Or maybe the funniest. I can’t decide. Isekais are a dime a dozen, so you need a gimmick to set yourself apart. I guess the gimmick here is that our Naofumi is bitter and cynical. He’s also a reluctant hero. This is all important for a very key development at the very end of the story. The trick, however, is that Naofumi didn’t start out this way. He was very idealistic and naive, and this allowed him to become the perfect prey for a predator. Like you would expect, our hero has been summoned to another world in order help thwart an apocalypse, blah blah blah. He isn’t the only hero, though. He’s joined by three other protagonists. They get weapons — actual weapons — to fight with, but Naofumi only gets a shield. Not only that, nobody has any respect for the shield hero, which is another thing about this premise that tickles me. Aren’t tanks, like, super useful in RPGs (especially MMORPGs)? Tanks are super in-demand whereas DPS classes are a dime a dozen. Despite this, Naofumi is treated like dirt right from the get-go. Oh well, I guess you could argue that our protagonist has only been summoned into your bog standard RPG instead of an MMORPG. Hell, he wasn’t even playing a game when his life changed forever. He was actually trying to check out a light novel to read at the library. This is what you get for trying to read.
Nevertheless, Naofumi starts out as a wide-eyed, enthusiastic young adventerer ready to live out his dream in a new world. Sure, the king doesn’t even acknowledge him, but it’s alright. Sure, nobody initially wanted to team up with him, but it’s alright. Eventually, a cute redhead by the name of Myne takes pity on our hero and joins his party (the four heroes must go their separate ways because the story said so). She even shows him the ropes like where to buy weapons and armor, where to grind for EXP at level 1, the location of their first dungeon, blah blah blah. Man, it sure looks as though everything is working out for Naofumi! Unfortunately, that’s when it all started to come crashing down on the poor guy. When he wakes up the next day, he quickly discovers that he’s been robbed. All his money and gear are gone (except for the shield which he can never remove). That’s not all, though. The king’s guards are here to arrest Naofumi. When he is dragged before the king and the other three heroes, Myne starts accusing him of apparently the most heinous crime! According to the girl, he drunkenly stumbled into her room last night, tore off her clothes, and was going to rape her! Luckily, she managed to escape the spear hero Kitamura’s room! And, my friends, this is where I started laughing my ass off.
So after Myne told Kitamura everything, the guy went and confronted Naofumi, right? I mean, if the latter tried to rape Myne, he would still be in her room, right? Nope, that didn’t happen. Myne told the spear hero to wait till morning, and he believed her. Yeah, some drunk rapist is just next door, but it’s cool. No biggie. We’ll just arrest him in the morning. He won’t get away or anything. Right now, it’s just he said, she said. There’s no proof that Naofumi tried to rape Myne. That’s when a soldier comes forth with “evidence:” one torn negligee that just happened to be on Naofumi’s bed after he had left his room in the morning. I guess after tearing it off of Myne, he took it back to his own room! When our hero finally realizes that he’s been duped by the cute girl, she literally makes a face at him in the middle of the entire throne hall. Yo, it’s cool, though. It’s cool. Nobody saw it but Naofumi, because everyone else is obviously staring at him! So there you go. Our protagonist is now bitter and cynical. The bright side is that he still has his freedom. Everyone sees him as a rapist, but they won’t even arrest him. Hell, they don’t even punish him (other than, I suppose, not giving him an allowance anymore). They literally just dragged him here to yell at him. After all, he’s one of the prophesied heroes, so they need him. I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t make sense. We’ll treat you like dirt, won’t give you money anymore because you’re a rapist, but you’re still completely necessary to saving this world from annihilation. Huh…
So what’s all this for? Why make Naofumi bitter and cynical? Is it just so that we can have a badass hero who takes no shit from anyone? That’s part of it. The other part is that we need a hardened soul for what’s to come. Naofumi quickly realizes that the odds are stacked against him. Unlike the other three heroes, he has no offensive capabilities. Without offensive capabilities, he can’t grind for EXP and level up. Can’t he just pick up a sword? After all, the shield is only on his right arm. Is the guy not allowed to use a weapon in his other arm? No, apparently. He absolutely can’t. Again, the reason is because the game simply said so. Literally the game said so. Well, teaming up with others has been an abject disaster, so what’s an isekai protagonist to do? Gee, if only there were party members that can’t betray you. If only there were party members who absolutely must follow your every order. Hell, they might even worship the ground that you walk on. Say, let’s ask a fellow isekai protagonist for ideas. Hmmmmm, what say you, Ichirou Suzuki (a.k.a. Bargain Bin Kirito) from Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody? What should Naofumi do? Oh? What’s that? You literally bought and owned slaves? And they were cute anime girls that fell in love with you? Wow! That’s what you could do, Naofumi! And that’s exactly what our hero does.
