Romantic comedies are my jam so when I saw one where it involved a girl protecting a guy who has the worst luck in the world, all I could envision were tons of gags that were sure to entertain! That was the premise behind Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san (Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie). In my first reaction, I gave this a resounding YES for the way it started out but did the remainder of the series hold up as well as the first episode?
Izumi has a problem… he has the worst luck anyone has ever seen. From falling into bushes to getting beaned in the head by a cicada, a black cloud follows him around wherever he goes. Luckily, he has his girlfriend Shikimori by his side. She’s there to catch the baseball before it hits his head, yank him away right before Truck-kun can isekai him, or kick a falling sign out of the air before it sends him to the shadow realm. In this sense, Shikimori is a sweet girl but she also has that strong “don’t mess with me” attitude as she instantly gets jealous whenever anyone gives Izumi a bunch of attention… even if that someone is a guy.
All of this mixes together in an episodic anime where you see them tackle everyday events from going shopping to seeing a movie, to going to the river with friends, to even the typical cultural festival… the latter of which serves as a nice story on how Shikimori and Izumi met and even fleshes out the short cast of characters. Beyond this, though, there really isn’t much in the way of overall story as the show relies on building the characters more so than the overall plot.
Come to think of it… did we ever learn her full name? Nevertheless, she is a sweet teenage girl one minute, a bit of a tsundere the next, and then a tomboy at all other times. She’s good at sports and gets really jealous when people pay too much attention to Izumi… which gets instantly contradicted during her backstory and crossing paths with Kamiya. One of the big complaints about her from the anime community is that she just doesn’t live up to the hype. Her gimmick of being Izumi’s protector wears off very quickly and she is reduced to being a mixture of comic relief and forced emotions. Everyone fell in love with her in the beginning but it quickly became clear that she wasn’t even a contender for best girl of the season, let alone, the year.
Personality-wise, she’s not THAT bad but as a character, she’s really flat and doesn’t really do much to stand out. In fact, she isn’t the only main character to suffer from this problem.
Here we have a very timid, yet bold main character. Wait… how does that even work? So, Izumi isn’t really afraid to do things. He has accepted the fact that he has the worst luck in the world and just tries to roll with it. In that sense, he’s pretty bold to not let life stomp him. Heck, he was bold enough to even land a girlfriend like Shikimori so he’s not completely spineless; however, when it comes to love or even talking about the subject, he turns into a pile of sweaty pudding.
The best part about Izumi is his misfortune because that was the backbone of the show. Seeing him get tortured by life and getting saved by Shikimori was THE highlight of this show… until it stopped. About a third of the way in, Izumi’s bad luck was all but forgotten about and he just morphed into a plain, generic, male main character. His personality and overreactions are what sold the comedy at the start but they became few and far between as the show went on. Not to dive into any spoilers, but in the final episode, he was a far cry from the character he was in Episodes 1-4 and it clearly showed just how much they sucked the air right out of him.
Also known as pacifist Katsuki Bakugo, he took the anime world by surprise. Anyone with his design is supposed to be a hot-tempered, short-fused, loudmouth whose only good quality is complaining about literally everything but Shuu wasn’t that. There were a few times he raised his voice but, for the most part, he was a really chill friend of Izumi’s…. and that’s pretty much all I can say because, in the grand scheme of things, he didn’t really get much screen time. One would believe that something like that would be a problem and in Shuu’s case, it was. The show took the limited screen time of other supporting characters and made them incredibly relevant while Shuu was made to be completely forgettable.
Here is a shining example of a background character that you cared so much about. Like Shikimori, she’s good at sports but she’s also kind of a loner. People don’t expect much out of her because she never likes to go anywhere or do anything with anyone. We later learn about how she loved Izumi first and when she found out that he was going out with Shikimori, she shut herself off to not cause them any trouble. All the while, she wished that she could just bury her feelings and move on. What ended up happening was a beautiful friendship between her and the rest of the crew developed and, in my opinion, she became the best-built character in the entire show and almost stole the entire spotlight from the main cast.
