How do you view your heroes? Do you see them as being kind? As being strong and reliable? Are they everything that you expect them to be, or is the truth behind their figurative masks a startling one? It’s true that heroes come in varying degrees, but sometimes the standards we set for them within ourselves cloud our actual perception of them. We see them as being everything that we need, but when we really sit down to look at them we’re often disappointed or set aback to see who they are beyond just being heroes.
Before I sat down to watch Agito I had my own conception of what the character of Tsugami Shouichi would be like. What I found was something completely unexpected, but still I grew towards the character and became accustomed to him. Then once again I sat down in my reflection on the character in order to write this article and once again I found myself taken aback by who he turned out to really be. Whether it’s what we wanted him to be or not, this is simply who Shouichi is.
-Warning: There are things past this point that are spoilers. You’ve been warned, so don’t come complaining if something gets spoiled for you.-
So often does it seem like I sit down to write about a character with a personality that is either absolute and unchanging or so varied that the only explanation is that they are simply what would be described as a normal human being. Shouichi on the other hand has an absolute personality in most circumstances, but is more varied than other characters of the same type when it comes to certain situations. His personality is a misleading one, making him the kind of person that you think you’re able to know and sum up easily, but often times the more you try to define Shouichi or assume anything about him the more you’ll find yourself surprised by him.
Are you confused? Well, in a way so am I, so I’ll start with the surface personality that Shouichi displays openly before moving into the slightly more convoluted depths of his overall character. On the surface Shouichi is a very cheerful individual, often sporting a rather friendly disposition towards just about any person he meets. This cheerfulness becomes more or less what defines him to most other characters as his positive outlook on things is often a somewhat subtle inspiration to others.
This inspirational aspect of his personality is both by accident and on purpose. Shouichi is usually willing to help people in any way he can. That being said he also carries a somewhat aloof personality that causes him to come off as being fairly goofy which in turn makes him a bit difficult to take seriously. In addition to this he has a tendency of messing up his words without noticing his mistake which causes any of his advice to come off as being odd or misleading. Unfortunately most of this adds up to Shouichi coming off as unintelligent despite his helpful nature.
Still, it’s because of this aloof personality that Shouichi is laid back enough to view various situations from a unique point of view which often inadvertently helps those around him. Most characters can be said to lead either through example or through advice. Shouichi on the other hand does both without the other party really noticing and only accomplishes this because of his image of being goofy and confusing. Despite that it can’t really be said that all of his influence on others is really intentional or even successful. Shouichi undoubtly means to do good but never comes off as someone who knows absolutely how to help people.
That said Shouichi’s natural kindness is always what causes him to help others, almost blindly at times. While he is incredibly trusting in others often times it comes off as just absentmindedness. It’s not often that Shouichi sees anything bad within a person and usually attempts to befriend whomever he meets. That said he does appear too trustworthy at times and has shown no qualms about putting himself in harms way for another person, even for those trying to arrest or kill him.
The underlying aspects of Shouichi’s personality that I mentioned earlier aren’t so much through development within the series as they are due to specific situations. Feelings such as shock, depression, and even at a more basic level sadness aren’t developed traits within a person. Rather, they are traits that come about naturally do to events that take place within our lives. The very same is true for Shouichi as he quite clearly succumbs to states of shock and even outrage within the series. These aspects don’t take away from Shouichi’s core personality they are merely untapped facets of it that have come about through great hardship.
While the states that Shouichi succumbs to aren’t necessarily permanent alterations to who he is it is precisely that he is that kind of person that allows him to overcome such states of being. Thanks to his previously mentioned kind and aloof nature Shouichi is capable of allowing himself to not be emerged within his negative emotions for too long. While this does not mean that those emotions and feeling are gone it does mean that throughout even his greater hardships Shouichi is able to remain the person he has always been. This is what I meant when I said that he is varied while staying also absolute.
