How The Hell Does The Rising of the Shield Hero Support Slavery?

We’re more than halfway through The Rising of the Shield Hero, and two things have been consistent: the quality of Kevin Penkin’s incredible soundtrack for the show, and the outrage of many Western anime fans, bloggers and critics over the story’s ‘controversial’ elements. From the first episode alone, many denounced the series for its use of a false rape accusation to establish it’s central conflict, claiming this to be outright misogynistic or simply in poor taste in the wake of ‘#MeToo’ activism. But beyond that initial furor, another outcry has been consistently present on social media.

Before more than a single episode had been released, complaints were abounding that the story was ‘slavery apologism’, and that Crunchyroll would have to distract audiences from this fact as much as possible. ANN’s reviewers have called it ‘pro-slavery’ and rejoiced whether they see signs of it losing out on popularity to other titles. Jacob Chapman has been spinning false narratives about certain scenes and blocking anyone who disagrees or calls him out. But this noise is all tightly bound to the English-speaking, bloggosphere-adjacent part of the global anime fandom. Speaking for Shield Hero‘s publisher Kadokawa, and from his knowledge of Japanese fandom, business producer Junichiro Tamura explained in a reddit AMA earlier this year that there have not been any such controversies regarding the series in Japan.

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Most of the arguments about Shield Hero ‘supporting’ slavery rest on a few points: the protagonist buys a slave, and rather than free her he develops a relationship with her whereby they are both happy for her to remain a slave. For the anime adaptation, this decision is one of the cornerstones of the entire plot: as scriptwriter Koyanagi Keigo has explained in an interview with Crunchyroll,

“the story had to revolve around Naofumi and Raphtalia. Two cours is too short to cover everything in the story, so we had to narrow our focus on something that the audience would care most about. And in the end, we thought that “something” had to be the story of these two”.

It can’t be ignored that Naofumi bought a slave because he came to not be willing to trust anyone in the world he had been summoned to. Angry at the establishment around him, and effectively ‘enslaved’ to a quest he didn’t sign up for, he thinks he can only find comfort and security if he has something absolutely beneath him, something he can force to fight for him so that he won’t die when the first ‘wave’ arrives. As a consequence of this character arc, plenty of critics have taken to calling the story ‘angry trash for incel shitheads’ and similar remarks: while Naofumi’s anger isn’t directed solely at women, his thought processes do strike a parallel with those of many disillusioned men around the world who, instead of trying to become the good they think they deserve from the world, stoop to becoming the evil they see in others.

But you’d have to stop watching after the first episode to think that the show puts slavery, or an ‘incel’ mindset, in any ultimately positive light.

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It’s worth noting that isekai incorporate video game elements into their worldbuilding because their otherworldliness is designed to be read as distinctly virtual, removed from the real world in the same way someone’s decisions are when playing a video game. In any role-playing game, you can choose to have your hero follow your own personal moral compass, but you can also explore other kinds of ethics without real life consequence. Video games rely on the player having the maturity to distinguish interaction with the game from interaction with reality: we know, if we choose to play as a ‘ chaotic evil’ character, that we’re not telling ourselves we’re evil in real life. It’s an exercise in fantasy play.

Likewise, when appreciating an isekai story, we need to know that a protagonist’s decisions in a virtual world may occur because they see it as virtual. Stealing in a video game is only a crime in that video game. If something in a game is legal when it’s a crime to do in the real world, and it seems beneficial for the player’s progression, the only thing that would prevent them from trying it is the projection of their own personal morality into the character they’re playing. More often than not, this isn’t an issue for people who play video games. After all, it’s just a game.

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When Naofumi doesn’t believe he can trust anyone in this new game-like world, he approaches his predicament like he’s playing an RPG. He has barely any money, and he needs to start leveling up fast, but he can’t fight on his own, and he’s unwilling to trust anyone to help him out, so he buys the help he needs. In an interview a few years ago, Aneko Yusagi, the author of Shield Hero, discusses their motivation for his decision:

“As for purchasing a slave, he was forced to do it because of his situation–he needed help from others in a time and place where no one would help him. In the modern world, were people are moved and controlled by money, company employees have a lot in common with slaves.

It is preferable to have morals, but we’ve made a world were the strictly ethical can no longer survive. There are a lot of people out there that simply don’t respond to ethics–in the face of people like that, what option is left besides emotionally insisting on your place and your views? My intention is to show that, in the face of enemies like that, we often have no choice but to launch a counterattack.”

