Yeah, Naofumi might be an alleged rapist, but he’s no lolicon! He has the decency to wait for his slave daughter to grow up before bedding her! But jokes aside — or are they jokes? — let’s address the elephant in the room: for some reason, Raphtalia is now practically all grown up and she demands to be taken seriously! No more happy meals for her! Get her that Big Mac! But yeah, I guess raccoon girls do mature faster than expected. Does this mean that she’ll also die earlier? Does this work like dog years? Or is this just the anime wanting to have its cake and eat it too? Bah, I don’t wanna do a time skip. Let’s just age her in an instant! Not only is the girl taller, however, her personality has matured a touch. Despite being a demi-human and thus of a lower status, Raphtalia is apparently beautiful, so men from all over can’t help but dote on her. The girl is at least aware of her charms, and she’ll use them to drive a hard bargain when shopping for equipment and supplies. I guess that frees up one more responsibility from Naofumi. As a duo, they’ve gotten much, much stronger from when we last saw them. In fact, the girl is actually at a higher level than her master (not that this really matters).
What’s important, however, is that Raphtalia remains deathly loyal to Naofumi. Maybe even recklessly loyal. When our hero has a run-in with the other three heroes, spear jackass (I’ll remember his name when I have to) starts dredging up salacious rumors, the girl affirms undying dedication to her master. See, this would be more meaningful if Naofumi had removed the slave crest from Raphtalia. It’s not that I don’t believe the raccoon girl. Of course she loves him! He’s the isekai hero! Eventually, most of these girls will love him, and she’ll get to be the queen bee of the harem! She loves him so much already that she’s willing to throw down against a bunch of royal knights because they might have deliberately endangered her master. That could’ve turned out badly if everyone didn’t have bigger fishes to fry… like y’know, the Wave. Nevertheless, my point is simple: Raphtalia choosing to stand by her man is blunted by the simple fact that she’s a slave. Even if she wanted to betray Naofumi, she couldn’t. I’m sure our hero must have felt relieved that at least one person chose to stick by his side, but again, this is marred by the fact that she’s magically required to obey him.
If Naofumi had freed the girl from slave status at some point, then I must have missed it. So for now, I’m operating under the assumption that he hasn’t done so. And y’know what? But first, a little context. This is quite peculiar to me. In a ridiculous-looking church, there is an equally ridiculous-looking hourglass. This massive device lets everyone know when the next Wave is arriving. When the time comes, our heroes and their party members are just magically transported to the scene of the battle. But while the other three are busy doing what they’re expected to do, Naofumi can’t help but notice that Lute Village has not yet evacuated. Well, cynical he might be, but he’s no heartless monster! He’ll thus do the right thing and save these people. He’ll gripe about it, but in the end, he risks his life to save all these people, and they are eternally grateful to him. He even wins over some soldiers in the process. The flipside, of course, is that the other three heroes will now assume that Naofumi was too cowardly to even show up to help them fight the boss. But I mean, they already think he’s scum, so he wouldn’t make much headway in trying to impress them. So let’s get to main issue at hand: if saving Lute Village is the right thing to do, then why do we turn a blind eye to all the slaves?
It’s the same question that seems to plague a lot of recent isekai series. No one argues that slavery is okay. Rather, they won’t even touch the subject. Nevertheless, everyone simply accepts the idea of slavery existing. I don’t get that. I don’t get this blase, casual attitude towards a heinous practice, especially when the core of every one of these goddamn shows is that the hero comes from a world in which slavery is condemned. Gotta save them villagers, though! And I agree! Saving people is generally considered a good move! Good job, Shield Hero! You did good. But then why doesn’t this super bad thing over here also outrage you? And now that Raphtalia has proven herself to be loyal, why hasn’t she been freed from bondage? It’s not just about this show either. It’s the same all across a lot of recent isekai series. These protagonists go around doing good deeds, but whenever they see slaveowners and slaves, it’s not, “Ugh, I gotta stop this.” Instead, it’s like, “Yo, lemme buy some more to add to my collection!” The best part is how the audience overlooks this, because hey, these protagonists aren’t treating their slaves badly! Actually, this is my favorite excuse: “Yeah, controversial subject X is problematic, but the show has good character development so I’m okay with it.”
So yeah, that’s the long and short of it. Kudos to the guy for saving that village. It was the right thing to do… but why haven’t you at least freed your slave? It’s clear that she isn’t going to go anywhere. Look, I know you can’t end slavery in a day, but you can at least not turn a blind eye to it.
I like the way Naofumi started pulling aggro of all the mobs in the village. And now the other heroes are even more scumbags.
This show keeps getting better and better after that sloppy first episode. Really enjoying the MMO aspects that seem more in line with the world than sort of mentioned and forgotten like other shows.
The reason Raphtalia is now older is because in this world Demi-Humans mature by leveling up rather than by passing time. So if you are a baby and can’t kill anything, I guess you grow a bit older every time you accidentally smash a mosquito or step on a bug or something. Isekai logic baby!!
The novel gives two reasons why Naofumi doesn’t free Raphtalia:
1) He is so messed up in the head that he can’t bring himself to trust anyone who isn’t a slave to be in his party (this will become a major plot point in the next couple of episodes).
2) He hates all women and fantasizes about enslaving someone like the woman who betrayed him.
No, I’m not making (2) up. It’s literally the reason he bought Raphtalia in the first place. He does warm up to her, and by the end of episode 2 he is willing to die in order to allow her to escape, but the main reason he bought her and forced her to kill things in episode 2 is mainly because he originally wanted to take out his frustrations on her.