An interesting aspect to Shouichi’s character is the correlation between who he is and what he is. While I obviously do not make it a habit of discussing the powers of the characters I analyze it goes without saying that Shouichi is already quite a special case. What Shouichi is is of course Agito, a being that stand beyond what a human is. The major idea behind Agito is that it harbors the power to continuously grow and develop. No matter what the obstacle Agito will grow to overcome it.
Tying into my previous description of Shouichi we begin to see that just as Agito is capable of overcoming physical restraints Shouichi as a person is capable of overcoming mental restraints. As stated before Shouichi is not a person that allows a situation to weigh too heavily on him. Often times when faced with a significant change in life or outlook he is shown to have the mental stability to hold himself together. While obviously this is not an instantaneous ability and like most of us he needs time to bear his burdens it is no less clear that Shouichi shows a high capability and focus towards the preservation of his own mental state. Just as he can physically overcome each goal, he mentally capable of overcoming his darkest moments.
Like I stated abundantly during the main portion of my article Shouichi is quite influential over other people. While the outcome is not always as expected, or at times not even attempted, he still manages to inspire a bit of the best in others. Numerous times over the course of the series both Hikawa as well as Hojo strived to outdo Shouichi in some of the most mundane acts. Yet, after their numerous failures it always remained clear that not only did they respect Shouichi they had learned from him as well, whether they knew it or not.
Probably the biggest aspect amongst Shouichi’s relationships is the reoccurring tendencies of those around him to take him for granted. I don’t mean that they take advantage of him so much as they don’t often think of him in any other capacity than a goofy nice guy. Hikawa in particular suspected almost every other person he had met of being Agito before he even remotely thought of Shouichi despite the answer being more or less given to him numerous times. Shouichi’s overall nature comes off as being one of unrelenting innocence. He is someone people do not suspect of certain actions and someone most people often over look.
That all said Shouichi still manages to keep a strong relationship with his housemates, most notably Mana. This is probably his most casual set of relationships as it never really progresses beyond that of a family dynamic. Still, Shouichi cares for them a great deal and often displays a sense of responsibility and even a bit of debt towards them. It’s clear that the family loves him a great deal and are grateful towards him, but their overall relationship never goes beyond being supportive of him.
The relations brought about by his other Riders come across a fair bit differently than those of his family. In the case of Hikawa, Shouichi is often ironically seen as being the wiser of the two despite Hikawa’s views towards him as being fairly simple. The two clearly see each other as friends regardless of this and usually harbor a weird sense of teacher/student relationship with Hikawa’s undying need to overcome Shouichi in mundane activities if only to prove his own reliability.
In terms of Ryo the relationship is a lot less pronounced. Unlike Hikawa, Ryo shows no need for guidance from Shouichi and instead the relation usually boils down to a simple mutual respect. While the two do come into frequent misunderstanding it is often resolved without any negative emotions being harbored making this one of Shouichi’s easiest and most mutual relationships.
I started off mentioning how Shouichi never really fit into my expectations for the character and really that in and of itself almost perfectly defines just exactly the kind of person he is. Unexpected. I don’t mean that he’s random or outrageous, rather the expectations a person has for Shouichi, be it in show or out, are never quite the end result for him as a character. Shouichi, like the show itself, takes time to really truly understand. It may take a while but once you finally have the full picture in front of you things may really be just a little different than what you expected. Be it for better or for worse.
In the end Shouichi isn’t really an easily explained character. While he certainly comes off as being simple and unchanging the truth is that he, just as any other person, has different depths to himself that may not always be present. While he may go through harsh events within his life and even lose his memories the core to who Shouichi is never really changes. I’m sure by now most of you are familiar with the term “Shouichi is just Shouichi”. As someone who tries his best to present to you all of what a character is, seen or unseen, this term comes off as being lazy and almost disrespectful. That said I fully understand why it’s a term that is used in this case. Shouichi never stops being the person he’s always been. Yes, he goes through changes, we all do, but when all is said and done the things that make him who he is as a person will never fade.