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Raphtalia's Haunting Origin Story In The Rising Of The Shield Hero

If you don't know much about the anime "The Rising of the Shield Hero," you'd probably be fooled into thinking that the cute, funny, raccoon girl pasted all over the show's promotional material is a happy character. While this would be true in a sense, there's no denying that much of Raphtalia's story is shadowed in darkness. Of course, things get better for her as time goes on, but her backstory is hardly anything to scoff at.

However, that's about par for the course when it comes to fantasy anime. Fantasy might often be seen as an overwhelmingly optimistic genre in some circles, but in anime, it is quite the opposite. The isekai genre, of which "The Rising of the Shield Hero" is a prime specimen, hardly ever features a fantasy realm where everything is hunky-dory. People get hurt, they get traumatized, and they often die in the worst way possible. Sometimes (especially if you're a "Re:Zero" character) this can happen multiple times to the same person. As such, Raphtalia's haunting origin story is actually part of a long tradition in fantasy anime, where people must suffer in order for them to actually prevail.

Raphtalia goes from slave to hero

Like any good tragic backstory, Raphtalia's problems begin when she is just a child. When the first Wave of Calamity strikes her home village somewhere outside the kingdom of Melromarc, Raphtalia is forced to watch a Cerberus devour her parents as she plummets off a cliff into the waves below. She survives her fall, but upon returning to her village, she finds it set upon by soldiers of Melromarc. Without hesitation or mercy, the soldiers dispatch the rest of the adults in her village and sell the children, including Raphtalia, into slavery.

Raphtalia's time as a slave is anything but pleasurable. Her first master, Idol Rabier, tortures her and her friends relentlessly for fun. Eventually, she is sold to a slave trader, but not before watching her best friend die. These experiences traumatize Raphtalia beyond reckoning, and her suffering only continues as she lives at the slave markets in Melromarc.

It's not until the series' protagonist, Naofumi, purchases her to be his companion that things began to look up for Raphtalia. Though he regards her as property, he is more kind to her than anyone else up to this point. He feeds her, takes care of her, and practically raises her to maturity. So over time, she becomes his steadfast companion, the sword to his shield. Eventually, the two even build a bond beyond being slave and master, and Raphtalia becomes a free, fully-fledged hero.