REVIEW: Skip and Loafer is Delightful

Season aired: Spring 2023

Number of episodes: 12

Watched on: Crunchyroll

Translated by: ?

Genres: Slice-of-life, Drama, Romance

Thoughts: Skip and Loafer was one of my most anticipated anime of this season. It’s an adaptation of a critically acclaimed manga that has been nominated for many awards and won one. The trailer only piqued my interest more with its beautiful pastel colors, unique character designs, and quirky atmosphere. So to my lack of surprise, Skip and Loafer became one of my favorite anime this season, and I can only pray for a second season.

Skip and Loafer follows Mitsumi, who comes from a tiny town in the countryside and journeys all the way to the big city of Tokyo to fulfill her dream of becoming a politician to save her dying village, a current problem facing many small towns in Japan. On the way to her first day of high school, she gets spectacularly lost, but thanks to the curious guidance of a handsome yet kind boy named Shima, Mitsumi makes it to school. This hilarious chance encounter between two very different people soon jumpstarts their school lives and brings joy, laughter, and struggles to the people around them.

Skip and Loafer is complex but in a subtle way. Visually and aesthetically, it’s pleasing and calming. Most of the anime’s coloration is pastel, leaving viewers feeling naturally happy just from watching, but the real crux of the story is the relaxed way it tells its narrative while covering important and sometimes emotionally demanding topics.

Calming aesthetics

One of the easiest examples is the discussion of Mitsumi’s dream of becoming a Japanese politician. In all the prior scenes of that episode, we watch Mitsumi and Shima interact with their friends, talk about clubs, and discuss their schedules. At one point, the two sit down, and when Shima opens up about his past as a child actor and how he only pushed himself then to support his mother, Mitsumi explains her reasons for pursuing politics. Her village is dying. The government isn’t supporting them. More people moved to the big cities. In fact, there were only eight kids that were her age. This depopulation problem has left many Japanese citizens concerned, and Skip and Loafer successfully conveys the impact of it on Mitsumi without feeling overdramatic or too simple. The story is intelligent in how it honors discussions of hard topics without letting go of its consistent heartwarming, supportive atmosphere. This complexity in how it weaves difficult subject matters with soothing tones remains consistently strong for the entire series, and it is, without doubt, one of the most impressive aspects of the story.

Because this is a slice-of-life anime, it is crucial for the characters to have rapport and chemistry with each other, and the anime has it in absolute spades. Shima and Mitsumi’s fateful meeting instantly sparked joy, and I was on board with their relationship immediately because of how complementary their personalities are shown to be in just the first few seconds of their meeting.

Amazing chemistry

Best of all, despite how perfect the relationship feels, the story still manages to include organic conflicts between the characters. This isn’t just reserved for the two main leads. Yuzu and Makoto are two of Mitsumi’s friends who seem like polar opposites. Where Yuzu is fashionable, popular, and charismatic, Makoto is casual, unknown, and distrustful. Despite Yuzu’s enthusiasm for meeting another girl to befriend, Makoto purposefully pushes the other girl away, coming up with the illogical conclusion that someone as beautiful as Yuzu would never actually care about a girl like her, and by that extension, Yuzu’s excitement must be fake. This assumption Makoto makes despite not even attempting to talk to Yuzu is incredibly realistic and understandable based on Makoto’s position in school, and it makes their resolved conflict and deep friendship all the more rewarding.

A special shoutout must also be made to Nao and her later mentorship and friendship with Egashira. Nao is Mitsumi’s transgender aunt, and the story gives her so much grace, personality, and life to explore. It shows the absolute joy Nao is as a person and the life she leads without completely brushing aside the journey she took to get to where she was. People whisper around her, and she has painful memories of her past, but what she knows now is that she’s thriving and is an incredible person.

And despite the main story’s focus on Mitsumi and friends her age, Nao is given an extended role in her relationship with Egashira. Egashira, who was initially antagonistic towards Mitsumi, deals with a lot of self-doubt, something Nao recognizes all too well as part of her own journey with her gender identity. Nao quickly takes the girl with a haughty mask under her wing to help the younger girl love and assert herself more. The most beautiful aspect of this friendship is how Egashira reacts to Nao: she embraces Nao for who she is without any hesitation and is so happy for the guidance and support Nao is willing to spare for her that she becomes one of Nao’s closest friends.

Aunt Nao and Egashira

These poignant moments are made all the more powerful by incredible visual direction. In the latter half of the series, we slowly learn more about Shima and the troubled family he comes from, and the color schematics abruptly change. In Episode 8, Aunt Nao, Mitsumi, and her friends hang out, the world is alit with warm and comfortable colors. Then, the scene switches to Shima, and he is surrounded by the sickly green of streetlights, juxtaposing the opposite emotional states of the two leads. The series milks every instance to use surroundings and unique framing to tell the story, enhancing already powerful moments to hit even harder.

The voice acting was also well done. Tomoyo Kurosawa, who voices Mitsumi, gets to show off her skills the best due to Mitsumi’s wide range of open emotions and her tendency to slip into her village accent whenever she gets nervous or excited. Akinori Egoshi matches Tomoyo’s acting chops through Shima. He sounds so natural as an airy high school boy who is equal parts spontaneous and angsty that you would’ve never guessed this was his first leading role in anime.

What resulted is an incredible package of synergy between the story, characters, voice acting, and art. Skip and Loafer was already a strong source material – the anime didn’t have to bring such care, love, and dedication to its direction. However, because the team did decide to put the effort and creativity in, Skip and Loafer is elevated from something fun to a story that stays with you even after watching.

Rating

Plot: 8 (Multiplier 3)

Characters: 9.5 (Multiplier 3)

Art/Animation: 8 (Multiplier 2)

Voice acting: 7

Soundtrack: 7

FINAL SCORE: 82.5

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