The term “Shoma” comes up time and time again in Neeko’s voice lines. She’s got plenty of mysterious soundbites, but this one in particular has interested players. What is this strange Sho’ma that Neeko keeps referencing, and why is it so important? In order to explain, we have to dive into Neeko’s lore.
Shoma is actually properly spelled as Sho’ma and is intertwined with Neeko’s backstory. Neeko is a part-Vastayan shapeshifter from Ionia, Runeterra’s living, breathing, magical continent. She’s a quirky recluse, unaccustomed to human civilization and the encroaching human settlements of Ionia. With lines like “If Neeko knows your Sho’ma, Neeko knows you,” when she moves, and “Ugh, Neeko’s Sho’ma went everywhere, huge mess, had to find it all,” after respawning, many players become curious exactly what this mysterious object or force is.
As Neeko explains herself with one of her first move lines, “Sho’ma is like, um, the shape of someone’s spirit, who they really are inside.” As a shapeshifter, Neeko imitates the spiritual essence of other creatures in order to masquerade as them. Sho’ma clearly has an outwards effect on appearance, as Neeko seems to steal, or at least borrow, other champions’ Sho’ma.
“Neeko keeps a tiny bit of everybody’s Sho’ma. They are precious!” she can be heard saying, or promising “Neeko will keep your Sho’ma alive” to champions she kills.
It’s clearly the method by which Neeko’s people, the Oovi-Kat, manage their shapeshifting abilities. It’s a term for the primordial spiritual signature of any given creature. This explanation makes Neeko’s shapeshifting even more impressive, as it’s more complex than mere physical imitation.
Neeko is the only Vastayan character to make reference to Sho’ma, so it can be assumed to be specific to the Oovi-Kat. Neeko’s past remains plenty mysterious, but the case of Sho’ma is rather clear if you know where to look.