The author sees the purchasing of a slave as unethical, and creative choices in the anime adaptation help emphasize this too. Nothing about the slave merchant’s shop glamorizes the industry that Naofumi takes advantage of: dim light gives us barely a glimpse of the number of captives he has in his cages, and when Naofumi first finds Raphtalia she’s a nearly lifeless husk. The merchant casually remarks that her previous owner tortured her, and that she’s diseased and has a ‘mental disorder’. Still acting in anger and bitter desperation, Naofumi doesn’t react to her poor treatment or condition: he purchases her, watches indifferently as she’s painfully branded with a slave crest, and starts setting her to work for him. He initially uses the slave brand to force her to fight against her will. After the shopkeeper watches him test her ability to fight, he remarks “I don’t know whether it’s our country to blame, or if the kid’s just been corrupted”. The show doesn’t dance around the darkness that permeates Naofumi’s decision to own a slave: we’re not supposed to feel comfortable with this. Not at all.

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Following this, the story provides constant contrasts between Naofumi and other masters of slaves. After he remarks that he barely has any money left, Naofumi’s attention is caught by a large man yelling at children moving goods onto his wagon, calling them ‘little shits’ and telling them to ‘get a move on’. Naofumi’s response? He hears Raphtalia’s stomach rumble, and decides to buy her some food. He doesn’t just get her what she needs: he orders what he can tell she wants. He pays attention to what would boost her morale. Though she’s contracted to serve him, he quickly begins to treat her less as a slave and more like an employee: as Aneko noted, ‘company employees have a lot in common with slaves’. He wants her to fight, but he’s not willing to push her beyond her limits, as most slave drivers would with their property.

The second episode of Shield Hero begins to reach its climax as Naofumi seeks to help Raphtalia with her nightmares. Scarred as a child by the devastation of a previous wave, and a particular monster that took her parents, she becomes unable to fight the way Naofumi needs her to. How he phrases his frustration is important: “If you can’t fight, then I won’t be able to look after you any more”. His foregrounds not his needs, but hers. He then goes on to explain the waves, and how he needs to get strong enough to fight them, and that if she can’t help him, he’ll have to find someone else who can; he says this partly to motivate her, but also to be honest about how dependent he has to be on others. But this only comes after he’s stressed that he won’t be able to help her if she can’t help him. This is not a master-slave dynamic: it’s a budding relationship of co-dependence.

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When Naofumi and Raphtalia find the monster from her nightmares, Naofumi does something even more unbecoming of a slave master: he takes the position that Raphtalia’s parents once occupied. Though his first thought is to use the slave brand to force her past her psychological turmoil, he quickly abandons this in favour of offering himself as a sacrifice. He tells her that she can escape if she wants to. In doing so, he encourages her to not want to turn her nightmare into a cycle: rather than use her to save himself, he gives Raphtalia someone to save, so that she can save herself from her nightmares and overcome a much greater slavery than any magical contract. Her own psyche is freed, her inner demons overcome.

Think what more Naofumi could have done with Raphtalia if he really saw her as a slave. He could have followed the example of Japanese soldiers in the second World War who forced Korean and Chinese women into sexual slavery as ‘comfort women’. He could have taken out all his frustrations on Raphtalia, but all he cares about is becoming strong enough to go home in spite of his predicament. He only initially uses her slave brand to command her to help him level up, as much of a slaver as a video game protagonist is when ordering their party members. And when he sees Raphtalia hit a psychological wall when it cones to fighting for him, he deviates even more from the idea of a slave driver. Rather than using the slave brand to force her to overcome her fears, Naofumi makes a point of not using the brand, and letting his own life be put on the line so that she can psychologically heal.

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Following the second episode, Raphtalia and Naofumi continue to develop dependence on one another: she is his sword, he is her shield. Most brave warriors would wield both, but for Shield Hero these tools are split between two parts of a whole, continually reciprocating support for each other, like one leg holding the body steady while the other moves forward. But as Raphtalia still carries the title of ‘slave’, the kingdom of Melromarc is outraged by their co-operation, seeing nothing beyond the surface and believing that all of Naofumi’s allies can only be victims of his supposedly evil nature.

But the efforts of Myne and the Spear Hero only reveal their own rotten cores: when Naofumi is forced into a duel for Raphtalia’s freedom, no-one validates Raphtalia’s own voice or feelings – she’s literally gagged during the ordeal. The battle isn’t really about her – it’s all about striking a blow against the Shield. She’s objectified by those who claim to be fighting against her use as an object. Myne seems to care about the unethical nature of slavery, but she goes go back to demonizing Raphtalia as a demi-human when she once again sides with the Shield, and neglects the fact that it’s her royal family’s legalization of slavery that put Raphtalia in the predicament of slavery in the first place. All this dramatic irony gives Naofumi more and more reasons to hate this world.

