The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Akebi’s Sailor Uniform: Whole-series Review and a Full Recommendation

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” –George Bernard Shaw

When Komichi Akebi enters middle school, she’s enthralled to don a sailor uniform, modelled on her favourite idol’s attire: she’s chosen Rōbai Academy because of their sailor uniforms. Moreover, Koichi is unaccustomed to life with other classmates and looks forward to getting to know everyone; as a primary student, Komichi had been the only student in her year. On her first day of classes, Komichi is shocked that everyone at her middle school wears more modern uniforms, but gains permission to continue wearing her home-made sailor uniform, as it was a valid uniform. While Komichi sticks out like a sore thumb, her classmates soon find that Komichi’s energy makes her immensely likeable. After she befriends Erika Kizaki, Komichi also gets to know Tomono Kojō and Tōko Usagihara during lunch break. While Komichi’s athletic skill catches the eyes of various clubs, Komichi ends up spending time with class representative Kei Tanigawa, who’s come to encourage Komichi to join a club: Komichi picks the drama club, but also finds time to spend with her newfound friends. She hangs out with Tōko, where Kei is surprised to learn there’s a bashful side to Komichi, and later, makes friends with Minoru Ohkuma. Later, Komichi struggles to decide how to invite Erika over to hang out, and upon spotting her with a book on fishing, suggests they fish in the pond near Komichi’s home. After another classmate, Oshizu Hebimori, promises to play the guitar for Komichi despite not knowing how, she puts in a serious effort to improve and impresses Komichi. Encouraged, Oshizu promises to continue practising and improving. After exams finish, Rōbai Academy prepares for their athletic festival. Komichi longs to try a variety of activities and ends up taking a bet with Riri Minikami to see who will start for their class. Although Komichi desires to win because the bet entails trading uniforms, after she loses, Riri explains she wanted to see Komichi at her best. To purchase supplies for the athletic festival, Komichi visits the local mall with Erika, Kei, Tomono and Tōko. Tomono loses her bookmark, but ends up recovering it with help from everyone. As Komichi and her friends practise a cheer routine, seeing Komichi’s determination helps Riona Shijō, a former tennis player, to regain her confidence. Since Komichi is still weaker in volleyball, Hitomi Washio agrees to help Komichi practise, and Komichi calls her old instructor to request permission to use her old school’s gym as a practise venue. Hitomi ends up rallying the entire class to show up, bringing tears to Komichi’s former teacher; she’s overjoyed that Komichi’s been able to make so many friends. Erika spends this time preparing for a special performance with Komichi On the day of the festival, after a successful showing in the day’s events, Komichi performs a dance for the school with Erika on piano and violin. Komichi awakens the next day, wondering if the sports festival had been a dream, but after getting dressed, looks forwards to a new day at Rōbai Academy.

At the heart of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is Komichi’s eponymous sailor uniform, a uniform harkening back to an older era. This uniform lies at the heart of Komichi’s desire to attend Rōbai Academy, and the staff’s decision to allow her to continue wearing this uniform suggests that Rōbai Academy is a school that respects tradition. At the same time, allowing Komichi to continue wearing her homemade uniform gives Akebi’s Sailor Uniform its unique charm: it allows Komichi to stand out from the others, and affords her the opportunity to really get to know those around her better. Unsurprisingly, throughout Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, it is not her sailor uniform, but her outgoing and kind personality, that allows Komichi to know her classmates better. The sailor uniform may make Komichi distinct from a crowd, but rather than allowing this to affect her, Komichi trundles on with a sincere honesty. The visual element in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform brings to mind a Canadian classic: Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater. This story is an iconic piece of Canadian literature, and follows a boy who idolised Maurice “The Rocket” Richard and the Montreal Canadiens. To this end, the boy and his friends play hockey with Canadiens uniforms. One day, the boy’s mother notices how worn his jersey is and orders a new one, but mistakenly receives a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. The boy’s mother refuses to send it back, and so, the boy reluctantly wears his new Maple Leafs jersey to the rink. The boy is benched and only gets on the ice in the third period, but is immediately penalised for “too many men on the ice”. Frustrated, the boy chucks his stick on the ice, prompting the referee to send him to the church to pray for forgiveness. Instead, the boy wishes a horde of moths would descend upon his jersey and eat it. Although The Hockey Sweater is seen as a portrayal of the Canadian love for the sport, it also portrays how strongly people are bound to their identities. The boy in the story, Carrier himself, is penalised simply because he wears the jersey from a bitter rival. Komichi initially fears this: her sailor uniform makes her stand out, and she worries about not fitting in with the other students, who sport a modern blazer as a part of their uniform. However, whereas The Hockey Sweater ends on a somewhat humourous note that echoes how dedicated Canadians are to their home team, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform suggests that, outward differences notwithstanding, it is what’s on the inside that counts most.

