Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie; Not Your Average Romcom

There are so sooo many romantic comedies in print and digital manga. They feature funny characters doing funny things at funny times and at funny moments. And usually there’s a romantic couple involved. I mean… that’s the standard romcom. You can tell just how thrilled I am about this topic. Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is a charming romcom that’s wholesome inside and out.


I’ll be honest, romcoms aren’t my first choice. Like harems, a lot are the same story rinsed and repeated. One romcom I did really enjoy was Call of the Night, which I discussed in another post, although that’s more supernatural. 

For Example

One popular romcom I’ve watched the anime of was Clannad, which had some of the funniest moments but also some of the most dramatic as well. They feature some really iconic characters, and this makes the watching experience enjoyable. Other elements like originally being a visual novel, as well as supernatural elements further separate Clannad from Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie.

But not all romcoms succeed in bringing to life well-written characters with comedic moments that don’t completely fall flat. Or a romance that succeeds in investing the reader/viewer in the characters. In the war of husbandus and wifus, one has recently stuck out to me above the rest.

Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san, Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, and like that title says… she is more than just that. She’s badass, competitive, and the dominant one in the relationship (heh). But most importantly… She is very cool.

Written by Keigo Maki, Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie is about a kind-hearted baby-faced schoolboy Izunami who happens to be dating a cute girl named Shikimori, but she’s more than that. 


In Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, Izumi is prone to accidents. Like… he’s literally cursed and his bad luck makes crazy sh*t happen to him on the daily. For example, in the beginning this guy almost gets hit by a literal truck, but skips being isekai’d by Shikimori who pulls him away just in the nick of time. 

This is one of many many scenarios where Shikimori comes to Izumi’s rescue. While it could easily be played out like a horror manga, “Final Destination: the manga” it would be called (Shikimori literally saves Izumi’s life time and time again). But it actually plays out rather lightheartedly and with humor.  Another already exists so scrap that idea.

Inuzami loves to tell us that his girlfriend is a cutie, especially in the beginning. Like… in several chapters of the manga. And while she does certainly look cute throughout the series, she also has a very… cool side to her. 

Shikimori is a fascinating female lead, mainly because she’s written much differently than many female characters in manga that aren’t Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie. While stereotypically, the guy typically comes to help the damsel in distress in so many stories, the roles are reversed here and Shikimori is the hero, the savior, the one we all look up to and admire, and are even a little afraid of.

Pouty Face

Yes she can be tsundere from time to time, get jealous of Izumi’s friends, and pout when ignored. It may seem jarring to see a weaker/vulnerable side of Shikimori, because she’s often hot-headed and in control of the situation, but that’s just her being a literal human being. 

We’re so used to seeing characters created with archetype personalities that never waver and are stagnant (it’s easier to remember them that way) but that’s just not realistic. I’m not happy nor cheerful all the time, nor moody nor aggressive nonstop; that’s just weird. Everyone expresses many emotions. Some are just more emotional than others.


*Breathe* anyway….


There are several cute moments between Shikimori and Izumi in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie and I’ll cover a few later. But let’s look at her “cool” side for now.

The Cool Side of Shikimori

Shikimori is competitive. She cannot lose. Dating a guy who loses at pretty much everything would seem f*cking terrible (like me, I’m that guy who loses at everything except a few gacha pulls which were pretty sweet) but she somehow… somehow manages to carry the two of them to every single victory. That’s just how fierce she is and how much she cares about him.

Shikimori is aggressive. When others aren’t careful or considerate, she will put them right in their place. Izumi has terrible luck and is prone to accidents. Sometimes they’re just not his fault (truck-kun almost scored again), but other times it is a factor of him being clumsy (tripping over rocks and bookshelves & sh*t), in which she rightfully scolds him. It’s admirable how far she goes to make up for all of his shortcomings. It really shows how much she loves him.

Shikimori is jealous. Borderline possessive, Shikimori has to know wherever Izumi is. This can be both admirable but stalkerish (but in reality she just doesn’t want him to get hurt from his bad luck). 

