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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 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.
Originally Naofumi was an extremely trusting and positive person, he was also enthusiastic about his situation when initially summoned, but all of that changed shortly after when he is betrayed by princess 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 preparing for betrayal because he expects people to try to deceive him or rip him off. This betrayal left him in an almost permanent state of anger and hostility, even though he usually acts calm and level-headed on the surface. This bites back as he unknowingly pushed away genuine believers of the shield hero and Siltwelt envoys without knowing.
His hatred for Malty is without limit, 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 like 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 well 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 mistreat them or neglect their 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 parent figure in return. He also spoils and rewards them when they give it their all and perform well like giving a ball to Raphtalia and cooking for all his slaves even in the middle of the night. This action caused Rishia(one of his comrades who later became one of his slaves) to wonder if Naofumi was their slave instead of the other way around. He is also considerate of others to a certain extent, as he was willing to share a room with other adventures since his allotted room was taken by other heroes and party members which could have resulted in ordinary adventures who paid a hefty amount to travel to Cal Mira island being evicted from the boat.
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.
He is realistic in his approach, as he sold the slave hunters to SiltWelt and used that money to buy back all of Raphtalia's villagers, much to the horror of Eclair and Raphtalia for his unorthodox actions. Realizing that he couldn't hand over the bandits to the guards, he extorted everything from them, as the guards may take the bandits side over him. Though his allies want him to behave heroically and be forgiving, he acts otherwise like holding a grudge and enjoys the misfortune of those he hates.
He is someone who can be reasoned with, Unlike the other heroes. He decided to stay in the nation, after listening to the arguments of the queen and Fitoria for why he should stay. He never received any funds from the crown till the end, even after the queen took charge, as the nation was suffering from spirit tortoise rampage. Instead, he received a territory at his request.
Despite being the most villainous and having the evilest approach, 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 morale, organize 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. He also has some morals, as he was willing to save the people who berated him.
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. All the pressure of his parents' expectations were placed upon his brother and so he simply lived life in a carefree manner. 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.
Naofumi was once a successful otaku University student before being summoned to Melromarc. He was framed for having committed a crime by the country and subjected to harsh treatment. 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, even though he can see many similarities to a game. Being a shield hero, he has no offensive abilites to start out and so needed a companion which he could neither afford nor trust. At first, he firmly believed that he was poorly treated because of being a weak job(Shield Hero) and framed with a rape charge. Later, he learned that the true reason for this treatment was because the nation's religion portrayed him as a villain and the country's long-standing war with the neighboring country, which worships the shield hero as a god.
The church of Three Heroes hired many fake heroes of the shield to commit crimes and to ruin his reputation further. Later, all of this was brought to light by the queen when she banished the church of three Heroes while proving Naofumi's innocence. However his bad reputation remained for a time, Naofumi was described in public as a vile demon who had committed fraud, extortion, abduction, and who will execute anyone who stands in his way, some of these accusations were literally correct, but not actually true.
After the betrayal, he lost the ability to trust others and his motivation to help fight the waves so his approach became to just survive the waves until he was able to return to his own world. He bought Raphtalia because she was the cheapest slave and also because he wanted to subjugate the same gender as the one who betrayed him. Despite his negative approach, his kindness started to seep out, he took real good care of Raphtalia and saved the villagers from the wave. After Raphtalia and a few other citizens show their gratitude and loyalty to him, he decided to really give it his all to save their world.
Though Naofumi did save the village during the first wave, everyone in the castle and the other heroes berated Naofumi for not fighting the boss of the wave, even though they know he has no attack power. They called him a failed hero for not putting himself on the line for others. They even claimed that he was a failure as a human being. This came back to bite them, as the other heroes were nowhere to be seen during the spirit tortoise incident and all their actions showed them to be the ones that failed to be heroes and as human beings.
Naofumi started with a serious of disadvantage, the other three heroes had some experience of how this world worked because of the games they played in their previous lives while he had none. Before he was even summoned, the country Melmorne considered the other three heroes to be saviors and the shield hero to be evil, this is because of the constant war with the nation which worshiped the shield hero and because the main religion shared this view of the heroes.