From photography, to books, music, athletics and academics, Akebi possesses the versatility to keep up with everyone around her. At the same time, she’s also defined by a love of acting, and of her favourite idol. These traits allow Komichi to be the star of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, but even in moments where Komichi herself is not the focus, it becomes apparent that Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is a tale of being true to oneself, and moreover, one’s identity is not something society can define (or should be permitted to define). Despite garnering stares for both her uniform and notable introduction, Komichi embraces the environment at Rōbai Academy, befriending her classmates and getting to know them better. Over time, Komichi’s classmates swiftly spot that, her quirks notwithstanding, Komichi is a genuinely kind and worthwhile person to be around. Despite standing out, Komichi remains true to herself: she’s a big fan of idols and never hesitates to express this, but at the same time, she’s also a fantastic listener, reading a moment and acts appropriately. Meeting Komichi encourages each of her classmates to pursue their own goals. Erika is inspired to play music again, while Kei becomes a photographer. Oshizu ends up developing a desire to play guitar after being spurred on by Komichi, Riri expresses joy that there’s someone whose swimming ability can push her further and after seeing Komichi give cheerleading her on, Riona finds it in her to take up tennis again. Even the stoic Hitomi comes to respect Komichi for her endless determination. Although all of Komichi’s classmates are working to find their place in the sun, seeing Komichi pursue her own goals so openly and sincerely leads those around her to do the same. Komichi would’ve likely been able to do this, sailor uniform or not; this speaks volumes to how one’s actions, rather than their appearances, define who they are as a person. In a society that is too hasty in slapping labels and categorising one another, people often fail to give others a chance and appreciate that the mark of another individual’s character isn’t their appearance or preferences, but rather, how they regard those around them, and how they act towards those around them.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Akebi’s Sailor Uniform had been on my watchlist during the winter season, but owing to how busy it’d been, I deemed it prudent to hold off until things had settled down somewhat: at the time, I was preparing for the move on weekends, and on weeknights, my routine had kept me occupied. Since the move’s been done for a month and a half now, readers would suggest that I’ve no longer a reason to put things off further: if I didn’t kick off Akebi’s Sailor Uniform now, it would join the list of backlogged series that I’d get to at some indeterminate point in the future.

  • To prevent Akebi’s Sailor Uniform from suffering such a fate, especially since I did watch the first episode shortly after its airing in January, I focused on getting through this series earlier this month. It is quite plain that the recommendations I’ve received from readers to give Akebi’s Sailor Uniform a go were well-justified: the series is indeed up my alley, and the first episode captivated me with its stunning landscapes, as well as the portrayal of Komichi as immensely energetic, likeable and friendly. Although she attended a local schoolhouse for primary, she’s always been outgoing and approachable.

  • Even a mistake in the uniform type isn’t enough to get her down: the gap is why I’ve likened Akebi’s Sailor Uniform to The Hockey Sweater: in both Komichi and Carrier’s case, a misunderstanding results in their having an outfit that sticks out. Whereas Carrier’s reminiscence has him penalised for this mistake, Komichi is able to embrace different (Rōbai Academy’s headmistress allows Komichi to continue wearing the sailor uniform) and soon finds that while her uniform may differ from that of her classmates, she’s standout not because of this factor.

  • Every journey begins with a single step, and Komichi’s starts when she befriends Erika Kizaki. Although their meeting is unusual enough (Komichi runs into Erika while the latter is clipping her toenails), this memorable start to a friendship allows Komichi to become closer to Erika, and in doing so, sets precedence for how Komichi ends up getting to know the remainder of her classmates, all sixteen of them. With this being said, Komichi overdoes her introduction on her first day, and leaves a very strong impression that leaves even their instructor speechless.

  • Komichi comes to know the quiet Tomono and the happy-go-lucky Tōko, over lunch break; Tōko brings to mind the likes of Azumanga Daioh‘s Tomo Takino, as well as K-On!‘s Ritsu Tainaka, while Tomono is a big fan of books and would much rather spend her time reading. The dramatic contrasts in personality do not preclude Tomono, Tōko and Erika from getting along with one another, although the resulting conversation is vociferous enough such that the remainder of their classmates overhear. Such moments bring back memories of what life had been like during my time as a student.