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There’s a parallel that can be drawn between Myne, along with the Spear Hero, and privileged people who will support a ‘progressive’ cause only to later reveal that they’re rotten to the core and only appearing morally superior for their own self-benefit: Myne’s actions reflect the ‘white saviour’ trope of Western cinema, where white heroes prove their righteousness by using non-white characters as nothing more than narrative objects, saving them only to make themselves look better in the eyes of other white people. In contrast to Myne, Naofumi ends up being an ‘evil’ hero who actually sees the humanity in those who have been discarded by the privileged.

Some might flinch at the phrase ‘virtue-signalling’ given its overuse on social media, but it has always been rational to distrust those who craft their entire character out of announcing how morally superior they are to others, and who claim to be helping those less privileged than them only to boost their own image and ego. Naofumi, on the other hand, is open about how self-serving he is. But he spends much of the story helping the less fortunate, mopping up the messes that the other heroes create and giving a hand to those who get trodden under the footsteps of those claiming to fight for them.

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Just as the Shield is a punching bag for those who proclaim their superior morality in the show, Shield Hero has become a cursed story among many anime critics, who only see the show and its characters as a way of propping up their own public image. The actual thoughts and feelings of Raphtalia are considered as little by these critics as they were by Myne, the Spear Hero and the King while Naofumi fought to keep her by his side: it doesn’t matter what Naofumi says or does with her. So long as she has the title of ‘slave’, the story is evil and those who support it must be shamed. In this way, the story has already cried out against its own critics.

After the events of the duel, Raphtalia chooses to have her slave brand re-applied. It’s a symbolic act of defiance against the mindset of Myne and the Spear Hero, and all of Melromarc. Naofumi cared more about her as a slave than they all did as they were supposedly trying to set her free: she’s happy to be nothing more than a slave in their eyes, because what matters is how she develops a relationship with Naofumi that a simple label can’t define. Later in the show, Naofumi calls her one of his ‘party members’, but even that only scratches the surface when it comes to the bond of co-dependance she has developed with him.

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That dependence runs deeper than combat for Naofumi: further into the series, we begin to see Naofumi’s offensive capabilities. The ‘curse series’ of shield upgrades unlocks for him as the injustice of episode four’s duel reaches its peak, but it’s Raphtalia’s kind and encouraging voice that rescues him from being forever lost in that pit of despair. This becomes a continuous pattern: Naofumi only uses the curse shield with reluctance, apologizing for feeling like he needs its power, because he doesn’t want to hurt those who care about him – Raphtalia, Filo, and anyone else who gets caught in the inferno of anger he can create.

Even with Naofumi’s smaller acts of unkindness, Raphtalia is always there to give her disapproval, and we’re placed in her shoes, wanting Naofumi to be better even though he feels justified in being cruel when it suits him. The ultimate conflict of the story isn’t Naofumi trying to triumph against the evils of Melromarc, or the Waves – it’s his companions struggling to help him be strong enough to succeed without giving into the rage within him. The plot is explicitly about denying ‘incel’-like feelings, and only using your anger so long as you can keep those close to you safe.

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The extremes the ‘villains’ of the world go to in order to see the Shield defeated render them caricatures, easy targets for venting one’s woes against the world: don’t we all sometimes have people lie about us, who make us want to give up having hope in other people? Shield Hero emphasizes that there’s a way out from giving in to your anger: finding someone to rely on who will also rely on you. Find a close, human relationship, and prioritize protecting it over indulging your own bitter feelings.

It’s important that Raphtalia was initially bought as a slave: early in Shield Hero’s narrative, Naofumi had no interest in connecting with a living being for comfort. But seeing Raphtalia’s trauma made him want to see her set free from the pain she felt, and in return Raphtalia chose to help set him free from his anguish. In the fifteenth episode, Naofumi returns the favour again, encouraging her out of a hole of self-loathing with a reminder that they’ve become dependent on each other for strength. Raphtalia displays this herself before her breakdown, acknowledging that she doesn’t need to act on her anger in order to satisfy herself: she doesn’t need to kill the man who originally enslaved her in order to know that she’s been set free.

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How anyone could watch that episode, with its focus on the atrocities of slavery committed by Melromarc, and claim that the show wants you to see the history of slavery in a positive light, is beyond all explanation. The show doesn’t shy away from foregrounding the brutality of torture and dehumanization. How can critics compare these things, which real slaves around the world have experienced, to Naofumi and Raphtalia’s relationship? Even his initial actions of forcing her to fight for him are nothing more than a reflection of what players do with their party members: never thinking about whether the paladin in your party really wants to go in the frontline right now, only thinking about what helps you take down the boss. Naofumi’s initial cruelty is nothing compared to those who have delighted in keeping slaves throughout history, and those who do likewise in the show itself. Claiming that Naofumi’s actions make any supportive commentary on real-life slavery is an insult to every slave who has died horribly at the hands of Western civilization.

