Shinobu Maehara (前原 しのぶ Maehara Shinobu), as of the start of the manga, is an extremely shy junior high student (Grade 7) living in Room 201 of the Hinata House.
She is quiet and emotionally frail. Although lacking in self confidence, Shinobu is an avid domestic engineer and skilled cook but consistently downplays her abilities. She develops a crush on Keitaro when he helps her with her studies and continues to idolize him as he continues pursuing his dream despite the difficulties he faces.
Timid in nature and stature, Shinobu is kind hearted but softly spoken. Although she wishes to be strong and smart like Naru or Motoko, Shinobu lacks confidence in herself and feels that she always fails at what she attempts. Feeling that she needs to be protected, the older Hinata residents look out for her and attempt to protect her from perceived threats.
In the anime, she is first introduced as a grieving girl who has run away from home due to domestic turmoil; however, in the manga, she is already at the Hinata Inn when Keitaro arrives and her parents are still together.
Has short dark black hair (blue in the anime), with one strand of hair subtly sticking out. At one point in volume 9, she tells Keitaro of her desire to possibly dye her hair so as to make it "not so black". In the epilogue of volume 14, an older Shinobu is shown to have grown her hair past her shoulders.
Arriving at the Hinata House, Shinobu stayed at the dormitory on account of her parents' troubled marriage and commuted to her school with Kaolla Su.
Despite her best efforts, after entering middle school her grades began to fall. Causing her to become depressed over her abilities as a student and her academic future.
When Keitaro made his way to the Hinata Apartments, believing him to be a Tokyo University student, the girls are convinced to let him stay. Star struck that a Tokyo University student was staying in the dorms, Shinobu attempts to spend time with him by having him help her grade her homework. After Naru Narusegawa attempts to prove Keitaro's stupidity by testing him on old entrance exam questions, all of which Keitaro got right, Shinobu became even more impressed and asked what it was like to be a Tokyo U student; revealing her concerns over her own poor grades. In an attempt to bolster her confidence, Keitaro reassures her that if she put all of her effort into getting in, then she stood a chance to become a Tokyo U student like him. However, when it was discovered that Keitaro was not, in fact, a university student, Shinobu lost faith in him.
After attempting many times to cheer her up, often times inadvertently making things worse, Keitaro discovers that her birthday had been forgotten by her friends and endeavored to arrange a surprise party before the day was over.
Her faith in him restored, Shinobu watched as Keitaro continued studying in his attempts to get into Tokyo University and, come Valentine's Day, she made a special chocolate to boost his morale as the entrance exams loomed closer.
When Naru and Keitaro suddenly went on a holiday trip to Kyoto following their respective failures to pass the entrance exams, Kaolla and Shinobu sneak out of the dormitories to go looking for them. However, Kaolla chooses the wrong Shinkansen train and the duo end up departing for Morioka instead of Kyoto. Oversleeping and missing their stop, they end up traveling to Cape Soya in Wakkanai. After returning via plane, Kaolla and Shinobu's train enters Kyoto Station just as Naru and Keitaro leave for Kagoshima. After being randomly stuck in Nara, Kaolla and Shinobu return to Kyoto and lodge in the same hotel Naru and Keitaro had stayed in. Learning from the hotel owner that Naru and Keitaro had departed for Kagoshima, the pair track their tickets to Okinawa. After Shinobu attempts to raise some money to pay for tickets to Okinawa, they run into Motoko and Mitsune, who had left Hinata House to look for them, and together they travel to Okinawa to unite with Keitaro and Naru and return home.
When Keitaro gets a part time job as an assistant for Naru's ex-tutor, and ex-crush, Noriyasu Seta, he become depressed over his relationship with Naru. As his depression continues despite the group temporarily moving to Hinoshima to work at the Beach Café Hinata, the girls attempt to "re-invigorate" him by having Shinobu pretend to have drowned. While that attempt failed (as Shinobu awakened at the last second), Naru and Keitaro's relationship worsened after an attempt to reconcile resulted in an accidental groping. When Noriyasu Seta arrives during the Hinoshima Summer Festival, Naru pairs with him while Keitaro pairs with Shinobu to enjoy the festival together. However, while she enjoyed attending the festival with him, Shinobu felt that he and Naru shouldn't be fighting and went to get Naru so that the pair could reconcile their grievances.
After a brief incident when Shinobu expressed her wonderment over what it would be like to be kissed (resulting in Kaolla creating a kissing machine for her to use), she witnesses Naru and Keitaro's relationship meeting a new challenge in the form of Mutsumi Otohime as a contender for Keitaro's Promise Girl. Not wishing to be left out, she joins their study group only to become quickly involved in a quiz over what she would like in a boyfriend by Mutsumi; revealing that someone like Keitaro would be her ideal boyfriend.