  • When class representative Kei attempts to persuade Komichi into joining a club before the deadline, Komichi’s remark, that Kei’s got nice legs, lingers in her mind. This ends with Kei stripping down and sending a risqué photo of herself to Komichi by accident. She’d considered deleting the image, but her mother’s sudden appearance causes Kei to press the wrong button. Such moments are counted as “problematic” by certain subsets of the community, although I see things in a different perspective. At this age, people experience puberty and the plethora of changes that occur in one’s body, but the curiosity that accompanies these changes is natural; education is key here.

  • I’ve never really understood why there is such a fear or sense of shame in one’s body and its functions; as far as I’m concerned, it’s the vessel that houses one’s mind, and much as how every mind is unique, so is every body. Akebi’s Sailor Uniform gives Kei a reprieve in that she only sends such an image to Komichi, who is astute enough to promise to not share it with anyone else. In reality, such mistakes can have serious consequences, and a part of the education here would entail teaching youth what to never share under any circumstances, especially since technology is so prevalent nowadays.

  • The outcome of this little incident in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is benign; Kei simply ends up taking photography after Komichi expresses that Kei might have a knack for taking interesting photos. Meanwhile, Tomono shares a conversation with Kei and decides to go around campus with Komichi such that the latter may find a suitable club. For Komichi, whose talent stack is quite large, every club has its own appeal and selling point. The other club’s members similarly are excited about the prospect of having Komichi on boards, since she’s proving to be quite capable in physical education.

  • Although Akebi’s Sailor Uniform may portray life at a private Japanese middle school, the experiences that Komichi has here are immediately relatable: this series is seen as being a trip down memory lane, when one was still a student and had a different set of concerns than they presently would. Whether it be visiting different clubs, or quieter moments spent together, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform portrays both the exciting and the mundane moments of everyday life to remind viewers that life is a series of peaks and valleys.

  • For folks wondering what my life was like in middle school, the answer will probably be none too exciting or remarkable. I was a 90s student with a penchant for math and science, but could hold my own well enough in the humanities, and for extracurricular activities, I was involved with the concert and jazz bands, playing clarinet and trumpet, respectively. I also was a part of the computer club, helping the computer instructor with various activities like setting the school’s then-cutting edge digital news bulletins and managing the audio-visual equipment during assemblies.

  • Although I entered my first year of middle school as an unpopular individual, my classmates came around once word had gotten out I was a good person to have on group projects and had a penchant for helping classmates with coursework. Some of my classmates also were amused by the fact that at the time, I was hooked on The Matrix and would do impressions like Neo’s iconic bullet dodging and wall-running on the lockers. Once the “mystery” evaporated, I found I was getting along with people just fine, from the popular people and the athletes, to my fellow band members and so forth.

  • Komichi’s choice to join the drama club is a suitable one; being an actor or actress means taking on whatever role is needed of her in the moment, and this signifies how Komichi can become anything she wishes to be. Drama, of course, is also related to a skill that her favourite idol would possess in abundance. Once clubs are chosen, in any typical slice-of-life series, the anime would shift focus to club activities. Akebi’s Sailor Uniform does not take this route, and while Komichi is shown doing club activities, more emphasis is shown on common, everyday moments.

  • This decision allows Akebi’s Sailor Uniform to portray characters in a way that showcases more of their character. When Komichi learns that her socks have holes in them, she’s mortified that the others have found out. Kei had spent the entire episode wondering about other sides to Komichi’s character, and although Komichi has an idol-like charm about her, Kei wonders if there’s a facet to Komichi she hasn’t seen before. In this same episode, viewers learn that Tōko is an excellent cook, having picked up the practise in her spare time.

  • Minoru had run into Akebi during an orientation event prior to the start of term, and she prefers observing the world around her. When Komichi does strike up a conversation with Minoru, it is to Minoru’s surprise that Komichi also is fond of being attuned to those around her; both Komichi and Minoru take detailed notes of their observations. I found Minoru to resemble Girls und Panzer‘s Yukari: although quiet and reserved for the most part, when their respective interests are brought up, both become significantly livelier.

  • Minoru and Komichi thus spend a day observing those around them, although Komichi’s extroverting nature means she’s prone to wanting to help out or join the party. Komichi would probably not make for a good tail, but following Minoru’s preferred activity does allow Komichi to learn even more about her classmates. Komichi’s tendencies come from a desire to really make friends: even more so than Asahigaoka Branch Elementary, Komichi’s primary school only had her as a student, and at present, Komichi’s younger sister is the only student. Being on her own has never dampened her spirits, but being with others brings out the best in Komichi.

