There are a lot of controversial takes that surround the Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie anime series in more ways than one. But are they justified? Or are the critics of the series just simply blowing hot smoke? In this segment of “Overrated, Underrated, or Properly Rated?”, we’re going to break down everything from the first season of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, including the plot, the production, and all the way to the poll numbers and fan-site ratings, just as we did recently with Engage Kiss, to answer the question—is Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie worth watching?
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – Plot
The plot of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is nothing to write home about. But some could say that can be chalked up to its genre–slice-of-life with romance and comedy sub-genres. Does that mean it’s a bad series? Absolutely not. Look at Laid-Back Camp for example. There is no end goal. It’s literally just a bunch of friends going camping together and that’s one of the highest-rated anime of the entire year. Shikimori’s plot that follows the odd, but lovable, couple of Shikimori and Izumi is more than just seeing their day-to-day life together. It’s about how the two are in stark contrast with each other but have the most tight-knit relationship out of anyone in the series and it constantly shows why it works.
The plot of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie doesn’t simply give us an athletic and pretty female protagonist and a clumsy and nerdy male protagonist just because it can. On the contrary, there’s substance to their relationship and this was constantly highlighted throughout the first season in a way that fit the mood of the series and, most importantly, it never once felt forced on us. Plus, the criticism of the roles not being reversed like in almost every other slice-of-life rom-com anime in existence is a hollow argument.
There’s a certain uniqueness to Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie‘s appeal. And that same uniqueness has been the bearer of much criticism simply because Shikimori is the one that wears the pants in the relationship. And, if anything, this makes the entire story between Shikimori and Izumi much more interesting and is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is defined by the same old tropes day in and day out. Not only does the dynamic and outstanding contrast of the two main characters work, but the series also properly gives the side characters their own time as well. Is that executed perfectly like others? No. But the series does it in a way that’s respectable at best. To even make an entire episode about a side character in a slice-of-life anime interesting from beginning to end deserves some credit for the writing of the series.
As I mentioned, the plot of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie isn’t groundbreaking in any sense of the word. It’s extremely difficult for a slice-of-life series to be groundbreaking in the first place. And the writing for the anime isn’t necessarily the greatest in the genre. But are the plot, characters, and production solid enough to where it could maintain a certain level of consistency from the premiere to the season finale? Absolutely.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – Main Characters
Next to some of the production values, the characters in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie are what make the series so enjoyable in the first place. Is the fact that critics think Izumi’s personality seems to be centered around him getting into dangerous scenarios in any way make him a bad character? No, and that’s more so because we actually receive backstory on Izumi and his past. In fact, it keeps the series on its toes. But again, it’s not something that feels forced. There’s substance to it. Izumi is not just some bland, clumsy guy that’s boring to watch after the first episode.
And rather than Izumi being the cool, quiet main character that people grow to secretly admire or the overly athletic and extroverted type who makes friends with everyone he meets, his entire persona is different and it’s a nice change of pace. Izumi defines his kind’s expectations. And what I mean by that is the story of the quiet, reserved type who usually never gets the prettiest girl in class by simply being himself wouldn’t work here. Izumi being who he is the whole reason Shikimori fell for him in the first place. And that different persona that goes in the complete opposite direction of the genre’s tropes ended up landing him the most beautiful and athletic girl in the series that everyone admires.
Shikimori herself is a phenomenal main character and I’d go as far as to say one of the best in the genre in recent years. Her design in the anime was incredible, if not even better than the manga at some points. Sure she has the athleticism, the looks, and even the hidden shy personality at times. But it’s her down-to-earth and tell-it-like-it-is nature that goes against the grain of female characters of the same pretty/smart/athletic type in other series who usually have inflated egos and treat the main character with borderline bully behavior from the start. It’s either that or they’re the complete opposite and are more reserved.
With a well-told back story in the first season on multiple levels, Shikimori has more depth as the main character in one season than most main protagonists in the genre, both male and female, develop over the course of multiple seasons. And that’s something to take note of as well. Whether it’s rushed or not, skipped chapters or not, you can’t argue that Shikimori herself has no development in this series. Her entire character is based on who she was as a child and how she grew up and the first season did a good job of making sure you realize that Shikimori, at the root of it all, is a normal high school girl.
