At the beginning of The Rising of the Shield Hero, the thought of other nations never crossed the minds of the summoned heroes. The country of Melromarc made strides to keep the heroes exclusive to their territory out of selfishness. Once the other kingdoms were revealed, one would think that Naofumi and his group would jump ship to a more hospitable place, but they stayed.
Despite the various trials and difficulties that Naofumi, Raphtalia, Filo and Melty faced, they remained resolute in their mission to resolve issues in Melromarc. Let’s jump into why and how staying in Melromarc helped Naofumi grow as a character and fully cement his role as the Shield Hero.
Shield Hero's Video Game Mentality
Although Melromarc was a nation with valid problematic issues and people who could perish if not saved during the Waves of Calamity, the Legendary Heroes were summoned in a video game-like fashion. They were immediately given a mission, support individuals, strategies to level up and money. Throughout the series, it is clear that the Heroes would level up by accomplishing specific tasks or training. This showed in their stats meters and when their weapons upgrades.
While these tasks may not have been Naofumi’s priority, they existed in his mind enough for him to attempt to level himself and Raphtalia up via the Church of the Three Heroes’ Dragon Hourglass. Sticking to the video game mentality, one could believe that Naofumi would have to finish all of the quests within one area to move on or level up significantly.
The Church's Corruption
The Church’s role in The Rising of the Shield Hero shed light onto itself when their conspiracy led to the fight in Episodes 18-20. Their plot could wipe out all of the Heroes and their support groups in a catastrophic fashion and would have if it wasn’t for Naofumi and his team’s growth and skills. With an institution that is willfully left unchecked, it could only mean ignorantly motivated disaster to the rest of the nation if they continued. Despite his initial misgivings, Naofumi -- and the rest of the Heroes -- found it essential to stay to change the Church’s level of influence as it became undeniable they were a threat.
Naofumi Had Political Backing
Although the King and Princess Malty objected to Naofumi and his choices on a very public level, Naofumi was not without supporters that wielded significant political power. The Queen of Melromarc looked after the Shield Hero in the shadows and backed him when she had a substantial case to present to the public. It would have been helpful if she had revealed herself and her intentions sooner, but her work led to significant structural change in the nation and gave Naofumi and his group room to grow without any hand-holding. This gave the collective a chance to change citizens' hearts on their own and gain supporters without outside influence.
Fitoria -- the Filolial Queen -- also backed the Shield Hero group as she found that Filo would be the next queen. While more existential crisis-oriented compared to the societal structure-based, this political backing did allow Filo to train and learn more about herself. In addition, Fitoria entrusted a larger mission to the Shield Hero’s own by making it known that the Heroes were supposed to be summoned to other nations and that their cooperation was necessary for the fate of the world. While it wasn’t made clear to Naofumi himself, her memory served to show the audience that his predecessor raised Fitoria. Gaining Fitoria’s trust was instrumental to everything that followed as she is a being of immense power invested in the group and their development.
The Discrimination Against Demi-Humans
Raphtalia’s tragic lead-up to meeting Naofumi was something that she processed throughout the first season. It led to them discovering and later freeing demi-humans that were being enslaved and treated horrifically. The liberating moment was one of significant growth on all levels for Raphtalia. Naofumi understood the importance of not only saving demi-humans but bettering their lives and prioritized them before leaving to go elsewhere. Raphtalia’s individual growth could only help the group’s collective progress.
As easy as it sounds to leave Melromarc, it wasn’t a simple decision. That decision had the potential to harm thousands of people, many of whom aided, received aid or were patrons of the Shield Hero and his group. Thankfully, they stayed until the nation was structurally changed and could withstand some level of threat on their own. Naofumi and his team's collective growth was essential, and now that they've settled things in Melromarc, they can continue their adventure beyond its borders.