- "Anyway, when you mess up, at least make it interesting. Later, losers."
- — Shoka to the Wicked Twisters
Shoka Sakurane (桜音 紫陽花 Sakurane Shōka) is a Reaper in NEO: The World Ends with You who belongs to the Shinjuku Reapers. She is a low-ranking Reaper whose job is helping new Players become accustomed to the rules of the Reapers' Game and signing them up for the Reaper Networking Service (RNS).
Shoka is a young woman with pale skin. She has long straight black hair that reaches her waist and gray droopy eyes. She appears to have some darkness around her eyes, giving her a tired look.
Shoka wears an oversized, hooded jacket that appears to be themed after Mr. Mew, complete with cat ears and a tail. Unlike the original Mr. Mew, however, this version has a golden hooped earring on the left ear. The jacket is held closed with a red belt with a silver buckle cinched around her waist. The hoodie is a signature piece from Gatto Nero, a relatively new brand that has recently taken Shibuya by storm.
Beneath her jacket, she wears a gray plaid sailor dress with a black bow on her chest, hemmed with ruffled eyelet lace. Her jacket sleeves end in white cuffs. She also wears white crew socks with pink and black stripes and black, hightop sneakers. Shoka also wears a necklace and red lipstick.
Shoka is introduced as a rude, blunt and bored young woman who is extremely snarky and sardonic. She can be very condescending towards those she disagrees with, such as Rindo and Fret, to the point where she is arguably a bully. She quickly says that she expected Rindo and Fret to get "slaughtered" as soon as they entered the game. She also tells the duo point blank about them being dead and in the afterlife. Other, lesser instances of her bluntness is her calling their initial team name stupid and dubbing the duo as losers. She seems to enjoy teasing the players and likes getting a rise out of people and treats Rindo as if he were a helpless baby, calling him "Rindykins", asking if the missions are too tough for him, and always departing with a "Later, losers."
At one point, having had enough of her negative attitude, Rindo tells Shoka to shut up and get lost, causing her to wander away after saying he's no fun when he's mad. It is hinted that Shoka is not used to people valuing her opinions; at one point, she tells Rindo that he may have luck with his objective at Shibuya Hikarie. Shoka is astonished when Rindo actually takes her advice and she begins to berate him for doing what she suggested, causing him to call her out on what would even satisfy at her at this point and if she would prefer to be ignored entirely instead.
Shoka is less than enthused with her job of monitoring the Players and views it as one would view any other boring job, not caring about climbing up the Reaper corporate hierarchy as it just means more work. She is quick to leave once her shift is done, even if that means leaving new players in the lurch without proper explanation for the game (it is possible she did this to Nagi Usui hence her confusion). Having grown bored of the Reapers' Game in its current state, she not-so-secretly hopes someone will come along and shake things up. She shows considerable annoyance toward Players who are slow to learn the rules, such as when she calls Rindo and Fret "dummies" and "bozos" when they were unaware of the UG. Despite this, she does also provide some helpful information such as informing them of the need to come in first to escape the game and explaining the differences between the Realground and Underground. She even helps more directly while a Reaper. This is usually done in secret or through her Swallow account.
Shoka is an avid fan of Gatto Nero, enough for the Reaper who tasked them with dressing up with the brand from head to toe to instantly regret it, her saying that the task itself is a 'piece of cake' immediately after it is given out. Her smartphone case is themed after Mr. Mew. She describes herself as being directionless until finding Gatto Nero upon arriving in Shibuya.
Prior to this time, Shoka was rather uncaring about life in general, and rarely made her own decisions, instead going along with whatever happened. She claims that she didn't care whether she was erased or not when she first played the game, and she also became a Reaper in large part because she simply saw no reason not to. At first, Shibuya made her uncomfortable because it forced her to make decisions and define herself among the people of the city, but once she found Gatto Nero, she became more enthused with creating her own style and defining herself on her own terms, eventually bringing her to love the city. The fact that she did not care about returning to the RG also greatly suggests her human life was quite lonely and that she never received much love or appreciation when she alive.
Shoka's brash and uncaring exterior hides her true feelings, to a certain extent. While she did genuinely enjoy being a Reaper, she also ends up becoming disillusioned with it when things go too far, putting Shibuya and the Wicked Twisters in jeopardy. Shoka becomes distressed at this, and ultimately chooses to side with the Twisters during week two in order to help save both them and the city she has grown to love.
