SHY is a superhero anime that lives up to its namesake. When I saw that it featured a superhero who had social anxiety, I thought it was truly an interesting premise. Now that the show has concluded (for now, a second season is on the way), did it deliver upon my expectations?
Teru was chosen to be Japan’s hero. Most of the major countries have at least one person who is chosen to be their hero and while all of them have their own little quirks, Teru’s is that she’s shy, therefore, her superhero name is Shy. Pretty straightforward.
Right from the get-go, we dive into Teru’s life as a superhero and how one of the first missions we see doesn’t go according to plan. She loses her heart and can’t bring herself to save anyone else. Although, she quickly overcomes that even though she still has some self-doubts. The person she nearly failed to save, Koishikawa, ends up stating that she never blamed Shy; however, things get interesting when our main antagonist, a boy named Stigma, uses her heart to turn her into a demon-like version of herself. After Shy defeats her and succeeds in saving her this time around, she starts to slowly build confidence in herself, albeit a little at a time.
We learn that there is a group of supervillains, led by Stigma, called Amalareiks. He dreams of a world only for children where no adults exist. He has the power to manifest people’s hearts into reality but seems to only focus on those whose hearts are impure or filled with darkness.
This leads us into the second half of the show where it switches gears and focuses on Russia’s hero, Pepesha. Two members of Amalareiks… Tzveta and Kfufu… launch an attack that is more personal to Pepesha than meets the eye. When the battle is over, Stigma does his best supervillain monologue about beginning the next phase of his plan right before we get the To Be Continued ending card which prompts us to look forward to a second season of the show.
Teru, being the titular character of the show, goes through a slow-burn journey of overcoming her shyness and developing confidence in herself. As you would expect, she’s very meek and timid and oftentimes, the show will play into that for some light-hearted comedy; however, outside of this quality and her journey, there really isn’t much to her as a main character. She does go through some early development where she discovers that she can control fire and it becomes symbolic as it represents a fire and passion burning in her heart… a passion to help others even though she doesn’t realize that she’s helping herself along the way.
I feel that they started off building Teru well. Failing to properly save Koishikawa and having her fall into despair was not the beginning I was expecting but the beginning I felt that we all deserved. Putting main characters into situations where they need to clear obstacles, whether mental or physical, to press forward is always a sure-fire way to begin a character’s development and start their journey to reach their end goal; however, it’s sad to say that I felt that Teru overcame that rather quickly and then was almost forgotten about when the show switched gears to focus on Pepesha.
Granted, Teru did receive some indirect development from Pepesha’s journey. She began to learn to have more confidence in herself and, as a result, she was the one who became a proverbial cheerleader that gave Pepesha the hope she did to face Tzveta in a really personal battle. The mere fact that she was able to do that spoke volumes about her development, even if it seemed as if she took a back seat for the second half of the show. I felt this was a bit detrimental to her as a character as with the first season only having 12 episodes, it felt as if her development was rushed just for the sake of stalling it… but while stalling it, continue it slightly. I know that doesn’t make much sense but that’s the best way I could describe it. Because as such, she suffered a bit but I still found her lovable.
Koishikawa is just a normal, average girl with a brother who really loves Shy as a superhero. They were at the amusement park when an accident happened. She shows how much she loves her brother as she tells Shy to save him first before her. That decision almost cost her her life. Thankfully, she pulled through and still thanked Shy for everything she did. Since then, the two of them became friends… especially after she finds out Shy’s true identity.
Right now, she doesn’t have much of a role to play in the grand scheme of things but since she learned Shy’s identity, she gets special access from time to time to their secret headquarters in space. Lucky her. I have a feeling that she may play a greater role down the line but right now, her role as a support character is just to be there for Teru and be that friend that she’s been missing in her life for the longest time.
She’s Russia’s hero and… surprise, surprise… she loves to drink vodka… because why not? This means that she’s very rambunctious, loud, oftentimes obnoxious, and drunk 99.9% of the time. She’s always visiting Teru and giving her a verbal spank on the rear to try and get her to liven up…. At least, that’s the way it is for the first have of the show. When the second half begins, things get pretty dark and personal with her.
We visit her past of how she grew up poor alongside her mother. Her mother, Lenya, would do anything for her as long as it meant that she was happy. This included not eating any of the scraps of food that they barely scraped up week after week. One day, she wanted to fulfill her promise to Pepesha and buy her a cake but she didn’t have the money. The shop owner gives her one when she reads the room and can tell exactly what kind of situation, she’s in. Unfortunately, she neglected a bum on the street right before buying the cake and the bum ends up getting the wrong idea. One attack of jealousy and rage later and Pepesha no longer has a mother.
This caused her to live at an orphanage until she left and eventually became Russia’a hero. It showed a different side of her than what we were used to seeing and it even tugged at your heartstrings at times. While I have no problem with Pepesha’s backstory at all, I do have a problem with where it ended up… at the very end of the first season, as I stated above, I felt that it robbed Teru of the spotlight, causing a huge missed opportunity when it came to telling her story.
To be honest… even with the heart-breaking backstory, I still didn’t care for Pepesha as a character. I’m not into drunk characters nor am I into loud/obnoxious ones either. Plus, for some reason, her seiyuu, Mamiko Noto, changed the way she voiced the character to fit the scene (as they are normally supposed to) but when she did and gave Pepesha a voice that was soft, almost whispery, it felt as if the energy was drained right out of the character. Yes, I know that’s intended because of the type of story and situation she was in but, just the way it sounded felt almost unnecessary. It’s hard for me to put it into words but it’s like… I still felt that the same emotion could have been conveyed had the voice had more energy put into it. You can still be a bit louder in your words and still convey sadness, regret, etc. For some reason, the energy seemed to be gone in places where it shouldn’t have been.
