The Rising of the Shield Hero, by Aneko Yusagi, is the first novel in a long-running series that goes by the same name. The books follow Naofumi Iwatani, an average Japanese college student. One day Naofumi finds a mysterious book in his library that transports him to another world alongside three others.
Those from the world that summon them quickly explain that the four of them are the Cardinal Heroes of legend, destined to save the world from the Waves of Destruction. However all is not as it seems and Naofumi soon finds himself betrayed stripped of his reputation, money, clothes, and everything else except the shield on his arm marking him as a hero. And now that the plot synopsis I can finally begin discussing why this book is so good. One thing this book and series does very well is writing an antihero protagonist. Now, Naofumi isn’t a great person, he commits too many morally dubious actions to qualify as a paragon hero or anything of the sort. At the same time, he also isn’t a heartless monster, as while the other three heroes are focused on fighting big monsters for fame or glory, Naofumi instead focuses on ensuring people are safe. Thus, Naofumi is neither hero nor a villain, he is an antihero, a hero with unheroic qualities.
Now there is definitely more I could touch on with this review but that would result in delving into spoiler territory so I’ll just end off with an overall review. The Rising of the Shield Hero is a well-executed revenge fantasy novel so if you’re a fan of that sort of thing I would recommend checking it out.
I loved this anime! I completely agree with your take. Naofumi is definitely not a good person but I wish there were more protagonists like him. Anti-heroes are so fun to watch and read. I never had the chance to read the actual series but I would definitely like to. Nice review!