When a side character can do that… you know that you have a serious character development problem.
What can I say about Yui? She wears the same creepy smiling facial expression at all times, speaks in the same monotone voice no matter what, or doesn’t care if Nekozaki is leaning her over her knee and playing her like a guitar (yes, that happened). She is just really odd but it’s that oddness that makes her so entertaining. She definitely commands attention despite being the type of character that is normally quite muted. Even with her limited screen time, she was way more interesting than the main characters.
Kyou “Neko” Nekozaki
Yes, I love me some tomboys and Kyou is THE PERFECT example of what I love about them. She’s high-energy, sassy, quick-witted, a bit on the dumb side at times, outgoing, in-your-face, and carefree all at the same time. She even went so far as to pull Kamiya out of her shell and I thought that the friendship that developed between these two was the biggest highlight of this entire show. Hell, I could watch an entire series just on these two alone! I’m not much for spinoffs or OVAs but this is one I would definitely watch the hell out of! If I ever had a girlfriend, I’d want her to be just like Neko!
There were other characters such as Izumi’s parents and Shikimori’s brother but outside of a couple of episodes, they weren’t really prominent enough to be worth mentioning.
Art, Animation, and Sound
Animation-wise, this was about as typical as things get with a slice-of-life romcom but we’re not producing a blockbuster show with tons of CGI, battle scenes, or action set to a Hiroyuki Sawano soundtrack so it didn’t need to have massive production. Everything was fine as it was.
The same can be said for the artwork. It was obvious that in a show like this where Dago Kobo chose to spend their budget…. Fireworks and the final episode… especially the gondola scene. Those looked great while everything else was just about what you would expect out of an average TV anime. The character designs were nice… even if a couple were “borrowed” from other series. Each character stood out and matched their personalities all while staying within the realm of slice-of-life.
Like most romcoms or slice-of-life shows, the OST wasn’t memorable and was simply used for background ambiance. In that regard, it worked perfectly. The OP theme song was a bit catchy but still fell into the realm of a generic upbeat comedy anime theme song. The same could be said for the ED and unless you’re REALLY into that sort of music, then I would say that these are easily skippable when it comes to legally purchasing them through a legal website like CDJapan and not pirating them off of a torrent site (because WHO IN THE WORLD would EVER do THAT!?)
I have never watched an anime before that went from my personal show of the season to a show I can easily forget. Usually, it’s the opposite where something starts out pretty horribly and ends up becoming an anime of the year contender (I’m looking at you Shiki).
Wait… Shiki… Shikimori… is adding the word for forest to the end of the name cause it to have the opposite effect? Hmm…
Anyhoo, this show started off just as the synopsis promised it would and it was great! I loved seeing Izumi get into bad luck situations only for Shikimori to come to the rescue! The problem with this formula is that repeating it could get old fast and it did… so the show needed to do something to switch gears to keep people interested and when it did… it did the worst thing it possibly could… it abandoned its identity and devolved into a standard fare romantic comedy that, in the end, wasn’t anything special or something to write home about.
Sure, the show is good enough to marathon as some of the romance aspects are sweet and might make you get diabetes but if you’re coming into this expecting comedy then don’t. You’ll only get a good healthy dose before the back alley comedy dealer wants ludicrous amounts of cash causing you to walk away looking for your next fix only to discover that there never will be one.
Hmm… buying illegal drugs… who would have thought that would be the perfect analogy for this show.
So much promise. So much potential, and yet… so much falling flat. That’s Shikimori for you in a nutshell. Watch it if you want a basic rom-com… if you don’t… then feel free to skip this one.
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Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie starts off swinging heavily by giving you exactly what you’d expect from the synopsis but it’s all downhill from there as this degenerates into a just another standard-fare romcom that you can watch if you’re really bored and skip if you’d rather not take the time.
- Great secondary character development
- Great first four episodes
- Some sweet romance moments
- Izumi getting dumped on by life.
- Show devolves into standard romcom
- Secondary characters are more developed than main characters
- Main characters lose their steam/identity halfway through
- Passable show at best.
- Overall Score