When Naofumi finds himself with no recourse left, he is approached by some weird bastard looking to make a deal. This is not exactly your Faustian deal, but being a slave-owner is not exactly very heroic. But look, if you can’t make friends naturally, you may as well buy’em! They’ll fight for you because they have to! Not only that, these are demi-human slaves. I mean, of course they are. Last but not least, look how cute and vulnerable this slave girl is. You know for damn sure that Naofumi is going to buy the hell out of her, and because he’s not a bad guy, she’ll worship the ground that he walks on. What else is next? Again, isekais are a dime a dozen, so we might as well start going through the tropes. First, how many slave girls is he going to end up with? How large is this guy’s harem going to be? Second, city-building is all the rage nowadays. Every wannabe isekai hero ends up creating his own country or empire. I can’t wait to see what Naofumi has in store for us! Third, is there going to be a demon lord? C’mooooon, don’t be shy! I know you guys love demon lords! Or maybe — just maybe! — Naofumi will become one! Fourth, this has to follow anime harem logic, which dictates that male characters can only do two things: 1) either worship Naofumi like the rest or 2) end up being jerks. Gosh, I can’t wait to find out how the other three heroes are absolute assholes unlike Naofumi!
Jokes aside, this wasn’t a boring episode despite its running length (twice the size of the average episode). In fact, I thought they did a pretty good job of incorporating the necessary exposition into the dialogue. We know that we’re being spoonfed a bunch of boring ass information, but the story did its best to keep us awake. I just couldn’t help but roll my eyes at the rape accusation. Furthermore, I also can’t help but expect a lot of isekai tropes to rear their ugly heads in the episodes to come. Last but not least, I can’t help but shake my head at these shows constantly trotting out slave-owning as a plot device. At the end of the day, these stories are pure escapism through and through, so how come you guys keep coming up with excuses to own slaves? What’s up with that? Slaves that will inevitably lust for you, too. It’s just… skeevy, man. Skeevy as hell.
Misc. notes & observations
— For some reason, Naofumi actually had a dream of his future. How? Shrug. Magic. Just attribute everything to magic.
— Well, this is a bit judgmental, isn’t it? Then again, I’m not one to talk.
— This show is also very video gamey. Our heroes literally have a character status window that they can open by focusing on an icon in their vision. Only the heroes, though.
— Why does this guy look so evil? What is he up to? Why are chancellors always so evil? Who was the first chancellor to piss people off and thus give his kind a bad rep for the rest of history?
— The heroes also quickly learn that they’ve been summoned from different parallel universes. I don’t know why this is necessary, but maybe this will come into play later in the story.
— It always cheeses me how none of these isekai protagonists ever mind the fact that they may never see their families and friends again.
— So apparently, Naofumi can never take off his shield. Uh, how does he change his shirt if that’s the case? And does he just never clean that right forearm of his or what?
— You could tell early on that Myne was up to no good. First, she asked the weapons shop owner how much money she would get back if they were to ever sell Naofumi’s newly bought chainmail. Second, she’s always clutching onto the bag of coins.
— I honestly thought our hero would grind on slimes, but he ends up fighting balloons instead. No, really, they’re balloons.
— The guy is such a naive idiot that he ends up blowing more than half of his money on equipment for Myne. Even if she didn’t end up betraying him, that was just foolish. I guess he was just that desperate for female attention.
— One silver is worth a lot, because a meal only costs five coppers. Then again, what’s the copper to silver exchange rate? I would assume 100 to 1.
— So who’s this? Guess we’ll find out later.
— The weapons shop owner ends up being a decent guy. Why? Because he looked deep into Naofumi’s eye and could just tell that he wasn’t staring at a rapist. Shrug.
— So we see the usual isekai stuff where our hero picks up new skills, learns the gameplay mechanics, and of course, starts foraging. Gotta make money somehow. I just hope it doesn’t bog itself down with the details. Lots of shows make this mistake and end up putting me right to sleep as a result. For instance, Bargain Bin Kirito would waste half an episode on crafting potion bottles.