Being fired from the Reapers and her FanGO accounts being lost causes her to re-evaluate her life priorities, and her smug attitude begins to dissipate once she experiences vulnerability when she is left to fend for herself against a Noise and is almost erased. Rindo's sympathy for Shoka, asking if she has anywhere to go and if she wants to join their team, transforms her personality as she forms friendships with Rindo, Fret, Beat and Nagi, and decides that she doesn't want to lose them to Shiba's plans. She cares deeply for the team, in particular with Rindo, with whom she played FanGo for three years, and who she eventually becomes friends with in real life. She also has strong friendships with many of the Shinjuku Reapers such as Ayano, who she considers a big sister, and even Shiba and Susukichi, though she seems to not want to admit it.
About a year prior to The World Ends with You, Shoka was a 16 year old girl who died in Shinjuku. She managed to win her Reapers' Game, but felt apathetic towards returning to life and did not care if she was erased. She became a Reaper, wishing to continue to use the powers she had as a Player. She formed a strong connection to all of the Shinjuku Reapers, especially towards Ayano Kamachi who taught Shoka her Reaperly duties, and Ayano even named her iguana after Shoka. Although Shoka found amusement from being a Reaper, she eventually grew bored of the job. Shoka did not care about climbing up the Reaper hierarchy, preferring her more leisurely role on the streets.
A year after she became a Reaper (three years prior to NEO), Shinjuku went through an Inversion. Shoka relocated in Shibuya with the rest of her Reapers. Shoka did not really mind the transition, even preferring Shibuya over Shinjuku, although Ayano took it much harder, especially because Ayano had longer relationships with her friends and acquaintances.
Around this time, Shoka began playing the game FantasyGO, and met Rindo, who was around 12 years old at time, through her account "Swallow", although Rindo never learned who his friend really was in person. Shoka would give him advice and they have an online friendship of three years.
In the prologue, Shoka is shown to text Rindo as Swallow to share catches in FantasyGo that she thinks that he'll find interesting. She states that she is in the Scramble Crossing and Rindo and Fret make their way there in hopes to potentially meet Swallow. It is then that the two are entered into the Reapers' Game. Shoka, who was still in the Scramble Crossing, is the one to register them both. Neither realize that she is Swallow.
Shoka serves as an initial guide to Rindo and Fret, explaining the game to the two and connecting them to the Reaper Networking Service. She shows up several times during the initial days of the game to both observe the duo and help them by providing information on the game. She also appears to be planning to make the game more exciting in conjunction with Shiba, Ayano, and Kubo.
Rindo consistently messages her throughout the first week, unaware she is Swallow. She replies often, but does not reveal who she is or her affiliations to Rindo. She does still aid Rindo with puzzles when he asks her to. Throughout the week, Rindo begins to catch on that Swallow is a part of the Reapers' Game as she is the only person that he can still contact while in the Underground.
On the fourth day of the second week, Shoka chooses to lie to Rindo and tell him that she is playing the Game. She doesn't tell him what team she's on. Shoka then starts indirectly aiding the Wicked Twisters, most notably on Day 5, where she makes the clues the Players need to find very obvious. Due to the aid she gives the team, she becomes a target during Day 6, where Motoi Anazawa confronts and attempts to fight her, however the Wicked Twisters are able to, through a series of Replays, arrive before the fight starts, where Motoi reveals he took credit for Shoka's help, and then reported her in his attempt to become a Reaper.
On Day 7, Shoka is fired from the Reapers and is demoted to a Player, causing her to fend for herself. This causes her Swallow account to be suspended so she can no longer see Rindo's messages. She gets into a fight with Noise and is rescued by Rindo and his team. Afterward, she is offered a spot on the team, to which she is shocked by, but agrees and joins them. After the Wicked Twisters, Variabeauties, and Purehearts all work together to take down the Ruinbringers, Shiba mentions that Shoka originally defected to spy on the Wicked Twisters to learn about Rindo's Replay ability, and gives her an offer to rejoin the Reapers. Shoka declines, deciding that she won't allow the Shinjuku Reapers to destroy Shibuya, which saddens Ayano and Shiba.
When Ayano goes missing and is infected by Plague Noise on the second day, Shoka is quick to call the party to help her, and possibly convince her of leaving the Reapers. However, Ayano is too infected to be saved, a fact that Shoka cannot accept, leading to her asking Nagi to Dive into Ayano's mind, eventually getting overpowered by the Noise inside. Rindo uses Replay to go back in time to numerous points in the day to convince Shoka that fighting Ayano may be their only option, which she eventually accepts, and helps in defeating Ayano's Noise form.
