Just some thoughts I've been having on how shields have been treated throughout the Suikoden series.
In Suikoden 1, all shields that you equip are invisible on the characters' sprites, just like other pieces of armour you equip them with.
In Suikoden 2, Hannah is unique for being the only sprite to appear holding a shield. She has the honor of being the first suikoden character to carry a visible shield.
In Suikoden 3, all shield users have shields in combat (I think) I haven't played 3 as much as the other games, so I'm afraid I can't remember their names. Perhaps one of you guys can remind me?
In Suikoden 4, all shields have gone invisible again.
In Suikoden Tactics, shields are now visible on character polygons, including Kenneth, Millay, Dario, Nalleo and the Red Mercenary.
In Suikoden 5, I think the only character to appear holding a shield in combat was Galleon. In major battles, Infantry leaders appear with their original weapons traded for a basic sword and shield.
As a side note, I do like seeing shields on the character's person. I can understand not changing the characters' clothing items because that would be a lot of graphical work, and it would also ruin the character's individuality. Part of the appeal of Suikoden characters is their style which relates to their career or the country they are from, and having them all look the same because you've equipped them with 6 copies of the same suit of armour will make them look generic.
But seeing a shield in the character's other hand gives me a better idea of his or her fighting style, and makes them look a bit more impressive.
I've always been particularly fond of Hannah's design because she always has that shield propped on her shoulder, and it gives me an idea of what her life must be like as a traveling swordswoman carrying that necessary burden around to defend herself, a bit like characters who appear with backpacks and satchels for carrying around the tools of their trade.