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Shu Shirakawa

Shu is one of the oldest members of the Super Robot Wars Original Characters Club. First appearing in Super Robot Wars 2 on the NES in 1991, Shu has been tormenting his rival, Masaki Andoh, across multiple games and multiple timelines for over twenty years. Inititially, Shu seems to just be an associate of Divine Crusaders (DC) leader Dr. Bian Zoldark, albeit one with an extremely powerful mecha, the Granzon. However, as time passes and character storylines are expanded via sequels and sidestories, the player learns more about Shu's history with Masaki, and his role in other significant events in SRW's timelines.

Prior to the DC Uprising, Shu was a resident of the subterranean Kingdom of La-Gias. He designed the Granzon himself, fusing elements of La-Gias alchemy with Earth science and using designs for an engine that were decidedly extra-terrestrial in origin. The DC spends over two-thirds of their budget just on constructing this rather formidable machine. Shu is responsible for using the Granzon to murder Masaki's adoptive father, Zeoroot Zenozakis, which drives much of Masaki's side of the rivalry the two have. By the time the DC Uprising occurs, Masaki is already at Shu's throat whenever he appears. During this early part of the plot, it isn't clear what drives Shu's end of the rivalry, but, when Shu reveals the Neo Granzon, Shu demonstrates that he lacks one key thing that Masaki has always had: freedom.

During the event where Zeoroot met his end, Shu announced that he was aligned with the Cult of Volkruss, a group of people attempting to unseal and resurrect the god Shiva Volkruss. Shu's role is to harvest enough souls to fuel the resurrection, and many of his actions after could be seen as him fufilling this task. However, it is revealed that Shu is working for the Cult against his will, and he has been spinning a plan to both fufill his assigned task, and to eventually break free from Luozorl Zoran Roiel, the leader of the Volkruss cult. So, while it seems that Shu is an indiscriminate killer, he is attempting to direct his uncontrollable wrath to where it's needed, even if Masaki doesn't see it that way. Shu's attack on the Earth Federation's Antartic Base seems like a random attack, but it emerges later that the Earth Federation were preparing to surrender to another alien power. Shu walks off with some souls, fufilling his commanded role, but also helping the heroes in a roundabout way.

Due to Luozorl's control, Shu is also unable to kill himself to prevent his role in the Volkruss cult. When he powers up the Granzon, turning it into the extremely powerful Neo Granzon, he provides a simple test to the heroes: use the power they have gained over the course of the game(s) to defeat him, or fail, and let Shu destroy the Earth and complete the resurrection of Volkruss. Despite his grandiose proclamations, it seems that Shu wanted the heroes, and Masaki, to triumph over him and his creation, and to finally give him his freedom in death. By surpassing the Neo Granzon, Shu knows that the heroes have enough power to prevail when the real threats to the Earth arrive, and he dies with no regrets.

Luozorl isn't finished, however, and attempts to bring Shu back from the dead. While this does sort of work, Luozorl is unable to control Shu, and Shu devastates the Cult of Volkruss before escaping. With both his freedom and his life, Shu returns to assisting the heroes, although mostly doing so from the sidelines. However, during the invasion that he helped the heroes prepare themselves for, Shu joins them in repelling the Inspectors from Earth, burying the hatchet with Masaki at last. Although events in La-Gias threaten to reopen the wounds between the two of them, Masaki and Shu tidy up the Volkruss issue together, and become friends. — Jon Yearworth

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