1 Light Novel Highlight

The Rising of the Shield Hero is a series of light novels by Japanese author Aneko Yusagi. It is a science fiction fantasy that combines magic with video game-style abilities for its main characters. I previously reviewed season one of the anime, but also wanted to see about the book series and the manga companion.

Naofumi Iwatani is a normal Japanese college student who is taking easy before he starts his studies. He picks up a novel and apart from a few illustrations, he finds the book completely empty. Suddenly, a portal opens up and sucks him into the world of the Melromarc Kingdom. Along with four other students, who are told they are the Four Cardinal Heroes brought to this world to stop “waves” of evil creatures from destroying the world. Each has some sort of weapon, a bow, a spear, a sword, and Naofumi has a shield.

The other three get a team pretty quickly, Naofumi not only gets rejected but gets from framed for assault on the princess of Melromarc and cast out, though the kingdom is forced to keep around to stop the wave attacks, he loses all of his prestige and is hated by the people. Now filled with bitterness, he has no choice but to buy the slave demi-human Raphtalia to help train into becoming his sword. He does not want to be a hero, but realizes his only chance to get home is to stop the waves.

I really enjoyed how this story is framed. Naofumi is the exact opposite of heroes like Goku or Natsu who are happy-go-lucky. Framed for a crime he did not commit, he is cynical, jaded, untrusting, and only interested in surviving so he can escape his circumstance. It goes against type and works great. Raphtalia is the opposite. During this first volume, she was shy, frightened, but determined. Later, she becomes confident, strong, and fiercely loyal to her master and choices to stay with him though she has had multiple opportunities to leave of her own free will. This first volume ended earlier than the first season of the show, but it had a hilarious bonus chapter showing the “buffoonery” of the Spear Hero. I also enjoyed the manga illustrations as well in the companion.

What really made the story work for me is that you hear it the first-person narrative of Naofumi. You feel his bitterness and how he pushes down any notions that he has to place his trust in someone. It gave the light novel an edge that the anime did not have and showing the talent of Aneko Yusagi.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my highlight of Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers Volume 1 and Batman: Death Mask. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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