There Can Be No Other

Izumi also has a guy friend who I’ll discuss later, and this friend occasionally spends time with him that Shikimori would have otherwise spent with him. This isn’t taken so seriously however, as the two bump heads from time to time.

I cannot forget to mention Shikimori cannot allow another girl to have remotely any shred of romantic interest for Izumi and will go to the end of the Earth to make him hers alone. It would seem cruel, but again it does play out more lightheartedly and with a positive resolution. 

Shikimori is scary (sort of). While she often wears an adorable smile, her eyes can turn ice cold at any moment, and the manga loves to occasionally throw us a badass looking scene of Shikimori’s personality switching over when the situation calls for it, like every single time she rescues Izumi, ever. I argue she is borderline yandere, and would pull a John Wick if anything terrible were to happen to Izumi, but this series would certainly never go School Days on us. If you know, you know. I’m just saying… if she ever had a staring contest with Guts from Berserk, then… just kidding you can’t even put them on the same planet (for the love of God please don’t attack me in the comments!)

The Cute Side of Shikimori

Shikimori certainly has her cool moments, but she also has her cute ones as well.

One aspect of Shikimori that is quite adorable is that she gets embarrassed. As you might know, Eastern culture is one that is more reserved, where feelings aren’t so readily expressed like they are in the west. It’s a common trope in manga, and there are several times where she says or does something that accidentally expresses her romantic feelings for Izumi, or he says something to her without realizing its impact on her emotions.

Another aspect of Shikimori that’s cute of course is just some of the faces she makes. There’s times when Izumi just wants to do his own thing or with someone else, and her pouty face is adorable. There’s times when Izumi wants to feed her food, and her reactions to the taste are most certainly picture-worthy.

Not only Shikimori’s face, but her words are cute as well. Sometimes she teases baby-faced Izumi, like rubbing a sensitive spot on his back with her finger, and whispering sweet nothings in his ear. Sometimes she’ll even compliment him 

Shikimori’s face is cute. Her words are cute. But also… her clothes are cute (and sometimes cool as well). Especially when she goes on dates with Izumi, she must look her very best. And each time she manages to bring something new to the date, impressing him each and every single time.

Unique Duality

I’ve gone over a few ways Shikimori has been cool and times she’s been cute. If you couldn’t tell by now, there’s this really interesting duality between her being cute and cool. It’s a rather unique take on what people are attracted to. Where Shikimori thinks being cute is the dominant and only factor for her love interest to notice and take interest in her, she fails to realize that there are people who are attracted to cool as well. 

There’s this unique stigma that being cool is in no way, shape, or form attractive. But in reality, it’s often those cool actions that grant respect and admiration for the individual. This doesn’t have to be separate from attraction. I myself find proactive girls to be attractive (unlike my ex, ha!) rather than physical appearance, where taking action and achieving results is a factor to consider for romantic interest; it’s not all about being cute.

Our Boy Izumi

In the very beginning of Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie, Izumi makes the grave mistake of saying out loud how Shikimori isn’t always cute, and this certainly doesn’t help her stigma about being cool and not always cute. But as the manga progresses, Izumi expresses his interest in both sides of her, and she slowly comes to accept this. 

Speaking of Izumi, he’s quite the character himself. Some readers may wager that he’s just another “trash protagonist” or what I just saw today on MAL “beta male mc”, but there is more to him than just his baby-face. You see, Izumi has a quirk… or rather a curse that I already mentioned; horrible, terrible, no good, very bad luck. He literally almost drowns at one point. 

That’s something we don’t see with too many anime and manga, but if you argue that it is common… well, I retort … but what about in a romcom? 

Why Izumi?

So what else makes him so special that separates him from other protagonists? Does he rescue the girl and win over her affection along with the entire school body? Not quite actually. You see, Izumi is… kind. 

Yep. That’s it. That’s literally it. Turns out being genuinely nice and kind to others can win over friendships and even possibly romance. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, especially because it’s not forced in any way. Although he does come off rather innocent sometimes, but that’s just the playful nature of his character. 

