Of all the character types we meet in anime, we here at this little blog feel a special affinity for the shy, withdrawn and quiet. They often feel the most like us, except maybe a bit cooler. Okay, so some are a lot cooler. But they all inspire us to step out of our comfort zones, to be brave and take a chance. And more than that, they remind us that our sensitive, reserved natures are nothing to be ashamed of, imparting their gifts of being caring, thoughtful, imaginative dreamers who are always there to lend an ear or a shoulder. We’ve rounded up these timid stars, the kuudere and the dandere, to present our personal top five.
5. Hitagi Senjougahara – Monogatari
Senjougara’s strange affliction by a god in the form of a heavy stone crab leaves her near light enough to float away, taking 40kg of her normal weight. Her “incurable disease” gives her leave from school activities, and in a way she’s glad of the distance, but only in the sense of someone yearning to have somebody see through her outward wariness. In truth, she can be intolerably honest, one to look you straight in the eye. But such a bold sincerity and presence can tremble your foundations, making you review your own reticence and inspiring a change.
4. Mero Furuya – Sankarea
Her brother has a zombie obsession slipping into the necrophilic, and she prefers to keep her distance from his perversion and gloomy antics. But in the Furuya family, they seem to feel a magnetic pull to the supernatural, and she and her friends Ichie and Miko become suspicious that their teacher’s among the undead. In her quiet state that seems like permanent meditation, this frail girl with taupe-turquoise tresses appears to exist between the visible and invisible worlds. You never see her ability to look beyond the veil, but you get the feeling it’s there all the same.
3. Celty Sturluson – Durarara!!
Celty could be the odd one out here. Maybe she wouldn’t be so quiet if she could only claim back her stolen head. But something in her movements and legend says otherwise. A faery from Irish folklore, who once rode with her dismembered visage under-arm, in search of her lost possession she transforms her shadow steed into a black motorbike. The people she allies herself with are on the fringes of society; her lover is a nutty, extremely emotionally intelligent doctor with a taste for sado-masochism. Her existence an irresistible haze and we all want to cross her path, but we recognise that she’ll only appear as a darkness in peripheral vision.
2. Rei Ayanami – Evangelion
When we first meet Rei she doesn’t speak to anyone for an extended time, save for Gendo behind the reinforced glass. With her pensive distance and sprawling, silent aura of intelligence, we want to know more about her, which makes it all the more moving to watch her open up. Born in the bowels of NERV headquarters, according to the rumours, her every move seems based on her conviction that she’s expendable to all and everything she knows. But as she becomes closer to Shinji, through whom we first see her smile and cry, we welcome her into our hearts too. Because, despite the little we could see through her cold façade, we were ready to from the start.
1. Mio Akiyama – K-ON!
Timid little Mio, though she’ll never realise it, is an inspiration for everyone who finds themselves overcome by shyness. Scared of being the centre of attention, she’s perfect as a bassist for the light music club band, slipping under the radar beneath the drums, guitar and vocals as a warm and resolute vein of melody. Just as essential to the group, she always gets up on stage with her friends in spite of her anxieties, and the gigs they give together are all an introvert needs to hear to be inspired. Though some parts seem lesser, they all support one another, and without Mio’s courage and caring the band would fall apart.