「キラキラ」 (Kirakira)

For it being the last episode, we barely saw much of Mitsumi, which I was more than a little sad about. We did get a few good moments with her, like that protective anteater pose to fend off the snarling Ririka, a sweet glimpse into the dynamic between Sou and Mitsumi. I was hoping we’d also get more of an interaction between Sou and his mother to get a better read on their relationship, but she was only a cameo. I get it, from what the anime’s shown, it’s a slow burn and we weren’t going to get everything all at once- it’s a read the manga ending, so maybe they touch more on her in the source material. The star today was, of course, Sou, with the big wrap up to his character arc.

Ririka needs to get over herself big time. Yeah, it’s no fun losing your job in a cutthroat field at such a young age for a drinking scandal, but she doesn’t think about anyone other than herself. She treats everyone like shit- she was so disrespectful to Sou’s mother and made that jab about forcing Sou into acting to make Mama Shima leave. Then outing Sou in front of his classmates about being a childhood actor- she knows that’s a sore spot for him- inexcusable. It comes as no surprise that what happened with the scandal was partly her fault. She admits to Chris that Sou warned her off, but she didn’t listen and ended up in that situation. She can’t forgive herself for what she did, so she projects it onto Sou.

That whole “I was so busy in middle school I could barely pass”- prioritize your time, get tutoring- much as she likes to think of herself as such, she is not a helpless maiden in distress- there are steps you can take to help yourself. Chris even points out that Ririka wasn’t working during middle school and that it was her fault for not passing- thank you Chris for telling it like it is. But Ririka had the gall to keep sobbing in her perpetual pity party.

One of the roots to her “woe is me” is that she’s trying to use it to tie herself to Sou. She likes Sou and now that they’re no longer in the same biz, the one thing that keeps them together is their past. Ririka’s all cut up that he likes being with other girls who know nothing about him over being with her. No duh, no one wants to be around someone who continually guilt trips them- it’s her toxic attitude and stubborn refusal to let him move on in life that makes him dislike being around her. It’s not just a matter of him disliking being around her, but also a matter of it being unhealthy to be with her. The guy needs to learn to live his own life. Her whole outburst “Don’t show your face to me again”- the best thing she’s ever said and frankly a good thing for Sou who’s trying to move on.

Sou grew a whole lot in the span of a day. Good on him for finally standing up to Ririka and having the courage to say out loud that he likes to, wants to act. One of the hugely important lessons anyone can ever learn is to live for yourself- not for your mom, not for your friends, not for guilt. It’s incredibly freeing when you realize that and you can see it in Sou’s face here- Mitsumi says it all in her observation that he’s acting like a little kid. For so long, he’s been envious of Mitsumi and Kanechika’s ability to follow their dreams with a skip in their step, unburdened by fear or guilt, like a child, and now Sou can do the same.

All’s well that ends well and thusly ends a successful school festival. Kazakami isn’t quite as bad guy as he initially seemed- a recurring theme here. He uncharacteristically opens up to the weeping Takemine. Turns out home life is no walk in the park with the intense pressure to get into a prestigious university and follow his family’s footsteps. As such, he had to do something in high school after his injury, probably to please his parents, and landed on student council. Not that that makes her feel entirely better, I mean, going for the position was a matter of convenience and looks more than actually caring about the position. Surely he didn’t have to go straight for the student pres position, he could’ve gone for another spot, but whatever, the point is, he’s got a lot more going on than he lets show. It was rather kind of him to give Takemine the bouquet– that made her feel better for sure and I wonder where things will head between them from here on out- only the manga will tell, I suppose.

I was almost expecting that scene with Mitsumi and Sou in the hallway to end a little differently. Sou clearly had something else he wanted to ask besides lending a helping hand. Coming off of the exhilaration of finally taking a stand for himself, I’m sure he wanted to share that with her, invite her for a meal like she promised they would do once he found his goal, but came up short. I kind of wondered if he wanted to make some kind of a confession now, now that he’s shaken off Ririka, he can allow himself to accept the happiness he could have (and does have- see that laugh earlier with her anteater mode) with Mitsumi. I sort of like that it ended with all those unsaid things- it leaves a sense of expectation for the future, that the story doesn’t have to end with a final bearing of the hearts between the prospective couple and that the creator allows them room to grow into themselves and into each other.

Skip to Loafer all in all was a personal series for me, the way it portrayed Mitsumi gave a look at myself at that age and it was a joy to see her and the other characters grow week by week. It had a positive message too- don’t judge a book by it’s cover, something I’m sure everyone can relate to at one time or another. My one gripe with it would be that it often tied the characters’ dilemmas, other than Sou, up in a neat bow after an episode or two. A lot of the issues they were dealing with like Mika’s body image insecurities, Kurume’s social apprehensions, and so on, are things that are a lot more messy and take a lot more time to grapple with than a neatly glossed over ending that S&L provided. At times, the general attitude of/towards the characters was “that sucks, but look, it’s all going to be good now”. It comes down to taste in the end- I’m someone who prefers a raw look at the messiness and to not have things completely wrapped up in neat bow, take BokuYaba for example, which does that to perfection. That aside, I enjoyed S&L– it made for a relaxing Tuesday evening. I appreciated that the focus was on the characters as individuals in their own right, rather than propping everything up for the main pair and there were plenty of entertaining moments with Mitsumi’s imagination. The focus was not on the destination, but on the companions and the journey to get there.

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