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This Week in Anime
Top Reasons to Watch Skip and Loafer

by Nicholas Dupree & Steve Jones,

Nick and Steve discuss the myriad of reasons why Skip and Loafer is a top-tier rom-com, from fully-realized characters and expertly-timed comedy to positive trans representation.

This series is streaming on Crunchyroll.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.
Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.

@Lossthief @BeeDubsProwl @NickyEnchilada @vestenet

Nick, there's been no shortage of "omg me" posts going around lately, and this column is no stranger to that. But I must declare that I've never seen another animation screenshot before that so perfectly captured my quintessence every weekday at 6:21 am.
Mitsumi is a genuine fount of perfect 'It Me' faces. I daresay we could construct a tale of the entire human experience just through drawings of this anxious little country squirrel.
Whenever an animator draws bags under a high school girl's eyes, it is a tiny gift to me and my decades of accumulated sleep debt.
Seriously, there are many more complex and substantive reasons why Skip and Loafer is great, but the number one selling point is how much mileage they can get from a girl whose face has fewer lines than a Family Guy character.
I am super on board with more frumpy bumpkin rom-com heroines. We had another great example last year with Heroines Run the Show, and now we have Skip and Loafer. Not only is it the sweetest show of the season, but it also marks the triumphant return of director Kotomi Deai! Who, funnily enough, also did the ED for Heroines Run the Show. I guess she shares our affection for these funny little bundles of anxiety.
Let me say up front that Deai was the perfect choice for this series. Years of sharpening skills in the far-off mountains of Natsume Yuujinchou have paid off in the form of the most wonderfully pleasant vibes of anything you'll watch all year.
It is effervescently pleasing to all relevant senses. There's no shortage of facets to hone in on, from the impeccable color design to the perfect VA performances. But the real mark of high school bildungsroman anime quality, as we all know, can be seen when the premiere recruits as many fabric perverts as possible.

And you can tell the quality of writing by how immediately and ruthlessly any given show owns its protagonist.
Very true. And it made for a very reassuring first episode, for me, anyway. I'd been looking forward to this show purely based on the Deai factor, so the equally strong source material was nice to see. After all, as the great and severely underappreciated Anime-Gataris once declared, the best anime are all puke anime.
Suit: 45k Yen
Blouse: 10k Yen
Damage to both parties' social standing: Priceless.
Genuinely one of the realest depictions of how high school works.
Really though, it's impressive how the show can totally derail Mitsumi's plans for instant high school success without ever feeling mean about it. It's inviting us to laugh and cringe alongside her, remembering when we were also teenage disasters, rather than just dunking on her.
Yeah, it's a surprisingly tough series to describe without just sitting someone down to watch it. Because it'd be really easy to get the impression that Skip and Loafer is saccharine and frictionless when it's much more nuanced than that, it is ultimately healing, and that's one of its strongest qualities. Still, it takes some big bites to get there. It wrestles with a lot of the nasty and/or cringey stuff that haunts people's adolescences. Because, for better or worse, those makeup most of our defining experiences, and Skip and Loafer often argues it can be for the better.
Speaking of, I'd be remiss not to highlight Mitsumi's aunt, Nao-chan, as a wonderful and grounded trans character. Even just supporting Mitsumi and the other kids, she's an absolute delight whenever she's on-screen.

God bless her for saving this fashion disaster from herself.
Oh, for sure, Nao-chan calls for a Pride-appropriate shoutout. And she's a great example of the careful and compassionate line that the show toes. Because there are scenes when the writing acknowledges some of the frictions and injustices society imposes on trans people. It's not all idealized. But in the end, Skip and Loafer always champions kindness and honesty, and that direction feels more genuine in the face of those realities.

I'd also argue she's the audience stand-in. Because while SkipLoaf deals with the travails of high school life, it has a distinctly adult perspective. In the same way, we can look back on our teen years and laugh at how caught up we were in stuff that seems trivial now, the show - and Nao - does the same with its characters.
She's also extremely protective of Mitsumi, another feeling I can relate to.

Granted, it's funny she's worried about the boy equivalent of a Pomeranian, but I'm glad she's got my Mitsu's back.
She's far from the only person in this show mystified by our central pairing. Though I chalk most of that up to these kids watching so many rom-com anime that they can barely comprehend the concept of a boy and girl being friends.
Well, it's pretty obvious they're something more than friends: they're ducks.

The whole story revels in its unlikely pairings and friendships, though, and that's the beauty of it.
What's remarkable is that it's not at all gimmicky about it. There are no mugging or shocked reactions about how this nerdy go-getter couldn't possibly get along with the chill slacker guy, no freak-outs about how it's overturning the social order of high school. It's so casual that Mitsumi and Shima don't notice something's up until somebody else comments.
It becomes a vehicle for one of Skip and Loafer's greatest tricks: endearing the audience towards Egashira. Because she starts on perhaps the worst foot possible there, it'd be easy for the narrative to treat her as an adversarial roadblock that Mitsumi and Shima are meant to overcome to deepen their relationship. We've all seen that before, and SkipLoaf, thankfully, has other plans.
It helps that while Mitsumi is totally clueless about her jabs, Shima's savvy enough to shoo her off with a squirt bottle immediately.

