Mangaka: Bukimi Miki (@bukimi397)
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Translation: Ajani Oloye
Lettering: Arbash Mughal
WHAT IS IT?
The world’s shyest superhero must find the strength within to fight off an otherworldly invasion in this spectacularly super new high school dramedy series.
Think Overwatch meets Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
In an age of superpowered defenders, the world is finally at peace thanks to the valiant efforts of a brave hero that represents each country. Japan’s representative, a young girl known as Shy, finds herself wishing that literally anyone else would have taken up the mantle. The mere thought of slipping into spandex sends her into an embarrassed frenzy, speaking in front of crowds makes her nauseous, and Teru Momijiyama - AKA Shy - just wants to get through her high school years without being noticed. Try as she might, she just can't run away from her responsibilities, and the mounting pressure is utterly ruining her life.
After a mishap involving an injured civilian that Shy was unable to save, she begins to spiral and doubt her worth as a hero. Though her fellow heroes attempt to help bring her out of her depression, the young woman she failed to protect shows up as an exchange student and only heightens Teru’s guilt and lack of self-esteem. When a powerful entity from outer space hones in on the darkness swelling inside of the populace, Shy and her fellow superheroes must learn to combat this terrifying new threat that feeds off of negativity and anger. Can Teru overcome her shyness and find the courage to stand up against the villains that threaten to destroy her beloved Japan? Or will her inability to stand tall be the downfall of everything she knows and loves?
Bukimi Miki’s concept is brilliant despite its tried and true elements. Looking at what happens when a normal, introverted teenager is given powers and thrust into a "chosen one" narrative isn’t an original concept, but the way the manga focuses on Teru’s human side and the weight of unwanted responsibility is touching and powerful.
The artwork feels right at home amongst classic magical-girl titles like Cardcaptors and Sailor Moon, there’s a light and airy design to the characters, as well as a minimal amount of harsh, dark shading that is only present with the otherworldly entities arrive. The superhero lean to the style, mixed with the slightly girlish and almost pure feeling aesthetics, really makes this a fun read.
Unsurprisingly, Yen Press’ team did an amazing job with the lettering and translations. The SFX translation notes are well placed and don’t deter from the pacing, the action-packed panels are filled with bold sound effects that flow with the original Japanese ones, and the fonts all fit perfectly inside of their bubbles.
The mixture of crisp sci-fi and dark academia-style creatures really makes Shy stand out against other modern superhero titles. The subversion of expectations half-way through the story by introducing a sense of magic in a world seemingly run by technology is captivating and original. With a touch of classical magical-girl shoujo*, the striking blend of genres makes this a stand-out debut.
I like that Bukimi Miki actually switched up the character designs for the non-Japanese heroes. They have unique features and outfit choices that stand out against the traditional manga-style of Teru and her friends, without feeling out of place or looking odd.
This first volume is paced well when it comes to introducing the heroes. We are only introduced to a handful of them, which allows the reader to become familiar with their personalities and powers in a meaningful way. It also allows Shy's story to remain the focus.
Shy is a clever concept for a main character. She’s young, insecure, and struggles to find a balance between a role she didn’t ask for and the problems that come alongside high school. Her journey is going to be an immensely emotional one judging by this first volume and I cannot wait to see how she comes into her own down the road. She’s a hero you desperately want to root for.
One thing I thoroughly enjoyed about Shy’s first steps into accepting her role as a hero is that she uses her introversion, observational skills, and desire to help those who need her to save the day. She doesn’t rely on brute strength or gadgets, but her utterly human feelings and intuitions.
The manga is really funny and horribly relatable for introverts who would much rather stay at home and watch TV than do anything life asks of them. It’s self-aware and and will having you laughing at how true some of the things Teru complains about can be.
Bukimi Miki states that the power bracelets that let the heroes transform were heavily inspired by a childhood love of Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which was partially adapted into the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, so you know that this series is going to be a blast.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Violence, excessive blood and some mild body horror, tense situations, strong language, heavy themes/topics of depression, anxiety, and coming of age drama.
The series does suffer from some country-based cliches that are severely outdated and a bit harmful. I.e., Russia’s superhero is named “Spirit” and is chronically drunk and carries around a flask of vodka everywhere. It doesn’t feel as if it’s meant to intentionally target/attack certain groups in a hateful manner, but it does fall into some tired tropes that could have been easily avoided.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
In a market overrun with superhero stories, finding fresh new takes can be a difficult task. Shy hones in on what made titles like Overwatch, My Hero Academia, and Big Hero 6 so popular. Young, spunky, culturally diverse heroes with unique abilities and meaningful backstories breathe a breath of fresh air into a world packed full of invincible and tired icons, and Shy fits into that niche genre perfectly. A powerful narrative about heart, accepting who you are, and fighting for what you believe in, this new series is both fun and fast-paced and a great read for anyone desperate for a shake-up in the world of supers.
The mixture of dark magic and tangible sci-fi elements make the massive universe of Shy an interesting one, pulling the heroes away from the typically tendril-filled alien-esque villains we’ve come to expect and bringing the grotesque mutations of a twisted heart to the forefront. Using the darkness of humanity as a catalyst to create horrifying monsters, the upcoming war that the heroes must face is shaping up to be a truly interesting and tense one. Shy is a hero for the modern day reader and this debut volume of her journey is one you won’t want to miss.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Yen Press characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Yen Press or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
*shoujo is a genre of manga known for its cute characters and romance lean. The magical-girl genre tends to fall into shoujo.