After taking the entrance exams for the second time, Keitaro daydreams through the majority of the test and so immediately thinks that he had failed once again. Spontaneously leaving overseas to start a new life he ends up working with Seta at an archaeological dig on Pararakelse Island.
After discovering that Keitaro had indeed passed, Shinobu made to go to Pararakelse Island and was joined by Kaolla and Sarah. After escaping the other residents, the trio boarded an airplane but landed at Easter Island before making it to Pararakelse. Discovering that Keitaro and Naru had become lost in the island's desert, Kaolla revealed the Mecha-Tama 04 and attempted use it to traverse the desert, only for it to run out of batteries. Reuniting with the other Hinata residents, who had also embarked to bring Naru and Keitaro back. While the group were camping they were approached by a nest of Hot Springs Turtles, which Motoko aggravated. While escaping the nest, the group found the oasis that Naru and Keitaro were sheltering within. Reunited, Shinobu shares the news that Keitaro had passed the entrance exams.
Meeting and getting acquainted with Nyamo Namo, the pair work together to traverse a ruin within the oasis to retrieve fuel to return to the airport.
As the travelers returned and Keitaro made it into Tokyo University, Shinobu began aiming to also get accepted into the university, requesting that Keitaro tutor her to improve her grades. After Keitaro promised to take her on a date if she got good grades, Naru forced him to take her on one anyway after she failed. Spending a day in Kanagawa Neverland, Shinobu attempts to get Keitaro to see her as an adult, eating at a High-class Restaurant before going to a Love Hotel. However, Keitaro simply continued with her tutoring.
When Keitaro chose to study abroad with Seta in America, during the intervening months, Shinobu entered into Kanagawa Prefectural High School but becomes embroiled in a conflict with Kanako Urashima, who had come to Hinata House to take over landlord duties and find her brother's Promise Girl so that she could replace her. As Keitaro returns in time to disrupt a coup being staged by the Hinata residents against Kanako, he accidentally proposes to Kanako instead of Naru while inside the Forbidden Annex. When he and Naru attempt to break the spell binding himself and Kanako, Naru loses hope and runs, resulting in Keitaro and the Hinata Residents chasing after her through northern Japan.
When Keitaro is drafted by Seta to help him in returning an artifact to the Kingdom of Molmol, the Hinata residents all pursue after them for varying reasons, resulting in a competition over who would have him between the girls. However, in the end they all bow out to let Naru and Keitaro be together.
The primary difference in Shinobu's character in the anime from the manga is, rather than being a Hinata House resident from the outset, she is initially seen crying quietly by Keitaro, who draws a flattering sketch of her that is misinterpreted as mocking when she accidentally sees it. She finds her way to the Apartments to return him his sketchbook, against the wishes of her mother, who initially forbids her from being there because of her view that it is filled with "immoral girls". Naru and Mitsune Konno cause a commotion over the book when they take a peek at some of the racier drawings inside, making Shinobu cry and run away. She eventually returns to the Apartments to escape the tension surrounding her parents' tumultuous divorce, and tells them that she wants to stay as the Hinata House cook to earn her keep. Shinobu in the anime also likes Keitaro from the start and her personality is much more mellow unlike manga.
Shinobu was the character who changed the most during the design stage, and her appearance was changed several times up until just before the first release. Her being in 7th grade, yet living alone and good at cooking, was decided early on, but she was initially supposed to hate Keitaro up until around the middle of the series. She was also supposed to be very stingy and easily aggravated. She was also initially designed to not be cute, but the idea failed and her incredible non-cuteness instead made her cute in her own way.
There was an idea where Shinobu would have left Hinata House forever before the ending, but Akamatsu couldn't write it.
Negima! Magister Negi Magi
- A high school rendition of Shinobu in her school uniform appeared on the inside of the dust cover of Negima! Magister Negi Magi #16 (published by Shonen Magazine Comics) along with Naru, Kaolla, Kitsune and Motoko.
- The character Shinobu Yuuki is a conceptual descendant of Shinobu's, bearing the same appearance, name and personality as Shinobu Maehara.
- Shinobu handles alcohol very badly, getting drunk on merely half a glass of wine.
- A hair strand on the right of her face was added in later manga volume.
- Shinobu's height and BWH Measurements are 157cm, B68-W52-H72 as of Chapter 1 and 158cm, B82-W57-H86 as of Chapter 120.
- Shinobu reads Hikaru no Go.
- According to Love Hina Mugendai, Shinobu panicked 55 times (not including the Epilogue) throughout the manga's run.
- Shinobu's profile of her after the events of Love Hina from Love Hina Mugendai is as follows:
School subject: Home economics/Math
Clothes: Movie star/Salaryman
TV shows: Cooking/Mystery and Ghost
- Specialty: the kitchen
- Ring tone: Makenaide (ZARD)
- Average of times she cried in one year: 134
- Idol: Keitaro Urashima
- Female she admires: Naru Narusegawa