I haven’t been writing much about anime lately, but that’s because I’ve been trying to beat a few games before I sacrifice my time and health to Kingdom Hearts III and…you know…I have a job and etc. But I’ve been hearing quite a bit of buzz about an anime this Winter 2019 season and it’s not for good reason. The anime in question is Rising of the Shield Hero, an anime based off a light novel, that also has a manga adaptation.
This show is another isekai, because that genre won’t die, and features our protagonist, Iwatani Naofumi, a college student, who along with three other adolescents from alternate Japans were summoned to another world (ala isekai). Now unlike most shows from the genre where where the protagonist ends up being well loved and acknowledged and ends up having a harem of women that love him, but have no real reason to do so, this show starts differently. Naofumi is hated and has what to some is a useless weapon, a shield. This stemming hatred starts and is enhanced by the influence of the other heroes and the princess of the kingdom they’ve been summoned to. The main event to start this series of misguided hatred is the princess falsely accusing him of rape.
Now this is of course a touchy subject given the fact that a lot of men are monsters and rape is bad and we as a society have a hard time believing women when they report rape. Of course that then started a wonderful crap storm of controversy regarding the topic. It’s much like the Goblin Slayer debacle regarding the first episode. The only difference is that I read the Rising of the Shield Hero manga and really like the series, so I want to talk about it. This isn’t a full on defense.
So one of the problems are some of the terrible takes by writers trying too hard to analyze a series and be woke. Now is it tone deaf to show have one of the central females make a plot to take favor away from our protagonist by falsely accusing him of rape? Yes given certain contexts. Really we could have made the princess an evil cold-hearted person trying to ploy against Naofumi, and not have used a rape accusation as the plan. Maybe she could have framed him for murder or just generally used any of her other influences as a princess. But with some of the writers particularly those from the Anime News Network, which you can find their review here, it’s as if there’s a whole conspiracy in which the author for the series hates women and wants to craft an ultimate nice guy power fantasy.
Having read a good bit of the series, outside of this moment, the entire premise doesn’t revolve around this one event. The premise isn’t based primarily on a false rape accusation. It’s about a terrible world with terrible people. Everyone, including the protagonist, is an asshole and is doing their best to survive in a world of situations they didn’t ask for. As Naofumi goes through a series of bitterness and slight self wallowing hatred, he eventually has to come to confront his negative emotions and, for the sake of the world he’s been summoned to, allow a good number of bygones to be bygones. This series isn’t some awful metaphor for a nice guy story or some reasoning to treat women badly. The only female Naofumi treats poorly is the princess.
Now given that there have been some terrible takes by certain “woke” writers, there’s of course been backlash from the anime fan community. AniTubers have already created videos addressing the topic either calling this a shit storm or defending the series.
And while that’s okay, there comes a problem of how we address this. Rape is a serious offence and so are false accusations. One happens significantly less than the other (if you’re seriously questioning which one that is…ugh…why? the answer is false accusations. false accusations happen way less). We shouldn’t belittle the topic. And though there have been some bad takes and quite a bit of reaching, we shouldn’t turn this into a weird SJW issue. And people watching the defense videos shouldn’t use this as a excuse for incel type behavior. The video I presented above, mainly defending the series is, for the most part, fine, but the comments for the video are very, own the libs, victim blaming, not all men, men are victims for everything rhetoric.
Well-intentioned, overly woke, to the point of being bad takes happen, but that doesn’t diminish the topic they’re addressing. These things are not mutually exclusive. A take can be bad, but the topic they’re trying to discuss/ focus on are still serious real life problems. And for no reason should this show excuse people’s terrible behavior.
Anyways if you want to watch a show set in a dreary miserable world, where people are doing all they can to survive, one where the main character must emotionally mature and let go of bitterness and redeem himself for the sake of the world, watch Rising of the Shield Hero, and do not allow this first episode to dissuade you.
To kind of get off of sensitive subjects, I’ll leave you with a trailer for another anime: My Roommate is a Cat. Later days.