I don’t understand why people keep insisting that Fuu is a shy, quiet wallflower. It’s very frustrating to me because when people say that about her, I think it’s because they’re just putting her in a box of assumption—they see “polite geek with glasses” and assume that meekness comes with that the way that green comes with grass. But to hold onto that assumption, you have to pretty much not pay attention to what she does in the whole story. So I’m going to write a Thing, because this is really an unfair box to put her in and I keep seeing it over and over and over again.
Also this has spoilers in it for both halves. And teel deer.
Fuu is outgoing: Fuu’s first action in the story is to walk up to a total stranger and give her a gift. When they’re dropped into Cephiro, she has no hesitation in talking to fellow teleportee Umi, and she’s the first person to suggest that they formally introduce themselves.
Is Fuu quiet, compared to the other girls? Yes, she is. So are most people! We’re talking about Hikaru Shidou and Umi Ryuuzaki here; they both have very loud, noticeable personalities that would overshadow most of their peers. The only way Hikaru and Umi would not stand out would be if they were in a series like G Gundam.
Fuu is assertive: As one of the Worldwide Legion of Shy People, one of the things that’s hardest for me to do is speak up with my opinions on a situation, especially to people I don’t know very well. Fuu does not have this inhibition. She is always polite when she has a suggestion to make, but the suggestion is still made. She’s not always the one to speak first because she’s thoughtful and conscientious, so it takes her longer to decide what to do than the hotblooded Hikaru or the headstrong Umi. It’s not the fearful hesitance of timidity.
One of the clearest indicators of Fuu’s lack of shyness is that she is never cowed by Umi or Hikaru’s strong personalities. When Hikaru tries to go back and help Clef, Fuu gently but firmly shuts her down and insists that they continue. And when Umi… well, when Umi pretty much says or does anything, Fuu isn’t intimidated. In the early parts, Umi butts heads (or tries to) with Fuu quite often, usually over Fuu playing Captain Obvious or being absurdly calm for the situation they’re in. But Fuu never reacts to her admonishments with anything but smiles. A shy person would be apologetic and hesitate about speaking up next time.
Fuu is polite: She is polite to a ridiculous degree. The monster is trying to eat you, Fuu! You really don’t need to call it “monster-san.” But! Being polite doesn’t automatically mean shy. In fact, Fuu demonstrates that it is possible to be assertive and heroic without being obnoxious or careless.
Fuu is cautious: I wonder sometimes if the insistence that Fuu is shy is her reaction to the people and places she encounters in Cephiro. When they reach Presea’s house she’s hesitant about entering; when they meet Ferio in the Forest of Silence, Fuu counsels caution. But these aren’t manifestations of shyness. They are quite reasonable. Umi and Hikaru are both ready to go into Presea’s house when they find it unlocked, but Fuu protests that it’s rather rude to walk in uninvited when the owner seems to be away. Which… it is! This isn’t even a manifestation of her excessive politeness; this is Manners 101. (Presea herself points this out when the girls eventually fall into her trap.)
When they meet Ferio in the Forest of Silence, Fuu is joined by Umi in her desire for caution, because they’ve already been attacked by someone working for Zagato. What happens next is that Fuu takes the initiative to speak to Ferio—another indicator that she is not socially afraid or inept. She talks to Ferio with confidence and smiles, striking a deal with him to serve as their guide through the forest.
Fuu is not a wallflower: Really… what evidence is there for this? Again: she walks right up to Hikaru in the first five pages without any hesitation, even though Hikaru is a complete stranger (if an adorable one). 90% of the series is spent in Cephiro where they don’t really have opportunity to be wallflowers, but judging by the other aspects of her personality I really doubt that Fuu was anything like a wallflower back in Tokyo. I think this is another assumption that comes directly out of her geekiness. There are lots of geeks who are not wallflowers, and Fuu is one of them.
Fuu blushes: This maybe is another possible reason that Fuu is unfairly labeled shy? (I’m really guessing here; I haven’t ever seen any justification for why it’s correct to call her this.) She goes red as an apple when Ferio flirts with her and when the others notice how flustered she is. Which… is not really an indicator of shyness as much as it is an indicator of being fourteen and having a crush.
Fuu is still not shy in Part II: Fuu does hesitate to talk to her sister and parents about why she’s been upset. But her reluctance and unhappiness is something that all three of the Magic Knights share. Hikaru’s brothers and Umi’s parents are similarly concerned about their mysterious sadness, but none of them will or really can explain that they consider themselves murderers. When they get to Cephrio, all three of them are remorseful and fragile around their Cephiran friends because they feel they are to blame for the world’s current condition. Fuu is deeply apologetic towards Ferio, yes. That’s because she killed his sister. Hikaru is similarly apologetic towards Lantis over Zagato, and Umi apologizes to Clef over her early behavior. It’s not a product of shyness on Fuu’s part.
When Fuu talks to Umi later on, her opinions aren’t willowy. She doesn’t bend them based on what Umi is saying and she doesn’t hesitate to express them in the first place—instead, it is very clear that she has a firm resolve to do what’s right, even if she has uncertainties. It so happens that both Umi and Fuu are in agreement about the situation.
I’m not going to go into the anime version in great detail, because it’s been a while since I’ve watched it. I did watch episode 1 again the other day, and there it’s Hikaru who suggests that they introduce themselves rather than Fuu, so there’s one difference. But, Fuu’s first actions are still giving Hikaru money for the binoculars, and she’s insistently polite and smiling in the face of the unfamiliar situation they’re in. Ferio also complains that she’s grumpy, and polite shy people don’t grump at strangers. She’s polite to Aska when she’s captured by Fahren (this is one of the things I don’t remember with precision) but this again falls under the heading of “reasonable caution.” Unlike the other two rulers, Aska is a mercurial brat who is in command of very powerful summon magic and a bunch of ninjas, and Fuu’s sense of courtesy would compel her to be polite and deferential to a princess in any case. Even so, she does still request that she be released and says that she’s leaving after fulfilling Aska’s conditions for doing so, despite Aska’s insistence that she stay.
So to sum up: Fuu Hououji is an excessively polite young woman who is intellectually gifted and a huge fan of video games, none of which traits automatically mean that she is also shy. Her actions and words over the course of the series repeatedly demonstrate that she is anything but, so it’s rather absurd to say that she’s meek, a wallflower, or timid.