Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie
by Callum May,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie ?
Community score: 4.3
What the hell? Why am I tearing up watching this episode? That really doesn't happen often, I promise! The last time was Made in Abyss!
Hachimitsu, up until now, has been somewhat of a gag character. She's lethargic, downtempo, and a perfect contrast to the more upbeat members of the cast. I've been loving her deadpan reactions, but I never expected it to be so compelling watching her actually try at something. Of course, there are still plenty of Hachimitsu gags—her incredibly short pace and her literal melting got a laugh out of me. But that's what makes her agreeing to continue practicing with Izumi surprising. Isn't this relay just an excuse to laugh at her and Izumi being forced to do something out of their comfort zone?
Apparently not. It's always compelling to watch characters try something out of the usual, but it's even more so when even the audience doesn't have much faith in them. This is an episode about reaching beyond your limits with the support of your best friends. Even the teacher notes how close they all are when the remaining three step in to support Hachimitsu and Izumi. While Shikimori could feel very repetitive early on, it's managed to establish a strong bond between humor and heart that has made these last few episodes stand out.
After her surprisingly apt performance in the ball toss, Hachimitsu awakens to the realization that it doesn't necessarily matter if she does well, but that trying her best to win will bring smiles to all of her friends' faces. There was also a bizarrely intimate shot of Shikimori running her hand through Hachimitsu's hair. I guess she can be everyone's cool girlfriend.
The relay itself is what dislodged some tears. The music was pumping, the character art was beautiful...Shikimori episodes have a tendency to drag a little, but I was so gripped that it felt like it went by in a flash. It doesn't sound all that special if I just say: Hachimitsu tried her best, fell over, but then got back up again. But that's why we're watching anime. It's all about the presentation. The animation doesn't stray from her role as a gag character with the trip being particularly silly. But, for her, getting up again is her transformation, and the earnest look she gives Izumi had my heart pumping.
From then on, every part of the relay was in response to Hachimitsu's efforts. Izumi didn't want his unluckiness to sabotage the race, while Shikimori and Inuzuka wanted to turn that small lethargic girl's hard work into a victory. Hachimitsu's short speech at the end was everything I'd hoped for. It's not just that it was honest and heartfelt, but that it came from her.
I don't have overwhelming faith in Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie to be a consistently strong show. Its early episodes made it clear that there definitely is such a thing as “bog-standard”. But as long as they don't rely on, “Wow, isn't it funny how unlucky Izumi is and how cool Shikimori is,” then I reckon these last two episodes are worth looking forward to.
If you make me tear up, you get five stars. That's the rule.
Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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