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Skip and Loafer – Episode 4

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I figured we’d stop in on the eminently charming Skip and Loafer, and see what stray child Mitsumi ends up adopting this time. So far her straightforward nature, positive spirit, and can-do energy have successfully charmed a varied array of foundlings, from the reserved but socially savvy Yuzu to the ball of screaming anxieties that Kurume. In the sea of insecurities that is high school, Mitsumi represents something rare and powerful: a person who knows who she is and who she wants to be, whose earnest pursuit of friendship and career goals assures others that they too might find such comfort in their own skin.

It’s been a delight watching Mitsumi integrate into her new school, as understandable anxieties have melted into her being the nexus of a new social group. Skip and Loafer’s articulation of warm friendships and veneration of everyday pleasures position it alongside the best slice of life productions, while its careful study of interpersonal dynamics offer the depth and insight of a dedicated character drama. It’s an altogether lovely combination, and I’ve wasted enough time already rambling about its effectiveness, so let’s get back to school!

Episode 4

We open in high spirits: a bright blue sky, birds chirping, gentle piano in the background, and Mitsumi marching confidently towards school. Skip and Loafer is excellent at building a cozy atmosphere, which isn’t the easiest trick given its relatively modest production. It helps that the layouts here are pretty good – rather than flat mid-distance shots, these canted angles create a stronger sense of unity between background and foreground, making it easier to feel like we’re there alongside Mitsumi

“It feels so nice when you can head to school early.” She’s so earnest and dedicated to her studies! I feel like we more often see characters who use their dedication to academics as a sort of life raft, a consolation for their social failure, but Mitsumi both loves her classmates and loves enriching herself through study. She is very hard to dislike

“Today is sure to be a great day!” leads directly into theater head Kanechika calling her out. A tidy bit of motivated cutting – basically anything that followed such a loaded declaration would be considered suspicious, so this serves as an elegant way to reaffirm Kanechika’s potential threat

Kanechika immediately uses Mitsumi’s earnestness against her, making a grim performance so she’ll offer to help however she can

The use of such loose-fitting outfits for the OP is a smart choice, as the dance of their folds makes them feel almost like they’re flying, lifting off the ground to join the passing flowers

Kanechika immediately reveals Shima’s secret past, as the lead’s best friend Kanade in a children’s TV drama

“Wait, what is Shima-kun doing there!?” Love Mitsumi’s immediate reaction, like he accidentally wandered onto the set or something

In spite of Kanechika’s request, Mitsumi swiftly deduces that if Shima actually wanted to be known for his acting, he clearly would have mentioned it himself. She’s straightforward and earnest, but she’s not tactless – she simply doesn’t relate to the insecurities that define many of her classmates’ behavior, and thus will sometimes misread their motives as a result

Unfortunately, considering Kanechika’s proposal consumes all of her brain power, leading her to flounder in low-power mode through the next several classes

Surprised at the window by Shima, Mitsumi briefly becomes a moomin

Shima soon asks her why she’s been acting so weird. Their affectations actually seem pretty similar from an outside perspective, but the ways they’ve arrived at them are entirely different. Mitsumi is simply herself, a naturally upbeat and curious person, and when she’s preoccupied with something that too is written on her face. Shima plays an upbeat person at school, and thus can maintain his face regardless of his actual feelings – like when he rebuked Mika without his expression slipping at all

Shima would obviously rather drop it, but seeing that Mitsumi has some sympathy for Kanechika’s position, he decides to at last offer his own perspective

He reveals he committed to his acting not because he enjoyed it, but because it made his mom happy. So he’s always been performing for others both in his personal and public life, pretending to be the character Kanade on-screen while also pretending he was enjoying being that character for his mother’s benefit. Basically the opposite of Mitsumi, who has always been earnest about her feelings, and grown up in a community where that’s the general assumption

He’s still not comfortable with the topic though, and thus immediately shifts the conversation back to Mitsumi’s motivation

She reveals that her goals are actually a direct reflection of her hometown, one of many rural towns suffering from a dwindling population. Rather than stay at home to help out, she wants to address the problem more generally at its source

In spite of her well-defined goals, Mitsumi seems embarrassed to say them out loud. Shima’s support bolsters her confidence in her suitability for these ambitious dreams

“Putting your goal out there means dealing with hopes and expectations. I couldn’t deal with it, as pathetic as that sounds.” Thus Shima maintains a pleasant, comfortable facade while refusing to deeply invest in any potential future

