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.
There’s a lot I haven’t talked about in this finale: there’s a pretty engaging one-fly competition in the middle of the episode that features prizes ranging from a waterproof backpack to an unreasonably cute merfish plush that Hiyori gets VERY fired up about. It’s cute, and is definitely the vehicle to the resolution of the episode, but really… that photo album had me in a grip! It’s the perfect way to close out our time with Slow Loop, and just feels so fitting for a series about care and community.
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.
If episode 11 had a motto, it’d probably be “You deserve mercy” because at the core, this episode is about Koi being kinder to herself. True, the fishing and the trip are enjoyable too, but really, this an episode in Koi’s own grief, and how she comes to terms with the grief of feeling like a bad friend. It’s an episode in forgiveness, and an optimistic look at the finale next week.
Slow Loop casts the line and always reels in a big one: episode 10 is no exception, especially since it leans into Koharu’s serious side by indulging both her and the viewers with a fantastically fishy subplot that just slaps. With a combination of fly fishing lingo, a sweet series of scenes with Hiyori and Futaba, and just so much charm, it’s an easy episode to sink into, and a wonderful way to spend a half hour of your day, drifting away on the waves and thinking fond thoughts of all the delicious creatures drifting in the sea.
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.
By and large, Slow Loop has so far been a show about Hiyori, Koharu, and their community. It’s reflected in their fishing companions throughout the season: initially with Koi and her father, then with Ichika, and now with just Koi and no “adults” present. It’s a small thing that builds in the background until you notice it: a kind of subtle, “Oh, yeah, I guess this is their first solo trip!” moment that when resolved feels right because it ultimately bonds the family even more.
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.
Grief doesn’t get smaller with time: it stays the same size, ebbing like the ocean. Yet in episode 8, I feel like I’m seeing a Hiyori that’s healing, becoming a larger vessel for the memories of her father by forging new ones with Hiyori. And episode 8 is lush with little moments like the one mentioned above that enrich Hiyori’s life, develop her as a character, and build upon her relationship with Koharu at the same time.
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.