Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie: Quick Thoughts

Moving on to the next of the anime series of the Spring Season that I’ve been watching – as of this writing I’m about 4 episodes into Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – one of the new rom-com anime of the Spring 2022 Season that caught my interest. I’m about 4 episodes in so far, which is far enough to give me a pretty good feel of the show’s dynamics.

Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is something of an interesting inversion of some of the more classic moe or moe-adjacent rom-com dynamics, mainly by putting a character concept that would ordinarily be on a female character on a male character instead. The premise is that high schooler Izumi is a tremendously unlucky, clumsy, and accident-prone young man who is currently in a steady and stable romantic relationship with Shikimori, who is a girl that is her class “prince” in the Utena Tenjou sense. They have some slice of life hijinx while also running into (sometimes literally) slapstick related to Izumi, and particular with various characters – particularly Shikimori, keeping Izumi from coming to harm (in some cases harm that would be serious injury).

Shikimori from Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie in "Cool" mode.
Here’s “Cool” Mode (though also lightly flustered)

Now, the inversion with Shikimori is one that’s been done before – as mentioned with the Utena comparison, Shikimori is beautiful, athletic, and adored by her classmates in a sense that has previously been done with characters like Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena or – in a more heterosexual context – Hinagiku from Hayate the Combat Butler. The more unique twist on this is where Izumi comes in, as Izumi very much feels like the staff counterpart of the “clumsy moe girl” archetype.

Shikimori from Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie in "Cutie" mode.
And here’s “Cutie” mode.

However, the show is also very much aware of its gender dynamics and the expectations that are laid on the characters because of gender roles and in what ways they want to act or feel obligated to act in relation to those roles. Shikimori is perceived by her peers as a kakkoii or “good looking/cool” girl – but she wants also to be perceived as cute and feminine. Izumi while not himself going into the realm of toxic masculine expectations of men – in terms of not wanting to be dominating or wanting to assert control over Shikimori – does fear that his clumsiness and poor luck make him a burden to his girlfriend, so he wants to try to avoid that.

That said, much as with Science Fell In Love, So I Tried To Prove It – it’s a show based on variations on a theme of a couple particular jokes – 1) Izumi’s bad luck puts him in mild peril and he’s either saved by a peer (possibly Shikimori) or he isn’t saved and takes a mild pratfall, or 2) Shikimori is motivated to do something really cool – showing as the title implies she’s not just a cutie (complete with a change to a more intense, cool, facial expression).

Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.

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