|“||I hoped the whole place burned to the ground, the whole damn world.||”|
—Naofumi, Volume 1, Chapter 7
Naofumi Iwatani (岩谷尚文 Iwatani Naofumi?) is the protagonist of The Rising of the Shield Hero series. He was summoned to another world to serve as the Shield Hero (盾の勇者 Tate no Yuusha?), one of the Four Legendary Heroes.
Naofumi has short black hair that spikes in all directions, sharp green eyes and he often wears a scowl on his face because of his cynical outlook towards the world. However, he does express gratitude from time to time.
The armor he primarily wears is Barbarian Armor +3, which has gone through numerous upgrades and transformations. Depending on the situation, he may switch to different sets of armor or clothing.
The weapon in his possession is the Legendary Shield, which was granted to him when he was summoned to another world.
Naofumi had initially been an exceedingly trusting and positive person. He was also enthusiastic about his situation when initially summoned. However, his mentality abruptly changed after Malty S Melromarc, the princess of Melromarc, betrayed him.
Left penniless, framed as a rapist, and hated, Naofumi became distrustful, cynical, and spiteful towards the entire world. He could not trust anyone as a traveling companion except when they had a slave contract. He started to assume that others were trying to get something from him.
The Princess's betrayal has left him in an almost permanent state of anger and hostility, although he masks them behind a calm and level-headed personality. This mentality bites him back as he unknowingly pushes away genuine believers of the Shield Hero and Siltvelt envoys.
His hatred for Malty is without limit, extending to the point where he becomes wholly apathetic and ignorant to advances of women in general. Early on, he even expresses disgust and hatred for women purely because they are of the same gender as Malty, though he never voices this.
Due to Raphtalia and Filo, he becomes less inwardly hostile towards women but is still oblivious to their advances. After Raphtalia renews her Slave Crest, when she asks him what he thinks of her body, exposed at the time for the application of the crest, he remains oblivious. At one point in time, he is somewhat amazed when Beloukas is willing to pay 35 gold pieces for Raphtalia after she becomes a beauty as well.
Eventually, he recovers more of his caring side and begins treating Raphtalia like a daughter rather than a slave.
By the time he sets up a base of operations in Rock Valley, he is visibly kind to the slaves under his command while maintaining his strict attitude, as he still does not hesitate to call for discipline when needed.
Naofumi purchases slaves with the justification of giving them a better life. When he buys Raphtalia, he feeds her well, gives her medicine, shelters her, defends her from bullies, and rewards her. He disciplines slaves, however, if they refuse to obey orders. He earns her loyalty through a caring yet stern treatment, such that she chooses to remain his slave when given the option to leave him. He takes these actions because they're practical and beneficial to him in the long run ― an unhealthy, unfed, and half-dead slave would be useless, so he can't understand why someone would mistreat or neglect the slaves.
His treatment of Raphtalia extends to all of his slaves, with them coming to treat him like a parent figure. He spoils and rewards his slaves when they give it their all and perform to his expectations and cooks for them in the middle of the night when they are hungry. His humane treatment of his slaves causes Rishia to wonder whether Naofumi is their slave.
Naofumi is considerate of others to an extent, willing to share a room on a boat with other adventurers and preventing what could have resulted in these ordinary adventurers, who paid a hefty amount to travel to Cal Mira Archipelago, facing eviction from the boat.
Naofumi is also very observant. He dislikes being ripped off and does not tolerate people stealing from him. For example, his grudge against Malty noticeably grows when he realizes her ally has taken what is to be his new Shield and makes a point to defeat him personally. When merchants try to rip him off or if he sees bullies picking on Raphtalia, he sends literal monsters at them, since he can't attack due to only being able to wield a shield. He can be somewhat of a sadist in this sense, to the point Raphtalia tries to warn these bullies to run away.
He has a realistic approach to most things, as he sells the slave hunters to Siltvelt and uses the money he gets to buy back all of the people from Raphtalia's village, much to the horror of Eclair and Raphtalia for his unorthodox actions. Realizing that he can't hand over the bandits to the guards, he extorts 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 by holding a grudge and enjoying the misfortune of those he hates.
Naofumi, unlike some of the other heroes, is reasonable most of the time. He is convinced to stay in Melromarc after listening to the arguments of the queen and Fitoria for why he should stay even though he never received any funds from the crown until the end, even after the queen took charge since the nation was suffering from the Spirit Tortoise's rampage. Instead, he receives a territory at his request.
Despite having the most villainous attitude and having a slightly evil way of solving things, ironically, Naofumi is perhaps the most effective of the heroes at getting things done. He even corrects the problems that the other three heroes either start or make worse. He also manages to deal with the Spirit Tortoise, an act that requires him to cheer up allied troops, raise their morale, organize them, and effectively lead people whose pasts would undoubtedly put them at odds with him. Despite being portrayed as this unheroic and evil character, he still holds a basic set of morals, as he is willing to save even people who had scolded or otherwise wronged him.
When Naofumi became loved and adored by the public while the three other Heroes became hated by the same people that use to admire them, he decide to take them under his wing' showing how compassionate he is.
From an early age, animals have naturally been drawn towards him. He was well-liked by any animal he encountered and they would act friendlier towards him than most other people.
When he was a kid, he was offered a ride by a dog in his local area even though the dog had never once given a ride to anyone. During his time in elementary school, he was never once pecked by the chickens who were notoriously known by his classmates to peck.
At the age of twenty, he was a sophomore in college and had a passion for video games, light novels, anime, and other otaku-like activities. He would often put his hobbies in front of his actual studies, which caused his parents to believe he was a lost cause and focused all their attention on his younger brother by sending him to a famous prep-school in the hope to secure his future.
However, the pressure and the lack of freedom was too much for his younger brother. Worn out by the stress of studying and jealous of his older brother's freedom, he eventually turned into a troubled teen. He started dying his hair in different colors and even swore around the house.
Naofumi was painfully aware of the fact that he was the main reason why his younger brother turned into such a troublemaker. He took it upon himself to help mend his younger brother's relationship towards their family by introducing him to a dating simulator game. His younger brother was hesitant at first, but quickly got hooked and became an otaku himself.
Because his younger brother found a way to relieve his stress, he rededicated himself to his studies. Afterwards, he became the top of his class and even managed to get into a good high school.
One day, Naofumi went to the library to save money, where he found a book called The Record of the Four Holy Weapons. He immediately lost consciousness while reading it and found himself in another world.
- The name Naofumi means "esteem, furthermore, still, yet" (尚) (nao) and "sentence, writing" (文) (fumi).
- Naofumi's surname Iwatani means "rock, boulder" (岩) (iwa) and "valley" (谷) (tani).
- Naofumi was summoned to another world through a book called 'The Record of the Four Holy Weapons'.
- As the only hero to be their weapon's first choice, Naofumi is also the only hero among the Four Legendary Heroes who did not die prior to being summoned to Melromarc.
- Naofumi has an innate immunity to alcohol and motion sickness.
- Naofumi's favorite fruit is Rucolu Fruits, which are commonly used to make water barrels into alcohol. Additionally, his love for the fruit became so well-known, it's now used to confirm the Shield Hero's identity.
- Naofumi's birthday is October 29th which is actually a Japanese pun since the character for "10" looks like a spear and shield while "29" somewhat translates to meat shield or tank.
- Naofumi, Raphtalia and Filo are featured characters in the second season of the cross-dimensional anime series "Isekai Quartet."