On Day 5, Shoka has to fight a Noise pretending to be Ayano, she is able to without much hesitation when she learns it isn't the real Ayano, however Nagi suggests she play her favorite game, Elegant Strategy if she starts feeling too depressed.
During Day 6, she has to fight another one of her old friends, Susukichi, as that is the only way he'll tell the Twisters where Shiba is. Susukichi leads them to the Shibuya River, under the Shibuya Stream, where the team is trapped, as Susukichi wishes to spare them in case Shibuya was Inverted, as the stream had been spared during Shinjuku's erasure, despite its source being in Shinjuku. Susukichi fails and Rindo uses Replay to avoid the trap, confronting Susukichi. Shoka is angry and Susukichi for not telling her what he was planning to do, and sad when he finally fades away. However, she gains the resolve to confront Shiba.
After defeating Shiba in the first iteration Day 7, Shoka, along with the rest of the city besides Rindo, is erased. Her fate is also the same in the second iteration of the final day, but before she is erased, she reveals that she was Rindo's online friend Swallow.
In the third and final iteration of the final day, Shoka is asked by Kaie if she wishes for her account back, at the cost of rejoining the Reapers, she is grateful for the offer, but declines. Shoka works with Hishima and Shiba to deal with Noise while Operation: Awakening is occurring. Once the operation is complete, Shoka and the team fight the Noise created by the leftover Dissonance, Phoenix Cantus.
Once Phoenix Cantus is defeated and the game is over, Shoka reveals that she is going to be erased, as is fate for all those who are demoted from being Reapers according to the Shinjuku Reapers' rules, however Shibuya's Composer, Joshua decides to allow her to return to the RG, but decides to hide her from Rindo. Weeks later, the two finally meet up again by chance, Shoka angry that Rindo ignored her FanGO friend request she sent with her new account days before, complaining she's back at level 1. After Rindo accepts her friend request, she comments that she and Rindo are officially friends.
Unknown to him, Shoka is Rindo's online friend Swallow. The two had never met in real life until Rindo came to the UG, at which time they met and developed a rather antagonistic relationship. Initially, Shoka would mock Rindo, though she would also give him legitimate advice when possible. This extra help eventually resulted in her being kicked out of the Reapers and ultimately aligning herself with the Twisters, leading Rindo and the other Twisters to reconsider her prior actions and improve the relationship between them. Although he was upset when he found out Shoka had given the other Reapers information about the Twisters, Rindo became relieved when Shoka refused to go back to them, and was happy to have her on the team for real.
After this, the two are allies, and eventually become good friends. It is possible that Shoka may also have a crush on Rindo, based on her frequently blushing around him. Once reunited in the RG, they play FanGo together again, with Shoka commenting that the two are real friends now that Rindo has accepted her friend request.
Ayano was the one who cared for Shoka and helped her when she first joined the Reapers. Shoka considers Ayano like a big sister to her, and Ayano cares deeply for Shoka as well, calling her things like "darling", and even taking on Noise in an attempt to bring Shoka back to the Reapers. She also pleaded with Shiba to allow Shoka a second chance, despite this potentially jeopardizing her own standing in the Reaper hierarchy. Shoka was deeply upset at the prospect of having to fight Ayano, and was saddened in the wake of her erasure.
Nagi and Shoka become friends after Shoka joins the Wicked Twisters. Nagi is one of few people that Shoka is generally polite to following their team up. Shoka tends to use more respectful language with her and sometimes address Nagi as "sis". Nagi tries to cheer Shoka up and comfort her after Ayano's erasure, and suggests she should try playing EleStra sometime. Their amicable relationship may be due in part to Nagi's attempts to help Ayano.
Shoka's psychic ability is Telewarp, a skill many Reapers use to travel across Shibuya. In gameplay, the player has to locate telewarping points prompted by yellow arrows before being able to use it to reach areas that are not accessible by freeroaming.
There are five threads that give bonuses when worn exclusively by Shoka.
- "Is it time to eat yet?" (Nagi: "A just question!") (0% fullness)
- "Time to eat." (placing order)
- ”Here…you finish it.” (eating disliked food)
- "Tastes pretty good to me." (eating liked food)
- "Low-key, I kinda love this." (eating loved food)
- "Are you kidding? More new Players? And here I thought I was done for the day."
- "You even managed to avoid coming in dead last. Believe me, I'm just as shocked as you are. I was sure a couple of noobs like you would get slaughtered in seconds."
