New Anime

Skip and Loafer – Episode 5

Hello folks, and welcome back to Wrong Every Time. Today I’m eager to check back in on Mitsumi and the gang, as we charge through another delightful episode of Skip and Loafer. Last episode saw Mitsumi adding yet another foundling to her rapidly growing collection of confidants, this time pulling student council superstar Takamine into her inner circle. Having joined Takamine on her extracurricular errands in order to learn from her studious example, Mitsumi instead found herself serving as an inspiration to Takamine in turn, convincing her of the necessity of slowing down and smelling the roses from time to time.

Of course, that’s little surprise to us in the audience. Mitsumi has proven herself a quiet inspiration to her peers time and again, drawing characters like Shima and Suzuki into her orbit through her earnest, curious, and eminently considerate personality. Through their interactions, Skip and Loafer demonstrates how thoughtful character dramas need not be centered on those whose lives are defined by psychological torment; the trials of Mitsumi and her friends catalog the scope of human interaction in gentler form, offering a story that is no less poignant or insightful for its fundamental warmth of perspective. Let’s see what awaits our crew next!

Episode 5

“Prickly and Giddy.” Every episode title offers its own variation on a fuwa fuwa sort of feeling

We open on a scene outside the city, staring at some rice paddies adjacent to a forested hill. Ah, the Japanese countryside! I really have to visit someday, and I’m frankly not sure I’m going to come back. I feel like my ideal life would be serving as one of the woodland spirits in Natsume’s Book of Friends, maybe eating snacks offered at a trailside shrine or something

As much as I have to thank the internet for giving me a platform for my work, the poet Ryokan is still my inspiration – living in a hut in the woods, writing poetry, drinking rice wine when it’s offered. Good stuff

Anyway, this is all just to frame Mitsumi’s message back to Ikajima, so here we are back in Tokyo

Midterms are approaching, and it seems sports day is as well! As with the general tendency of maintaining class rosters between grades, events like sports day and the school festival all seem intended to foster a stronger sense of community and cooperation between students. Obviously collectivist societies have their own issues (“the nail that stands out gets hammered down,” etcetera), but as someone from a society that’s essentially constructed around self-interest, such a community-oriented perspective sounds nice

Makoto has chosen table tennis, because she “doesn’t want the slightest possibility of screwing up in a team sport.” Excellent aggrieved yakuza expression from her as she relays this tactical information

“It’s all machismo-driven mumbo jumbo!” Feeling intensely called out by this portrayal of a grumpy high schooler attempting to philosophize their unathletic nature

“But honestly, someone had to say it, and I’m glad she did.” Mitsumi is actually impressed by Makoto’s ability to voice harsh truths. She really does see the unique value in everyone

Love Shima’s polite but entirely unsurprised “uh huh” through a mouthful of yakisoba

“I’m a class officer! I can’t destroy our morale by sucking!” Mitsumi carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders

Excellent utterly defeated Mitsumi face after Mika fails to improve her volleyball skills

Tomoyo Kurosawa is one of our best current voice actresses, and I’m so glad she gets to do more of her weird wailing noises as Mitsumi

Mitsumi misinterprets Mika’s diet-conscious lunches as her simply lacking food to eat, and thus brings her lots of bread. Love this extremely conscientious idiot

“You haven’t had to put in all that effort.” Mika, who works so damn hard to project the proper image at school, is of course jealous of Mitsumi’s effortless success. Her lack of self-consciousness is pretty close to a superpower in the context of high school; she has intuitively embraced the wisdom that “if I be myself, I’ll naturally find myself surrounded by the right sort of people for me,” rather than seeking the brass ring of some external conception of popularity and gaining entry into the “correct” social circles. To Mika, this comes across as laziness being rewarded by luck, Mitsumi somehow being praised for avoiding the assigned path to social success. In truth, Mika obviously needs to come to a happier relationship with her own identity and put less stock in these arbitrary social hierarchies – but for now, all the work she has done must be justified, and so she clings to them all the more fiercely even as she sees them so effortlessly dismantled

Of course, it’s not like everyone could do what Mitsumi is doing. She has a naturally positive personality and an endless supply of social energy – to people whose inherent personalities are less crowd-pleasing, “just be yourself” is often a route to rejection. It’s thus understandable she’d spark resentment, even though it’s through no fault of her own; the route she makes look so easy is actually impossible for many

Nonetheless, with the two of them alone, it’s clearly time for Mitsumi to befriend the crap out of this girl

At the gym, third years who shouldn’t even be there end up shoving Mika, prompting an opportunity for Mitsumi to demonstrate her many gallant qualities

More good faces as Mitsumi attempts to scare these boys out of the gym

And there it is. Mika used to be overweight and ignored by her fellow students, so she worked hard to adapt herself into the form her social environment demanded. No wonder she finds Mitsumi’s effortless success frustrating; nothing has ever come so easily for her

