Andromeda Shun (アンドロメダ星座 の瞬, Andoromeda no Shun) is a protagonist in the Saint Seiya media franchise, which originated in the manga of the same name, written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada, that subsequently inspired an anime series, soundtracks, OVAs, films, video games, and other collectibles. He is one of the strongest characters in the series, although his gentle disposition and kind nature tend to hold him back from using his full power until he has no other choice but to do so. Shun is also the younger brother of Phoenix Ikki, a fellow Bronze Saint.
As Masami Kurumada uses the Osamu Tezuka's Star System technique (a stable cast of characters which play a different or similar role in the author's various works, sometimes with the same personality and sometimes with an entirely new one), he gave Shun a design closely resembling Jindai Naoto from Otoko Zaka, the manga he wrote and drew one year before Saint Seiya, and Kirikaze from Fūma no Kojirō, written and drawn several years before Saint Seiya.
Many newcomers to the series have mistaken Shun for a female character, since Andromeda is a feminine constellation and the anime adaptation feminized Kurumada's original design of the Andromeda Cloth. A similar reference was made by Kurumada in the manga, before it was adapted to anime, when Ikki befriends a girl named Esmeralda whose only difference from Shun is her gender and her blonde hair.
His hair is brown in the manga, but was modified to green in the anime adaptation to generate a better color balance. Kurumada explained in interviews that he gave the Andromeda Cloth the same color that identifies the Andromeda Galaxy found in the constellation of the same name.
As Masami Kurumada was a practitioner of the martial arts in his youth, he used his knowledge about traditional Japanese martial arts weapons in his concept for Shun. The Chains of the Andromeda Cloth were a formidable weapon, perfectly suited for both defense and offense, sharing these traits with the traditional Manriki-gusari, a chain-based weapon used in Japanese martial arts.
Shun is the Bronze Saint of the Andromeda constellation. He is a merciful and gentle soul by nature and a firm believer in solving problems without bloodshed. This attitude separates him from the rest of the Saints: whereas they will not hesitate to battle when the situation demands it, Shun only allows himself to fight if it is an absolute necessity or if his almost endless patience wears out. In such cases, Shun can become an extremely skilled and deadly fighter.
Shun is portrayed as being weak in the first four Saint Seiya films and in the anime-only Asgard arc. Almost every fight scene culminates with his almost defeat and subsequent rescue by his brother Ikki. In the original manga, however, Shun is shown as a formidable, if unwilling, fighter and opponent.
Shun is the bearer of the Cloth which represents the constellation Andromeda, associated to Princess Andromeda, who was chained to be sacrificed to the monster Cetus in Greek mythology. The Cloth possesses chains that are said to be the same used to tie Princess Andromeda in the legend. Additionally the chains are related to the Andromeda Galaxy (believed to be a nebula back in the 1980s when the manga was created), hence the names for his techniques. These chains are legendary for their durability and defensive nature. They are also renowned for their great apparent length, as they can extend enough to reach light years away, penetrating the very fabric of space. When there is a threat, the chains can give out warning signs and become charged with enough electricity to release shocks of at least 10,000 volts. Shun normally relies on the Andromeda Chains to fight (as an accessory), as he does not want to use his full power to avoid killing opponents.
During the Sanctuary arc of the manga, Shun awakens the seventh sense, the essence of Cosmo. Having been born under the sign of Virgo, Shun also dons the Virgo Gold Cloth during the Hades arc, in the battle against the God of Death Thanatos. After the Gold Cloths are destroyed, however, Shun manages to achieve his Andromeda God Cloth.
In the Sanctuary arc, at the battles of the Twelve Temples, Shun holds his own against Gemini Saga and manages to kill Pisces Aphrodite. In the Poseidon arc, he defeats the Mariner Generals Scylla Io, of the South Pacific ocean, and Siren Sorrento, of the South Atlantic.