- "You're tougher than you look. Like, suspiciously so."
- "Uh, no - but your team name did. Have you considered changing it to something less stupid?"
- "You nerds seriously thought you were still in Shibuya? This is the UG, dummies! Think of it as the flip side of the RG - y'know, the Realground, the world you call home?"
- "Pfft. If I had a yen for every time I heard that one. "Please, Miss Reaper, there must've been some sort of mistake! I simply couldn't have died!" Always the same old sob story."
- "Ooh, somebody's mad. What's the matter - is the mission too tough for ya?"
- "Hah! Shouldn't you aim a little higher than just "getting by"? Well, far be it from me to hold you back from underachieving!"
- "Aww, Rindykins... But I want to. ...Psych! I'm not hanging around here by choice, dum-dum. It's my job."
- "Don't tell me you're waiting for someone to say this is all some sick joke. Snap out of it. This Game is 100% real. Maybe you could at least try to act like your lives are at stake here? And shake things up while you're at it. Everything's been so predictable."
- "We can't pause the Game to talk about our feelings. But honestly, it's probably for the best that we've got other things to do. Keeps us from thinking too much..."
- "This'll be easy." (entering battle)
- "Geez, intimidating much?" (entering battle)
- "All bark and no bite, I'd say." (entering battle)
- "Well, got nothin' better to do." (entering battle)
- "Fine, guess I'll put you out of your misery." (entering battle)
- "Don't do anything stupid."
- "Deuces, dummy!"
- "Uh... are you sure we can still do this?"
- "Shocking, huh?" (when using Electric affinity pin)
- "Here comes the thunder!" (when using Electric affinity pin)
- "Thanks." (Rindo: "Uh, no big deal.")
- "That was easy." (Rindo: "I'm impressed.")
- "Way to be useful for once." (Rindo: "No sweat.")
- (Rindo: "Did you see that?") "I did, and?"
- (Rindo: "How's that?") "Better than expected."
- (Rindo: "That wasn't half-bad.") "Did I ask?"
- "That's my cue!" (Fret: "Take it away!")
- "Get wrecked." (Fret: "Yikes...")
- "That didn't totally suck." (Fret: "I know right?!")
- (Fret: "Did you see me just now?") "Wasn't watching."
- (Fret: "Exquisite timing!") "You're welcome."
- (Fret: "That was awesome!") "I was pretty great, wasn't I?"
- "Nice one!" (Nagi: "My thanks!")
- "Thanks!" (Nagi: "But of course!")
- "And that's why you should leave it to me." (Nagi: "Indeed!")
- (Nagi: "I shall leave it to you.") "So then what are you gonna do?"
- (Nagi: "Much obliged, milady...") "Let's just say you owe me one."
- (Nagi: "Was that sufficient?") "Good enough."
- "How's that?" (Beat: "That was sick!")
- "Wow, I rule." (Beat: "Oh yeah!")
- "You're surprisingly helpful." (Beat: "Hell yeah, I am!")
- (Beat: "Good one, kitty girl!") "No big."
- (Beat: "Damn, you good!") "(chuckle)"
- (Beat: "Just keep hittin' 'em!") "Worms-for-brains."
- "I got this." (Neku: "I can tell.")
- "I'm counting on you." (Neku: "Same here.")
- "Wow, am I good or what?" (Neku: "You sure are.")
- (Neku: "That was great!") "Duh."
- (Neku: "Right on time.") "Hm, not bad."
- (Neku: "That went pretty well.") "All thanks to me."
- "Thanks for the help." (Minamimoto: "Makes no difference to me.")
- "That must've looked pretty sick." (Minamimoto: "Fine for a zeptogram!")
- "Pretty good, don't you think?" (Minamimoto: "QED.")
- (Minamimoto: "Factor it out!") "Excuse me?"
- (Minamimoto: "Rise over run!") "Who over what?"
- (Minamimoto: "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!") "Gimme a break."
- "We totally killed that!" (Noise erased)
- "I pretend I do not see it." (running away)
- "Surprise, surprise." (★-rank victory)
- "That was a little too easy."
- "What? You got something to say?" (low grade victory)
Shoka's first name (紫陽花) is derived from the Japanese word for the hydrangea flower. There is a recurring theme in the series of characters being named after flowers.