The Relationship

Still, Izumi and Shikimori are a near-perfect couple because they play off each other’s differences. Where Izumi is weak and prone to injury, Shikimori is strong and deflects any incoming debris. Where Shikimori is angry or feels lost and unsure of herself, Izumi is kind and helps her find her way. When Izumi is a loser at all he does, Shikimori is a winner and carries both of them to victory. It may feel like a one-way relationship sometimes, since Shikimori does so much for Izumi. However, Izumi’s kindness is just what Shikimori needs to tame her inner aggression. 

The Friends of Shikimori (and Izumi)

Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie has a colorful cast of supporting characters as well. Take the couples’ friend group, for example. They’re a lively group that just wants to have the best high school experience spent with each other. The group is so cheerful and hyped up all the time, it’s almost unrealistic (as realistic as animanga can get), but they certainly have personality and share some hilarious moments. Let’s first take a look at Izumi’s friend Inuzuka. 

Shuu Inuzuka is man’s best friend. With spiky blond hair and a tooth jutting out because moe, he’s up for volleyball & chill with Izumi at any time. No… he’s not a dog, but he’s compared to one in a few scenes. Getting along with the others, Shikimori constantly seems to be the only one at odds with him over Izumi’s attention, because jealousy. When Izumi feels down or unsure how to impress Shikimori, Inuzuka is there to give him a pat on the back. 

If Inuzuka is a dog, then Nekozaki is a cat, hence her name (neko = cat). One of Shikimori’s best friends, Nekozaki loves to tease her regarding Izumi any chance she gets. Mischievous by nature, she loves to pounce at new opportunities as they arise.

Perhaps my favorite character in the manga, who highly resembles Isabella from Animal Crossing is Hachimitsu . This adorably short poker-faced friend of Shikimori is a true PC gamer and avid Nintendo Switch knock-off user. She provides some wonderful comedy relief and throws in her two-sense when necessary.

There’s also Kamiya, who serves as close as a love rival to Shikimori as the series will ever get. I won’t go into detail, but she’s the quiet type that often feels out of place, so I guess I sorta identify with her.  


There’s a few other characters that come to mind, but besides friends I just gotta mention the parents. Many manga don’t even have mention of parents, but this one has a few memorable ones. For example, take Izumi’s parents. His dad is like a big teddy bear and his mom is best girl (fight me if I’m wrong). They’re aware of Izumi’s bad luck and support him as best they can. If you thought Shikimori had a scary look, you should meet her mother! 

Minor Critiques

I’m having a good time reading the ongoing manga for Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie. One minor issue I have about the series is that it’s a slow burn kind of romance, even though the relationship is already established before the first chapter. Nothing wrong with this, but when Shikimori wants to take initiative and go to the moon with her relationship with Izumi, he keeps her ground level and just takes the relationship very slowly. 

My only other issue is that this takes place in a school setting, which is extremely common in romcom. Yes there’s an athletic competition; yes there’s a school festival; yes there’s a school trip. This series takes place over multiple school years, so each time the year begins the group of friends anticipates which class they’ll be in; they have some big exam they compare results over, and they have so many walks home from school (so many walks…). It’s just a little repetitive. 

Overall Score

On the flipside, I’m really enjoying the series. Easy 8/10. On the surface, you’d mistake it for just another romcom, but read for a bit and you’ll see just how interesting it can be. Shikimori is a unique character, and while the art style appears a little above average, the detail that goes into her face when she gets serious is really stunning. There’s a lot of funny moments as well as sweet ones and I look forward to seeing where else it goes. 

And surprise! The manga got an anime adaptation that started airing in April 2022! Studio Doga Kobo made it I’ll be honest I picked up this manga after I watched the teaser trailer for it back when it first released on YouTube. I’ll most definitely be checking it out and I hope you do as well! Because Shikimori is more than just a cutie.

Same energy.

Share the Word

Leave a Reply