First Look: SHY

First Glance: SHY

Premise

Against an alien menace, Teru Momijiyama, often known as Shy, is a young costumed heroine tasked with representing Japan in a worldwide alliance during a time when superpowered humans have brought unparalleled peace and prosperity to the world. Regretfully, Teru experiences extreme social anxiety, as her name suggests, and would prefer not to put on the mask she is forced to wear.

Aqua’s verdict: FINE

The world of superhero media has witnessed an intriguing exchange of cultures, with manga like One Punch Man and My Hero Academia in Japan infusing the shounen genre with a healthy dose of colorful spandex, and comic books like Radiant Black and Ultramega bringing some tokusatsu flavor to the Western market. It seems that SHY is an additional manga that was inspired by this cross-pollination. Although the title character is the lone superhero in Japan, she seems more like she belongs in a Marvel comic than a Weekly Jump issue thanks to her vibrantly colored outfit, domino mask, and Superman-style power set.

SHY’s greatest asset is unquestionably the way Stan Lee’s legacy permeates every aspect of the story and atmosphere. Our protagonist, like many of the greatest capes, is a reluctant hero who is ultimately spurred to action by the realization that immense power comes with great responsibility and is hindered by a fatal fault. Teru’s role as Japan’s chosen savior in a one-hero-per-nation system that is obviously bigger than her makes her duty not only a personal decision, but a societal obligation. SHY even offers a distinctive, culturally defined variation on this tired cliché. SHY is definitely worth checking out if you prefer your superhumans to be more human than exceptional.

But I can’t help but feel that if the stories this program is honoring weren’t currently experiencing the richest victory lap in human history, it would be much simpler to recommend. Although the iconic Spider-Man origin story is old enough to qualify for a state pension by now, the story is still being told in comic books, movies, video games, and television shows starring characters like Miles Morales, Kamala Khan, and the adored Gwen Stacy from a different reality. When compared to the more distinctive identities, histories, personalities, and skill sets of these characters, Teru comes across as a very standard anime wallflower going through motions that, at this point, do call for a protagonist with a little more flair.

Therefore, SHY’s potential is found in its cosmos rather than its titular character. The idea of individual heroes representing the interests and ideals of entire nations does have merit, even though, thus far, that whole premise has given us little more than some jokes about Russians loving their vodka. A world at total peace may be a bit of a childish fantasy given the current political climate. I’d be curious to see if SHY is able to include the customs and values of other nations and cultures into their representative heroes, though, as Teru represents a very “Japanese” interpretation of the costumed superhero.

All in all, this is a very literal, but otherwise flawlessly cromulent, anime-fied version of the classic superhero story. The production is quite enjoyable, with director Masaomi Andou’s signature use of split-screens and slide-in panels—first seen in Scum’s Wish or Astra: Lost in Space—hammering home the classic comic book vibes and original artist Miki Bukimi’s incredibly lovable character designs. SHY’s wide appeal compensates for its lack of brilliance. This might not be such a horrible position to be in, though, in the anime scene where these kinds of shows tend to either get horribly undervalued or get praised beyond reason.

Iro’s verdict: Shy of Being Interesting

SHY appears to be content to recycle tired western superhero clichés (you can’t save everyone, people will turn against you at any time, etc.) with little effort to introduce anything fresh, save for emphasizing the story of its socially awkward, thigh-high-wearing, clearly 14-year-old anime girl protagonist. Not because something is horrible (yet), I just couldn’t find anything to cling to. I guess that would have aired last season.

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