「僕の彼女はとてもかわいいBoku no kanojo wa totemo kawaī」 ()
“My Girlfriend is so Cute”
The avalanche of higher-expectations premieres continues with Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san. This would have been my sleeper of the season, if you considered it under-the-radar enough to be a sleeper. The entire core team from Senpai ga Uzai Kouhai no Hanashi is reunited at Doga Kobo (more on that shortly) to adapt a quite well-respected romcom manga. A lot of boxes seem to be checked here, but anytime you’re dealing with comedy (romantic or otherwise) you never know if the alchemy works until you see it on screen. And there were some potential pitfalls in the quirky premise, though given overall views of the manga those concerns weren’t too serious.
In point of fact what this series reminded me of was not so much Senpai ga Uzai (though a bit of that, too) but Tonikaku Cawaii. I mean, you have a rather plain-seeming boy hooked up with a basically superhuman angel. In Tonikawa of course she really is superhuman, and I have no reason to believe there’s anything more exceptional about Shikimori (Oonishi Saori) than that she’s a lefty. And Nasa is a considerably more assertive lad than Izumi (Umeda Shuuichirou – nice to see another new seiyuu get his chance). But there’s something of that same dynamic between the two leads – most principally the guy being in “I can’t believe this angel is with the likes of me” mode much of the time. And of course they both have “kawaii” in the title…
In fact, if there’s any magical realism element to Shikimori-san it’s not Shikimori but Izumi. He seems to be one of those characters who magically attracts misfortune, except ultimately he’s really lucky because he has the perfect girl protecting him from it (that’s the core of the premise, I suppose). That’s a conceit for narrative purposes to be sure, one which I find slightly annoying. I mean, this stuff doesn’t really happen to this degree, and it feels like a bit of a crutch to fast-forward their dynamic to where the mangaka wants it. But it’s only slightly annoying, and as long as the results are amusing I can live with it.
The main reason this premiere works for me is the same reason Senpai ga Uzai did – the characters involved are all basically nice people, and I like them (call it the “anti-Shigatsu effect”). I think it’s best to withhold judgment to an extent, because with an oddball premise like this then first episode is tasked with a lot of bricklaying. But while Izumi is somewhat of a helpless little lamb and Shikimori a tigress, I kind of buy the mutual attraction. He’s a nice kid and she’s got a protective instinct, so they fit well together.
The question for me once we get past the intro stage is, does this setup have the legs to go the distance? It’s not going to go mean, that’s pretty obvious – I’m not worried about that. But there needs to be more to Izumi than a nice boy who needs protecting, and to Shikimori than a fierce girl who has two personality modes. Will the series explore Izumi’s inevitable (for a normal teenaged boy) feelings of inadequacy over this relationship in depth? Will it show vulnerabilities to Shikimori above and beyond embarrassment – and will it give Izumi opportunities to provide for her needs too, above and beyond simply being someone who needs her protection?
Apart from that, the visuals are fine – classic Doga – and the cast of friends is charming enough. One wonders if the “Inu to Neko” romance angle is going to be part of things – as Senpai ga Uzai showed us, sometimes the secondary couple can be more dynamic than the main pairing. One uncertainty factor hanging over this series is that Doga Kobo has temporarily shut down due to a major Coronavirus outbreak. It isn’t know how long that will last (probably not a hugely long time) but it may delay the series’ release substantially. I hope everyone is OK first and foremost, but I certainly hope Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie doesn’t see a major setback – I still see lots of potential for this show, as I think this will be a fun group to spend time with every week.
I really hope that they somehow manage to continue to show even through the current total COVID shutdown in Shanghai. The original manga offers enough fun for a great season.
Ep 2 is apparently going to air as scheduled. After that, we’ll see.
We need more high-school romance anime like this. No teasing no stupid will they, won’t they, and no bloody misunderstandings.
In the broad sense I agree. Specifically though I hope we see more layers to this relationship. The OP/ED suggest we might.
I don’t ever remember watching an Anime where the male MC was this clumsy. The only male MC that was constantly unfortunate was Kamijou from Toaru Majutsu no Index but he is a total bad ass who is unlucky at the same time. The next MC I could think of that was is Shinji from Evangelion. But he wasn’t exactly clumsy just…really timid.
It’s not even that he’s clumsy so much, but seems to be literally cursed. I guess it’s just a suspension of disbelief/magical realism element, but I do hope there’s more to the relationship than the universe trying to kill Izumi and Shikimori saving him.