Convincing portrayal of these long-term anxieties. Even after her reinvention, a reminder of how she used to be ignored brings those feelings rushing back

“You two have made the list!” Oh my god, she has a list of everyone who’s wronged her. Mika swiftly becoming my favorite character

I appreciate how even in this show celebrating Mitsumi’s personality, there are regular acknowledgements that Mitsumi is actually a pretty uniquely mature, well-adjusted person. If everyone were equally nice, it wouldn’t really feel like a convincing character drama, but Mitsumi’s friends understand that she is something special

“Next time, just tell a teacher!” Even Mika cannot help but swiftly adopt Mitsumi

“That’s the difference between us. While I remember the names of people who pissed me off, Iwakura-san remembers the name of someone who was kind to her.” Yeah, that’s the trick – you can try to change your mindset all you want, but if your first instincts are that different from Mitsumi’s, it’s hard to believe you can truly become a person like her

“I’m not a stunning beauty or a pure, straightforward person. Who in the world is ever going to choose me?” As her mind’s eye reveals, in spite of all her efforts of reinvention, she still sees herself as that lonely girl who doesn’t deserve friends

Even Mitsumi can admit that Mika’s been a bit harsh to her. Like Mitsumi earlier admitting she appreciated Makoto’s words, these details are important in realizing Mitsumi as a multidimensional person, not just a perpetually positive-minded saint

And Mitsumi’s also found something to appreciate about Mika: how her blunt assessments make her a better teacher, because she can actually tell it like it is. At last, someone who appreciates Mika for her actual nature, not for her performance

“You’ve worked really hard to get this good, and it shows.” Though Mitsumi hasn’t gone through similar struggles, she can still appreciate the work Mika’s put in. Finally, recognition for her efforts

“I only play to win, you hear me!?” Mika’s actual personality is then immediately witnessed by Shima, to her absolute despair

“You can do it.” Shima, who also sees Mitsumi’s aura as a kind of magic, can appreciate the frightening leap Mika is taking

Oh my god, Mitsumi looks so goofy with her paintbrush-style field day hairdo

No Mika, don’t fix it! Stop being a good friend!

Makoto wearing a “Weekends Off” t-shirt, a quiet protest against all this unnecessary labor

A group of panned stills carries us through the preliminary rounds of class match day. It’s only really at times like this I’m reminded this is actually quite a conservative production animation-wise, as it generally marshals its resources skillfully enough to avoid any sequences that seem ostentatiously lacking in animation. That’s a significant directorial skill in anime; basically every modern production is afforded less time and resources than it needs, so learning how to stretch your resources is critical

Meanwhile, Makoto swiftly fails in table tennis. Well, you tried

More bug-eyes from Mitsumi as Mika informs her all the girls are there to watch Shima-kun. Nice to have the socially savvy classmate at last on her side

This show’s soundtrack is perfect for setting the tone; all these gentle, quasi-folk rock tracks, evoking a sense of lightness and fresh opportunities

Seeing all Shima’s fangirls makes even Mitsumi too nervous to share her snacks with him

Theater head Kanechika notes that Shima’s position is likely a lonely one, having to perform for all these people who don’t really know him. Mitsumi’s guileless perspective means someone like Kanechika or Mika frequently has to point out the emotional subtext of a situation

Ooh, some nice thick brushstrokes for conveying the power of the volleyball team’s next opponents. The show flexes where it can!

“I probably was a huge bother to Shima on that first day.” Mitsumi’s inability to recognize her own charm is indeed part of her charm, but I’m sure that’s little consolation to her

Smart boarding creates a real sense of momentum as Mika follows up on Mitsumi’s pass

“Sometimes you fall in love because you find something in them you wish you had. And maybe, for Shima-kun… she might just have it.” Mika gets it in one – Mitsumi embodies the earnest approach to life that Shima can so far only imitate

And Done

Thus Mika formally joins our crew, rising from her initial envy and mistrust of Mitsumi into appreciation of our girl’s singular personality! As someone who often defaults to cynical or uncharitable first impressions myself, I greatly appreciated seeing Mika’s frustrations so thoughtfully contextualized, as well as this episode’s quiet illustrations of how even Mitsumi can feel frustrated or overwhelmed by these social dynamics. Mitsumi is a very special person, but she’s not some otherworldly angel, and while her friends can learn from her example, they all have their own paths to tread, aspiring to more idealized selves while still embodying the anxieties and fundamental tendencies that have defined them. Learning to like yourself and coexist with others is a lifelong process, but every episode of Skip and Loafer demonstrates how that road need not be lonesome or frustrating, but can actually be walked with joy in your heart and friends at your side.

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

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.