Anyway, nice review. The next episodes (if the anime follows the manga) are going to be the banquet and the duel. Trust me, you are going to have a field-day with those.
I agree 100%, that Naofumi is not a good guy and a bit of an arsehole, but that’s sort of the point, a part of the story is about Naofumi growing up and learning to overcome his flaws and traumas. As lensman said, in the novels, he is pretty traumatised by his initial experiences and his mindset gets really warped. It’s sort of weird, everyone complains about generic nice guy protagonists and when you get one, people complain about him not being a nice guy. Not really you, I don’t disagree that Raphtalia by this point has more than proved her loyalty as you point out, but traumas don’t necessarily heal on a rational basis.
Sure, be a bad guy. But we still have a few problems.
1) Some people argue that he’s a good guy regardless. Clearly not true since he owns a slave.
2) So why go to all the trouble to save villagers but not even be outraged at the idea of slavery? Is he just “racist” then because slaves are demihumans?
3) It doesn’t change the fact that recent isekai series keep indulging in this fantasy of owning slaves, and that’s an odd trend (to put it mildly).
I’ve read all the light novels published in English, so this is informed by that, but of course, they go a lot deeper in to what he’s thinking, so comments informed by that, but the anime is being quite superficial in presenting this.
1) Agreed, he’s not a good guy at this stage, he’s also not entirely a bad guy by my reckoning, which actually makes the story better for me.
2) Many people over the centuries have accepted slavery but still thought murder was wrong, even of a slave. Accepting one evil, doesn’t mean you need to accept another evil. Plus he’s here to stop the Wave and that’s what he’s mostly focused on.
3) Yes, it’s a bit odd, but I think it’s about being edgy but without being bad, owning slaves is edgy, but if I’m a good master, then I don’t have to be seen as bad. In this case, there is another (artificial) reason why he keeps her as a slave, but it’s sort of spoilers, so won’t be specific.
1. We’ll see.
2. He comes from a world in which slavery is outlawed, so that’s not going to fly for me. We’re not talking about George Washington being sucked into an isekai over here. I’m not asking him to free the slaves this instant, but his lack of reaction is more telling than anything.
3. I think it suggests that certain people are bigger fans of authoritarianism than they would like to admit.
To be fair here Naofumi has experienced genuine trauma from being betrayed and ostracized from the country. His current state of mind isn’t sound which is why he choose to use a slave in the first place. I did mention they don’t dwell on such issues but that is more towards the setting. The master/servant relationship between Naofumi and Raph is explored but I don’t think you are going to like the outcome lol. It’s been a while since I read the manga but they do explore the slave angle and demi human history a bit but that is much further ahead and I’m not sure if the anime is going to cover it.
To be fair, I don’t think genuine trauma should turn people into slave owners.
But look, at the end of the day, a nice internal debate would’ve gone a long way.
1. Wow, owning slaves is bad.
2. But if I don’t buy a slave, I won’t level up. I can’t trust these people.
3. If I don’t level up, I won’t survive.
4. If I don’t survive, I may never come home.
5. So yeah, I’m a POS, but I’m going to look out for me.
No such debate is exhibited in this show. No such acknowledgement. It’s just full sails ahead for slavedom! At best, I had to make these inferences on my own, and when it comes to slavery, why are we beating around the bush? And just last week, I had to deal with people arguing that he did a good thing.
I agree but the original web novel is an edgy revenge fantasy so Naofumi’s thought process was to survive using any means and using slaves was one way for him to be secure and lash out his dark thoughts. Its a way for the author to justify the use of slaves and shock the audience as much as possible. In the end though Shield Hero doesn’t go into that direction so you get a big tonal whiplash. It is the same issue you had with Goblin Slayer pretty much, the author wrote an opening that included as much dark material as possible but then tones down the setting into a light DnD adventure.
That’s kind of sad really if shock value is what he’s going for. Saying that something is problematic doesn’t mean you’re shocked by it. You aren’t shocking people just because you have critics.
shurg It’s why I said this was going to be controversial, most web novels go for that shock value as an opener in order to draw in readers. When it’s picked up as Light novels the content is then toned down as the author writes subsequent new volumes. I have to admit it works though with how popular the adaptions for Goblin Slayer and Shield Hero end up being.
@Sean The internal debate you describe does happen in the novel. Not exactly in the same way you describe it, but close. Naofumi is interested in slaves because after Myne’s betrayal he feels like he can’t trust anyone who isn’t one. And he chooses a cheap girl slave like Raphtalia because he projects Myne’s betrayal on all women and fantasizes about enslaving her. In his eyes enslaving Raphtalia is the closest he is going to get to getting revenge on Myne. But even with these reasons he can’t bring himself to be a complete abusive asshole to her, because deep down he knows she is an innocent and he grew to really care about her, which is why he tells her forget about him and run away during the Two-headed dog sequence.
So, in short, Naofumi *tries* to be an asshole, because he hates the world and the people he is stuck with, but when push comes to shove he can’t stop himself from acting heroically. He can t help but care.
Well the novel doesn’t really matter to me. I’m just looking at the adaptation.
@Sean yeah, they really fumbled it. Then again, I don’t know how they could have actually done it. Internal monologues don’t work very well in motion.
Anyway, the next episode is going to deal with the whole matter of Raphtalia being Naofumi’s slave more directly. Hope they don’t fumble that one up too.