Winter 2019 Anime

Facing Your Fears – ‘The Rising Of The Shield Hero’ Episode 2 Review

Facing Your Fears - An Anime QandA Review of 'The Rising Of The Shield Hero' Episode 2

risingshield2

What’s the show? Rising of the Shield Hero, Episode 2.

No, no no no, no, NO! What…?

I’ve never seen you so ‘ranty’ as when I saw you reviewing the first episode of this show WHY on Earth, are you reviewing episode 2?! Because I got curious and because I got drunk, I tells ya’ that’s a scary combination!

Oof~ so uhhh, dare I ask what did you think of the second episode? It’s ‘Skyrim’ and Stockholm Syndrome two great tastes that taste great together!

Now I’ve noticed the feathers around his collar it’s the only thing I can look at!

Oh boy, here we go… You know, the biggest defense in favour of ‘The Rising Of The Shield Hero’ that I saw out there on the wild wild internets was? And it’s a doozy, so strap on in…

Ugh, what’s that then? That this light novel series was written by a ~woman~ and that somehow makes it exempt from criticism that its misogynistic and problematic!

Don’t forget cute!

And that means? Okay, let’s just put a pin at that criticism right off the bat! Women can be just as sexist and problematic as men… remember Ayn Rand, the female author that thought women existed only to be subservient to men and emboldened a whole wave of men’s rights activists to think their opinion mattered more than any other? And while we’re on the subject of bad decisions let’s not forget that 47% of white women voted for Trump in the 2016 US Presidential Elections and if that’s not voting out of a vested disinterest in your own gender and further perpetuating outdated ideals of the patriarchy then I don’t know what is!

No. Stop. Talk about the actual episode and not what nonsense you’ve associated to it by comparison? Fine. Sure, so Noafumi buys himself the cheapest and most “obedient” slave he can find at the slave market, a cute cat girl with mental issues because you know, ~fetishes~.

Same.

Oof~! Don’t you “oof~” me! So Noafumi basically uses her as his sword in lieu of his own “sword” because you know this is a matriarchy (apparently) and the best he can do is be a damage sponge while she cleans up the kills! And…

And…? Okay but Raphtalia (that’s her name) is really fucking cute. Like, “I’d sell my kidney just to see her smile”-cute. And, oh… oh no… am I a part of the problem?

Kawaii~

Probably… No, stop! I won’t be a part of this system! So uh… a bunch of Skyrim/RPG shenanigans and now I’m more or less committed to this series because it’s bothered to appeal to my nerdy leanings while being simultaneously absolutely obnoxious about the whole thing. Yay for feeling like a douche bag for liking what you like! Is this what white privilege feels like?!

Dare I mention ‘Goblin Slayer’? Oh come on, why would you stoop so low!

I burst out loud laughing at this line, twice!

Hey! You were the one to tar it with the paintbrush of absolute misogyny before realizing it wasn’t nearly as bad as you were painting it out to be! Tch! I mean sure, but that doesn’t change the fact that this show is appealing to its core demographic in such a painfully pandering way that I can’t help but be in awe of its execution.

But wait? What about all that stuff you said about the author being an “unpopular, otaku-ish virgin”? I presumed the gender of the author, but the knowledge of the author being female (allegedly) only works better for my comparison. I mean why else would the main “villain” of this story be a sexy woman who’s popular with the boys and uses her sexuality as a weapon, unless the author was a woman (undoubtedly “otaku-ish” herself) who’d been downtrodden by society and perhaps even by the more ~conventionally ‘attractive’ women~ who maybe scorned her for not conforming to expected standards of femininity. That’s a narrative that–while no less sexist–at least comes from a place that feels different enough from the tired male power fantasies that the isekai genre sometimes employs.

Raphtalia’s had a tough life.

You’re presuming a lot about the author from the text, whatever happened to “death of the author” as a concept? I know it’s something you believe in. True, but when so many people are trudging out the author’s gender as a defense and when there’s the palpable sense that the author themselves is a character in the story it’s hard not to get caught up in it.

That’s blackmail. It’s also character development, dammit show!

So you still think Noafumi is an avatar for the author? Okay, while I think there are parts of his personality that reflect the author (the impotent rage and ‘fuck the world’ attitude) I think it’s just as likely that the author sees themself in Raphtalia too. A caged animal, a victim of circumstance just because of her ‘appearance’ despite being not too dissimilar from the women who rule it. Imagining yourself as a “demi-human” or monster because you’re different from others has been a popular idea not just in Japanese fiction but in fiction the world over. So while Noafumi’s “struggles” aren’t really struggles as he’s just having to deal with the inconvenience of people hating him while still retaining all the freedom afforded of an able-bodies man in this society (it’s not a Matriarchy just because the author says it is, especially when it looks and acts no different to any other fantasy setting–i’ll believe it when I see it!) Raphtalia is downtrodden from birth just because of how she was born, there’s even signs outside of taverns and inns saying they don’t serve ‘demi-humans’. The racism allegory is obvious and surface level but the comparison to an author who’s persecuted by women despite being a woman (just not looking or acting the same as the norm) is too strong to ignore.

But they do serve rapists!