Sakurane (桜音) contains the kanji for cherry blossoms (桜) and sound (音), which together can mean "the sound of cherry blossoms". Notably, Sakurane is usually spelled as 桜根, using the kanji for root. A surname involving cherry blossoms, and pronouncing 音, the kanji for sound, as "ne" draws heavy parallels to Neku Sakuraba's name. Nomura came up with Shoka's surname, Sakurane, as the name for the next protagonist around a decade before NEO was released, since it greatly resembled Neku's surname. It was later decided that "Kanade" was more suitable for Rindo, and so Sakurane became Shoka's surname.
Shoka's online handle, Swallow, is a bird. This may be a reference to Phoenix Cantus, while "Rindragon" (Rindo) can be interpreted as a dragon. Dragons and phoenixes are seen as a symbolic pair in feng shui, with the dragon being the white masculine "yang" and the phoenix being the black feminine "yin". Shoka also happens to wear black in her outfit. The handle also parallels the name of Tsugumi, who was once the heroine of the story and is also named after a bird.
- There are certain points throughout the game that appear to foreshadow that Shoka is Swallow:
- In the opening movie, Shoka is seen behind Rindo and proceeds to hold a phone in his face.
- In the game's prologue, Swallow mentioned that they found a Nutkin in FanGO at the Scramble Crossing. When Rindo transitions into the UG and joins the Reapers' Game, he soon meets Shoka there. Later, it is revealed that Swallow has been in the UG as well so this, combined with the aforementioned knowledge, heavily implicates Shoka. What further implicates her is that it's implied that Swallow was in the UG longer than Rindo, yet Swallow can keep messaging Rindo before and after he is forced into the Reapers' Game and can keep playing FanGO while Rindo can't. This foreshadows that Swallow is a Reaper.
- There are scenes when Rindo texts Swallow for advice but receives no texts from them. Soon after, Shoka appears to talk to Rindo.
- The second Fret thinks that Tsugumi is Swallow, Shoka shows up.
- Tetsuya Nomura considers Shoka to be the heroine of the main story.
She was designed to contrast with Tsugumi, the heroine of the Shinjuku side of the story, and he did not want to reveal Shoka's role in the game due to spoilers. He mentions a lot of her early game dialog did not seem endearing, so Shoka's Japanese voice actress was heavily directed to sound appealing during recording. Nomura mentions, "I've never had a heroine that was so difficult to handle in so many ways."
- According to the director of NEO regarding the cast's food preferences, Shoka prefers spicy food.
- Shoka uses the phrase "That's rough, buddy". This is most likely a reference to the character Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Shoka's outfit was displayed at the Square Enix Cafe, along with Nagi's and Ayano's. Professional cosplayer Enako dressed as her for photos displayed at the cafe.
- In the game's internal database, Rindo is listed "ch001", with Shoka being "ch002" (rather than Fret as one might've expected). This may be indicative of Shoka being the heroine of the main story, or suggesting that Shoka may have originally played a different role in the game or appeared as an earlier partner.
- To support the former, Shoka's actresses are billed right after Rindo's actors in the end credits.
- It is implied that Shoka was in the Shinjuku UG for approximately a year before the events of A New Day and the subsequent move to Shibuya that followed. NEO takes place approximately three years after the event. As Reapers are confirmed do not age, as stated in the NEO: The World Ends With You Guidebook, she is permanently the age she died both physically and mentally-- at 16, despite her chronological age of existing being approximately 20.
- It is worth noting, that upon returning to the RG, after the events of NEO, she does not rapidly age or change remotely in appearance, meaning that she was brought back to life at the age she originally died.
- Week 3, Day 2 of NEO: The World Ends with You.
Shoka: I mean, it took me a while to find my niche with Gatto Nero.
Rindo:...Your cat hoodie?
Shoka: Yeah. It's the first thing I bought in Shibuya.
- Week 3, Day 2 of NEO: The World Ends with You.
Shoka: To be honest, when I first came to Shibuya, I didn't really know what to make of it.
Rindo: What do you mean?
Shoka: Everyone just does their own thing here like it's no big deal. I guess I envied that. So I kept wandering around, trying to find myself or whatever. And that's when I stumbled upon Gatto Nero. And it was just like... "This is it," y'know?
- Interview with Nomura, Kando, and Ito from NEO TWEWY Official Guidebook
- Interview with Nomura, Kando, and Ito from NEO TWEWY Official Guidebook, from Kingdom Hearts Insider.
- Photo of Enako cosplaying Shoka
- [[:File:Square enix cafe shoka costume.jpg|The official outfit Enako dressed in, displayed at Square Enix café. A further close-up on the hoodie is here.