The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
Skip and Loafer
How would you rate episode 1 of
Skip and Loafer ?
Community score: 4.4
What is this?
Mitsumi moves to Tokyo to attend a prestigious school and achieve her dreams of making positive change in the world. But while she's got book smarts, she soon finds herself inexperienced in big city social norms, and struggles to make friends at first.
Skip and Loafer is based on Misaki Takamatsu's Skip and Loafer manga and streams on Crunchyroll on Tuesdays.
How was the first episode?
I've seen a ridiculous amount of slice-of-life/romance shows that are set in high schools over the years. I've even seen more than a few about someone transferring into a Tokyo school from out in the country. However, of all of those, I don't think I've ever seen one so unabashedly real when it comes to how it treats its main character. There is absolutely no romanticizing Mitsumi. She's a total mess. In this episode alone, we see her panic after riding the wrong train, panting like she's about to die as she runs to school, and puking on her teacher's new suit.
But here's the thing, while there's no romanticizing in her portrayal, that is the core aspect of the romance of the show. Sousuke is attracted to her because he's never met a girl like her. It's not that she's some manic pixie dream girl put on this earth to teach him a new way to live, it's that her lack of social skills means she doesn't feel the need to act cute. She has no false persona—she is exactly who she appears to be on the surface. As a good-looking guy, he's used to girls putting on a front to try and charm him. But she barely acknowledges his looks—she's far more impressed by how helpful and kind he is to her.
It's also a nice touch that, despite her inexperience in social situations, she is both hard-working an intelligent. When we first hear her big dreams for the future, they seem unrealistic. But once we seen how above and beyond she goes in the pursuit of them—like memorizing a speech that she normally would have been able to read—it doesn't seem so silly anymore. What's more, we also get to see what happens when her hard-working nature combines with her social anxiety when she spends all night trying to write the perfect self-introduction for the following day.
All in all, it's a rather refreshing high school romantic comedy. If you're looking for a more grounded look at school life in Japan—or just want a protagonist who doesn't follow all the “cute girl” tropes, this one is probably worth a watch.
The first episode of Skip and Loafer brims with positivity from start to finish. We are immediately thrown into Mitsumi Iwakura's point of view; she is very eager to enjoy her first day in high school, imagining the friends she would make, the conversations that would happen, and how happy would her friends and family be when she tells them about it. Moreover, she is very clear about her life goals until the day she dies (talk about overly ambitious) and she is also a smart student, the self-proclaimed best in her hometown. Her interactions with the other protagonist, Sousuke Shima, completes the positivity.
This episode does so well in establishing the series as a light-hearted story of high school students in Japan that I almost can't see any foreshadowing of teen drama occurring in the future. It seems to be shaping itself as an overall wholesome story with wholesome characters. It will fill your high school nostalgia jars to the full if your high school memories are all or mostly happy, of course.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode of Skip and Loafer more than I expected. Unfortunately, the high schools in my country operate very differently from the ones in Japan so I don't have many relatability factors to help elevate the joy I experienced. However, I will recommend Skip and Loafer to anyone who is looking for a simple, funny, and wholesome high school story.
Skip and Loafer is a damned good premiere that shows the rest of the world how you craft a nearly perfect introduction to a coming-of-age high school rom-com. While I still prefer it when I can get a story with a couple that are actual adults, if we're going to be perpetually stuck in the world of puberty-induced melodrama, then I can only ask that it is as well-realized and genuine as this.
Our heroine Mitsumi is the perfect example of a well-meaning dork who hasn't quite yet internalized the age-old rule about God's reaction to our best laid plans. I cringed and “D'aaaw”-ed in equal measure as we watched her manically flail her way through the cascading catastrophes of her first day as a freshman in the big city of Tokyo. Sousuke, by contrast, is exactly the kind of barely-conscious but ineffably chill new friend/possible-love-interest that Mitsumi needs in her life. I don't know if I could personally recover from puking all over my teacher in front of the whole school on my very first day in a scary new city, but it certainly would be easier to do if I knew I had at least one cool hottie in my corner when I got to class the next day.
