Komichi Akebi is about to start attending a prestigious girls’ junior high school, and is looking forward to wearing its signature sailor uniform like her mother used to. Unfortunately for her, however, times — and the school’s uniform policy — have changed.
Aqua’s verdict: Barely Legal
It’s rare for a laid-back slice-of-life show like Akebi’s Sailor Uniform to spark online discourse, but over the past couple of days, this shows seems to have become a hot topic nevertheless. One only needs to suffer through a couple of minutes of this first episode to understand why. For many, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is yet another gorgeous, lovingly crafted anime that nevertheless can’t keep it in its proverbial pants, and the noxious undercurrent of skeeve that runs throughout this pilot is so omnipresent it almost feels tailor made to kickstart a discussion about how much questionable fetish fuel we tolerate in our anime.
In brief, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is pretty, but it’s also pretty horny. Whether it’s Akebi spending a sizeable amount of the episode in her skivvies, the camera lasciviously lingering on her body as she slowly puts on the titular uniform or the already infamous sequence where a girl is caught meticulously clipping her toenails and luxuriating in the smell of her own feet, this show will even raise the eyebrows of people who’ve never even heard of any other flavour but vanilla. Sure, these proclivities are not problematic in se, but the ways they are inserted into innocuous scenes of domestic bliss here certainly are. It merits repeating here that these girls are fresh out of elementary school, and the ways in which this innocence is weaponized to objectify them just cannot be justified by any quantifiable measure.
Then again, this is not exactly a new phenomenon. I think many people who watch anime on the regular, myself included, have almost become numb to its rampant sexualization of young girls. The ephebophilic gaze has virtually become a unanimously accepted quirk of the medium, or a condition one has to yield to when watching, lest its sheer omnipresence sends you spiralling.
How exactly we got this far, is a story for another time, but it should be pointed out. Even we at The Glorio Blog have often turned a blind (or at least a visually impaired) eye to this kind of questionable content in favourites like Made in Abyss or Yozakura Quartet. Heck, one could even argue that whatever Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is doing, is simply a more honest approach to a baleful trope most modern anime indulge in. So why did this show make me feel like the feds were going to arrest me, while, say, the copious shower scenes in A Certain Scientific Railgun just make me sigh and roll my eyes?
I think the answer is twofold: First of all, the cheesecake in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is so diametrically contrary to its supposedly breezy tone that it more easily registers as an author shamelessly inserting their own paraphilias into what would otherwise be a narrative aimed at ten-year-olds. Secondly, and most importantly, however, is that this show is so detached from anything remotely resembling reality, its flaws become all the more noticeable, and therefore, detrimental to the overall experience. For a show that appears to be all about how reality is often shockingly different from idealism, there certainly is a boatload of the latter and not a fat lot of the former. Why does suburban Japan look like Midsomer Murders all of a sudden? And are we honestly meant to believe the school will let Akebi wear what she pleases just because she asked nicely? Come on.
Long story short, the reason why we balk at the fanservice in this show so much is simple — it’s because there’s little else to talk about. Akemi’s Sailor Uniform is gorgeous, both technically and aesthetically, that’s for certain, but to what end? Watching this show is like mindlessly scrolling through the world’s most basic Pinterest board, only to sporadically come across random creep shots of a little girl’s armpits. With those etched into your memory, who the fuck would care about everything else you were just looking at?
Zigg’s verdict: Sailor? I barely know her!
As Aqua has articulated, a lot of the problem with this show is the weird dichotomy between its polished, prestige TV presentation and the tired and distasteful bouts of weird anime horniness it indulges in. It’s especially odd because the main body of this episode is so far down the sugar-coated small-town fantasy hole that it occasionally boggles the mind. Akemi somehow lives (in what may as well be a parody gingerbread house) in a town small enough where she’s the only girl in the entire primary school, but also within walking distance of a prestigious middle school that appears to have an intake in the hundreds? Her obsession with the sailor uniform, one of the most tired, omnipresent tropes in Japanese media to the point of parody, is less believable to me than vampires or giant robots or anything like that. Without the fanservice this would be an obnoxiously saccharine, entirely toothless piece of nothing. With it, it’s both that and extremely creepy. Hard pass.