The crown gave the other three heroes trained adventurers, crystal balls to learn magic, funds, guild jobs, information on how to use their legendary weapon. While Naofumi was framed for rape, all his possessions were stolen, denied any jobs and crystal balls, adventurers faking joining his party for money, He was even denied his promised living expenses. He was also denied class-up under various pretenses. The other heroes had already reached higher power and had their party class up before the first wave. Most of the guards and the general public gave him scorn and felt discomfort seeing him in their nation. The Knights who should be on his side tried to set him up, didn't respect him and tried to set him on fire. He was turned away, when he appeared for breakfast in the castle, during the celebration of the first wave subjugation
He has no attack features and no one joined his party due to his bad reputation and also because of fear of those in authority. He himself avoided everyone, due to his distrust of everyone and many adventurers tried to deceive him while other heroes had more than 3 members, with at least one new member joining their party.
This forced him to look for alternatives, so he bought slaves to fight for him, He learned magic by studying books instead of using a crystal ball, He peddled for funds to survive & to buy equipment for him and his party. Knowing his own weaknesses and limitations, he chose to defend the villages and save them from the monsters of the wave rather than fight the wave itself.
The information given by the church and guild to the other Heroes was fake and meant to manipulate them, While Naofumi was able to gather information as a merchant from the common people, enabling him to understand the dire situation of the nation. Though Naofumi refused to listen to any details which he felt were trivial which eclipsed all the root cause for his situation. example, Naofumi refuses to listen to Melty and Elhart.
All this turns out to be a blessing in disguise for Naofumi. By saving the villagers from monsters from the wave, many came to help and respect him. They gave him materials, let him stay in the inn for free, gave him books so he could learn magic(and the language), built him a carriage for peddling, and made clothes & armor for him & his comrades at a reasonable discount. By peddling he not only earned money but also the trust of commoners throughout the nation. People began to doubt the teachings of the church of the three heroes which states the shield hero is evil.
Naofumi's party was only able to class-up after the third wave, by which time Fitoria had gifted Filo an item which doubled all of his party member's stats during the class up. This doubling status was said to be impossibly rare. By actually learning magic from books he was able to read magical words something which you cannot learn to do if you use crystal balls. Despite the fact that learning from books consumes more time, it is more powerful than the magic obtained from crystal balls. Naofumi chooses to use slaves as his comrades, which gives them another chance at life. Because of that, they became more reliable and trustworthy in comparison to the adventures assigned to other heroes.
Naofumi also committed some crimes, like throwing balloon monsters on anyone trying to trick him(the adventurers who deceived him to be in his party, sales person who gave him less money for his drop items and the children who tried to steal the ball from Raphtalia), He charged high prices for services & goods he sold. He also extorted the bandits who tried to do the same, as he was neither funded by the crown nor given any guild jobs and also because he can't hand them over to the guards, since the guards may choose the bandit's side over his.
The government prevented Naofumi from crossing the border to travel to other nations, fearing the idea of him joining hands with Siltwelt (During the time loop of the spear hero, Naofumi was killed for crossing borders with Siltwelt envoys). Despite all these setbacks, Naofumi made himself strong enough to face the third wave and the pope. But the other heroes failed, despite all the benefits they received. When Naofumi unlocked slave shield, it increased the power of his slaves to the point where they rivaled the power of the other heroes, this allowed Naofumi and his party to handle most incidents where the other heroes failed, despite the refusal by the king to allow him or his party to do a class up.
To make up for all the trouble in Naofumi's progress, the queen proposed an information exchange between the heroes to strengthen their weapons and offered a free trip to Cal Mira Island during it's activation time. The cap of the leveling in the activation time was nearly 80, which was solely for Naofumi's benefit since the others had already reached that level.
During their first information exchange, the queen clarified that the other heroes had less chance of survival than Naofumi, pointing out their failure in the previous wave and in the fight against the pope. Other Heroes pointed out that it wasn't that they were weak it was Naofumi and his party who were stronger than their levels should indicate which Naofumi himself mentally agrees with and is puzzled by. They even go so far as to label his power that surpasses that of his level a cheat power. Naofumi learned all the weapon strengthening methods from them and after some trouble managed to implement it in his own weapon. During the activation event on the island, despite being a lower level than that of the other heroes, Naofumi's party took down three.