And Mitsumi rushes to sympathize, saying she only got through her entrance exams due to Fumi’s support

Every memory of Mitsumi’s hometown is so cozy and warm; here, the snow outside makes their break for gyoza seem all the more intimate. You can really feel what Mitsumi is working to protect, and why she feels so loyal and thankful to her friends and neighbors

I’ve been wanting to travel to these sorts of sleepy Japanese towns for years and years now. Celebrating that rural life was my favorite part of Dagashi Kashi

Lovely expressions as Mitsumi savors this gyoza, thinking about how much Fumi cares for her. This show’s linework is light but precise – you don’t necessarily need fluid character acting if your individual drawings are strong enough

Oh, to be enjoying gyoza in a tiny diner blanketed in snow! This show knows the way to my heart

Mitsumi promises to do the same for Shima – if he finds a dream, whether he succeeds or fails they’ll go out to eat together. Though his expression doesn’t change, it’s clear how much this means to him. He can’t really give himself permission to try and to fail, but Mitsumi can

We jump ahead to after Golden Week, wherein Mitsumi’s aunt showed her all over Tokyo. Mitsumi again proving her exceptionally earnest nature, by delighting in doing all the obvious first-time-in-Tokyo tourist things. She never feels ashamed about the things she enjoys, which in high school is almost a superpower

Yuzu and Kurume have already reached a point of playfully bickering with each other. I like that, an acknowledgment that this show’s tertiary relationships are continuing to develop even when Mitsumi isn’t there to encourage them

Mitsumi meets with the guidance counselor to confess that she hasn’t been studying for midterms, which clearly means she’s lost control of her life

Even the counselor can’t believe how straight-laced Mitsumi is, but she nonetheless suggests Mitsumi learn from her even-more-straight-laced idol in the student council, Takamine Tokiko

Oh my god. I love Mitsumi outright clapping in admiration as Takamine dispenses budget cuts. You are a weird one, Mitsumi

“I’ve been trying to get rid of the slacker within me.” Haven’t we all

Takamine is unable to resist Mitsumi’s flattery, and we’re off to the races

Takamine urges Mitsumi to min-max her travel time by studying while in transit. These two are gonna one-up each other into a collective burnout in no time

Yeah, it seems like Mitsumi’s the one who’s actually going to be teaching Takamine some lessons. Takamine lives in a state of perpetual anxiety, always obsessing over her potentially suboptimal use of time. Just as Shima is helping Mitsumi learn to smell the roses, so must Mitsumi teach the even more hopeless Takamine that time spent idly enjoying yourself is not necessarily time wasted

“It’s amazing that buses show up every fifteen minutes here!” Mitsumi is also used to small town pacing, where her own level of diligence would have already been exceptional. These city folk don’t know shit about the merits of a lazy afternoon

The lesson arrives quite literally, as Mitsumi draws Takamine’s focus away from her studies and towards a beautiful Tokyo sunset

“My calls home run pretty long. But they worry about me. I can’t call that wasted time.” Attempting to plot out her daily time-wasters seems to only be proving that Mitsumi is already making the most of her youth

“What does having no regrets even mean!?” Yeah, it’s just gonna happen, Mitsumi. Most of our choices aren’t obvious binary picks with right and wrong answers – we make compromises and sacrifices, often choosing between things that would both enrich our lives in their own way

And that night, Takamine’s usual anxiety nightmares are enriched by the key memories she made with Mitsumi: meeting a friendly cat and admiring the view from the bus window

And Done

Excellent work, Mitsumi! You may not have adopted any new lost children this week, but you nonetheless navigated your latest interpersonal conflicts with grace, while at last learning the truth of Shima-kun’s childhood secret. The reveal of Shima’s child acting was handled with characteristic sensitivity; Shima might not want to talk about it, but he’s still willing to explain the situation to his friend, and Mitsumi’s obviously earnest intentions made it easier for him to admit both why he quit and how that experience has shaped his current perspective on life and ambition. Pairing Mitsumi up with Takamine also served to demonstrate just how compatible our leads really are; though Mitsumi aspires to be as put-together as possible, her natural appreciation of life’s incidental pleasures makes her an easy partner for Shima. Skip and Loafer remains an eminently likable watch as Mitsumi continues her march towards local government stardom!

This article was made possible by reader support. Thank you all for all that you do.

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