Our community should be better than this, but online discourse is being regularly poisoned by people who want to misrepresent shows like Shield Hero to drum up controversy where there should be none so that they have something to scream about. Instead of getting swept up in the clamour of condemnation, we should always pay close attention to what a story is actually saying with its characters and plot points. But really, anyone following Shield Hero should know that the show doesn’t condone or support slavery in the slightest, just as Naofumi’s party know that he’s a real hero at heart. But those privileged in a society love to crush those who can be judged on the surface. Rather than listen to popular journalists who care only about their careers, we need to put what the story says first.

But like Naofumi, we need to not spend all our time lashing out against other people’s lies. Shield Hero fans should speak the truth about the story, and then carry on enjoying it. Getting wrapped up in the wrongdoing of other anime ‘fans’ means spending less time appreciating the shows we love.

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An immeasurably massive ‘thank you’ is due, as always, to my Patrons who help fund the future of this blog. I have been incredibly ill over the past few months, but I am happy that I can still get an article like this done.

Thank you especially to PhaetonsFolly for becoming a $10 Patron last month!

Apologies again for the slowness of content. I’m still exploring my options for how I want to modify the site. Hopefully if I start getting beter this month I can focus on it more.

Until next time!

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110 thoughts on “How The Hell Does The Rising of the Shield Hero Support Slavery?

  1. I’m a simple person,yet I do understand the hype concerning this.I have only just started watching this,early days for me.but,allow me to compare.realising this is Anime.most hero’s do save a life as here,the gratitude,of,”You allow me to eat warm food and rest and sleep when I am tired”yet she understands that he is her saviour.after all,where would she be without him.Having read the novel and watched the Anime series of Violet Evergarden,in this we have an alternate world.A native girl found,and mention of attempted violation of her.the thing is,she kills all who try.this is a world of Tools.humans,apparently having no emotion,brainless,no name,know no words,treated as Tools.so,i ask,with this,are we going to argue on the way “Tools” are treated in this world.?
    Is Animation,a story liked or disliked.this is my thinking on it.

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  2. Oh man support of slavery, because we live in a fantasy world where there demise humans, the fact that this is even a thing is retarded, some random person watching an anime just decides “oh slavery”
    That must mean they support it

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    • I know just why do people care about this. Most fantasy anime have slavery and they don’t get talked about like how sheild hero is.

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    • What part of fiction don’t these retards understand. The world has always had miserable haters that have nothing to do but hate on things that make people happy! You no the saying” misery loves company! And there will all be these type of people in the world. It’s sad. They don’t know that they don’t have to watch it. They only know how to be haters. There not smart enough to not watch. There only smart enough to try an get company on there pitiful road of there miserable. They probably didn’t even watch the show. They probably troll the internet for stuff people like an hate on it. I could be wrong an maybe things like this only happen in Texas. But I doubt it. Hate on haters. One day you will on your death bed an this is what will be going thru your head. I waisted my hole life being a miserable hatter. Lord help me Jesus. Moral of the story is. Don’t be company for miserable people. Shield hero should get an Oscar. Later.

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  3. If people are easily swayed by anime and can’t enjoy as it supposed to be purely entertainment then you shouldn’t really be watching anime if your that easily influenced🤦🏽‍♂️🤦🏽‍♂️

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  4. Thank you for writing this article. I haven’t been following the news articles about the series but I am not surprised this sort of thing is happening. Whenever positive changes occur, there will be people ready to misuse this for their own personal gain.

    I have a been a fan of this series since the early days of it’s manga. I found the story really moving and connected with it emotionally more than many other series. Thank you for doing right by the series and the author with this article.

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    • God I am so tired of people being offended by……. well…… everything.
      It is an ANIMATED show! Make believe, false, fake, not even remotely connected to reality. I in my 40’s was a hardcore guys guy. cars, hunting, football were my staple form of entertainment. I became a fan of anime relatively recently because Hollywood seems to be afraid to make movies in fear of offending someone and having their movie boycotted and lose money and football is increasingly about money than the game.

      Anime as a form of entertainment does not seem to share these problems. Often the story lines are as adult as many western tv shows and movies. Yes, anime often will touch on subjects we westerners see as taboo but in my opinion, it is creative license in an animated series. . .Who cares!
      I think the slavery angle works brilliantly to emphasize the fact that naofumi tries so hard to be perceived as a villain but is actually a good guy who falls victim to a corrupt monarchy. But as Americans we are quickly devolving rather than evolving because we can no longer allowed to think creatively.