Okay fine, you’ve theorised on the intentions of the author to help you justify their narrative, character and world-building choices. But that’s not a review of the show, that’s a review of literally ~everything else~. What about the show and this episode in particular? I watched it twice, once by myself while drunk and once with the irlwaifu while sober and both times I enjoyed it. It felt less artificial and bloated than the first episode and because it was more or less focused on just two characters the episode devoted requisite attention to endearing the audience with Raphitalia and solidifying the ‘relationship’ between her and Naofumi. I don’t particularly ~like~ Naofumi, I think he’s a callous idiot who could saved Raphitalia a lot of anxiety by you know, telling her that he wasn’t going to be like her old owner who tortured her. You know showing some compassion for another person outcast by this society, rather than pulling her around and grumbling at her for the first half of the episode–but that’s a small gripe as its mostly rectified by the end. Also as much as it’s a trope of the isekai genre to have video game style levelling I did enjoy that here, as well as having to sell things they find and make to earn money–it reminded me a lot of Oblivion and Skyrim two games I’ve got thousands of hours of play in.

Depends on the herb… *Seth Rogen laugh*

So you’re going to watch this show–even after all of the hoopla you made about it in the previous review? I thought ‘Darling In The FranXX’ was sexist trash when I first watched it and now it’s one of my favourite shows. ‘Goblin Slayer’ started off as appalling rape fan service and quickly tapered off into an above average adventure show. There’s no telling where this show will go but right now I’m going to stick with it–mostly though to make sure that Noafumi takes good care of Raphtalia!

Protect at all costs!

Previous ‘Rising of the Shield Hero’ Reviews:

Blind To The True Enemy – Episode 1 Review


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4 comments on “Facing Your Fears – ‘The Rising Of The Shield Hero’ Episode 2 Review

  1. terranceacrow

    This is a gutsy review, and I like it!

    “Okay but Raphtalia (that’s her name) is really fucking cute. Like, “I’d sell my kidney just to see her smile”-cute. And, oh… oh no… am I a part of the problem?”

    Since the day the episode came out, I’ve been asking myself the same question. I was all over the first episode for what I saw — and still see — as serious dramatic and structural missteps. And yet, after watching episode 2, here I am willing to go to war to protect Raphtalia.

    And I asked myself the same question you just asked. “am I a part of the problem?”

    May I answer on behalf of both of us?

    No. We’re not part of the problem. It’s not wrong to want to protect someone like Raphtalia.

    If the fantasy world offers Raphtalia for sale, there’s only one thing to do: Buy her and protect her.

    What else could possibly be the morally correct choice?

    As a character within this series, should we challenge the story — from _within_ the story? Might as well shout at a cloud.

    Look. Is slavery is evil? Abso-effing-lutely.

    In this story, is slavery a motif? theme? proxy? for something in this story?

    I don’t know. I’m past trying to second guess the author or society or whatever. I just know this: If Raphtalia is for sale, I’m gonna buy her and protect her.

    The world can rage. The other characters can jeer. The audience can condemn me. I’m keeping Raphtalia as safe as I can keep her, and that’s just the way it is.

    “That’s blackmail. It’s also character development, dammit show!”

    You’re really doing a great job of pointing out the problematic aspects of this episode! And that’s just one of them! The world in this show sucks, more for the people inside it than for us as viewers!

    Look, let’s try to look on the bright side. We’re wrestling with issues that would not even have been a consideration a couple dozen years ago. You and I have both objected to the same things in the first episode from different angles. And yet, here we are, in episode two, and your statement “but that doesn’t change the fact that this show is appealing to its core demographic in such a painfully pandering way that I can’t help but be in awe of its execution” is absolutely true.

    And we’re still going to watch the show!

    Why?

    For me, the bottom line is I can’t reconcile too many of these issues. Yet, this seems like an important discussion to be a part of, so I’m going to revert to the decision making process that the hard-wired parts of my brain can handle.

    Raphtalia is exposed. She’s a little raccoon girl. She had awesome parents, and they’re dead. She’s a gentle soul. So I’ll burn anything or anyone in that fictional world to protect her.

    Continental conflagration is not out of the question.

    Maybe in retrospect I’ll be able to answer whether that makes any sense or not. For now, that’s the best solution I can come up with.

    “Because I got curious and because I got drunk, I tells ya’ that’s a scary combination!”

    Seriously, we should make a pact to never write if we’ve been drinking. Things either make too much or too little sense.

    And apologies for such a stupidly long comment!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really appreciate that you took the time to read and reply to so many of my points! You make a great point about “buying her and protecting her” because yeah, given the situation I would too. I mean I’d like to think I’d try and end slavery too if I had the power (as a hero) to do so, but then again I’m lazy so maybe I’d just move to the country and give Raphtalia head-pats until the world ends.

      Liked by 2 people

      • terranceacrow

        Save Raphtalia first.

        When she’s ready, abolish slavery with her help.

        Everybody wins!

        And you’re not lazy! You just recognize that it’s impossible to do everything at once!

        It’s also important to pace yourself!

        Of course head-pats at all stages. They seem to motivate her!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: The Rising of the Shield Hero Episode 2 Review | Geek Astronaut

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