January Anime Challenge: The Rising of Shield Hero (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari)

Our challenge for January is the highly popular The Rising of Shield Hero (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari) based on the Light Novel. The anime series was produced by Kinema Citrus and directed by Takao Abo joined by Keigo Koyanagi handling series composition, Masahiro Suwa designing the characters and Kevin Penkin composing the music. The series ran from January to June 2019 and ran for 25 episodes.

Book otaku Iwatani Naofumi discovers a book in the library that summons him to another world. He finds himself joined up with the spear, sword and bow as one of the Four Cardinal heroes, fighting the waves of the Catastrophe as the Shield Hero. Excited by the notion of adventure, he sets off only to be betrayed days later losing all his money, dignity, and respect. What will happen to this young warrior who lost everything?

Week 1 January 3 – January 9, 2022

Episode 1 – 4

Our recommendation this week is Kyou Kara Maou! in Kyou Kara Maou! our hero is ‘flushed’ away to a world of fantasy that is all too real. Yes, this is a case of being ‘isekai’d’ via the toilet. 

While our protagonist, Yuuri Shibuya, tries to rescue a friend from bullies, they shove his head into a toilet and flush it. Suddenly he finds himself in another world- the land of Shin Makoku, where he finds out he is the Maou (Demon King) of the Mazoku (Demon Race). The Mazoku are not that different from humans, they look human but they live longer, with some having magical abilities. This new world looks much like medieval Europe.

A lot of the storyline centres around conflicts between Humans and Mazoku and how Yuuri tries to find peaceful solutions to problems. Sometimes when things get too strenuous, he blacks out and transforms into a magical version of himself (longer-haired and more mature) to resolve any adversities. After he returns to his human form, Yuuri has no recollection of what happened.

Week 2 January 10 – January 16, 2022

Episode 5 – 8

Our recommendation this week is an isekai, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, a fantasy that follows the lives of Haruhiro and friends. They all woke up one day in a fantasy world. Our Heroes have no idea how they ended up there and must form a party, learn to cooperate with each other, and learn new skills to survive this new world they were transported to. Some of them remember cell phones and our world but vaguely. but instead of normal world life, they are now in a lifestyle that requires choosing guilds, classes and having special abilities to survive.

The Hai to Gensou no Grimgar cast includes: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Attack on Titan), Hiroyuki Yoshino (Rage of Bahamut Genesis), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club), Fukushi Ochiai (Ace of Diamond: Second Season), Mikako Komatsu (K), Haruka Terui (Yuki Yuna Is a Hero), Tomokazu Seki (Fate/stay night), Daisuke Namikawa (Fate/Zero), Hiroki Yasumoto (Yowamushi Pedal) and Mamiko Noto (The Garden of Sinners)

The staff include the talents of Ryosuke Nakamura (Moryo no Hako ) who is directing and Tomotaka Shibayama which is the assistant director with Kazuyuki Asaga and Ken Baba as key animators, and Mieko Hosoi (Psychic School Wars) is on character Design, with animation by A-1 Pictures. The anime is based on the Hai to Gensou no Grimgar light novels written by Ao Jumonji.

Week 3 January 17 – January 23, 2022

Episode 9 – 12

The Rising of The Shield Hero has a few dark fantasy elements in it, so this week we bring you a dark fantasy recommendation for those who love the genre and want to try out more dark fantasy. Claymore is dark, brooding and a great classic anime that is just right up your alley if you like dark stories.

Claymore is based on the manga by the same name, set in a medieval world inhabited by Yoma – demon-like creatures that can take human form – that of course eat humans. The only ones capable of fighting them are Claymore, who can tell humans from Yoma because they themselves are part human, part Yoma. The all-female Claymores have silver eyes which turn gold when they fight, with a few nifty abilities such as going without food and water for a week if necessary. They also have accelerated healing, are faster and stronger than humans (because of the demon side in them) but they can die if hit in a critical spot.

A human girl becomes a Claymore after eating (this is called “Taking”) the flesh and blood of a Yoma, and their sole purpose is then to kill Yoma. Claymores have to use their minds to restrain the ‘Yoma’ within and the more they use their Yoma abilities the more at risk they are of becoming a Yoma themselves.

The Claymore anime focuses on a boy named Raki and a Claymore named Clare. Raki’s parents were murdered by a Yoma, with this Yoma then taking the form of Raki’s brother, hiding in the town and eating its residents. The town sends for a Claymore, Clare, who does the necessary killing. Raki then decides to follow Clare in gratitude for her service, but also because the superstitious townsfolk are afraid he might be a Yoma too.

Week 4 January 24 – January 30, 2022

Episode 13 – 16

Our recommendation this week has dark fantasy and steampunk elements and is a popular fan favourite: Fullmetal Alchemist. The Fullmetal Alchemist anime premiered in 2003, followed by the movie Fullmetal Alchemist: The Movie – Conqueror of Shamballa in 2005. A second anime series, more close to the manga Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, premiered in 2009 with a spin-off anime movie, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos, which were released in 2011. In 2016 a live-action movie was released. Both the anime Fullmetal Alchemist as well as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were brilliant and the anime world is slightly divided on which of the two were the better incarnation of this outstanding story.

If you know the anime and manga then you know the story: Through the arcane science of alchemy, two brothers tried to resurrect their dead mother. But something went wrong, and the resurrection failed, extracting a high price from the brothers. Edward Elric lost his entire right arm and part of his left leg and his little brother Alphonse nearly dies but is plucked from death as Edward desperately fused his brother’s soul to a suit of armour with alchemy before passing out. Alphonse took his body to their adoptive family, the Rockbells who happens to be prosthetic (called automail in this world) experts, who fitted Edward with automail limbs. They set out on a journey, after recovering and learning more about alchemy at a special academy, to become State Alchemists, which will help Edward to do research as he aims to get their bodies back through alchemical means.

Fullmetal Alchemist

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood