Naruko Shoukichi is a second-year student at Sohoku High School and a member of the Sohoku High Bicycle Club. He is a sprinter cyclist from Osaka, known as "Naniwa's Speed Man" or "Speedster of Naniwa".
Naruko has distinctly bright red short hair that protrudes in thick spikes. He has large, sharp, red eyes and his mouth is stylized with noticable canines, usually one seen at any given time, especially the top one on his left. Naruko is also considered short for his age. He is seen wearing his personal biking outfit (a red, black, and white jacket with black tights) for cycling as well as Sohoku's jersey. Naruko's casual clothing usually consists of a T-shirt with a tiger on it, as a tiger is his image animal.
Naruko speaks with a thick Kansai accent because he is from Osaka. As a sprinter, he has a vastly competitive nature, and easily gets upset or disappointed when he is beaten in a race. He gets particularly riled up when he thinks that people he considers rivals best him. Naruko was very small in elementary school like Onoda is now and gets angered whenever his height is insulted, and tends to throw insults right back at others. He also has a tendency to give people nicknames.
He is something of a brother figure to Onoda and enthusiastically supports and encourages him. Naruko is known for being "flashy"; he likes to stand out and to entertain, and thinks those who don't stand out are dull. This is why he enjoys the color red. This flashiness encompasses his appearance as well as his cycling style. It's why he takes pride in being a sprinter: he thinks that to be the fastest is to be the coolest.
After Naruko lost to Midousuji, and must heed Imaizumi's advice to become an all-rounder, he has become more serious and determined in practices, especially learning to pull Onoda on hills.
Naruko has a tendency to nickname others, both on and off his team, regardless of how well he knows the other person. Some of his nicknames include Captain Shades (Kinjou), Old Man (Tadokoro), Hotshot (Imaizumi), Manager (Miki), Perm Senpai (Teshima), Quiet Senpai (Aoyagi), Glasses Senpai (Koga), Eyelashes (Izumida), and Gorilla (Taura). Notably, Onoda is one of the only people he refers to not only by name, but with a "proper" honorific (Onoda-kun).
Skills and Techniques
Like his mentor Tadokoro, Naruko is a speed-based sprinter who excels at cycling on flat land at a high speed. During the training camp, Kinjou replaced Naruko's handles with the standard horizontal bar to limit his sprinting. He was able to overcome that specific obstacle later on as the training camp progressed. Despite this, as he owned four bikes at one stage (two MTB's, one with a hardtail, a Pinarello road bike and a Gifted Kuromori, another road bike), he does have some mountain climbing ability, as shown on the latter stages of the First Year Welcome Race, in which he revealed to had trained in Mt. Rokko, where he learned the "Sprint Climb technique", but admitted to Onoda that he is not as good on super-slopes, so he insisted Onoda carry on to challenge Imaizumi during the climb and leave him behind. He did, however, taught Onoda his family secret move: To shift up two gears quickly before copying Imaizumi's Pendulum Dance.
One of his old techniques is known as the "Sprint Climb", which is when he shifts to a heavier gear and uses his lower handlebars to climb a hill like a sprinter, a technique he unleashed on the final climb up Route 150, which he has already gained a lot of speed and experience using the move, to everybody's shock and amazement. In order to decrease his air resistance during the sprinter battle on the first day of the Inter High, Naruko tucks his hair into his helmet, uses his racing pants to constrict his jacket, and disposes of water bottles that add extra weight to his bike; this style is known as the "Rocket Sprint Style," and is similar to that of a T.T. style, he would even throw away the saddle altogether if the situation calls for it (albeit illegal in official races). Naruko also developed another method for sprinting on a slope by shifting his body weight forwards, sitting on the front edge of his saddle, and using the lower handlebars in a new technique he calls the "Armstrong Climb."
After the Inter High, his Pinarello road bike was given new carbon deep wheels. On the flats, a wheel's aerodynamics are important. These new wheels reduce the amount of wind resistance generated, allowing for higher speeds. They are the ultimate wheels for a sprinter. However, both him and Aoyagi lost to Tadokoro Jin in Bay Shoreline Criterion, the final race of the road race season.
After that loss, he returned to Osaka while being asked by Imaizumi to become an all-rounder, which he resigns to converting because he lost to Midousuji on his home track. He also gives up using carbon wheels.
By the second year Inter High, he has given up the carbon deep wheels as he is no longer a sprinter, but mentally struggles to conserve energy. However, he has become much faster and fitter, where he can still carry a conversation to the crowd without losing speed downhill while pulling Imaizumi. He has also taken more precise and closer angle while cornering downhill without crashing, which was helped by his wider shoulders and 2cm growth, which he coined "Super Fluttering Downhill" as his jersey sleeves have a minor rip. When it hits the guardrail, it would be the perfect angle to lean the bike.
The second version of Armstrong Climb is called Tip-Toe Advance. It merely moves his feet pointing forward. The crankshaft from the top to perpendicular ( called forward thrust 12 o'clock to 9 anti-clockwise on left foot, 12-3 clockwise on the right foot), where the most efficient and biggest power output occurs. But the least efficient is the downward thrust (9-6 left foot or 9-3 right foot), so by strengthening and pointing the foot forward, it can generate more power throughout the whole downward stroke and transferring to the other foot. When the leg reaches the top of the crankshaft, instead of being flat-footed, he also points the toe down.
Despite growing 2cm before the 42nd Inter High, his height and reach is badly lacking against Ashikiba, making him lose out in the final lunge at the end of Day 1.
Naruko's mental toughness is also an underrated strength. He never falls for Midousuji's tricks, and still puts on a brave face after losing on Day 1, and still accepts the award, while Midousuji got someone to accept the award on his behalf. On Day 2, he decides not to wait for Imaizumi to catch up to Teshima, who is 30 seconds behind them and Onoda, and then proceeds to chase the Hakogaku pack alone.
Known Personal Achievements
- Bread, or rather, he likes milk. Since he wants to grow bigger, he eats a lot of calcium. He even had to drink coffee with milk, faking that he likes black coffee in Omake 24
- Okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes with your own ingredients mixed in)
- Beef tendon hotpot, the two are his new favourites in season 4, now that he has grown 2 cm.
- Fireworks (owns his own yukata)
- Hero shows like Tokusatsu and he mimics their finishing attacks.
- Scream rides.
- Red things
- Flashy things
- Setting up barbecue the right way
- Likes geography
- Takes good care of his younger brothers
- His younger brothers look up to him
- He always carries candies around to give to them
- He hates to lose; when he was an elementary school student, everyone called him "Speed-eating and Speed-drinking Shou-chan". In Omake 15, he speed drank a bottle of milk in 3.08 seconds, but regretted it once Imaizumi told him afterwards that it was expired. In Omake 14 of the thrid season, he beat Issa and Aoyagi in speed-drinking milk, while Issa's stomach starts to get upset after redoing the competition so many times.
- Naruko is the only member of team Sohoku who has a Kansai accent because he is from Osaka. This accent is characterized as being both more melodic and harsh by speakers of standard Japanese.
- In Ride 5, he bought out the cafeteria worth of buns, but he justified it as a normal energy consumption of a bike racer. He did give one to Onoda because he missed out.
- Armstrong Climb is likely to be named after Lance Armstrong. However, Lance Armstrong's true climbing technique is closer to Onoda as he utilizes high-cadence climbing.
- He is very ticklish, especially around the stomach.
- His family is poor in comparison to the other team members' families.
- Naruko lives with his grandparents in addition to his primary family.
- Naruko has four siblings (totaling five), he is the second oldest; with one older sister, a younger brother in Junior High, and two younger brothers in Elementary School.
- According to Omake 13 of Grande Road, Naruko runs a radio show at his school during the day and takes requests from students for songs to play, but Imaizumi mixed up the wrong CD, so instead of a Ballad, theme song from the movie Melody of Wind and Memories, it was Love Hime's theme song instead.
- He is said to have grown two centimeters between the current Interhigh and the previous one, making his height 167cm.