  • Ayumi had been curious about Komichi since she’d started; on the day of the exams, Komichi had assisted Ayumi with her medications, but they parted ways before Ayumi could return her handkerchief. Since then, Ayumi had wanted to properly thank Komichi and return said handkerchief. Ayumi reminds me of Yama no Susume‘s Hinata Kuraue and Bakuon!!‘s Chisame Nakano in appearance: one aspect of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform that took me some getting used to was the fact that several of the characters resemble Komichi in appearance, with long black hair, and it hit me that, although allowing Komichi to keep her sailor uniform makes it immediately apparent as to who’s who, one could tell Komichi apart from the others simply on virtue that Komichi’s eyes are a striking shade of blue.

  • For Komichi, middle school is a time of firsts, and when she wishes to invite Erika over to her place, she initially struggles (in no small part, thanks to the fact that her home’s roof leaks). After a day of trying to figure something out, Komichi spots Erika with a book on fishing, deduces Erika might enjoy being outside. This allows Komichi to suggest going fishing, allowing her to have Erika over. Although Erika and Komichi have a completely different idea of what fishing entails, both manage to see merits in the other way, having a great deal of fun in the process: Erika even manages to catch a trout with Komichi.

  • When I was in middle school and primary school, I went over to friends’ places more often than I had people over. This was in part a consequence of me having more books than toys and video games. However, I have had people over for school projects, and the environment was suitable for people to get stuff done: I still remember one time, I worked on a Rube Goldberg machine at a friend’s place, and the entire team got distracted because said friend had Half-Life 2 and a PC powerful enough to run it. I managed to push us across the finish line, and we were able to spend more time with Half-Life 2 after that.

  • The visuals of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform are gorgeous: Cloverworks has spared no expense in ensuring that all backgrounds are vividly rendered, and in fact, Komichi’s world feels as detailed as anything from Kyoto Animation or P.A. Works. Having said this, I have heard that some folks found the character designs to be a little off-putting. The exaggerated facial expressions in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform are quite pronounced, but for me, they serve to speak volumes about how a character is feeling in a given moment. Visual cues like these are a central part of anime, so it’s important to consider their usage before drawing any conclusions or dismiss their usage as a distraction.

  • Longtime readers will know that I get along with small children well, and I’m fond of working with them. Although Komichi and her classmates are amusing, Komichi’s younger sister, Kao, is downright adorable. She does her best to encourage Komichi and sees her as a role model of sorts. Here, after their day of fishing draws to a close, Komichi and Erika run into Kao, who’s carrying a large fuki leaf. There’s something immensely adorable about children using giant leaf as an umbrella, and for me, the most memorable usage was back in Sora no Method. Here, I supposed that Noel and Carol were using Alocasia macrorrhizos (giant Taro) leaves because of their shape. The leaf that Kao is carrying appears a little different, and for our benefit, Komichi’s mother identifies it as a Petasites japonicus leaf.

  • After meeting Erika for the first time, Komichi’s mother is pleased that Komichi’s getting along with her classmates at Rōbai Academy. She addresses Erika by her given name, causing Komichi to become jealous. Although this phenomenon may seem a little strange to English-speakers, it is a common enough occurrence in anime such that viewers are familiar with things; calling people by their given name is something that is reserved for situations where there is closeness. This is why Komichi refers to all of her classmates by their family name, and it is only out of envy that Komichi ends up overcoming her reservations: from here on out, Komichi and Erika refer to one another by their given names.

  • Small details like these are done to emphasise closeness, and it follows that Erika’s the first person that Komichi becomes on a first-name basis with. Having gone through primary and secondary school addressing my instructors by their family names, university created a bit of confusion in me: some professors preferred to be addressed by their title, while my supervisor wished to be addressed by first name. In the workplace, I’ve slowly grown accustomed to addressing coworkers and leadership by first name. Kao’s happy to see that Komichi’s brought a friend over from school and immediately goes about sharing stories with Erika.

  • Oshizu is a sullen-looking classmate with a profound love for music despite lacking any technical familiarity with it. When Komichi approaches her one day, excited to hear her play, Oshizu decides to bite the bullet and learn how to read music. While the journey is a difficult one, one where Oshizu considers quitting, her roommate encourages her to continue, stating that anything will be difficult initially. Lessons like these are interspersed throughout Akebi’s Sailor Uniform: they are by no means subtle and are easily picked up, but I’m always surprised that folks tend to skate over these things in discussions.

