The following contains spoilers for Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie Episode 4, “How They Each Feel at the Beginning of Summer,” now streaming on Crunchyroll.
Popular deredere Shikimori enjoys a healthy relationship with her sweet boyfriend Izumi Yuu, and for the most part, fans agree that she’s the stronger of the two. Unlike the clumsy and unlucky Izumi, Shikimori is confident, popular, athletic and highly skilled, but like Shikimori is not just a cutie Episode 4 shows that this relationship isn’t so lopsided after all.
In many pairs of spirited romances, the narrative will find ways to put the two lovers on an equal footing even if one seems to be dominant, and Shikimori finds a few small but meaningful ways to achieve this. That puts him in the same league as Komi can’t communicate and My Senpai is boringamong other titles.
In episode 4 of Shikimori is not just a cutie, the narrative once again portrays Izumi as the sweet one who needs protection; Shikimori passes on a classic beach episode in favor of going to the river instead, so she can accommodate Izumi’s preferences. She can protect her boyfriend in all sorts of ways, and it seems that Izumi owes her a lot of favors now. He sometimes repays her with romantic gestures such as their informative date in Episode 3, but Izumi has other ways to level the playing field.
Nekozaki notes that Shikimori has Izumi in the palm of her hand as she humorously urges him to buy a swimsuit for the next river adventure, even though he isn’t too fond of the idea. However, episode 4 reverses this when Izumi teases her about buying a fancy swimsuit, even though Shikimori nervously tries to hide this fact. He can read his girlfriend like a book when he teases her, prompting Nekozaki to say that it’s Shikimori who’s in Izumi’s hand instead. The teasing goes both ways, and it might continue in future episodes. Izumi’s arms and legs can be clumsy, but his tongue turns out to be rather soft.
Later, Episode 4 balances the young lovers even more when Shikimori and Izumi have a pleasant conversation that evening. They both stare at the North Star through their bedroom windows, then realize they wish they could see each other saying goodnight. When they hang up, each says out loud how they want to see the other’s kind face, prompting someone in their respective household to comment on how loud they are.
When Shikimori and Izumi are separated, their feelings of longing are perfectly equal; neither can protect or tease the other about it. When it comes to the most intimate and important matters, the mighty Shikimori and her boyfriend are 50/50, which is why their relationship is still going strong.
The events of Episode 4 may recall Shikimori fans of similar scenes in other recent rom-com anime where a seemingly one-sided relationship is balanced as both characters focus on what really matters. An example is My Senpai is boring, when Futaba and Takeda traded favors after each of them caught a bad head cold, which evened the playing field after Takeda was established as the strongest and most confident lover. He was apparently perfect, until he fell ill and in turn became the one who needed to be cured.
Another example is Komi can’t communicate, the high school romantic comedy where the gorgeous and ultra-popular Komi was, in any social context, much stronger than her simple friend Tadano Hitohito. But when they spoke on the phone one night, they spoke as equals with none of Komi’s admirers to get in the way. Then, like Shikimori and Izumi, Komi and Tadano reacted with boisterous joy as they hung up the phone, happy to have their first real conversation outside of school.
This exchange balanced them perfectly, and episode 4 of Shikimori is not just a cutie mimicked that scene perfectly, right down to using cell phones and loud exclamations of happiness after hanging up. This is a good sign for moving forward.
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