Episode 5, “Jolly Times at the River!” is an answer to episode 4, which setup Shikimori, Izumi, and their gaggle of friends’ trip to the riverside post-exams. And honestly, it’s the perfect follow-up, and that’s not just because I got to hear the sound of sizzling meat multiple times this episode.
No, it’s because of the friendship y’all: these friends slap, but also so do Shikimori and Izumi, who get to bond a lot this episode. I mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s quite nice to come into a series with the couple already established, and that remains true. I like that Shikimori and Izumi’s story doesn’t end with them getting together, but rather, starts with them in a pretty romantic—and in the case of episode 5, physically affectionate and arousing—relationship where they’re equals and quite comfortable around one another.
Where that hits a peak in episode 5 is, of course, when Shikimori reveals the swimsuit she bought in episode 4 and rather shyly hid from Izumi. How the reveal happens is what I didn’t expect though, because it comes from Izumi trying to rescue a little kid who’s swept up in the currents. Naturally, Izumi’s very bad luck kicks in and this poor, bowl-cut haired child steps on a rock, and in an incredibly relatable way, gets a leg cramp and can’t save himself for beans. The ever-cool Shikimori leaps in and saves him, giving Izumi an untimely view of Shikimori’s suit while he coughs up a bit river water, catches his breath, and gets a scolding for not calling out when in danger.
It’s predictable, sure, but that’s what I like: I like those moments when Shikimori gets to be hella cool and suave and all the things I like in girls too. I like how into that Izumi is as well: I like that the plot likens how into her Izumi is, and how cute the series (and this presumably must extend to the source content) is about letting them just like each other. Predictable, true, but it’s good stuff, and it’s why we stan our pink-purple couple.
There’s lots of good tidbits this week, though I’ll admit that the gag about Shikimori secretly being a bad cook definitely josses my idea that this series is gonna do anything with how it initially poked at gender roles. It feels like a minor loss but… it is what it is, you know? That said, Izumi devouring the meal she made did win me over, as did Shikimori’s determination to make him a good, actually edible meal. It’s cute, and it’s earned, and it just generally feels a bit like drinking a bottle of ramune: saccharine sweet and fizzy in all the most pleasant ways.
Ultimately, episode 5 is as refreshing as its riverside plot of the week: whether you’re talking about watching the kids prep barbeque or frolic in the river, it’s a genuinely sweet episode that makes me long for the coming summer. It’s nice to see Shikimori staying the course as a genuinely cute show, even if the stakes are low. I’m kinda coming to really appreciate having low-key shows in my life this year: hopefully you are too.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is currently streaming on
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.