Episode 4, “How They Each Feel at the Start of Summer” comes in hot, hot, hot with an early summer episode. I was expecting something like this to come around mid-season, but no: we’re diving deep into some of my favorite summertime tropes early on.
The crux of this episode is that Izumi, Frail Boy Supreme, is weak to the sun, while Shikimori goes hard in the paint for summer. So, as a group, the kiddos (Shikimori, Izumi, and Crew) come to a solid compromise: they’ll enjoy summertime by the river, which should keep Izumi’s bad luck from causing a whole body sunburn while also letting the cast rock some swimwear and play in the cool water.
It’s a sweet moment that shifts the spotlight away from Shikimori (who I realized is called Micchon by her friends, which… CUUUUUUUUUTE) and Izumi for a bit to focus on the side characters, this time involving Shu Inuzuka, Kyo Nekozaki, and Yui Hachimitsu in a story about friendship and being considerate. This continues in a basketball game between the inciting incident and the climax/resolution of this week’s episode, and is both pretty fun to see and explores how Nekozaki and Shikimori’s friendship started. There’s also a very cute scene with Shikimori promising to go stargazing with Izumi, which like… aaaaaaaaaaaaah, my tender heart!
This welcome focus on the people surrounding our central couple elevates what is already a perfectly serviceable rom-com on its own. Izumi’s friends care about him so much, and while they definitely bring up his near-fatal levels of clumsiness, they don’t mock him for it. Izumi’s clumsiness is simply regarded as part of the quiet bargain of being his friend, and that sense of compromise and acceptance is in full view in this summertime and chill episode of a bunch of friends just being great friends and supporting one another. It’s simple, yes, but I also eat friendship stories up like I’m at a Japanese cake buffet. It’s nice because it feels like the series is opening itself up to more heartwarming moments and basing less of its humor on Izumi trying to survive gravity.
A lot of episode 4 is just friendship: there are some romantic moments, sure, but the bigger story is that of friendship, and just how wonderful platonic love can be. It’s nice to see the show open up to that message: while I’m fully here for ShikIzumi, I’m also very much starting to get invested in their friends, and the beautiful simplicity of their joyful, everyday lives.
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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.