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  5. So to be clear – I like Shield Hero, I’m watching and will watch to the end. There are good arguments out there as to why it does not support slavery, but this article does not contain one. You have written an essay in answer to complaints people are not making.
    You might want to dig a little deeper and try to understand the position of the people you are trying to refute, then base an article on the actual objections, rather than those you imagine they might have. All this is is click-bait. You have created a false argument and successfully proven it false, nothing more, which will resonate with those who already agree with you but not persuade anybody who does not.

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    • I think I’ve done a fine job laying out why I don’t think there’s any room for interpreting the show as pro slavery. If you think I should have more direct references to other people’s detailed arguments, perhaps bring them yourself? It’s a bad look complaining about someone else not working with enough ‘actual objections’ when you don’t seem eager to present them, or these ‘good arguments’ against them, yourself.

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      • Okay. So the first point would be, the show’s hero himself buys a slave. Usually, when fiction has slavery as a feature of the world, slave ownership is depicted as universally bad. Everyone involved is a villain. Here, the Shield Hero is seen as doing Raphtalia a favour by purchasing her, and despite his vengeful anti-Hero thing, he remains the reader/viewer’s reference in the world. He is the one you are expected to empathise with.

        There are lots of philosophical discussions out there on the concept of “good” slave owners, because in the real world some people did treat their slaves well, and it is a very complicated argument – there is a theory that actually, being a kinder slave owner was in many ways worse. It allowed for slavery to be justified, preventing it being outlawed sooner, it is psychologically complicated in that the slaves were expected to be grateful to their compassionate master. It basically gave birth to the “Uncle Tom” role. And by buying a slave, is the Shield Hero funding further slave capture expeditions? Are there now more people taken from peaceful life and sold, due to the money the Shield Hero paid?

        Worse, Raphtalia’s relationship with Naofumi is sexualised. How much is the writer playing on the reader’s/viewer’s fantasies about an anti-Hero who started as an ordinary Japanese boy “owning” a beautiful Demi-human girl who is sexually available to him?

        The problem really is that no effort is made to explore these issues.

        There are many people who studied English who believe that all stories are moral stories. From this perspective, if a character in a story does a bad thing, karmically they must receive retribution for that thing during the story. I don’t want to make that argument personally because I think it’s utter crap, but then I didn’t post an article claiming I’d refuted this argument either. Go look at any discussion on why Shield Hero is bad and you will find someone arguing it who actually believes it though.

        The third point I would make is around if it is more or less important to act morally in a virtual world than in the real world. This is more about RPGs than fiction but the argument stands. Every action we perform in this life and every story we consume adds to our character. If we include dark acts when in our fictional worlds, are we becoming darker ourselves?

        I’m still a fan of the Shield Hero. I consider it acceptable to have fantasies that are not things anybody should do in the real world, and I think there’s an argument that doing so is healthy. But that isn’t what this article did. It created a straw man, then easily destroyed it.

        Does that satisfy you, JekoJeko?

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    • I don’t think there’s any way to sway anyone. I don’t think they’re without hope but if they were willing to give the anime a chance they would have. Those that are the most vocal won’t admit they are wrong at least not publicly. And most will never admit they are wrong even privately.

      And also the article writer showed that people are upset about the slavery so I’m not sure where you would get the idea that no one was complaining about it.

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    • I completely disagree there are several well made points in this article on how it doesn’t support slavery. Such as the detail into the poor conditions of many slaves such as the merchants and the torture by the nobles as well as the constant dehumanizing of demihumans as mentioned in this article in fact i stuggle to believe you more than skimmed this article.

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    • Having it in the story does not make mean that they “support” slavery. Same way that Game of Thrones doesn’t support rape or incest just because they have it. The fact that people are actually legitimately getting mad that they have it in this fictional piece of work is honestly baffling.

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  6. The same damn thing happened with Goblin Slayer. If you don’t like the series then don’t watch it. Fuck everyone who have been talking shit about Shield Hero. It’s a good ass anime and arguably the most popular this anime season. Y’all can’t stop acting like a bunch of fucking bitches. And btw I’m black so don’t talk to me about slavery.

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    • I read it but i couldnt get passed the constant rape. I liked what he did with the scroll i know about a few of the stories going forward. I know about that it honestly stops at somepoint even the fight on the farm where he finally asks for help yeah i read to that point but watching it isnt my thing. I knew the story is good and it gets better further down. I just had to stop though. Rape just isnt good for my heart ya know. I mean i know it happens. But its not something i venture to see. So i stopped reading it.

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  7. Glad someone actually gets it. That’s the beauty of the scene where the spear hero gets her brand removed. It shows the slave brand over Raphtalia is a crutch for Naofumi, when it’s removed he cannot fathom her speaking the truth. He was so broken by the false accusations that he turned to darkness and even then he couldn’t bring himself to take it out on this girl he had complete control over. And that kindness in saving her is what will get her to save him.

