Episode 12 feels like a celebration of three months with the world’s most charming middle schooler. The real sailor uniform was the friends we made along the way. Sure, Akebi’s had its foibles and uncomfortable moments. I don’t think you can really divorce those from the show (or the source content) and really engage with it. Keeping that in mind, I think there’s a lot of meat on the bone here: Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is really, really good slice of life fare, and quickly became my favorite show of this season.
It’s subtle, almost mundane, yet is the cream of slice of life this season because of the emotionality of Komichi’s world, and how she affects others with her abundance of joy. It’s genuinely nice to see such a good, nice kid being embraced by the community and generally just getting to remain a good nice kid.
So often, middle school relationships are heralded as the beginning of feminine cattiness, borne out of a brutal social minefield that punishes those who don’t wear the right things, behave according to socially acceptable norms, or perform your (assigned) gender in all the right ways. And while this is often the reality for a lot of teenagers, there’s something beautiful about friendship being upheld as such a powerful tool for good, which Akebi consistently does.
I suppose that’s why this slow and steady episode of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform resonates with me in a way that makes me yearn. It makes me want to be a better friend, makes me want to dive into the sea of friendship anew, fresh-faced and willing to see things from all sorts of angles, just like Komichi. Then again, I suppose that’s the power of really good slice of life series: they make you yearn.
So much of this series is about the fleeting existence of being on the cusp of adulthood. It’s a look at how it feels to be in the final years of being pre-adolescent and then suddenly, adolescent, left to figure out who you really are. For Komichi, that’s still a nebulous question, and honestly, it doesn’t need to be answered. It’s becoming clear that her raison d’etre is just being a really good friend, and that’s genuinely the coolest way to be.
From Minoru’s perspective, Komichi is curious. She’s a girl that lives life without a care: or perhaps, she’s a girl that lives life with care at the center, unafraid of the natural world, including when a Japanese rat snake makes it way into the school. And she’s also a girl that catalogues her life and the world around her, which is something she and Minoru have in common.
Episode 4 has a lot of elements that feel true to being a tweenager: questioning who we are, what image we want to have, who we ultimately want to be in the distant future. When I think back on who I wanted to become —or rather, how I wanted to look— when I was in middle school, it was pretty: I wanted to be feminine, almost to hyper-extreme. Of course, that wasn’t who I actually wanted to be, largely because I hadn’t had all the experience that led me to lean into being a soft butch lesbian. Still, those memories of my potential were precious: they’re the same here for Komichi and Kei.
What I think this episode is trying to do with Kei’s selfies is demonstrate how young women engage with their bodies, identities, and growing up. But it does make me feel uncomfortable. It’s a mashup of pastoral innocence with a… kinda predatory voyeurism. A friend of mind put it this way: 99% of the time, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform would be a perfectly ordinary school story… but then the camera shifts, emphasizing the way clothes fall or the legs of the girls, and keeps amping up the jarring juxtaposition between the naivete of the middle school cast and their bodies.
Restaurant to Another World truly exemplifies what reverse isekai slice-of-life can be, creating an If there’s anything I can say about these first two episodes, it’s that Akebi’s Sailor Uniform looks beautiful. Middle school is by and large a pretty boring time, but Akebi’s Sailor Uniform filters it through a remarkably idyllic lens, and I think therein lies the charm of this series: it’s watching these small moments as Komichi interacts with her classmates, and seeing the mundane made special with stunning animation. That said, there are also some strange, pseudo-sexualized moments in these episodes, like the sensual toenail clipper sniffing scene with the volume cranked up on those inhales. It’s honestly discomforting, especially considering the age of these characters.