The dude might be so laidback it's physically concerning, but he knows not to play stupid games.
Do NOT get on his bad side. He will zing you into next week without ever breaking his smile.
Egashira would have easily slotted into an antagonist role, but Skip & Loafer isn't interested in a conflict that black and white. Mika might perpetuate bogus expectations and presumptions, but the show clarifies that she isn't the source.
Her whole deal becomes crystal clear when we learn that she used to get picked on for being overweight. And that's all well and good for her character development or whatever, but I forgave her for any and all prior indiscretions the instant this happened.

One of the cleanest, most laser-focused applications of hater technology I've ever seen. Impeccable pettiness.
Hell, even before that, it was nice to have a voice of...well, not "reason" but something like it in the main friend group. Everyone else is a space case or an enabler, and having somebody more naturally self-conscious and outspoken is just good comedy.
The popcorn debate brings out the best in everyone. Like now, I have a new name for all my Twitter mutuals.
Also, I dig that Mitsumi's reason for sticking with her isn't based on knowing why she's like this but on seeing the bright side of Mika's personality.

We could all use a friend who will tell us we're being a dipshit sometimes.
I appreciated the scene when Egashira took her aside and said, "Actually, Mitsumi-chan, Mike Collins stayed in lunar orbit in the command module during the Apollo 11 mission, so he wasn't part of the moonwalk."
Pfft, that's only because that jerk Neil Armstrong was in charge. If Mitsumi had been the first to walk on the moon, she would totally have invited Collins-kun along!
So true. And jokes aside, I really do love how familiar all of these characters feel. Not just that their archetypes are common but that they're each suffused with details that instill a sense of authenticity. Like, we all knew the girl whose notebooks looked exactly like this.
I relate the most to Kurume. She's got the same self-defeating cynicism Mika does, but instead of trying to bend to trends or expectations, she turtles up in her own world and refuses to peek out for fear of rejection.

Pictured: basically me all of freshman year, but with pigtails.
She's the dweeby nerd, so of course I relate to her. I had those glasses too. If only I could have been as effortlessly cool as Mitsumi.
Mitsumi proves you don't have to act, dress, or look a certain way to be cool. You just have to be earnest, passionate, and have a doting aunt who keeps you from dressing like the host of a PBS Kids edutainment program.
See, I know it's already too late for me because I saw that outfit and thought it looked just fine. But then again, I'm a pretty big fan of her graphic-tee-forward wardrobe overall. She's got some bangers in her closet.
That's just the magic of Mitsumi. She can make incredibly lame decisions that seem cool through sheer gumption and country know-how.
It takes someone special to pull off Where's Waldo chic.

Also, speaking of all that reckoning going on, I want to shout out how good the translation has been. Every character's voice comes through and feels distinct, and I love the appropriate applications of slang (cool) and slang (endearingly outdated).
I do love the subtle bumpkinisms whenever Mitsumi calls home. It's like my grandpa slipping into a way heavier southern drawl whenever he talks to his siblings.
She whips out "knee-high to a grasshopper" in one conversation. It's exquisite.
Just incredible work on the on-screen text too.

I'm not sure what that word means, but no face has ever expressed it better.
The wording choices and idioms are consistently goofy in a way that complements the show's tone. The translation also knows we could always use an egg or two in these trying times.

And there are trying times to be found in Skip and Loafer. Usually whenever it gestures to Shima's past and home life, which are both still as fuzzy as his hair, but no doubt complicated.
Trust me readers, that's no understatement because this boy's hair is extremely fuzzy.

Seriously, look at the detail on that muss. It's beautiful.
It's funny that child actors are a running theme this anime season. And by "funny," I mean "oh no."

We still don't know the full circumstances of either side of Shima's past, but it's enough to explain why he's so purposefully detached from so much around him. He's chill and easy-going, which makes him easy to get along with, but it's also a guard to keep from getting too close to anyone.
Yeah, and it's super revealing whenever we see the cracks in his cool normal guy facade. For example, the weird anxiety he gets about buying a souvenir for his brother allows the normally frantic Mitsumi to be the calm voice of reason for once.

It adds another compelling layer to their relationship.
Returning to the duck metaphor, Shima lets everything wash right off his back like water. That might be a good way to avoid stress, but sometimes a relationship needs earnest, emotional conflict to grow. That's true of family, friends, or whatever the hell you call those two.
If Skip and Loafer is about anything, it's about honest confrontation and proper emotional hygiene, so I can't wait to see Shima develop further. And not just because I'm dying to know more about the latest hot mess to waltz into the cast (though it's mostly because of her).
I am dying to know how Ririka would feel if she knew Shima said this like two episodes ago.
Oh, I'm sure she'd be normal about it.
Shows what she knows. I bet Mitsumi would make a great circus act.
I have to agree. She does strike me as the type to—and I mean this in the kindest way possible—take up juggling as a hobby.
Well, I'll be there to cheer her on in all her endeavors. Skip and Loafer is a deceptively easy watch and goes down smoothly, whether it's dealing with showbiz drama or hometown hijinks, and I have been hooked since the first sip.
I'd fallen behind because there's too much good anime (and Zelda) to keep track of this season, but I relished this opportunity to catch up. It's effortlessly likable in a way that belies all the craft it takes to make a series this kind, patient, and full of bedhead.
Here's to nobody ever getting a comb.

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