    Uhg I love this anime. Nick Creamer can suck a fat one, he’s a terrible reviewer.

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  8. I want to understand why everyone cries over fiction, this country is fucked, this world is fucked. People need to say this quick praise when those SJW crybaby whiners come to their product and complain, because they are not real fans of that genre. “Welcome to reality, now go fuck yourself. “

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  9. Rising of the Shield Hero is the best anime of the season. It’s just anime, its not here to change the world, its here to entertain us and its doing an amazing job of doing that.

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    • Yeah but they went with a fusion of the manga qnd i think the light novel. I liked the web novels chase scenes better. The chase scene showed how the heroes compared to naofumi. Not just motoyasu. In the webnovel naofumi dodges rens blade skill and catches itsukis arrow while everybody is riding on filo. It was a very cool moment. It also put foreshadow about a secret from one of the heroes.

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  10. *spoiler*

    People are in for a surprise when he buys a whole village worth of slaves and they happily work for him.

    *end spoiler*

    It’s a fictional piece of work, so people need to keep in mind that certain themes are used for plot and/or character development. In this case, the slave binding is used to develop the character relationship between these two. Even with his original intentions of using her as a front line fighter, he deliberately took every action necessary to improve her health and wellbeing. Nothing like slave owners we read about in history classes. Eventually this relationship develops into a one sided unrequited love for Raphatalia and a one sided fatherly love for Naofumi.

    If you want to be more up to speed, then take the time to read the light novels. The author has an irritating writing style involving repeating key phrases multiple times to the point it’s redundant, but it provides a better insight for each character that may fail to be conveyed on screen.

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  11. Twitter is not more but a circus of clowns. I left their doorstep ages ago in seek of more intelligent pastures.
    I refuse to interact with surface level Western fans because of this. They know nothing that they’re talking about. I’d be happy to help if they wanted to learn more, though…

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    • You write like a poet who uses english as a second language.

      I know the west has a lot of problems with culture, but it would be nice to not be generalized about. The worst of us are magnified by social media and the elites.

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  12. In and amongst the usual offerings of the typical anime fare one finds that gem hidden in the gravel.Shield hero takes you thru out the spectrum of emotions from hopeful optimism to complete despair from betrayal and loss.
    Why try to find a depravity that doesn’t exist when there are more than enough examples of soulless cruelty that are actually there.
    Naofumi is given the otaku equivalent of a winning lottery ticket….transported to another world, be the hero , save the kingdom….etc….and yet he finds himself reviled and hated . There are so many opportunities for this anime to fail horribly yet it is an incredibly well thought out journey through the redemption and renewal. Thank you for such a well crafted gift . I rarely find myself hoping for multiple seasons but this seems to beg to be expanded upon throughout the world it is written within.

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  13. One should not concern itself too much with this, while Its Nof exactly supporting it as they have not created any. Reasons as to why Slavery is Acceptable However you must Understand. That The Rising of The shield Hero. Is an Isekai Anime And The Creaters Have made an Attempt (and succeedded ) at making A Whole New world With a Different cultures, they tried to Make this Culture as Diffrent as. Possible as it is both good plot wise But emphasise the diffrences and thus the hardship. The protaganist must face. When adjusting To the New World he is in.

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  14. Excellent article and analysis. I wish critics were more like you.
    The culture war is so depressing, it is literally why we can’t have nice things. Life was much better when we could just joke about Americans being ignorant (e.g. not knowing basic world geography). Nowadays I’m starting to think that Americans are insane lunatics.
    Yes I know most are not, but with how the crazies control the media and mainstream discourse it’s getting harder to see the decent people when you’re looking from the outside in.

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    • I unfortunately can’t counter anything you’ve said about Americans, although I’d certainly like to.

      JekoJeko nailed this article tho! Shield Hero is such an inspiring story!

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  15. Thank You for pointing these things out.
    It makes me sad how people automatically jump to weird conclusions and never back down from it despite being corrected.
    I am really satisfied with this article!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I think you missed the point of the criticisms. It’s not yhat slavery exists but that when the hero does it it’s okay and he is rewarded for it. This main character is literally described as “average otaku” so he he is an audience insert. So the message to the audience is it’s okay when you do it. That’s literally the excuse people use to excuse slavery in the pre civil war south. This anime made people trying to free a slave the bad guys, had said slave say “if you really cared you would’ve bought me” which is about as pro slavery argument as they come. On top of that the main character helped fund the slave trade, abused said slave then is rewarded with a loyal servant because of the abusive relationship. Most shows gloss over, end, or neglect their slavery elements. This show has it front and center and doesn’t let go of it. It’s not surprising that it was controversial given how popular it was. And remember the author has absolute control over a story so the fact that slavery is shown as okay/beneficial for the audience insert is troubling to say the least. There’s no reason for slavery to exist here or for it to continue if only because the author wants it to.
    Fyi liking this doesn’t make you a bad person that is a bad faith argument.

