Volume 4 of Rising of the Shield Hero kicks off right where Volume 3 ended. Naofumi and his party are still on the run, framed for crimes they did not commit. For anime watchers, Volume 4’s events were covered by episodes 14 – 21 of the show. Note that this is a higher episode count than the previous volumes. Volumes 1 & 2 each got four episodes while Volume 3 received five. Volume 4 received eight, as many episodes as the first two books combined. So, the events of Volume 4 are more complete in the anime, with fewer small details being skipped over.
This volume more or less wraps up the first major story arc of the series. A lot of issues that began way back in Volume 1 start getting wrapped up here and open the way for new storylines. There is also quite a bit of exhibition as Naofumi learns more about the stakes of fighting the Waves. And about the forces that have been working against him for quite some time. For how dark and dreary of a journey it has been for Naofumi, he starts to see the light at the end of the tunnel here.
Naofumi is not alone in character development. Raphtalia, Filo, and even Melty all develop substantially throughout the story as well. Both in fighting ability and as people. Raphtalia’s story focuses on her past while Filo’s focuses on her future, giving the two another parallel as teammates. The worldbuilding also continues in this volume as readers start to learn more about countries outside Melromarc. The inner workings of Melromarc’s culture and government are further explored as well.
There is another major factor present here: changes to the story. While the ending of Volume 4 reflects episode 21 of the anime, several major details are changed. The events ultimately play out to the same conclusion, but the way things happen is fairly different. It felt like the changes in the anime were present to make Naofumi feel more heroic to the audience. It also felt a bit odd that the anime kept going for a few more episodes during season 1 since this is a really good stopping point in the story.
There are some great feel-good moments in this volume and it is the point where Naofumi really, truly starts to shine as a hero. It will be interesting to see what the next story arc brings as more Waves approach.