I always say how much I like rom-coms, to the point that I watch pretty much every series that airs seasonally. It can be a bit of a hassle sometimes, but it’s good to have a nice niche to fall back on every now and then. My point is, I’ve seen a lot of rom-coms, and as you watch more, you tend to notice some trends in them.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie was very obviously going to be popular. It was glaringly obvious before it aired. The manga was popular. It was cute. And it had a female lead that the anime community could collectively die for. It was basically just like what Dress-Up Darling went through the prior season with Marin, just in a slightly different way.
Although the similarities go even further than both shows having very popular females leads the fanbase loses their minds for. They also both got quite a bit of hate for the exact same reason. What could that be? How could these very highly received shows get so much hate? Because of their male leads. People didn’t like Gojo and really didn’t like Izumi.
There are a lot of reasons for this, not all completely simple, but for the most part, people sum it up with both being boring characters, some also thinking they’re pushovers. You could go deeper into some of these reasons. I’m certain some, but not all, of Izumi’s hate comes from the fact that he’s not traditionally manly, or his relationship roles with Shikimori are swapped in a lot of ways, but that’s obviously only part of the reason.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that Shikimori isn’t an overly interesting rom-com. It has almost no unique draw to it whatsoever. The only thing it has that could even be qualified as unique is Shikimori. The fact that she’s a very cute girl that can switch to a complete badass at the drop of a hat is the only real draw. Besides that, it’s a very standard rom-com.
It’s also a very formulaic rom-com, which I’ve mentioned before as not being too great. It follows a very strict pattern in every chapter of the manga that always ends with one of Shikimori’s “cool faces,” and it gets old kind of fast. The anime did a much better job pacing this, and I’m super impressed, but at the cost of losing some of the punch that the manga had at times.
Overall, the anime is better as a whole, but it comes at the cost of feeling a tad blander, which is bad since the story is already fairly average. The manga art is a bit more inconsistent in a way that would never work in an anime format, but because of that, it has more charm, something you can see in some of my Shikimori comparison tweets on Twitter.
The anime was really good and really well put together, but it was working with a story that was a bit of the bland side, so there wasn’t really much to be done. It’s a fantastic adaptation, but an adaptation is still always just an adaptation at the end of the day, you know? No matter how good it is, it has to work with the same material.
So a big reason I think people didn’t love Shikimori this season (although many did, myself included) wasn’t because of something the anime did, but just the general normalcy and averageness of the series itself. That is also perhaps part of the reason people find Izumi to be so boring. Not necessarily because of him, but because the story he’s in accentuates that.
Granted, I do get Izumi being a bit passive, but he’s not a bad character. He and Shikimori have an incredibly healthy and cute relationship. They both support each other, and they both continue to love each other for very normal reasons. It’s not an insane idea or story. They’re two people who needed to find each other, they did, and they fell in love. Simple and cute.
I talked about this way back when I discussed Horimiya, but I don’t think love needs to be that complicated to be interesting. I’ve since learned that the anime adaptation of Horimiya removed much of the drama that was in the manga, but the anime was a very simple story. It was just about people in love, and that’s it. It didn’t need fanfare, drama, or anything. While it may have lost some of the manga’s charm, it was endearing for what it was.
Shikimori works much in the same way, where you know watching it won’t change your life. It won’t leave you with some wonderful, life-altering lessons or anything that grand. It will just be cute. It will make you smile. It will make you happy. That’s all it will do, and I feel like that’s all it really needs to do. Not every love story needs to be stricken with drama and heartbreak, and I think Shikimori is yet another wonderful example of that, that I enjoyed quite a bit.
Thank you very much for reading
Read the manga if you haven’t. It’s pretty good.