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    • Kindness is a privilege. Naofumi is stuck at rock bottom half way through the first episode. If this was a zombie apocalypse, you would see people betraying their friends and family to survive. Naofumi is just do what he needs to live in the world he was put in. And as for why slavery exist it is because the demihuman superior country exist as the human superior country exist. Slavery exist because one race believed that they are the better race. He’ll slavery still exist and you are here complaining about an anime and not stopped slavery in Africa and the middle East.

      Liked by 1 person

    • No, actually, it is initially presented as a bad thing. Naofumi comes in with anger in his heart and in the manga, he chooses Raphtalia because she had somewhat resembled the bitch princess. But over time, he realizes that this is bad. Over time, he connects with her, changing this pact less from a slave pact and more into a pact that bonds them and motivates them to rely on eachother. The origins are not good, we are aware. But the point if this entire concept is that we have the ability to change our paths and turn a bad thing into a positive choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do know the manga and the web novel starts. I just hate the fact some people are trying to forget history after all that would be forgetting those who have been in slavery as will the need to help those who are still in slave. As we know Naofumi is a good guy at the core, but humans don’t always play fair even those of their own species. Naofumi is and never will be a saint like any other person. Naofumi is a person who can make mistakes and grow, unlike the other three heroes as the spear is a fool, Ren is too deep that the world is a game, and the bow has a god complex. They are not the best and the ones the deserved with Naofumi being the hope in Pandora’s box. And to all the other people who say heroes are the best of us, then Batman is no boy scout.

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  17. I’m from the US n the reason they keep saying bad things about this is cause all of are media/news keeps promoting everyone to b a victim like it’s cool to b one so now all the idiots that believe what they hear protest, I mean come on this is a anime show. At first they were pissed it was about false rape now it’s slavery fuck off if u don’t like it then don’t watch

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  18. I have been following The shield hero since it came to America as a manga and loved it right away. When I seen talks about it becoming an anime I was super hyped , it kind of hurts for them to say it’s proslavery Because it has such a great story like you said and the me to movement has nothing to do with The shield hero It just happened to be part of the story that there was a false accusation In it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Want to talk about Risha then? She is technically free but is treated much like a slave until she is broken. Then comes Naofumi the terrible and the whole situation gets reversed (she becomes a slave and is finally treated like a person). If you consider the slavery in the show a normale employer-employee contract then the only important thing is the “slave” mentality: whether they consider themselves inferior to other people. What the show is telling us is that no matter what your position in society is you have the same dignity as everyone else but this dignity is something only you can give yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Well written! At least you actually watched the anime unlike the other people online you mentioned complaining about it. Hey you should look up the term bond servant. Because that is what Raphtalia is.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Amazing article; you hit every point perfectly and if people still dont understand what your intent was with this article and of the anime, then I pity them.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Just like the article said, I can’t understand how someone could watch the episodes focusing on Raphtalia and her old friends and say that this show supports slavery.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I love this show and started watching it before I knew about all of the controversy. I was absolutely PISSED when I was scrolling through comments on an anime page and saw someone say that they wouldn’t watch it because it was an “incel isekai”. Then I looked up the original ANN article and was floored by how absolutely blind and naive so called experts were. I think the only reason the negative opinions prevail is to prop up the initial misrepresentation of the anime so people who jumped on the moral high horse don’t look like dumbasses. I absolutely hate how easily this mob mentality has spread and how readily people accept that somebody is evil just for exploring darker and more negative concepts through an art form. Thank you for elaborating on the slavery bit in a detailed way, I’ll be sure to reference it if I run into anyone who doesn’t understand how to form their own opinion on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Clearly those critics are only pushing their own agenda…… they dont even know the plot and the watch the story…… they just let their feelings do the research….. It’s kinda sad that some people think like this….

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Does it really matter I mean so fuckin what if people like it then people like it and if you don’t, so what then I mean like jeez don’t try and ruin it for others even if the facts are true or false.

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  26. If you don’t like it then don’t watch it as all this content is straight out of the manga I don’t approve but sink this into your head it’s just a drawing and it won’t hurt anyone except those who just want to hate on the little things they can find to just get clicks. I don’t think the author is pro-slavery as it is a made-up world so there will be elements that existed in our past or possibly the future.

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  27. Simple if you don’t like it watches and this is literally just being straight pull out from the manga and also remember that this is a make believe world and a lot of the tech and lively hood from these ppl are things from past tense and somewhat future stop whinging and trying to hate on such a good anime.

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  28. It can’t be that surprising this show is controversial in the west considering the history of slavery in the west, especially in America.

