In the middle of the 21st century, the world was on the brink of World War III. But superheroes from across the globe appeared and helped bring an era of peace. With the crisis averted, the Heroes returned to their home countries where they now help with domestic matters. This is the story about the young Japanese heroine named "Shy"...
An “ultimate” attack on your heart clad in pretty, SHY is another great comic series in the current pleiad of superhero-inspired manga. It distinguishes itself by having a female shounen main heroine, a mostly female cast with GL undertones and the focus beng strongly on the emotional growth, all of this drawn splendidly.
SHY is, well, shy. She is a young Japanese superhero, saving the day in ridiculous clothes, dealing with self-promotion and public opinion, while being painfully anxious of anything public and living as a still unexperienced teen (in her everyday life she is a megane scrawny girl in a seifuku allright, for those for
whom it’s important). We see how she deals with gaining confidence and extracting new powers out of her especially passionate and pure heart. She manages her social life, gaining new friends, mostly girls, who are pictured as if they slightly crush on her. And she saves Earth bit by bit together with other characters.
SHY comes with a bit of Hetalia packed in – each nation has their own hero, with some traces of national stereotypes in design. One of the first we encounter is an alcoholic (sigh) Russian hot milf and a rock star hero from the UK. SHY herself seems to be a commentary on Japanese people and their specific struggle with self-image and social integration. The main conflict is not about politics though, thankfully, it’s about hearts of people and the way we struggle with grief, more or less the usual shounen fare of finding your inner spark, accepting and protecting – which isn’t a bad cause no matter how often it’s used, I must say.
This divergence to the emotional side of the matter lets SHY build something reasonably original on the frame of the typical battle shounen, even aside from the rarer type of cast and the atypical flavor of fanservice. Shy (heroine) cries (she cries a lot) and Russian milf moms, and everyone has soup together while discussing saving the world. This manga manages to make the nakama relationships valuable and palpable. This manga focuses on the warmer aspect of the integration of heroes in the society, as of now.
But then it also turns to action, and violence looks all the more baffling in the contrast to the usual warmth, the characters feel more vulnerable. Vulnerability under warmth is probably the key feeling SHY gives, with danger all the more imminent the better the characters’ relationships get. I must say that in the course of the chapters I have read the suspense has grown tremendously. I won't be surprised if the mood will become tragic by the end.
This manga offers a very potent emotional mixture. And it’s wrapped in fantastic art. The art is just all around good – expressive, confident, impactful, highly plastic. It’s character-focused, slightly more detailed than an average shounen, less detailed than a photorealistic seinen, of course, but capable of a great range of expression and perfectly readable during action scenes. It’s enjoyable to consume something drawn so well.
Even colored pages are great. On one Shy is crouched in the rain with city lights shining behind her through falling water in the evening darkness. She’s miserable as she often is, in contrast to the landscape hinted on behind her. Yet she’s in her costume and at the scene, so it’s most likely she’s saving someone. She’s also somewhat sexualized with her thighs being naked and painted lovingly.
This manga is all about these moments. That’s why it probably won’t gain popularity on the scale of the BnHA or the plot complexity of Keyman – it’s structured around feelings. At the moment it’s hard to say whether it will become more action-centered (fights will continue to happen tho) or if it will get to actual shoujo-ai relationships later. But it sure has its own mood and style, that, personally, have been able to capture me. And it feels like a work of quality which it’s totally worth to make an acquaintance with. With superheroes being a common topic of interest and cute anime girls being a frequent passion, I think reading SHY can be suggested to all.