Gia's List: The 6 Most Painfully Shy Teens in Anime

by Gia Manry,

Shy characters in anime are sometimes comedic fodder. Sometimes they're fan-favorite moe characters, and sometimes they're completely psychotic. Regardless of how they're used it sometimes seems that every anime has at least one ostensibly shy character...but some are more problematic in their shyness than others. Here are six of those.

6. Meru Otonashi (Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei) Like all of the characters in Koji Kumeta and studio SHAFT's vaguely surreal comedy, Meru Otonashi has a unique "quirk." The high school student is so completely incapable of speaking out loud to another person, male or female, that she communicates entirely by text message. Actually, she communicates entirely by rude, mean-spirited text messages that make other characters in the show cry. Maybe this is a metaphor for how people can get when communicating via indirect means (hello, flame wars!), but the real mystery is how she gets everyone else's cell phone numbers so easily and why they don't consider blocking her text messages in the first place. Then again, if they did, she wouldn't be able to communicate with anyone...

5. Momoko Touyoko (Saki) Have you ever known someone so quiet and unassuming that you sometimes forgot that they were there? That's basically what happens to the incredibly silent Momoko Touyoko, who also happens to have some of the weirdest bangs in anime (straight across, plus two thin locks that run all the way down her face). Momoko turns her demure nature into a strength when playing mahjong, however: she has so little presence that she "disappears" and her opponents forget she's even there, fighting each other until they suddenly realize that she's been quietly building up a major win. Her nickname is "Stealth Momo," but unfortunately for her, disappearing doesn't work on higher-level opponents who focus on other players' presence, and without the skill she's only a good player— not a great one.

4. Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion) Where to start with Shinji? Sure, he has excuses galore for his inability to reach others: he witnessed his mother's death, then had no parental presence, then he has to pilot a giant robot and try to save humanity from giant, insanely powerful alien beings...but excuses or no, Shinji is awkward and not very outgoing. Even his creator, Hideaki Anno, is said to have called Shinji a boy who "shrinks from human contact." Whether he's dealing with the similarly socially inept Rei or the more boisterous Misato or Asuka, Shinji's interactions are generally characterized by confusion and blundering. To be completely fair, he comes out of his shell the most when arguing with Asuka, who does everything she can to trip him up in this fashion.

3 Yuki Nagato (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya) Warning: Spoilers Ahead! In The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Yuki Nagato is a quiet observer who turns out to be an alien robot sent to keep an eye out on the titular Haruhi, to determine the extent of her powers and allow Yuki's superiors to decide what, if anything, to do about the oblivious deity. However, in the film The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (and the book it's based on), Yuki creates a version of the world in which Haruhi attends a different high school, separating her from series protagonist Kyon, and all the other characters are normal people rather than time travelers and espers. Turns out she just had a bit of a crush on Kyon. And you thought that love letter you wrote in fourth grade was embarrassing!

2. Latvia (Hetalia - Axis Powers) There are a handful of shy, nervous characters in Hetalia, which is no surprise since so many countries have to be shy and nervous around boisterous, army-wielding nations like America and Germany. However, few reach the levels of introversion that Latvia lives with: always blushing, often tearing up slightly at the eyes, and almost always shaking. Latvia also has remarkable abilities to get things done, but only when ordered to do so, and let's face it, the bullying big nations are often too busy to remember poor little Latvia. In one of the original Hetalia strips, Russia shakes Latvia to make him stop shivering, and Latvia dies (he gets better). Latvia's best relationship may be with the young nation Sealand, for whom Latvia attempts to serve as mentor, except that his lack of confidence keeps getting in the way.

1. Nina Einstein (Code Geass) Einstein descendent? Maybe. Psycho shy girl? Definitely. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead!) Nina Einstein is an awkward nerd who attends school with Lelouch and co. However, she's not a sweet shy girl: she's kind of a racist due to her terror of "Elevens" (native Japanese people). She even has trouble trusting uber-nice guy Suzaku when he first appears. Things really start to go bad for Nina after she develops a huge crush on Princess Euphemia, who (under an accidental Geass command) begins shooting up all the Elevens she can find and is killed by Zero. Nina goes nuts and attempts to avenge Euphemia by installing a mech with a prototype nuclear reactor, which fortunately fails to go off. In the show's second season, she works for the Britannian army and develops the weapon F.L.E.I.J.A., which kills over 35 million people. Talk about overkill.

The new poll: In Gintama, the main cast of characters work for an odd-jobs company called Yorozuya. Which member is your favorite? Vote here and check back next time for the results!

The previous poll: Last week, we kept things simple: we wanted to know whether you prefer sci-fi or fantasy (if you really have to choose). Fantasy won with a solid but not overwhelming majority of 57%, with sci-fi taking 43%. (Interestingly, the spring 2012 anime season had a fantasy to sci-fi ratio of about 2:1.)

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