Superheroes, light and dark, and outer space? Sounds good to me. At first, Shy, created by Bukimi Miki with translation by Ajani Oloye and lettering by Arbash Mughal, reminded me of all the superhero shows and films. You expect a lighthearted superhero drama. But there is also eerie imagery as people succumb to their darkest thoughts and moments. At the helm is a hero with her own insecurities, making Shy Volume 1 a great read with a message that people can rise above their self-doubt. 

Shy Volume 1 Shows Insecurity Is Universal

Consisting of six chapters, the first chapter in the Yen Press manga, “Because I’m Shy,” introduces Japan’s hero, Shy. The difference between Shy and the other heroes is clear within a couple of pages. While they are extroverts, comfortable in the spotlight, Shy fumbles. This is evident in her brief on-stage appearance. Because she, like her name, is an introvert through and through. The first chapter humanizes Shy, showing that despite her special abilities, she is young and human. 

Shy Volume 1 demonstrates anyone can have doubts. For Shy, though, that doubt increases because she is not as popular as the other heroes. On top of that, she is only fourteen years old, and her mistakes have a larger audience. So when a teen, Iko Koishikawa, suffers injuries during Shy’s rescue, people on social media turn on Shy. Riddled with guilt and doubt, Shy, as typical teen Teru Momijiyama, cannot transform using her heart-shift bracelets. Their powers come from their heart. The series handily makes a fantasy story relatable by referencing universal emotions.   

Lurking Global Threat

Shy Volume 1 cover art of Shy in her hero costume with mask.
Shy Volume 1 cover art.

Like all good series, a larger issue comes into play. Here, the dilemma arrives as a young boy, named Stigma. Determined to make people unleash what is in their hearts, he uses a ring to tap into the darkest part of his target. Your fears, guilt, and anger amplify, shattering your psyche and turning you into something out of a horror film. That is complete with blood dripping from your eye and limbs morphing into crystallized, clawed appendages. Shy faces her new friend, Iko Koishikawa, who is in this state. 

Now, strength of heart means different things for a lot of people. Shy has a caring nature but is also young, insecure, and sensitive. On the other hand, Stardust, Britain’s hero, exudes sophistication and ruthlessness. The heart-shift bracelets rely on the strength of the user’s heart, so Stardust, for all his cold demeanor, possesses a strong will. So when Unilord, the hero’s coordinator, recommends Shy fight Stardust to get stronger, it makes sense. Yet it was Shy’s sensitivity that saved Iko. 

Shy Volume 1 may bear similarities to other superhero series and films, but Shy’s character and the mix of lightness with darker elements is a unique and memorable blend. Plus, a hero that’s also a rock star sounds like a character in The Boys. They set up a down-the-line threat and immediate stakes with Shy’s impending battle with Stardust. Shy Volume 1 is a fantastical coming-of-age story with a sweet message to pay good deeds forward to shine a light a little brighter in the darkness. 

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