Under the Spotlight: Misaka Shiori

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After reading this post on doubleblader’s blog, I suddenly felt like writing about the anime girls I’ve taken a fancy to. The original plan called for a single post with brief descriptions of each character, but I soon threw that one out the window; the section on Nagato alone would have required a post of its own. New plan: write a separate entry for each character.

And so the Under the Spotlight series was born.

Today the spotlight falls on my favourite sad girl in snow: Misaka Shiori from Kanon.

WARNING: Massive spoilers ahead for the Shiori arc of Kanon.

Since you’ve probably already seen Kanon – and since Wikipedia and/or Anime News Network (plus a gazillion anime blogs on the ‘net) are there to help you out if you haven’t – I won’t bother with a detailed character introduction. Let’s jump right into it, then: Why do I like Shiori?

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Master is pleased.

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Shiori exacerbates global warming with a 500-gigawatt smile.

For starters, Shiori is like a puppy. You just want to reach out and give her a nice pat on the head. It’s all part of the sweet vulnerability that makes men swoon – but we’ll save that discussion for later.

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By George! The lady can cook!

Gotta love a girl who knows her way around the kitchen. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, a single Shiori bentou must be the culinary equivalent of an N700 Series Shinkansen. What’s more, this particular boxed lunch has some of my favourites, including asparagus rolled in thinly sliced beef (always best stuffed with cheese) and yummy-looking slices of tamago. (Incidentally, tamago in its various forms – tamago sushi, tamago maki, tamago temaki, etc. – is one of the few kinds of sushi I can eat, since I don’t consume seafood of any kind.)

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Shiori: *cute whiny noises*

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Yuuichi: “What about Tabasco?”

Shiori: “The enemy of humanity!”

I foresee a problem here. The poor girl won’t touch Tabasco with a barge pole. I, on the other hand, drizzle it over practically everything. I do hope this doesn’t count as an “irreconcilable difference”. (Not that this would be a problem here – after all, divorce is illegal under Philippine law. ^_^)

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Tee-hee . . .

Don’t underestimate our frail little angel – she has a mischievous streak the size of Hokkaido. Wringing ice cream out of Yuuichi is mere child’s play; I wonder what else Shiori can talk him into . . .

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Shiori: “I don’t like people who say such things!”

Probably far and away the longest Kanon catchphrase. Not quite as cute as “Uguu”, “Auu,” or even “Fight-o!” but I like it anyway. And speaking of catchphrases . . .

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I need your help . . .

Every anime girl worth remembering has at least one personality trait, life goal, painful memory and/or catchphrase that either endears her to the audience or turns her into an object of derision. Nagato Yuki has her impenetrable silence (I suppose “…” would be her catchphrase); Tsukimiya Ayu has her “uguu”, her tragic past, and her psychotic obsession with taiyaki.

So what does Misaka Shiori have? Well, for one thing, she has her “condition” – whatever that might be. Thus far no one’s been able to put a name to it, at least not with any certainty; after all, what kind of disease acts in such a way that the victim shows few serious symptoms and the date of death can be predicted with nearly on-the-dot accuracy? Theories range from some kind of congenital illness to full-blown AIDS. (I once came across an interesting discussion thread about this very issue – they were even throwing around some complex medical terms – but I can’t seem to find it again. If someone knows where it is, do send me a link!)

In any case, it’s not the illness itself that I find attractive. (Honestly, is there anyone in the world who thinks plague carriers are hot?) What counts is how the condition shaped Shiori’s character. An attractive young girl, dying of an incurable disease, who wants nothing more than to spend her precious last days together with a sister who refuses to even acknowledge her existence, and indeed wishes that she had never been born in the first place. A girl whose desperation once nearly drove her to suicide, and who has come to accept the impossibility of miracles, yet finds the strength to live out her last days in dignity from a chance encounter with a chivalrous young man and his taiyaki-fattened pet friend.

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Ooh, shiny . . .

In the face of this unfolding tragedy, and under the assumption that one can break through the fourth wall, what would your reaction be?

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What should I do? To whom can I turn?

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Here, take my hand . . .

This is the origin of my love for Shiori. Her outward strength belies a vulnerability, a helplessness that awakens in the viewer a desire to protect. Casting aside the fact that nothing can be done to stop her inexorable march to oblivion, we feel the need to reach out and offer a helping hand, or just a shouder to cry upon – or, when all else fails, the assurance of a friendly presence to help her through her final hours.

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The new day brings with it a resurgence of hope, don’t you think?

I think Yuuichi said it best. Miracles are miracles because they can happen. Way better than that “miracles happen when you believe” rubbish that Disney can’t seem to stop itself from spouting.

And at the end of the day, when the burden has eased and there’s nothing left to do but go on, she can let it all out.

Enter shoulder-to-cry-upon.

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There, there. You’re safe in my arms. Nothing can harm you now.

And so ends the first issue of Under the Spotlight. I’ll leave you with my favourite image of Shiori – one that, in my view, shows both her weakness and her strength of will.

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Ave atque vale.

One Response

  1. […] Shiori worked for an ekiben company, she’d win the gold medal hands […]

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