    It’s not that weird that black anime fans in particular would be uncomfortable with it.

    Like

    • As an African American myself, that thought never crossed my mind. Because I’m not in a constant victim complex and can accept the fact that, yes, bad things happened in the past, but that doesn’t mean I can’t even be see the concept on a fictional piece of media. Even still, I respect peoples’ rights to not like it. But the people that bash it and try to ruin the experience for others just because it has that in it can honestly go somewhere else with that.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. It doesn’t support it at all but people are ignorant and actively try to find things that they can complain about on the internet so they can become these “social justice warriors” or as I like to call them the “keyboard warriors.” Ignorance is bliss they say and I’m sure these morons are grinning while the rest of the world tells them how stupid they are.

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  30. I absolutely agree with your take on how the anime uses this situation to show how life isn’t made up of easy choices, and how there isn’t always a choice that allows you the freedom to follow your own moral compass. There are many times throughout the anime where Naofumi is forced to choose the lesser of evils, which is a concept many people who have never been forced into these situations could ever understand. The only criticism of your article I have is, “an insult to every slave who has died horribly at the hands of Western civilization.” Western society is more predominantly thought of as perpetrators of slavery, but it is only thought of this way to westerners. Slavery has occurred in every society in history, east or west, and still continues to this day. What really bothers me though, is if so many people are outraged at this animes portrayal of slavery, why are they not involved in doing anything about real slavery?

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  31. Most of the stuff in the article just seems over the top idiots that try to force people Into seeing bad because they want more control over things wouldn’t surprise me at all if the boys and girls that spew this crap have partners covered in bruises that are really well place so they don’t get arrested….long live shield hero

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Anybody who gets triggered by anime slavery while ignoring ACTUAL slavery perpetrated by Muslims in Africa is a retarded who’d be doing the world a favor by slitting their wrists.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Really? This is what we have to deal with now? All of these overly-sensitive bitches complaining about a fucking ANIMATION?! Grow the Fuck up, get a life. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t. But don’t Fuck it up for the rest of us that actually like the fucking anime. I believe we ALL learned pretty early in our childhood, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” Fucking pussies.

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  34. The problem isn’t slavery at all. It’s just an add on of slander because of the depiction of false rape accusations. When these people see something that threatens an agenda of theirs, they’ll attack it as mindlessly as they can to spread misinformation about it.

    In today’s society, atleast in the USA, a rape accusation is all that it takes to ruin one person’s reputation should they be a public figure, even if the accusation is false. If light comes through to the idea that some rape accusations are false and should be disregarded as slander until AFTER the accused is founded as guilty, than people who would use false rape accusations as a tool to slander problematic people or get attention for pity donations would be down a powerful tool.

    Take a look at the nontroversy over Goblin Slayer. The first episode alone was designed as a tone setter that depicted the goblins as rapists. Three things came from this, from the same people attacking shield hero. First, outrage over the tastelessness of rape. Second, accusing fans of being gross sick people for “supporting the depiction of rape,” then saying the show was anti-Semitic because they somehow tied goblins to being a representation of Jews(this one is a head scratcher for me.)

    Essentially anything these people find problematic or disagreeable, they attack and spread misinformation about it to try and persuade people away from it, while attacking the fanbase and calling them slanderous terms.

    Essentially everything that’s been happening to the starwars fandom.

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  35. If You think this anime has anything to do with real slavery, or the fucked up “me too” movement, you’re a moron. It’s an anime set in another FAKE WORLD. I’m gonna enjoy this anime, and be sad when it’s over

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  36. I had no idea there was controversy and it’s sad this article even had to be written, though it was a good read. I avoid all Twitter anime discussion for this very reason. Nothing is genuine and everyone always wants to look morally superior. It’s all so tiresome

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  37. It just people have nothing better then to find the bad in everything. If they actually watched the show they would see what’s it’s all about. Please get a life

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  38. You know youre going into the shitter when you quote a tweet by a subhuman calling himself “Cold Toilet Seat” in twitter for your article.

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  39. As a black man the issue of slavery in any form is obviously a touchy subject. However, I decided to give the show a chance considering in most anime series the person a character is in the first episode isn’t necessarily who they will be as the series progresses. I also took into cultural differences between the United States and Japan where views about the institution of chattel slavery isn’t view with the same sensibilities.
    It’s is clear to me that the relationship between the characters has changed from the master-slave to something far different. However, there is a fine line to be walked here because even as a work of fiction there are some similarities between the treatment of “demi-humans” of the fantasy world and marginalized people of the real one. I’m not going to stop watching this show because there is a element or two that makes me uneasy at times because I want to see where it goes. However, people shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss people for whom the slavery hits way too close to home either.

    Like

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