Episode 3 – Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie

In Episode 3, “Misfortune, Followed by Sunshine” we get what I’ve been hungry for: a movie date. That time-honored, well-loved romcom date trope that delights me more than a big meal ever could.

At first glance, episode 3 looks like it’s shaping up to be the same old, same old: Izumi’s unlucky and fretting about his date while Shikimori frets about being cute enough. But what we get instead is a deeper look into how their vulnerabilities – that is, Izumi’s propensity to fall into bad luck and Shikimori’s perception of herself as not being cute – entangle in interesting ways.

The gag of Izumi being plagued by bad luck is always something that could wear thin very fast, and while it’s not completely out of the doghouse, I have to give this episode credit for giving us a glimpse into the less humorous side of such an affliction as well. Whether it’s a bad strap snapping or an anxiety spiral about everything going belly up, it’s quite clear that Izumi has to constantly tiptoe his way through life so the world doesn’t just… get him in the end.

At the same time, Shikimori is someone who’s conflicted about what she really wants. She openly desires her boyfriend’s affection and wants to be treated in feminine ways, but there’s a sense that she’s not being entirely true to herself. It sets up a really interesting dynamic that makes Izumi and Shikimori stand out in a sea of cute romcom couples.

Where this comes to a head is when Shikimori decides to go with her heart and see what is most definitely anime Stephen King’s It. (In show, it’s called Red Balloon, but trust me; it’s super duper It, and it’s so funny that I had to roll the footage back just to make sure.) And much like in episode 1 and 2, Shikimori quits trying to be overtly cute: instead, she allows herself to just be who she is, which is a seriously cool girl who’s kind of princely to her boyfriend, whose clumsiness obscures the fact that he’s just a really sweet, somewhat shy kiddo. And when things expectedly go belly up, we get a genuinely sweet series of moments where it all clicks why this couple works.

In the end, Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is… curious. It’s dipping its toes in some really interesting conversations about gender in a kind of Horimiya-esque way that I genuinely didn’t expect out of a lighthearted romcom. Like I said in the premiere, I have no clue if this will develop towards actual commentary about gender roles; if anything, I expect that it probably won’t, and it doesn’t need to be – just watching the genuine chemistry between these two teens is more than engaging enough. Nevertheless, it’s kind of nice to see the show play with these norms through Shikimori and Izumi. I definitely look forward to rooting for them even more

Rating:




Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is currently streaming on
Crunchyroll.

Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization light novel editor & proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where they’re a staff editor. They’re also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, they’re falling in love with Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie and A Couple of Cuckoos. When they’re not writing and reviewing, you can find them on their Twitter or on their Instagram where they’re always up to something.

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