Most of all, I just love how real everyone in the show feels so far, and how much affection Skip and Loafer clearly has for its entire cast (you gotta love the straightforward and empathetic representation of characters like Mitusmi's Aunt Nao, for example). No matter how you slice it, this season is an embarrassment of riches for anyone who likes their cartoons stuffed to the brim with unreasonable amounts of cute shenanigans, and Skip and Loaf may well end up being the crown jewel of them all.
There's just something about this show. It's hard to put your finger on it, but just like its leading lady, Skip and Loafer is just infectiously charming. On paper, it's such a simple setup for a high school dramedy, with a fish-out-of-water country girl striking it out alone in a big city high school. There are no huge laughs or absurd twists, nor any big dramatic moments across this episode. Yet somehow, I spent this whole premiere with a huge smile on my face, eager to watch these kids skip and/or loaf their way through life.
A big part of that charm is in the art. Mitsumi's design is deceptively simple, which allows her face to morph into the perfect expression for every frame she's in, whether she's contorting in anxiety or giving the world's saddest puppy dog eyes. Her guileless smile is so perfectly rendered that you can tell everything about her personality despite her face being made of, like, five lines and some circles. The backgrounds, character art, animation, and music all come together to create a soft, pleasant atmosphere that welcome you in with a warm hug. If you're capable of watching the dance sequence in the OP without cracking a smile, then I weep for the horrors inflicted upon your cold, dead heart.
Of course, the star of the show is Mitsumi, and she's an absolute delight. She's got that perfect mix of book smarts and street dumbs, providing laughs at her own expense, but constantly reminding you why you want to root for her. You can tell she's tempting fate the moment she declares she'll have the perfect high school debut, but a part of you really wants her to succeed, even as you're giggling at her terror once she gets lost at the train station. Shima, the loafing half of the title, is predictably more understated, but he makes a strong foil for his ever-anxious and pre-planning costar. You get the sense that he takes things as they come, for better or worse, and while that attitude helps center Mitsumi during her heaviest spirals, moments like him running after her on their way to school suggest that there's plenty he can learn from her, too.
In all, this first episode isn't liable to knock anyone's socks off, but it's not really trying to. Instead, its goal is to be cozy, charming, and maybe a little relatable; sweet without being sugary, and relaxing without feeling sleepy. In that goal it absolutely succeeds, and I can't recommend it enough.
This won me over the second Sousuke and Mitsumi started dancing in the opening theme. That moment captures everything I love about the source manga—the infectious way the characters grow on us and each other as they break out of their preconceived shells. Someone clearly understood what story they were telling.
That's abundantly evident through the entire episode, which is a pretty close adaptation. The start of the story hinges on Mitsumi's overwhelming, and perhaps unfounded, self-confidence: she knows everything is going to be perfect, because she has plans. Moving to Tokyo for high school is just the first step of her mapped-out journey through life, and coming from a town where she was essentially a whale in a puddle, nothing has really shaken up her steadfast belief in herself. Or at least, that's what she desperately wants us all to think. As the episode goes on, and more specifically as it ends, we start to see that maybe Mitsumi's confidence is a lie she'd very much like to believe. She's so keen on making a good first impression that she overthinks, resulting in her staying up all night, or at least most of it, crafting multiple drafts of her self-introduction. In her mind, if she screws this up after her massive fail at the entrance ceremony, she may as well just call herself The Puker and live in a cardboard box in the park.
Mitsumi is balanced out nicely by Sousuke, who is laid-back to the point of appearing not to care. In a nice bit of wordless exposition, we see the main cast getting ready for school in the morning, getting dressed, fussing with their hair, and so on…while Sousuke lies in bed, clearly thinking about hitting snooze on his alarm again. Until he bumps into a lost and distraught Mitsumi at the train station, he really couldn't care less about getting to school on time, much to his buddy's chagrin. But Mitsumi is so different from what he's expecting that she startles him out of his complacency. It would be a “not like other girls” moment if she wasn't so recognizably just like other girls, or rather, like other people. Mitsumi's good at a lot of things, but putting up a false front isn't one of them, and her in-your-face humanity wakes Sousuke up. Trust me, your first time in a big city after growing up in a rural environment is exactly as rude a shock as we see here.
Skip and Loafer was one of my most anticipated titles, and it looks like it's going to live up to its source, right down to the respect Nao is given by the story. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
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