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I finally caught up w/ Shield Hero’s LN, manga and anime. I’ve got a few things to say.

1) The harem is ridiculous in context. Raphtalia is a 10 yr old w/ the body of an adult. Filo is a 1 yr old w/ the body of a 10 year old. Melty is a 10 yr old, Atla is also a 10 yr old.
Sadeena is the only one in the harem who isn’t problematic. She’s 23, Naofumi is 20 and falls for him bc he can hold his liquor and she specifically falls for men who can out drink her (as somebody who plays D&D, it’s not that ridiculous to me to see something like that)
2) Naofumi as a character is understood horribly by fans. The gripes ppl had about slavery have merit. While Naofumi constantly digs at his fellow Heroes about the problems that they have, a problem that the Spear Hero has about Naofumi is grossly glossed over
There we have Beloukas, the slave trader Naofumi enriches and benefits from. The Spear Hero criticizes and hates Naofumi for willingly participating in the slave trade and is disgusted by Naofumi “respectfully disagreeing” with modern sensibilities towards slavery in this world
It’s not subtle to recognize that Naofumi proliferated the slave trade in Melromarc. It’s clear that his reputation is associated with promoting slavery, hence why the business booms for Beloukas. Yet, whenever it comes time to criticize the 4 heroes, this fact is ignored.
Moreover, nobody criticizes Naofumi being a sadistic (or simply petty if that’s your interpretation) person. It gets so bad that Raphtalia consistently has to stop Naofumi from having bliss from the suffering of his enemies.
The idea of this being a redemption story would imply enough character development to the point where Naofumi matures enough to not be petty, to reject participating in the very slave trade that puts the very demihumans he now rules over in harm’s way, etc. Not much changes
I suppose one aspect that did change is his selfishness, being able to not completely be consumed by hatred, not being humiliated or harassed anymore from being a complete outcast, and not down right abusing his slaves
It happens early on, but when Raphtalia still was at her worst mentally with her PTSD, Naofumi forced her to fight while having an traumatic episode. I loathe the fact that Raphtalia was written to restore her slave seal for some arbitrary reason to maintain her bond with Naofumi
The last thing about Naofumi’s flaws is that his desperation at first to participate in the slave trade could have easily been avoided had he been written to be social enough to figure out that there was a country that treats Shield Heroes like gods. But this never happened
That leads me to believe that his continuous participation in the slave trade (how he got Fayon and Fohl later despite clearly knowing what horrors result after seeing Raphtalia break down in a prison cell when she learned that her friend had died and remained in the same cell)
Being a slave is worse than death. Not only are you subject to torture (and not by some 1 sadistic pig either, it’s common for various types of torture to occur for any slave in any context), but you’re stripped of identity and context. Yet Naofumi continues anyways
Naofumi may not be a rapist. He’s worse than that. He’s at best a petty, anti-social, indecisive man who is also socially awkward and does have enough kindness to treat his slaves well and his other party members well. At worst, he’s a sadistic, anti-social regular of a slaver
Back to the harem.

3) Raphtalia is seen like a daughter. Filo kind of is too but it’s also maybe suggested that she’s seen more like a pet that Naofumi owns. Either way, while Naofumi wants no harem and doesn’t want to be a lolicon, the relationships are forced anyways
My main issue starting off this thread with the harem is less on Naofumi, but more w/ the author Aneko Yusagi. It’s strange to me that Yusagi wants Naofumi to have an Usagi Drop dynamic with at least 2 characters and also emphasize 10 year olds in the harem. It isn’t necessary
The only good thing that I liked from Shield Hero is the way the other heroes are portrayed as weak, fuck-up Gamers and less actually realizing the fact that they are actually impacting a living world. That bit is fantastic, save for Naofumi’s slavery & sadism being glossed over.
I would have less issues with the slavery bit of the “redemption” aspect of Naofumi included him realizing his own impact in the world with the slave trade (his biggest unforeseen consequence similarly to the other heroes fucking up in their own way) and cleaning up his own mess
Idk, it either is a massive plot hole that is being used as an aesthetic and “mere” plot device to get Naofumi more party members or its simply a massive character flaw that is intentionally unaddressed. Why that would be is beyond me.

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