Waifu Wednesday: Shizuka Masou

This week’s waifu is once again drawn from the extensive cast of the Rance series, and is a character who has been part of the brutish hero’s saga almost since the very beginning.

First appearing as an antagonist in Rance II: The Rebellious Maidens, Shizuka has been a fixture in the series alongside her best friend Maria Custard ever since.

She’s an important figure to Rance’s complete narrative arc as well as one of the most consistently popular heroines in the series — evidently a clear case of “treat ’em mean, keep ’em keen” in full effect so far as the audience is concerned!

Fanart by coupytwo (Pixiv)

Shizuka cuts a striking figure with her defiant posture, stereotypical but stylish mage’s outfit and long, flowing green hair. The fact she rarely smiles and, more often than not is looking rather angry about something — particularly when Rance is around, for understandable reasons — make her rather formidable-looking but nonetheless appealing, particularly for those who enjoy a bit of a walk on the wild side so far as their waifus are concerned.

She’s a fascinating character, too, with a history almost as long as Rance’s in terms of both in-world lore and her appearances in the series’ games.

In Rance II, Shizuka, Maria and two other girls named Eleanor and Mill were all disciples to a mage master whom they ultimately killed after discovering the secret behind the magic rings he had given them: he was attempting to suck the magic power out of them. Unfortunately, they were subsequently driven mad by the power of the rings, becoming increasingly dangerous to themselves and the people around them as they sought to make use of forbidden magic with their new-found mystical strength.

Pixel art by niino (Pixiv)

Not only that, but their former master had found a way to stick around even after death as a ghost, and after Rance managed to free the four girls from the curse of the rings, the phantom managed to absorb the power of the artifacts for himself, becoming immensely powerful in the process. He did not, however, count on Rance and the four girls finally being able to defeat him once and for all, his plan ultimately ending in failure, the girls finally free of his legacy.

The events of Rance II are not the only hardship Shizuka has had to endure in her life. Most notably, her father’s death in an unfair duel left a lasting impact on her, and indeed is what acted as the primary catalyst for her to seek out ultimate power in Rance II — she hoped to turn back time and change the past — as well as her subsequent desire for vengeance against the one who tore her family apart, something which is explored further in Rance VI’s narrative.

As a result of these hardships and the mental fortitude she has built up as a result, Shizuka initially appears not to be an easy person to get along with. She eschews the “dere” side of the tsundere trope pretty much completely, largely coming across as cold and spiky, especially when Rance is around, because she really does not get along with Rance. And Rance finds it very difficult to take “no” for an answer, so the two frequently clash.

Fanart by shunin (original source unknown, Danbooru)

An exception to her iciness is when she is around Maria, who has been her constant companion since the events of Rance II. Although Maria subsequently abandoned her study of magic in favour of a love for science and technology, the two complement one another well, and when they’re together we get the opportunity to see a side of Shizuka that she doesn’t often show to others. Shizuka is not ashamed of this, however, even when Rance barges in on her private time with her friends; she takes ownership of the situations, stands up for herself and is fiercely protective of the things she believes are important.

Shizuka’s seeming coldness could easily make her into an unlikeable character, but she shows enough moments of “weakness” and chinks in her armour to make her intriguing and appealing. Her apparent irritability primarily stems from her unwillingness to suffer fools gladly, and she has a fine line in scathing putdowns, particularly where Rance is concerned. She’s appealing precisely because she’s one of the few characters that doesn’t easily succumb to Rance’s questionable charms — in stark contrast to Maria, who is very much in love with him despite her knowing how idiotic it is to pursue those particular feelings — and the fact she tends to show a degree of warmth towards her friends through her actions rather than words gives her a pleasing amount of depth.

She’s also one of the series’ most intelligent, mature and talented characters, with a level 2 skill in magic and a very high level cap compared to many of her peers. She also has the ability to cast one of the most devastating skills in the setting: the White Destruction Beam. In Rance VI, it takes several attempts for her to “retrain” herself in the use of this ability after having apparently not used it for a while — she was last seen using it in Rance III. Her attempts are not helped by Rance’s constant interruptions and irritating behaviour, but she eventually overcomes the challenge, becoming one of that game’s most devastating damage dealers in the process.

Original artist unknown (source)

Shizuka is a determined, passionate individual who doesn’t like to give up. She hates losing and having to retreat or retire, which perhaps explains why she doesn’t give in to Rance easily; she sees her friction with him as a challenge to overcome, which only becomes more important to her after she is revealed to supposedly be one of his fated soulmates alongside several other girls including Sill. That said, she does somewhat soften towards him as time goes on, though still keeps her guard up; Rance is still an asshole, after all, even though he does occasionally pull things off that one might call “heroic”.

Shizuka remains a fixture in the series even into its most recent installments, and it’s likely she’ll be standing alongside Rance right up until his decisive battles in Rance X.  Whether or not she’ll actually like him by then remains to be seen at the time of writing, however…

More about Rance VI

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