Beauty, Loyalty, and a Blade
- Episodes: 25
- Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
- Airing Date: January 2019 – June 2019
- Studio:Kinema Citrus
Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero) Preview (No Spoilers)
She was born into a loving family and lived in a small peaceful village with other demi-humans until the day a wave of catastrophe hit. The young tanuki (and we say tanuki, not raccoon because the two animals aren’t closely related while tanuki, foxes and dogs are) witnessed her parents killed by the monster Cebrus during the wave of carnage. The rest of her village was destroyed by the nearby humans who took advantage of the situation to kill or enslave the demi-humans. Raphtalia remained a child slave living a hellish life until one-day Naofumi, the outcast Shield Hero and one of the four cardinal heroes, is summoned to the kingdom to combat the waves. It is under his guidance and Raphtalia grows through some tough love. And we literally mean grows as she ages up and levels up before our eyes into one of the strongest fighters in the kingdom.
Raphtalia Highlights (Spoilers Beyond This Point)
1. Raphtalia, Babe with a Blade
The young slave was beaten and starved in a slaver’s pen when Naofumi purchased her. He needed the help as the magic of his shield wouldn’t let him pick up a weapon. The hero needed someone to play offense even while he was forced to play defense. Naofumi gave her a lot of tough love, in the beginning, compelling her with the magic of her slave seal to kill simple monsters and even a two-headed beast. She grew and leveled up as she killed more and more monsters. Raphtalia’s attacks are straightforward, often charging in like the tip of a sword as much of the art imitates when you see her launching herself into battle.
2. Raphtalia the Resilient
The young tanuki had a nice life with her parents listening to stories of the previous Shield Hero and his love of the demi-humans. She watches her village get destroyed and her parents torn to pieces in front of her before falling off a cliff into the water below. Raphtalia is then pulled from the sea and placed in the bonds of slavery. The lord who buys her and other orphaned demi-humans is a sadist who enjoys inflicting torture. He discards her like a broken toy to a slave trader where she is likely to die in a cage and either be buried on a trash heap or fed to a monster. The tenacious tanuki clawed her way back when given a choice to fight or die and not only survived but flourished.
3. Raphtalia the Loyal
We love Raphatlia’s loyalty. She is not only Naofumi’s Sword but his steadfast companion. Yes, she is technically his slave. We can’t forget we are dealing with a medieval fantasy world where there is no 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which bans slavery). She was given “freedom” by being released by the slave seal but chose to have it reapplied. You could look at it as a contract seal if that makes you feel better. Naofumi, for all his gruff talk, has only treated her with respect and dignity. She returns that respect with loyalty and love. Raphtalia hasn’t figured out what shape her feelings toward Naofumi take yet. Are they saved and savior, child and parent, sword and shield, or woman and man? But we all have a feeling that it will be up to Naofumi to decide.
4. Raphtalia the Adorable Tanuki
The young demi-tanuki was a heartbreaker at even a young age, adorable beyond words in her childlike state. She has big, furry round ears, big pink eyes, chestnut hair and a fluffy tail. She may level up and look more like an adult later in the story, but she still has some childlike tendencies, like a pout that could get you to march into hell with a smile on your face. Raphtalia doesn’t have much of a poker face. Well, that’s a bit misleading since it’s not her face that gives her away but her tail. We find that out early when Naofumi asks the childlike Raphtalia if she’d like a ball, she says no but her tail wags like an excited puppy. We’ve got to give some credit to the author for finding a way to shoehorn a beach scene into a medieval adventure anime. We know without that we’d only have fan art to speculate as to how amazingly cute a girl with tanuki ears and tail would look in a two-piece.
Raphtalia’s story could be an entire novel of its own. We are introduced to her as “broken” or “weak” by the slave trader. She was sold to the slave trader by the sadist lord in the anime because he was bored of her, which typically means she was a favorite toy of his and he got tired of her. Yet, was that really the case? Do you survive all the horrors she’s been through by being weak? Do you rebound quickly after being given a chance to live if you’re truly weak? Wouldn’t you just give up? Raphtalia does none of these things. She survived. She survived all the abuse and torture and grew stronger. Naofumi pulled her from the cage not out of pity or to grant her mercy. He pulled her from the cage because he recognized she had something he needed and it wasn’t a sword, it was heart.