Content considerations: off-screen/stylized vomit
What’s it about? Mitsumi moves from a tiny town in Ishikawa Prefecture to bustling big city Tokyo for high school, with grand ambitions of graduating top of her class, studying law, and saving rural Japan from decline. Despite being so sure of her life goals, Mitsumi’s first day of school doesn’t exactly go to plan. But a laid-back, sweet-natured boy steps in to help her—so maybe, even if things don’t stay perfectly on track, they might just end up okay.
Skip and Loafer is cute as a button. This premiere is characterized by gorgeous backdrops and naturalistic animations, punctuated now and then by some truly fantastic Goofy Faces and cartoony flourishes that take us inside Mitsumi’s strung-out headspace. She’s immediately an endearing female lead: a nervous overachiever who’s not defined by her anxiety, and who balances “competent and smart” with “hot mess” in a believable and funny way.
Shima—the fluffy-haired, sleepy-headed boy who helps unstick Mitsumi from her despair when she gets lost in a train station—is also lovely so far. His worldview is markedly different to Mitsumi’s, but I want to say the show plays this off as a gentle contrast in personalities rather than “aw, she’s an overachiever and he’s a slacker—will he succeed in loosening her up?!” which can be a very frustrating rom-com formula.
As much as he does turn up to save the day multiple times in the episode, this Knight in Shining Blazer element isn’t played up too high, so that Mitsumi clearly benefits from his help without being damseled. Mitsumi can take care of herself, she just… needs a bit of adjustment. Yes, she can memorize her whole entrance ceremony speech and recite it perfectly without blinking. Yes, she then needs to go throw up. Her flaws and mistakes make for endearing, dare I say realistic moments where she lands on her face without it feeling like the narrative is punching down and making a mockery of her.
There’s still room for the show to wobble even on the strong foundations it’s set up here. I love that Mitsumi’s career goal is to join the government and develop solutions for rural depopulation (eventually returning to her hometown to become mayor), but how much the politics of city versus country living in Japan will factor into the high school rom-com elements of the series remains to be seen. The story doesn’t have to go deeper into these, of course, but given how strongly this divide gets highlighted in the premiere it might feel like a missed opportunity not to explore that dynamic.
And, as highlighted above, Slacker Guy and Uptight Nerd Girl is potentially a thorny match in terms of romance writing. So here’s hoping that Mitsumi and Shima can both learn from each other, and Mitsumi can maybe chill out a bit, without her having to compromise the ambition and drive that’s such a rewarding part of her character.
But those are potential wobbles, and aside from those I really don’t have much to complain about. Skip and Loafer was thoroughly charming and I’m excited to see what’s next for this big-brained, big-hearted heroine.