I must be honest here folks, Spring 2022 is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in anime, period. Amongst highly anticipated returns of shows like Attack On Titan the Final Season Part 2 and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone’s Ocean, we have seen some entirely new adaptations make their mark in the anime stratosphere, including Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie.
And with that, I’m loving how I’m finding new shows that are like a breath of fresh air. Manga artists and anime studios have stepped up their game by introducing stories with non-stereotypical characters and more unique, engaging plots. We’re even seeing that shift in the Shojou genre, with characters like Kyoko Hori from Horimiya and Marin Kitagawa from My Dress-Up Darling. With Hori, we have this responsible but shrewd personality and very little ‘moe’ to be found. And my girl Marin? She’s just plain unapologetic and glamorous, her ‘Valley Girl/Gyaru’ aesthetic being a direct antithesis to the more conservative, shy ‘waifu’ or ‘tsundere’ types we’ve grown accustomed to.
This is a welcome change, especially in Shojou where things can get very formulaic. Anime characters must be more than the tropes they encompass. Tropes aren’t bad, of course; it’s what makes things fun but. Maybe let a male character have softer personality traits instead of choosing between loudmouth or stoic king. Maybe don’t have female characters choose between scathing ice queen or cute baby princess.
And on that note, I think we might have a new player in the ring. Creator Keigo Maki’s rom-com manga, Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie, was announced to be getting an anime adaptation last year, slated for release in April 2022. The first episode just dropped, and we have the scoop!
Table of Contents
Meet Izumi And Shikimori!
We start with a glimpse of our male lead, Izumi, and how he interacts with his mother. Already, you can see that Izumi is a very simple but sweet boy. He is chided by his mother, soft-spoken in every way. Some might call that plain but he clearly has his own personality and isn’t just a self-insert character for projection. It’s a perfect complement to the overall feel of the show.
Our female lead Shikimori, however, is an absolute riot. Echoing the title’s sentiment, Shikimori isn’t some sweet meek little girl waiting to be swooned by her Prince Charming. She’s kind, resourceful, and absolutely adores her boyfriend. Even in the tiniest expressions (like when she becomes a cool badass while protecting said boyfriend), there is so much fluidness. With the anime being adapted by Studio Doga Kabo, the art style reflects the tone of our sugary sweet protagonists perfectly.
Established Relationship From The Start?
Okay, it doesn’t sound like it’s all that unique for a show to have a set couple from the very start. But honestly, when was the last time we had a cute rom-com that wasn’t based on a couple chasing after each other? Hey, I’m all for it! A slow-burn romance is fun, and it’s exciting seeing two people fall in love, leading to a Happily Ever After. But we rarely get to see what happens beyond that.
So having Izumi and Shikimori be an established couple is a new dynamic. They are already very in love, and in tune with each other, and that chemistry is only amplified since they are the main frontrunners of a romance, hence getting more exposition. It’s refreshing to see how they bounce off each other in the first episode alone.
Side Characters Aren’t Sidelined!
Half the fun in Shojou is the cat and mouse game that the leads play. So, when you don’t have any of that conflict, it’s easy to have a show fizzle out on the risk of being boring. Luckily, our side characters here are more than just the comic relief! Despite only having a few appearances so far, they appear to be well-rounded and solid characters, albeit slightly formulaic. It’ll be interesting to see how they interact with our main couple going forward, as the trailer hints at so much more.
Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie: Verdict
This is a serotonin shot in 30 minutes. It’s exactly what this time of year calls for i.e. flowery, tooth-rotting fluff with just a twinge of something tart and refreshing. I know we’ve only seen 1 episode so far, and maybe it’ll lose steam as time goes by. But this was a brilliant premiere, promising many more hijinks and fun to come our way. I can’t recommend Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie enough!
So how was it for you? Were you already following the manga? Let us know what other premiering shows you’d like us to cover. Until next time!