First Look: Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie

shikimori_01-1

Alternative title(s): Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san
Manga Adaptation by Doga Kobo
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Izumi is perpetually unlucky, clumsy, and unassertive. Fortunately, he has a cute and capable girlfriend to protect him! WAIT, you’re saying she’s a girl, she’s cute, AND she is good at things??? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE!?!?!

shikimori_02-2

Jel’s verdict: Cute over Cool

Before I get into my rant, let me say I liked a lot of things in this first episode. This is the extremely rare romantic comedy where the main couple is together from the first second of the show. That alone is refreshing. Shikimori and Izumi seem to genuinely care about each other beyond surface level attraction, and they are open and honest with each other about their feelings. Everything about their relationship is sweet and wholesome and for a lot of people, maybe even me, that will be enough to make it worth watching.

The main thing bugging me is the premise itself. It’s implied that it’s strange, even unattractive, for Shikimori to be so good at everything. Everyone besides Izumi is practically scared of her. Additionally, Izumi is implied to be a weirdo for liking a strong, capable girl because she’s strong and capable, not just because she’s hot. A key moment is when one of Shikimori’s friends says Shikimori chose to be “cool” instead of “cute” when she gets a perfect game in bowling. You see, according to this friend, girls are more cute when they are bad at things. That is obviously a ridiculous statement, and I don’t think the scene does enough to push back against it.

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To be clear, the author is not saying there’s anything wrong with Shikimori and Izumi. It’s the people around them that seem to have these outdated views on gender. My point is, I don’t think the author is making much effort to say the people around them are wrong. Shikimori and Izumi are exceptions to the rule, but the rule is still valid. I’m probably just reading way too much into this but, intentionally or unintentionally, I feel like that is what the author is telling us.

Rant aside, I also have concerns about this show getting… well, boring. As much as I enjoyed the main couple’s screentime together, it felt like they were already running out of things to talk about by the end of the episode. I’m sure new cast members and new situations will help mix that up a bit, but ultimately it might just be a lot of them staring at each other and saying the other one is cute. That’s fine, and I’m sure a lot of people will love this. For me, I enjoyed it just enough that I would be willing to watch another episode when I have time. With all the other good comedies this season though, it might be tough to get back to it.

3 thoughts on “First Look: Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie

  1. I really liked the manga of this series, but I did notice the little problem you mentioned. But you also have to keep in mind that gender roles in Japan (and a lot of other cultures) are a bit more ridged than what you might find in Western cultures. Though you can still see pretty ridged gender roles in some sub cultures in the West too. (cough cough, Brogrammers, cough cough) I think with time these kinds of themes will fade from and anime world, but it’s probably a little early for them to disappear completely.

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