As for the side characters, they’re not on the levels of other series in the genre. And that’s a valid criticism to have of the series to make. They’re rather forgetful for the most part. But it doesn’t mean they’re bad characters either. Whether it’s Yui, Shu, Kamiya, or Kyou, they all do their job of supporting the main characters in both Shikimori and Izumi as characters in a story. Nothing more, nothing less. They have their big moments, especially Yui and Kamiya, and they’re interesting for the most part. But none of the side characters in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie really stand out above the main characters. On the flip side, maybe that could be seen as a good thing.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – Production
Production for Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie has two sides. One side is absolutely gorgeous artwork, designs, animation, and compositing, the other is the COVID-19 delays the production staff faced causing episodes to be moved back. Let’s look at this from two angles. If you’re someone that watched the series weekly, those episode delays can seriously break the consistency of a series and turn many fans away from it. That much is understandable. It was the same way with Tokyo 24th Ward back in Winter 2022 and it ruined a lot of the story’s momentum.
But if you’re to go back and watch the series now and skip the recaps/special episodes, you don’t lose that consistency at all and can’t even tell a difference in the production values—and to that end, the staff and the series itself deserve some credit. Sure, one can make the argument “but the manga is…”, and that’s fine and dandy. But when it comes down to it, Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie’s production was overall solid from beginning to end on the production side and deserved more recognition rather than criticism, especially with the delays the staff faced and how the series also gave us one of the best openings of the entire year.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie – Polls and Rankings
When we take a look at the numbers for Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, this is how everything stacks up.
- Anime Corner Polls: Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie placed at #8 twice during weeks 2 and 3 of the Spring 2022 season. The series failed to reach the top 10 the other 10 weeks, falling as far down as 17th in both weeks 10 and week 12. So most of the time, the series wasn’t even ranked. And for the end-of-the-season rankings, the series placed 15th, even behind series like A Couple of Cuckoos and the heavily criticized The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2.
- MyAnimeList: Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie currently holds a 6.96/10 rating with over 106k viewers, making it the 29th highest rated of the series despite being the 5th most popular series of Spring 2022. But the most shocking statistic is that over 40,000 people dropped the series, making it by far and large the most dropped series on the site not just for the Spring 2022 season, but the entire year so far (The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2 was second with just over 28,000).
- Anilist: Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie has a 69% score on Anilist with over 52k viewers, making it the 24th highest-rated anime and 4th most popular of the season. But, much like Engage Kiss, the more people that watched it, the lower the rating it received. Shikimori is also the most dropped series of the entire year on Anilist with over 10,000 people dropping the series (again, Shield Hero Season 2 was second with just over 6,000). For comparison, more people dropped Shikimori than people watched Birdie Wing -Golf Girls’ Story- which announced a second season as soon as the first ended.
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is an underrated anime that breathes new life into its genre. The low ratings and extreme lack of poll success are almost borderline uncalled for. The series isn’t over-the-top fantastic, nor is it one of those “You need to watch this series right now!” types you mention to your friends. But it for sure isn’t anywhere near worthy of the criticism it has received.
An argument about Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie being overrated would end in three sentences or less because there’s no sound reasoning for such criticism. Properly rated also can’t be the answer because the series went above many other series in its genre in many departments I mentioned above yet it’s still drastically rated lower than them.
The series simply has everything you could possibly want in a slice-of-life rom-com. Sure, we can consider some moments rushed and some parts of the story oddly placed ahead, or behind, others. There are valid criticisms of certain aspects of the anime that can’t be argued. But the fact of the matter is that the series is by far the most dropped series out of every anime that has aired this year, it never saw consistent poll success, and having extremely lower ratings than other series that should be lower, is a tall-tell sign this series is painfully underrated. So yes, you should absolutely give Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie a watch if you’re looking for something to kick back and relax to.
Overrated, Underrated, Properly Rated Explained
Underrated means not receiving the praise someone or something deserves. One Piece, for example, is not an underrated series. It’s the most successful-selling manga of all time and is regarded by many to be the greatest series in both anime and manga outright. It literally cannot be underrated.
Overrated is simply defined as “rated or valued too highly.” While discussions on series that are overrated become more complicated than underrated, there are still points an argument has to meet to consider an anime overrated.
Properly rated means any accolades the series has accumulated, or lack thereof, are as they should be for said series. Nothing more. Nothing less. It’s where it should be.
©︎Keigo Maki, Kodansha/Shikimori-san Production Committee