How Rising of the Shield Hero refined the harems of Isekai

Rising of the Shield Hero leader Iwatani Naofumi has several girls in his adventuring party, but this is far from a wish-fulfilling harem isekai.

The rising of the shield hero is a gloomy yet exciting isekai anime that will be returning for a second season as part of the spring 2022 anime lineup. This is the story of hapless shield hero Iwatani Naofumi and his quest to save the day from multiple waves of monsters, but you can’t do it alone.

Naofumi used his wits and ingenuity to find new party members to help him on his quest, and even without the support of the royal court, he soon had a highly effective team. At a glance, it might seem like Naofumi just built another typical anime harem, but he did much more than that, and set a better example for isekai anime in the whole process.

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The problems with typical Isekai anime harems

The concept of a harem in anime may not be fundamentally broken, but it definitely has some problems, even in the unofficial genre of isekai. To begin with, the harem is rarely an organic part of the narrative, meaning many harems are formed out of a narrative sense of obligation, rather than being what the story requires. Often they are simply forced into the story for its own sake, and not always for innocent reasons. Just the inclusion of a mandatory harem might seem trite and outdated to many anime fans today, and that’s not even the worst of it.

On another level, some harems are little more than wish fulfillment for the target audience of isekai action anime series, such as teenagers. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in a few alluring female characters to lure audiences in, but when a handful are inexplicably drawn to the inserted male lead just because, the narrative becomes transparent at best. Rarely isekai lead like sword art online‘s Kirito or Mochizuki Touya’s In another world with my smartphone Winning these girls’ affections – it’s just another level in the power fantasy setting to match the hero’s incredible combat prowess. These heroes have a mastered spell or sword in hand with a girl on each arm, and they rarely look good.

In some extremes, members of these harems are treated more like prizes or collectibles than people, which can be deeply insulting and cheapen any character. These adoring fans of the isekai protagonist often contribute little to the story aside from fan service and comic relief; Fortunately, there are some series that buck this trend. My next life as a villain creates a healthier mixed harem in a series about relationships, and The rising of the shield hero transform a would-be harem into something completely new.

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Iwatani Naofumi’s adventure party in Shield Hero

naofumi party

shield heroThe “harem” of is actually a more meaningful adventurer party with minimal wish-fulfillment elements. The only nod to traditional isekai harems is the tanuki girl Raphtalia’s fixation on Naofumi, but she deeply adores him as her first mate and loyal friend. Otherwise, shield heroThe harem wannabe is much tamer than anime fans might expect.

To begin with, the members of Naofumi’s group are simply too young to be his love interests or fan service characters, with Princess Melty being around 11-12 years old and Filo being only a few weeks old, with the appearance of an elementary school girl. . Raphtalia was also a child when Naofumi rescued her from slavery, though she physically aged to resemble an older girl than she was in her late teens at some point.

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shield hero no substantial fan service is given to these young characters and, other than Raphtalia, they have no serious romantic ties to him, allowing the series to sidestep more conventional harem scenarios. Melty simply sees Naofumi as an ally, while Filo and Raphtalia see him as a foster father.

Raphtalia was recruited out of necessity, since Naofumi couldn’t wield swords or bows on his own, Raphtalia became the DPS character of the group. Naofumi then bought Filo’s egg and hatched it so that he could have a beast of burden and an additional fighter, and sure enough, Filo’s main job isn’t to drool over Naofumi, but to pull his cart. Meanwhile, Princess Melty is Naofumi’s main link to the queen, who is one of his few true allies in the kingdom of Melromarc. Her addition to Naofumi’s group helped start the process of accepting her back into the royal court and into the ranks of the Cardinal Heroes. shield hero provides significant reasons for each of these girls to travel with Naofumi, helping the series refine the concept of the typical isekai harem.

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