As the story progress, while every other hero lost all of their party members, Naofumi had collected a village of party members. The adventurers assigned to the other heroes either left or tried to kick others out of the party, some even betrayed the hero. The game knowledge of other heroes betrayed them, as the viewpoint that their individual game gave them showed each of them that they were stronger than the other heroes, boosting their confidence to confront the wave alone, instead of working together. hence they had only one success against the wave and the rest went down the hill. Even though the game forecasted the events that were going to happen, it exaggerated their own power. But Naofumi who was cautious of his limitations always takes careful steps and doesn't charge in without any hope.
He also cleaned up the messes which were created or worsened by the other heroes. Without his own knowledge, his reputation among the people rose and shook the very core of the national religion which teaches that the shield hero is evil. This forced the church of three heroes to act desperately which led to their downfall. They tried to assassinate the second princess and then accused Naofumi of kidnapping her when he saved her and told the other heroes that the reason for his rise in public support was because he had obtained a brainwashing shield which at least one of them believed(Motoyasu), finally the church of three heroes revealed their true intention and tried to kill all the heroes and their comrades, since all of them had contributed in one way or another to the people decline in faith in the religion. Despite the disadvantage, Naofumi pushed himself and destroyed the enemy saving himself along with other hero and their party.
The queen who just returned from trying to save her nation from war cleared all of the fake charges made against Naofumi and punished those involved in a conspiracy against Naofumi. She promised to prevent any repetition of his past trouble and give preferential treatment in return for his co-operation in the fight against the wave. The queen requested that Naofumi stay, as it may lead to war because of the ill treatment towards him by Melmore. After considering, he decided to give the nation one more chance in exchange for better treatment. It took some time for him to be in equal footing with the other hero. He was somewhat treated with well-deserved respect in comparison to the past.
Later, it was revealed that Naofumi too had believers in this nation as well, like the volunteer soldiers who joined with him to fight the third wave, demi-human adventures and the noble that support the demi-humans. It was also mentioned by the queen that the adventures who tried to fake to be with Naofumi by joining his party during the first three days of summoning were brutally murdered without able to recognize, the Knight leader who tried to torch Naofumi, along with the monsters was also murdered, the dress which he signed for a voluntary Knight was stolen and sold at the highest prize in auction at Siltwelt.
On the other hand, the other three heroes acted foolish, thinking this reality to be a game. They took everything lightly, even believing them-self to be immortal and their defeat are leading to a special event. This self proclamation of immortality disturbed both Nafoumi and queen. Despite, Nafoumi being much lower in level, the other heroes begin to feel inferior to him. During the information exchange they tried to extract his information for getting stronger, but he used it against them to get info from them.Nafoumi realized that this reality resembles similar to the game which convinced other hero that they were living inside a game. For the first time Nafoumi, who always angered for the unjust done by other three heroes toward him, felt pity for them.
He realized that the trust among the heroes is essential for to use the weapon strengthening method of other to work and shared this information with other heroes, who never believed him. He realized that they might die with this attitude. Fearing that the wave might increase in strength because of the death of heroes, he forced them to work hard and train. Feeling boss around, they decide to increase their level above Nafoumi. Trying to gain more strength (the other heroes released in web novel) the spirit turtle in hopes of defeating it. Soon the reality slapped them hard with their brutal defeat, Until Nafoumi under the queen headed the coalition force and succeeded in defeating the spirit turtle.
After the three heroes became MIA, and with how Naofumi became the only hero that succeeded in slaying the Spirit Turtle, people had then began the belief that the heroes, other than the Shield, were false heroes. Thus, most of the countries, besides Melromarc, had decided to place restrictions on the movements of the heroes.Melromarc the only one that would accept them while also making the attempt to have rumors die down. Though gossip did not stop which became evident as a role reversal began where Motoyasu, Ren, and Itsuki had began to experience similar conditions that Naofumi had went through, initially because of Bitch, while Naofumi himself was greatly praised as a great hero and received praise and all other positive treatment from the public. They were subjected to the scorn of public with random people throwing stones, denied jobs from guild, unable to approach the crown fearing of punishment for crimes, also betrayal of their comrades, individually used and betrayed by bitch, awoken their own curse series which pushed them into doing crimes such as extortion(Ren) and brainwashing(Itsuki) and completely broken(Motoyatsu). On the other hand Naofumi became the lord of a land which happens to be the former village of Raphtiala, in hopes of rebuilding the village for the demi humans. Mirelia then depended on Naofumi to monitor the three heroes so that they can make amends for their mistakes.