  • Although Oshizu is discouraged by Erika’s talent, Komichi convinces her to perform anyways, and seeing Komichi’s enjoyment of this experience leads Oshizu to stick with the guitar. Events like these typify the beginnings of new experiences, and it’s not difficult to see Oshizu eventually join a club or continue guitar as a hobby later down the line. Oshizu resembles Her Blue Sky‘s Aoi Aioi in manner, and it suddenly hits me that both Her Blue Sky and Akebi’s Sailor Uniform are both produced by CloverWorks. This studio cut their teeth on 2018’s Slow Start after A-1 Pictures rebranded their Kōenji Studio, and since then, have gone on to work on shows like Seishun Buta YarōSaeKano: Fine and even My Dress-Up Darling.

  • As such, the animation traits here shouldn’t be too surprising: it would appear that the character designers who’d previously worked on Her Blue Sky have returned to Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, whose characters are illustrated by Hiro in the manga. Hiro had previously designed Super Cub‘s characters; while the facial expressions and character movements differ dramatically, some similarities can be spotted between Komichi and Koguma. On the topic of Super Cub, I find myself surprised at how quickly a year’s passed since Super Cub was airing; Super Cub is just as laid-back as Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, so it came as a shock to me that there was such a negative, adverse reaction during the former’s airing a year ago.

  • Conversely, conversations about Akebi’s Sailor Uniform have been more limited in scope, and correspondingly more peaceable as a result: in fact, at the series’ conclusion, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform was described as “incredible”, “amazingly put together” and generally a “fun show”. This is high praise coming from folks who are quick to melt other slice-of-life series with criticisms (Super Cub did not escape and was branded as unwatchable by the same folks). I’ve found that people seem to have very inconsistent metrics for what makes a slice-of-life work, and there’s no methodology behind things.

  • For me, whether or not a slice-of-life series is enjoyable is dependent on how well the characters’ experiences relate to the story’s overarching goal. For instance, in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, there isn’t a specific goal per se, but as Komichi works together with her classmates towards a successful athletics festival, it gives her a chance to focus all of that energy and talent towards something tangible, showing to the remainder of her classmates what she’s made of. This is in keeping with the growth Komichi’s had up until now and shows beyond any doubt that she’s been able to find her way.

  • When Komichi, Tomono, Erika and Tōko head to the mall to pick up materials for the athletics festival, it gives everyone a chance to hang out together outside of school and show a side of their characters that were hitherto unseen. Here, how Tomono’s love of books came to be is shown, and Erika’s upbringing is hinted at. Simple things like a conversation about Tomono’s treasured bookmark, or Erika’s enjoyment of a fast food burger, speaks volumes about the characters that wouldn’t otherwise be shown in the classroom. The outing is full of ups and some downs: Tomono’s missing bookmark ends up bringing this group of friends even closer, as Komichi works out a solution to help Tomono retrieve it.

  • For the athletics festival, on top of participating in class events like volleyball, Komichi’s also volunteered to be a part of the cheerleading team. With her extroverted manner and a love for idols, Komichi is a natural fit for the position, performing her move set with boldness. This stands in contrast with Riona, who’s uncomfortable with her figure and admits that these changes have led to her decreasing interest in tennis, even though previously, she’d greatly enjoyed the sport. Although she’s initially envious of Komichi’s build, seeing the effort Komichi is willing to go spurs her onwards, as well.

  • In the end, Riona decides to take a leaf from Komichi’s book and do her best, no matter how embarrassing it may be, and even regains her interest in tennis anew. Komichi’s presence in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform shows how she’s had a positive impact on all those around her. In this way, she’s Akebi’s Sailor Uniform‘s equivalent of Cocoa, who had similarly brightened everyone’s day up to the point where, when she’d gone home for a visit, each of Chino, Chiya, Rize, Sharo, Maya and Megu begin feeling a little down. Such individuals, who bring the sunshine with them, are indispensable for morale: during tough times, having people who can smile anyways and bring everyone up with them can make even overwhelming problems appear manageable.

