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The Rising Of The Shield Hero: Raphtalia's Powers Explained

When it comes to "The Rising of the Shield Hero," Raphtalia might be more recognizable than the shield hero himself. Granted, the loveable tanuki-girl deserves it, not just for her adorable appearance but also for her skills and reliability as Naofumi's (the aforementioned Shield Hero) closest companion. When Naofumi is first summoned to Raphtalia's fantasy world as the Legendary Shield Hero, he is betrayed by the Princess Malty S Melromarc and framed for sexually assaulting her. While still in possession of the Legendary Shield, Naofumi is nonetheless stripped of his honors as a hero and kicked to the curb. He is forced to fend for himself in this new world.

That is, until he stumbles upon a destitute little slave girl with racoon-like ears and a tail. Being the Shield Hero, Naofumi can't use any other weapons and can't actually attack the monsters he fights. Desperately in need of a companion to function in combat, Naofumi purchases Raphtalia. He feeds her, trains her, and gives her a new purpose as the sword to his shield. As such, she becomes an incredibly skilled combatant. But what exactly are her powers?

Raphtalia is the perfect swordsman — er, woman, tanuki?

When Naofumi first purchases Raphtalia, she appears as nothing more than a small, sickly child. Her demi-human physiology enables her to mature along with her video game-esque combat level. Thus, viewers are able to literally see Raphtalia grow as Naofumi trains her in combat. She quickly goes from a weak and timid slave girl with just a dagger, to an experienced swordswoman with the appearance of person in their 20s.

Beyond her skills as a master swordsman, Raphtalia has a few other tricks up her sleeve. For starters, steel isn't the only kind of blade she can draw. She also has an illusion sword with a non-physical blade that deals mental damage in accordance with her attacks. However, that ability is merely an extension of her mastery over illusion, light, and dark magic. Using her illusion techniques, Raphtalia can obfuscate her opponent's sight. Under the right circumstances, she can turn completely invisible, create an illusory version of herself, or create a blinding light (via Shield Hero Wiki).

At the end of the day, however, Raphtalia is still a swordsman first and foremost. Her illusion techniques are generally used to enhance her swordplay in battle, and while she is theoretically capable of doing more, she still tends to stick to her weapons rather than magic.

Raphtalia can do much more in the original novels

Of course, all of that only covers what Raphtalia can do in the "The Rising of the Shield Hero" anime. The original novels tell a much longer story and show Raphtalia gaining abilities unlike anything she can do in the anime (at least, until the anime catches up with Season 2 and beyond). The most important of these changes comes when she becomes the Katana Hero in Volume 8 of the light novel. Wielding the legendary Vassal Katana, Raphtalia gains a slew of new abilities including — but not limited to — firing blades of light and wind from her sword, draining her opponents of their magical power, and the ability to create a tornado.

Her skills as the Katana Hero are aided by her mastery of the Hengen Muso style of combat. Using these abilities, Raphtalia can manipulate life force during combat. Techniques such as "Eight Trigrams Blade of Destiny" combine the manipulation of magic and life force in order to deliver a devastating attack in the shape of a yin-yang.

She also gains a major power boost when she becomes the Heavenly Empress of Q'ten Lo in Volume 14. With her new abilities, she can summon five magic spheres that do her bidding (either for attack or defense) during battle. When attacking an opponent with the spheres, she can inflict a variety of status effects on them. Combining all of these abilities together, few characters are as versatile and skilled as Raphtalia.