In the Hades arc, he also manages to dispatch various opponents before it is revealed that he is the chosen human vessel of Hades, God of the Underworld. Although Shun himself is initially unaware of this, the soul of Hades possesses Shun's body during the close encounter in Hades's throne room after the death of Lyra Orphée. Not long after, the recently reincarnated Hades is confronted by Shun's older brother, Phoenix Ikki. Shun regains enough control of his body to strangle himself with one hand, while urging Ikki to take the opportunity to destroy him. However, Ikki hesitates at the last second and Shun's hold is lost. With the God of the Underworld back in command, the Phoenix Saint is swiftly dealt with. It takes the blood of Athena and the Goddess's encouragement to give Shun the strength to separate Hades from his body once and for all. When Shun awakens in Seiya's arms moments later, he once again dons the Andromeda Cloth and follows his fellow Bronze Saints to the Wailing Wall and then Elysion. There, they help Athena fight Hades in his true body and successfully defeat him.
Shun reappears in Saint Seiya: Next Dimension, the sequel to the original manga, also written and illustrated by Masami Kurumada. In Next Dimension, Shun is the first Bronze Saint to return to Athena's side after the death of Hades and joins her in her quest to find a way to save Pegasus Seiya's life from Hades's curse. He escorts her to Olympus, to meet her elder sister Artemis, and protects Athena from the threat of Artemis's Satellites. The two eventually meet with the God of Time Chronos and manage to go to the past, to the 18th-century war against Hades. Shun is separated from Athena in the process and lands in the coliseum of Sanctuary, not without attracting the attention of several foot soldiers and Pegasus Tenma. He quickly dispatches the soldiers, but a brief fight ensues with Tenma which ends when Shun manages to convince Tenma that he is a Saint from the future. The two then join forces to climb up the Twelve Temples and reach Athena.
Shun also reappears in the non-canonical Saint Seiya Omega (sequel of the main series), coming to the aid of the new group of Bronze Saints. Shun reveals that, during the last battle of the 20th-century Saints against the evil god Mars, a mysterious rock fell from the sky boosting the Cosmos of every Saint and God, and granting them new elemental powers; as such, Mars himself gained the elemental power of darkness, that used to deal Shun a "dark wound" spreading all over his left arm. Unable to heal himself, and prevented to use his cosmos again, he retired himself as Saint, becoming a wandering doctor. In this facility he cured the wounded Dragon Ryūhō, son of his old friend Shiryu, and helped Pegasus Kōga (in which he recognized the courage of the late Pegasus Seiya) against Hound Miguel, one of the servants of Mars. However, forced to burn his Cosmos again, this time Shun lost almost completely the use of his left arm, overcome by darkness, and decided to devote himself to his new life as a physician entrusting Athena's safety to the 21st-century Saints.
Despite his still meek, cheerful disposition, Andromeda Shun is still revered as one of the strongest Saints of the 20th century: when Hound Miguel faces him the first time, without knowing about his diminished strength, he escapes in fear, leaving a wounded Kōga behind. Furthermore, Kōga and Ryūhō express amazement at his diminished strength, claiming to know about his legendary past deeds.
In a poll presented in volume 3, Shun came in as the third most favorite of the Bronze Saint protagonists. He is seen as the character with the most potential for yaoi out of the five principal Bronze Saints. Regarded as a "true walking caricature, this character was the most fragile and sensible, with fine traits, long hair, doe eyes and the most feminine armor of the group (with a nice 95B in the guise of a breastplate in the anime version)". His chains are regarded as highly symbolic, viewed as a jewel (a feminine symbol) and a weapon of changing length that can become supple or rigid at will (a phallic symbol), which can be used for defensive or offensive purposes (the sexual ambiguity and seme-uke dichotomy), and represents the original myth of Andromeda, who was tied on a rock and offered as a sacrifice to calm a marine monster's wrath, which is regarded as sexual. In the section "Right Turn Only!" from Anime News Network, writer Liann Cooper described Shun's character as "prissy" and his fight against his older brother, Phoenix Ikki, as a plot twist "skirmish".