As for the rest of the cast, there were many but they only stayed around for a cup of coffee before disappearing. Characters like Stardust, America’s hero, who only served as a sparring partner for Teru to try and help her awaken her powers (by being a gigantic dick, might I add), or characters like Pilse who was nothing more than the person who showed up when someone needed healing only to act like a tsundere the entire time, served the roles they were meant to serve. While they did play a bit of a role in Teru’s development, I often wondered what their purpose was outside of expanding the world of the heroes.
China’s hero Li Ming Ming was also quickly forgotten about. He has a habit of falling asleep. When Teru is summoned to Russia, we meet him and then he stays behind to deal with an accident when Tzevta attacks, and… well… that’s the last we see of him. To be honest, until I went through the character list to see who to write about, I kind of forgot he existed. Ouch.
Lastly, there’s Tzevta and Kfufu… two members of Amalareiks who serve as our “Kaiju of the Week” bad guys. We learn a lot about Tzevta but I’ll refrain from saying anything since her backstory plays a massive role in the story; however, Kfufu I found annoying. She’s very childlike and would probably be the anime version of Batman’s Joker if Japan had its way with the DC license. I didn’t really find her all that funny as I typically despise characters like her but she did serve to be the yin to Tzevta’s yang. While Tzveta was emotionless and cold (pun intended), Kfufu was the comedic relief. They mixed like oil and water and in that sense, they got the job done… even if I didn’t really care for Kfufu at all.
I’m probably forgetting some but there are just so many small-bit characters that it was rather hard to keep track of them. As I said, they stayed around for a cup of coffee and served whatever purpose they were meant to serve. The main focus on this show was Teru, Pepesha, Tzevka, and Stigma… whom I left out because I already stated what he was about in the story section and there really wasn’t much more to add to that.
Art, Animation, and Sound
I felt that 8-bit did a tremendous job with the art and animation for this show. I loved the character designs, the animation was fluid, the usage of CG for some of the powers looked seamless and natural, and the overall effects looked like they were better than what you should see out of a TV anime but not quite as good as an anime movie. It hit a nice sweet spot right in the middle between the two which meant that this show had a bigger-than-average budget and the level of quality we received here showed that.
The only thing that really felt out of place was CG used for Teru’s shrimp-like companion N-Villio. That’s the only thing that stuck out like a sore thumb which made me question the decision to have that only aspect of the show to appear different. Maybe there’s some hidden meaning behind it or, perhaps, it was just a bad decision by the director. Either way, that was the only thing art and animation-wise that looked out of place. 8-bit hit it out of the park in every other aspect!
As for the soundtrack, the OP and ED are pretty decent. It’s what you would expect from a modern-day upbeat superhero alt-rock song. The show’s OST was also pretty decent. The music really helped drive home some of the more emotional moments while it kicked into another gear when it came to the fight scenes. However, the area it suffered from was memorability. The only song I could recall was the small jingle that played when the show returned from its commercial break. That stuck in my head but nothing else truly did. Still, the music fulfilled its role of driving emotions when and where it was needed, even if nothing really stood out enough to make you hum it on the way to work or school the next day.
I think the biggest thing that SHY suffered from was its pacing. Again, I felt Pepesha’s story would have worked really well in the second season. I would have even gone so far as to make her the focus and even open up the second season with her story. Not dedicating the full first season to Teru really made her development feel rushed.
How she started by being filled with self-doubt was incredible and I feel that she could have used more of that. A couple of other incidents in which she failed to be a proper hero could have driven her further into darkness. Maybe we could have teased Stigma taking an interest in her. Then, she could have played the same role in Pepesha’s story in season two and that’s where she could have realized that she was more useful as a hero than she had originally thought. That could have pulled her out of her darkness and set her on a path to confronting Stigma in a possible third season.
I know there is a source that this is adapted from which I haven’t read but as a writer myself who is a fan of slow-burn stories, I just felt that Teru’s character suffocated from rushing through her depression and jumping right into Pepesha’s story. To me, it gave the show a super strong start only to fizzle out in the end… and by fizzle out, I meant for Teru.
Again, I loved Pepesha’s story… even if I didn’t care for the character. It was still a great story but I just felt as if it was the wrong time to tell it.
At least with the second season, the shift is being placed back on Stigma. In my opinion, rather than use the world’s heroes as fodder from one-off appearances in the first season, I would have saved them for the second season once Stigma puts his plans into action. Make his plans affect the entirety of the world so we get introduced to these heroes one by one.
I know. I know.
This isn’t my story and I’m backseat writing it. But, I’m only doing that because, to me, there were just a lot of missed opportunities to take a good story and tell it in a better way. This means that with Shy, I had to knock some points off. It started off, for me, as a 4.5 but, by the end, it only ended up slightly better than average which is why I’m regrettably giving this a 2.75.
It delivered my expectations at the start but just couldn’t maintain them through to the end.
SHY is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
SHY starts off strong by showing a socially anxious superhero battle her personal demons; however, the show places Teru, the main character, on the back burner in favor of focusing on a support/secondary main character for its second half which interrupts Teru’s development and creates a missed opportunity to truly grow her into something a bit more significant.
- Great concept for a superhero anime
- Great art and animation that’s above standard TV quality
- The stories told were engaging and fantastic
- While the stories were great, their placement threw the pacing of the show off.
- Secondary characters came and went only to fill a single role before becoming forgotten
- Overall Rating