Shantae is the eponymous main protagonist of the Shantae series. The half-genie guardian of Scuttle Town, Shantae works tirelessly to thwart the plans of the nefarious lady-pirate, Risky Boots (her nemesis), or other forces threatening the town. She was created by Matt Bozon and Erin Bozon.
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Shantae is a half-genie charged with protecting her home, Scuttle Town.
Shantae is a professional belly dancer, her outfit usually consists of sheer harem pants, a bra, and gold jewellery. She has a relatively thin figure and is rather short compared to some other characters in the game. Shantae has olive/tan-skin with blue eyes, and long growing purple hair tied back in a ponytail stem stalk. Her parentage is uncertain, but it is known that her mother was a genie and there is speculation about who her father was.
As the Guardian Genie of Scuttle Town, Shantae lives in a lighthouse by the sea where she can spot incoming ships and trouble. During the events of the first game, she is portrayed at the beginning as young and somewhat naïve. In addition, her strong sense of justice drives her to help people in need. She chases Risky Boots across the map in order to stop her plans and has a strong enmity for the pirate as a result.
Slightly shy, Shantae is initially afraid of the citizens of Scuttle Town discovering her status as a half-genie. In addition, she often puts herself down; believing that only being half-genie is not good enough. After being tricked by Risky near the end of the game and subsequently thwarting her plans, she overcomes her insecurity and shyness and comes to terms with these anxieties, and is happy that the townsfolk still accept her.
Shantae has a deep care for her assumed uncle, Mimic, as well as her friends Sky and Bolo, and at the end of the first game gives up on the chance to enjoy eternal peace in the Genie Realm in order to be with them. She also considers the zombie Rottytops as her friend, although Rotty's own attitude towards her, while friendly for the most part, is more ambivalent, as she does not hesitate in claiming she would like to eat Shantae's brains (which Shantae seems to take as a joke).
In Nega-Shantae. She is then comforted by her friends who tell her they will help her protect Scuttle Town., she's shown to have grown more confident, enough to believe that she's the only person able to stop Risky Boots and discarding Mimic's suggestion that Sky and Bolo should go instead. At the end of the game, Shantae is betrayed by Rottytops to Risky Boots in exchange for her brains (although Risky chooses to back down from the deal) and loses her genie powers, she is then shown to be much less self-assured, despite the fact that she manages to defeat the evil embodiment of her powers,
In Squid Baron calls her a tomboy at some point. Shantae's more unusual habits are revealed during the game's progression; we learn that Shantae accidentally destroyed Sky's Library Card once by nibbling on it when she got nervous and that she considers herself a bad role model due to her bad temper and fashion sense. Shantae also appears to have low self-esteem (possibly tied to the loss of her magic), as when she was threatened with losing her hair after getting dismissed as Guardian Genie, she says, "They can't take my hair, can they uncle? That's all I have left!"., we see her forming an alliance with her nemesis Risky Boots despite not trusting her at all. Over the course of the game, however, she slowly forms a bit of an attachment to her, asking her if she could "join the good guys for once" and even going as far as saving her life later on.
It is mentioned several times that she doesn't know who her parents are, only that her mother was a genie. Although she's willing to explore more her genie side hoping that it will bring her closer to her mother, as mentioned above she turns down at the end of the first game the genies' offer to stay in the Genie Realm, and at the end of Risky's Revenge is shown expressing sadness as being even farther from her half-genie nature and subsequently her mother after having lost her magic powers. It is strongly implied in the events of the game that the mysterious Warrior she meets inside the Village of Lost Souls is none other than the spirit of her father, who went into the land of the dead to search for his daughter and never returned. Neither Shantae nor the Warrior himself seem to realize the possible connection.
In, Shantae and her friends decided to go to a Tropical island resort where they encounter other Half-Genie allies. At the beginning of the day, Shantae was invited along with the other 5 Half-genies to participate on an eventful festival until they were kidnapped, leaving Shantae alone. The next day Shantae began to feel suspicious that she decided to venture into the islands underground terrain to uncover many different hidden routes leading to different regions of dungeons.
Shantae is either Lawful Good or Neutral Good depending on the game.
Shantae's Half-genie nature gives her several magic abilities.
- Hair Whip (aka Ponytail Whip) - Shantae's trademark and default move. Shantae can use her long purple ponytail hair as a weapon, cracking it like a whip by shaking her head. It was revealed in Shantae: Risky's Revenge that this skill is not a by-product of her genie half, as she is able to use this ability after her powers are removed. It's possible that this skill is a product of her own magic not tied to her genie side, or may have come from her father.
- Magical Belly Dances - Shantae can use her ability to belly dance to cause various kinds of magical effects, most notably teleportation and transformation. Although her dancing style is certainly mostly fanciful, similarities have been noted with the Turkish Oryantal Dans style of belly dance.
- Transformation - Shantae can transform into many forms such as a monkey, elephant, spider, harpy, mermaid, and Tinkerbat once she's learned the correct dance from a Guardian Genie, Magic Fountain or in the case of the Tinkerbat dance by buying the sequence from a man in Bandit Town.
- Magic spells and magic items - Shantae can use various kinds of magic spells and items that are bought at shops. The magic properties of these items are apparently not tied to Shantae's genie powers, as she retains the ability to use them even after her powers are taken away in Risky's Revenge.
- Fighter Moves - Having received training from Bolo and through upgrades in the shop, Shantae can perform various martial arts techniques such as Backdashes, Recoveries and several types of kick attacks (Power Kick, Drill Kick, Uppercut Kick)
- Costumes - Shantae has different outfits she can wear that change her stats and abilities.
- Fusion Dances - During the events of Shantae and the Seven Sirens, Shantae is able to use "Fusion Stones" to borrow the power of the other half-genies after rescuing them. By doing so, Shantae gains four new dances: Seering Dance (From Plink), Refresh Dance (From Vera), Spark Dance (From Zapple), and Quake Dance (From Harmony)
In 1994, as Matt Bozon was still engaged with his future wife Erin, she got a flash of inspiration while coming back from her camp counsellor days, and created the character of Shantae, named after one of the campers. Later on, Matt Bozon asked her what she would come up with if she was to create a video game character. She disappeared, and when going after her after some time, he found her working on sketches of a character, Shantae, in dancing poses. Matt Bozon liked the idea and fleshed out the background and mythology surrounding the character.
Matt Bozon has provided two contradictory versions of the creation of the Hair Whip. In the first one, he stated that at the time, Erin had very long hair and Matt would often take a blow in his face each time she turned around, which inspired him for Shantae's trademark attack. However, he later stated that Erin's first sketches of Shantae already featured the Hair Whip. Erin also came up with the idea that the character could use dances to conjure animals or charm them. An archived version of WayForward's site from 1997 shows that it was indeed one of the original points of her magics. It was later refined as the transformation dances.
The archived version of WayForward's site also depicts Shantae with a very different appearance, as a brunette with a less manga-ish appearance. She is described as a troubled genie, born without any magic power, although she was capable of hair whipping already.
Her catchphrase, "Ret-2-Go", came from a friend of the Bozons who kept using it in the animation clean up team for the Warner Bros. movie The Iron Giant to break for lunch. The phrase then reached the Shantae team and ended up as Shantae's catchphrase. In Matt Bozon's vision, Shantae uses it because she thinks it's cool but her friends actually can't stand it (although other characters have used it in-universe).
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- Shantae appears in Super Smash Bros Ultimate as a Spirit and the fan games Super Smash Bros Crusade and MUGEN as a playable character.
- She appeared alongside Filia from the fighting game Skullgirls in the Episode 6 episode of the 5th season on One Minute Melee and wins.