Naofumi gets his first follower and may begin to show the world the rumors about him are untrue.
Introduced This Episode
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The Demi-Human Girl: Raphtalia, Naofumi
Though it likely would only worsen his reputation, Naofumi decides to purchase a slave and while the girl, Raphtalia, may not know about the rape accusation, she is fearful. Why? Well, being that her parents died in the first wave, and she was sold into slavery, with a former master who was abusive, you’d be scared too. Yet, we learn the Shield Hero, despite how humans treat him, is a bit of a hero to demi-humans.
The story goes that they would usually advocate for demi-humans and thus, as Naofumi shows he isn’t a terrible person, Raphtalia grows closer to him. However, one major issue between them is Raphtalia isn’t necessarily ready or willing to fight or kill. Especially since, when she gets beyond balloon monsters, she has to deal with blood and it triggers memories of her parents dying.
Yet, upon dealing with a demon beast, and her relationship with Naofumi switching from slave to someone he’d sacrifice his life for, she kills for him. Leading to this idea that, while she is bound to him, she may get treated as his equal. If not, more accurately, like his child, little sister or some form of squire.
It is going to be interesting as we see more people of the outside world react to Naofumi taking on a child as his companion. For just the way the inn attendant looked when he heard Raphtalia screams at night had me questioning if Naofumi even thought about what he was saying. But, what also should be interesting is the discrimination against demi-humans and whether the show addresses that.
Which I question if it will since most shows may put out there that there is discrimination, but it isn’t treated as a big deal. But, considering how the shield hero has a history of being an advocate for demi-humans, it could be interesting to see him leave humanity behind. Perhaps give the finger to the kingdom he was summoned to and protect the demi-humans across the world. Heck, maybe even buy those that were enslaved and have himself a large army willing to fight for him.
Leading to the question: How does one free a slave? Long term, I can’t see Naofumi remaining comfortable with the idea of Raphtalia being bound to him. While he had to get indifferent, callous, whichever, quickly, I can see this child melting his heart a bit. Maybe, though not as bad as his little brother, she may remind him of what it is like to look out for and love a sibling? For example, when he was consoling her after a nightmare. I think there will come a point when he just isn’t willing to have this child on an invisible leash anymore.
That the episode effectively established Naofumi and Raphtalia’s relationship and found a means to balance making it a significant one between the two, without cheapening it with quick and easy methods. And while one could argue her trauma and him almost dying would qualify, it is with reminding us Naofumi isn’t a bad guy, but just adapted, that makes their relationship so meaningful. Since it is Raphtalia, a demi-human, who may remind Naofumi what it means to be humane, vulnerable, and caring once more.