The Rising of the Shield Hero, Volume 2 starts off shortly after Volume 1 ended. For people who watched the anime, Volume 2 covers episodes 5 through 8. Despite coming out of his shell a bit and newfound trust in Raphtalia after the end of the previous book, Naofumi is still in a dark place. But this is still the beginning phase of his journey, as Naofumi and his allies rise into becoming true heroes. While Naofumi and Raphtalia and still a key focus here, they pick up a third party member in this book: Filo.
Filo is a creature called a filolial, a large, intelligent bird creature that is totally definitely not a chocobo. Basically, filolials are this magical world’s equivalent of horses. But they can also be trained to fight monsters and whatnot. Having a large creature that can also pull a wagon quickly puts Naofumi on the next track of his journey: becoming a trading merchant. With the kingdom still ostracizing him, the group journeys around the countryside fighting monsters for experience and selling medicines, food, and other needed goods to the poorer areas who see little trade. But Naofumi is not the only one having adventures.
Over the course of this book, Naofumi’s group hears rumors about the other three heroes. And all three of them are very much still treating this new world like a video game. But Naofumi realizes that this world is no game and that in the real world, actions have consequences. The group’s journey soon develops a pattern of cleaning up the other heroes’ messes. The actions of the other heroes inadvertently lead to Naofumi becoming stronger. While the other heroes “know what they are doing” from their video game knowledge, Naofumi continues to learn from scratch and pick up on things the other heroes remain unaware of.
Is Volume 2 of Rising of the Shield Hero particularly exciting? Not really. This is a story full of side quests. These are the mini-missions you have to do in games to get the experience/loot to tackle the big story. But while the main plot crawls along here, the character development continues to expand. Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo all grow as people from these experiences. Both individually and in their relationships together as a team. Even characters who are not always directly involved, like the other three heroes, get some development via the actions Naofumi knows they have taken. Rising of the Shield Hero Volume 2 is very much a stepping stone, but it seems to be moving the series in the right direction.