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!
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!
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Presidential Elections and if that’s not voting out of a vested disinterest in your own gender and further perpetuating outdated ideals of the patriarchy then I don’t know what is!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~.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Previous ‘Rising of the Shield Hero’ Reviews:
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