Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie was released in Spring 2022, adapted from the manga of the same name written by Keigo Maki. The story follows Yuu Izumi through his high school life, typical of a Slice of Life anime, but the twist in Izumi’s life is his terrible luck. Yuu Izumi cannot go a day without life-endangering events befalling him at every turn, be it a sign falling towards his head, a trip that leads him down a flight of stairs, or the most unlikely chain of events seeing danger sprung upon him from seemingly nowhere.
Enter his loving girlfriend, Micchon Shikimori, an athletic student that is popular with everyone at their school and a cutie like the title suggests. However, Izumi sees a different side to Shikimori as the two spend more time together, and his unfortunate luck is thwarted at every turn by the cool, calm, and collected Shikimori – showing off that she is also a badass.
Romance anime often follows a formula that sees two people trying to communicate their feelings to each other, with little success and a lot of drama in their way, preventing the main couple from getting together until much later on in a series. Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie bucks the typical romance anime formula as we follow Izumi and Shikimori when they are already together, seeing their relationship develop throughout their high school lives.
Instead of one party chasing the other for affection or two people learning about their feelings for each other throughout the story, Shikimori and Izumi illustrate a relationship between two loving parties, which is unique in romance anime. Furthermore, the slight change from the regular romance formula means the typical settings of the sports festival, cultural festival, visiting the amusement park, etc., are done as a couple, making it feel fresh without too much difference from the standard romance settings.
Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the production of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie by the studio Doga Kobo, the anime went above and beyond the expectations of a typical romance anime. This can be best seen in the uniqueness of the character designs, with Shikimori’s bright pastel pink hair powerfully contrasting with Izumi’s dark purple hair in their couple scenes. Even the supporting characters, like Kamiya, the antagonist for the love triangle arc, have excellently animated blue, ombre faded hair that sits in between the colour spectrum of Izumi and Shikimori, illustrating the conflict in the story ahead.
The animation remains fluid throughout the series, with the most attention put on character fluidity, but this doesn’t mean that the backgrounds are left to be pure still images with dynamic environments being ever-present. This is most prominent with Izumi’s terrible luck, as we see his environmental interactions properly animated, like the sign falling towards his head and Shikimori leaping through the air to kick it away in a badass sequence.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is an excellent addition to the genre of romance anime, with a nice break from the traditional formula of seeing a couple together before the end of the show for once. Coupling this unique take on a romance story with excellent animation means Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is a top recommendation for romance anime fans. So what did you think of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie? Did you enjoy the change to the romance formula? Let us know in the comments!