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It’s April 15th and for all of our US readers out there, you know what that means–it’s Tax Day! In the spirit of the season, we decided to turn our editorial eye to one of our most financially savvy anime protagonists of the current season–Naofumi Iwatani, the titular Shield Hero in the smash hit isekai series The Rising of the Shield Hero. Naofumi establishes himself early on as a natural merchant, turning low level monster grinding into money, which he in turn invests in ways that diversify his ever increasing cash flows. So what does this have to do with Tax Day? Well, I took it upon myself to answer the question that no one was asking–after all of his trading is said and done, how much money does Naofumi owe in taxes?



(Author’s note: Please note that I am neither an expert on the Shield Hero light novels, nor any sort of economics professional, so take this article with a healthy pile of salt. It is intended only as a fun thought experiment and is not meant as a substitute for actual financial advice!)


The Economy of Melromarc (A Note on Methodology)



So how much does the Shield Hero owe in taxes? Before we get into the nitty gritty, we’ve got to establish a few ground rules for how we’re going to go forward. First off, I’ll be basing this on what I’ve seen in the anime only–no light novel or manga-specific information. Second, in terms of taxes, the country of Melromarc is a pretty close analogue to Medieval Europe, but honestly it’s funnier trying to shoehorn Naofumi’s income and property into contemporary United States tax codes, so I’m just going to do that. That said, we still need to establish the following:


1. A working exchange rate between United States dollars and the currency used in the show.

2. Have a working model to calculate how much money Naofumi likely makes annually.

3. Any possible deductions (this is important, as Naofumi would absolutely wring every last copper piece out of the tax system that he could).


Converting Melromarc Money to USD



In Melromarc, there is a uniform standard of currency comprised of three types of coins. In order of ascending value, they are copper pieces, silver pieces, and gold pieces. In episode 2, Naofumi pays 9 coppers for the cheapest adult meal set for himself and a children’s meal for Raphtalia. Fast food makes for a convenient analogue here. According to this 2015 article from Business Insider, the average per person cost for food at McDonald’s is $4.72. Assuming that kids meals tend to run about ⅔ the cost of an adult meal, we can go forward assuming that 9 silvers can roughly convert to $8. Extrapolating this way from another instance (a stay at an inn costing one silver per night) we can assume (based on this statista graph) that one silver is about $120. Gold is a bit tricky, considering the only value attached to them in the show (that I could remember) had to do with things that didn’t have easy analogues in the real world like holy water and class changes. There was one instance where a dragon was said to be worth 20 gold. Since we know that dragons are the fancier mode of transportation in Melromarc, and luxury cars in 2019 generally run around $80k – $100k, let’s just assume that 20 gold nets around $90k. So no we know:


1 copper = $.089


1 silver = $120


1 gold = $4,500


Naofumi’s Annual Income



As of episode 14, here are all of Naofumi’s revenue streams that I can remember with some (very assumption heavy) rates:


  • Daily monster grinding–5-7 transactions per week at an avg of 2-5 silvers per transaction

    • 6 avg transactions per week x 3.5 avg silvers per transaction = 21 silvers per week

    • 21 silvers x 52 weeks = 1,092 silvers per year

  • Transportation for people–assuming 5 rides per week, 1 silver per ride

    • 5 silvers per week

    • 5 silvers x 52 weeks = 260 silvers per year

  • Selling self-crafted enchanted gemstones–I have no sense for how much he makes on this, but let’s be conservative and assume he makes around 20 silver per month on this venture

    • 20 silver x 12 months = 240 silvers per year

  • Selling medicine–10 silvers per person administered

    • Assuming he could make two medicine selling trips per quarter, planning around his other business ventures and heroic duties…

    • Assuming each trip Naofumi makes, he heals around 5 sick members of a village…

      • 5 medicine administrations x 10 silvers = 50 silvers per trip

      • 50 silvers x 8 trips per year = 400 silvers per year

  • Occasional heroic deeds–500 silver per deed (based on rate for taking care of the decaying dragon)

    • Assuming one heroic deed per quarter

    • 4 heroic deeds per year x 500 silver = 2,000 silvers per year

  • All together, 3,992 silvers annually

    • 3,992 silvers x 120 (exchange rate) equals…


a gross annual income of USD $479,040.


Naofumi’s Tax Bracket



The Shield Hero makes a pretty penny, huh? At this level of income, as a head of household, Naofumi’s tax rate is 35%, putting his taxes owed at $167,664. But Naofumi is smarter than that. It’s time for…


Deductions



A tax deduction is a dollar amount the IRS allows you to subtract from your gross income, making your taxable income lower. As a financially savvy guy with deep connections to a network of seasoned merchants, Naofumi absolutely knows how to play the tax game. Going through this Nerdwallet article of common tax breaks, here are some that the Shield Hero can take advantage of:


  • Head of household standard deduction–$18,000

  • American Opportunity Tax Credit (for money spent on college tuition, books, etc.–Naofumi is technically a college student!)–$2,500

  • Lifetime Learning Credit–$2,000

  • Child and dependant care tax credit (accounting for Filo and Raphtalia)–$9,000

  • Child tax credit (accounting for Filo)–$2,000

  • Adoption credit (accounting for Raphtalia and Filo)–$13,840

  • Charitable donations deduction

    • Assuming Naofumi donates about ⅕ of his income to charitable causes–$95,808

  • Medical expenses deduction (the one gold he spent for holy water to heal Raphtalia)–$4,500

  • Work related expenses (equipment for himself, Raphtalia, and Filo probably runs a few gold in a year, so let’s saaaaay…)–$20,000

  • Giving us a total deduction of $177,648

At long last, the end of this winding road has opened up to us. This brings the Shield Hero’s taxable income down to $301,392, which brings his owed taxes down to a grand total of…


USD $105,487.20


Conclusion



I just spent a ludicrous amount of effort figuring out the economic situation of a fictional character in a fictional world for your benefit, and I only ask two things in return:


  1. Go watch The Rising of the Shield Hero–it’s a cut above most isekai, and has a lot to like about it if you like a blend of character driven action and systemic worldbuilding, and…

  2. DO. YOUR. TAXES.


Thanks everyone, and I’ll see you next time!



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Cayla Coats is the Editor-in-Chief of Crunchyroll News. You can find her on Twitter here.



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