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|“||I hoped the whole place burned to the ground, the whole damn world.||”|
—Naofumi , Volume 1, Chapter 7
Iwatani Naofumi (岩谷尚文) is the main protagonist of The Rising of the Shield Hero. He was a university student before being summoned to another world, where he had to fight against the waves of calamity, as one of the heroes.
Naofumi was once a successful otaku University student before being summoned to Melromarc. His past experience with Malty Melromarc has made him dark and cynical, but he is still a generally nice person. Although he experiences a slow start because of the Malty incident and is on a much lower level than the other heroes, he is still able to keep up and even occasionally outshine them. He is also the only one who treated the world as a world and not a game.
Originally Naofumi was an extremely trusting and positive person, he was also enthusiastic about his situation, when initially summoned, but this all changes quickly after he is betrayed by Malty. Left penniless, framed for rape, and hated, Naofumi becomes distrustful, cynical and spiteful towards the world. He becomes unable to trust anyone who is not his slave as a traveling companion and begins planning for events where people try to deceive him or rip him off. This betrayal has left him in an almost permanent state of anger and hostility, even while he usually acts calm and level headed on the surface.
His hatred for Malty is utterly without bound, to the point where he has become completely apathetic and ignorant to the advances of women in general, and even sometimes expresses disgust and hatred purely on the grounds that the other person is the same gender as Malty early on, though he never voices this to them. Due to Raphtalia and Filo, he becomes less inwardly hostile towards women over time, but is still evidently unable to notice their advances, Raphtalia herself, when her Slave Crest was being renewed, even asked him what he thought of her body, which had to be exposed for the application of the crest, only for him to completely miss the point. He was rather amazed when the Slave Merchant was willing to pay 15 gold pieces for Raphtalia after she became a beauty as well.
Eventually, he recovers more of his caring side and begins treating Raphtalia like a daughter rather than a slave (she would ironically prefer he treat her more as a woman though). By the time he sets up a base of operations in Rock Valley, he is visibly kind to the slaves under his command, but not soft, as he still would not hesitate if discipline was called for. He comes to care enough about Filo to fly into a rage when he thinks she's dead, despite constantly finding her annoying. He in fact has a rather unique opinion of slavery and a very business-like outlook in general. the prime example is when he bought Raphtalia; he fed her well, gave her medicine, sheltered her, defended her from bullies and even treated her when she was good. He genuinely earns her affection through his treatment of her, to the point where she chooses to remain his slave when given the option to leave him. In his mind all of these actions were taken because they're practical, I.e. an unhealthy, unfed and half dead slave would be useless, so he genuinely can't understand why someone would neglect their treatment and health. He never mistreated or exploited any of the slaves under him and has disciplined them only when they refuse to do as ordered. This same treatment extends to literally all of the slaves he comes to own, with them even coming to treat him like a mother figure in return.
He is also very observant, dislikes being ripped off, and will definitely not tolerate being stolen from; for example his grudge against Malty grew noticeably when he realized the man stole what was to be his new shield and made a point to personally defeat him. When merchants tried to rip him off or he saw bullies picking on Raphtalia, he sends literal monsters at them, since he himself can't attack. He can be somewhat of a sadist in this sense, to the point Raphtalia actually tried to warn those same bullies to run away.
Despite being the most villainous, ironically Naofumi is perhaps the most effective of the heroes at getting things done, he corrected the problems the other three either started or worsened, and managed to deal with the Spirit Turtle, an act which required him to cheer up the allied troops, raise their moral, organise them, and effectively lead people his past would undoubtedly put him at odds with. The latter case is especially important because the other heroes unleashed it to begin with.
Naofumi is a roughly 20 year old young man with black hair and fairly sharp features. He has a rather slim build and a permanent scowl on his face as a result of his mistreatment and cynical outlook on the world. The armor he wears is called the Barbarian Armor, and he is always equipped with his Legendary Shield. The armor in question is noted by others to suit him, even though one would expect a bandit leader to be wearing it.
Animals have liked Naofumi since he was young. When he walked around the mountains, wild birds naturally perched on his shoulders, and he encountered wildlife easily. Once he encountered a bear, and played dead to try to survive. Rather than attacking, it started licking his face. He later learned that playing dead didn’t actually work.
Naofumi was initially the less-liked child of the family, an all the pressure of his parents expectations were placed upon his brother and he simply lived without having to meet these expectations. One day, when his brother started acting out because of this, it was Naofumi who introduced him to Galga themed games, and managed to provide him with a hobby to relieve his stress. Despite being an educated student and having a number of skills under his belt, as evidenced from his ability to quickly adapt to living unaided in the world, he is noted to have had poor grades in school.