Skip and Loafer
Mitsumi Iwakura is thrilled to be transferring from her tiny rural school (she was the top of her class there-out of all 38 students!) to a prestigious high school in Tokyo, but she gets lost on her way to the entrance ceremony. Fortunately, a handsome (if a little reserved) student named Sousuke Shima is also headed to the school's entrance ceremony, and is able to show her the way. Mitsumi's cheerful and gregarious personality soon wins her a close circle of female friends, as well as some more notice from Shima.
This was my favorite of the Spring 2023 Crunchy season.
I'm not sure why the manga artist gave Mitsumi such tiny irises. I guess it's to make her more distinctive. Her speech pattern is very distinctive, too. Not knowing much Japanese, I can't really spot the differences in regional dialects that are made so much of in other shows; but as for Mitsumi- now THERE'S a voice that stands out.
Her character is a standout too, especially in the way she assembles her little "posse" of BFFs. She also ends up improving her new friends, too, but she's not a "cheerleader" type like Akebi (of Akebi's Sailor Uniform); instead, her openness, joy, and enthusiasm wind up infecting those who know her. (Well, it would be nicer to say "inspiring" rather than "infecting", but you get the idea.) But she's not entirely ingenuous; she can spot a conflict hiding just under the surface of a conversation, and can go all Lesser Anteater on the offending party. (I can't say more, but that was a delightful scene.) By her own admission, she messes up a lot- but she also quickly recovers and gets back on track.
Among her girlfriends, I thought Mika Egashira was a standout; in fact, we'll hear her thoughts quite a bit, though mostly not in spoken dialogue, for Mika's a wallflower. Mika wants the attention of Shima-whose attractive features and gentle, somewhat self-deprecating manner have made him the most popular guy in class- but her feelings are complicated; on some level, she realizes that she at least partly wants to attach herself to Shima because it would give her "status". (I've seen enough of this idea in anime- that relatively unpopular persons try to achieve social standing by attaching themselves to people who ARE popular- that I have to conclude that this really is a "thing" in Japanese culture.) And Mika ALSO realizes that Mitsumi and Shima have a natural casual friendship, and she's loath to intrude on that; so she's not a "cartoon" villain at all. (Pun intended, I'm afraid.)
Fortunately, Mika finds a friend, and mentor, in Nao, Mitsumi's guardian while in Tokyo. Nao is Mitsumi's dad's sibling and is a trans woman. Perusal of Crunchy commenters on the show was interesting: some of the remarks reflected the current wave of anti-trans hostility. (One commenter thought the character’s presence here had something to do with Communism; I'd guess that person would think anything they disliked, or felt uncomfortable with, had something to do with Communism.) But anyone who'd blame current "wokeness" or "being political" for Nao would be someone unfamiliar with anime's long history of portraying trans characters in a sympathetic light, from the anime adaptation of Wandering Son (2011) to the much more recent Blue Period. Fortunately, most of the Crunchy commenters were very positive about Nao, and why not? Nao's a sweetheart- excellent at reading people (and determining their true desires); adept at administering verbal kicks in the pants to those reluctant to act; and, of course, someone who'd never let anyone in their charge go out in a clashing outfit. (Mitsumi says that Nao's a "designer".)
Another of Mitsumi's new friends is Yuzuki Murashige. Yuzuki's genuinely gorgeous (and, as is noted in the show, the sort of person who's still gorgeous even in the most casual clothes), but Yuzuki says she had problems with "relationship drama" in her previous school. You’d think someone with her looks would have it easy, but apparently the range of appearance and personality that you have to be in to escape school bullying is surprisingly narrow; even being "too pretty" can invite jealousy.
The one person among Mitsumi's girlfriends that I thought needed more screentime was Makoto Kurume. A self-described "dweeb" in pigtails and glasses, she says that her natural feeling would be to dislike someone like Yuzuki (I guess for the difference in appearance, again), but, in an honest text message to Yuzuki (Makoto has trouble communicating verbally), she says that despite those feelings, she'd like to get to know Yuzuki better. I can only add, as I said before, that I would have liked to have gotten to know Makoto better too. (The show tends to use her as comic relief.)
And let's go back to Shima. Shima admits that he's comfortable with Mitsumi in a way he's not been with any other girls (because she's content to be casually friendly with him, rather than chasing him, I suppose), but there's a dark cloud hanging over Shima, in the form of a girl named Ririka Saijou. It seems there was a scandal involving Shima and Ririka, and Ririka is playing a guilt card on Shima, using that past incident to bind him to her, while at the same time using it to deny him any chance at real happiness.
There are several other notable characters in the show. The one I found most interesting was Tokiko Takamine; she has an encounter with Mitsumi where she might have learned a lesson about stopping-and-smelling-the-roses, but it STILL didn't prevent her from feeling bitter disappointment over a later development. I've not read the manga, but I wouldn't be surprised if there was more there about later developments in her story.
Mitsumi and Shima also each have one long-time friend. Mitsumi's friend, from her hometown, is named Fumi; there seemed to be some interesting things going on in her life, but I think the show forgot about her after a while. Shima's friend is named Chris, and you'll see him being brutally honest with someone who, it seemed, was neither emotionally open to him, nor ready for his advice.
A "slice of life" show more than a romance (YET), but I loved the fact that Mitsumi's crew were so supportive of each other; and the encounters in this one had a more realistic feel than one usually finds in slice-of-life. And EVERYONE loves Mitsumi's dance with Shima in the opening credits. I MIGHT have picked a different property to rip off for the school play, though. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: No nudity, sex, or fanservice. The "scandal" mentioned would really only be such for juvenile Japanese idols. We'll go PG for Mature Situations and be done with it.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
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