  • I’ve seen a very large number of anime over the past decade, and one recurring element that I’m always fond of is when characters puff up their cheeks. I’ve never seen this as an actual facial expression anywhere in reality, and I’ve always wondered where the origin of this expression is. Here, Kao expresses a want to join Komichi after she manages to secure her old school’s gym for volleyball practise. Komichi ends up relenting; it’s hard to say no to someone like Kao, who’s essentially Komichi in miniature, the same way Yuru Camp△‘s Akari Inuyama is basically a small version of Aoi.

  • Although Komichi is shown as being competent in a range of activities, her talents are shown as having limits. She’s not the strongest or fastest student in her class, nor is she the most brilliant. This aspect makes Komichi’s character plausible and easier to cheer for; she’s always willing to put in an effort, which is why she’s got a good talent stack with her, and this effort continuously shows, time and time again. For this training session, Hitomi also shows up: while my impression of her was that she’s very dedicated towards volleyball, she also seemed to be a bit cool towards Komichi for the latter’s carefree and cheerful mindset.

  • This outlook changes after seeing the sheer determination to which Komichi demonstrates during training; to ensure their success, Hitomi ends up gathering all of their classmates to make use of this facility for practise. Komichi’s old instructor is overjoyed to see Komichi’s connection to her classmates, and ultimately, on the day of the athletics festival, Komichi’s class dominates their competition, spurred on and inspired by the spirit Komichi had brought to the table. Erika is noticeably absent from the proceedings; Komichi’s senior in the drama club had a surprise for her, and to prepare for this, Erika’s spent the day practising for this event.

  • The partnership between Komichi and Erika brought to mind the likes of Your Lie In April: in her mind’s eye, Erika imagines playing her accompaniment for Komichi, and the entire moment is infused with magic about it. Although Komichi gets along with everyone in her class, she and Erika share a particularly special bond, the mark of best friends. Much of the final performance is animated using stills, and while this did leave some viewers disappointed, I imagine that the choice was deliberate: previously, stills were used during moments where it wasn’t feasible to bring every movement to life.

  • However, I would imagine that here in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, the use of stills is to allow the viewer’s mind to fill the gaps in themselves and make of Komichi’s performance with Erika what they will. This performance showcases the music in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform: the soundtrack is rich and warm, befitting of the friendly atmosphere within the anime. Unfortunately, the soundtrack doesn’t have a conventional album release, and instead, will be released as a part of the Blu Rays disks. The incidental music is set to release somewhere in July, but it is worth a listen.

  • When Komichi and Erika’s performance wraps up, it is so moving that the students are on their feet for a standing ovation. The finale doesn’t quite beat out the emotional intensity seen in Your Lie In April, but the fact that it comes close speaks to how well-done Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is. Despite there being no stakes, there was something remarkable about seeing just how colourful everyday life as a student can be. While the portrayal of student life here in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is perhaps a bit more idealised, I found it to be a fair presentation of how things felt.

  • The day after, Komichi wonders if the events of the previous day had been a dream: to be able to celebrate with classmates after a successful athletics festival seemed quite surreal, but Kao pushes her awake. Realising the lateness of the hour, Komichi rushes awake, ready to head to school. The faded, purple colouration accentuates the fact that things seem a little surreal, reminiscent of how things felt the day after a band concert. Of course, there’s no time to put the brakes on, and Komichi prepares for another day. The idea that there is no stopping point is one aspect I’ve always enjoyed about slice-of-life series.

  • Speaking subtly to Kao’s growth, she’s able to spot a misalignment in Komichi’s uniform and helps her to fix it before Komichi sets off for school. In this way, Komichi prepares for yet another wonderful day with her friends and classmates at Rōbai Academy, bringing Akebi’s Sailor Uniform to a close. While the series’ premise had betrayed very little about what Akebi’s Sailor Uniform would entail, the anime ended up exceeding my expectations for its nostalgic depiction of life as a student. This is an A series (4.0 of 4.0), being an addition to the list of anime that I have no qualms recommending to viewers.

  • I’ll close up with a still of Komichi running off to classes in the idyllic countryside of Japan. The setting plays a major role here in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, and I’ve long felt that anime set in the inaka are able to really emphasise characters, because the setting is so laid-back and languid. Without the hustle and bustle of a large city, rural settings allow the focus to remain purely on the characters and their experiences. Now that Akebi’s Sailot Uniform is finished, I am going to switch my attention over to My Dress-Up Darling, which has also been on my watchlist for some time, and is also produced by CloverWorks. I have heard this series has been the subject of no small discussion, so the only way to see whether or not this anime lives up to its reputation would be to enter the fray for myself and see what it’s about.

Outside of speaking vividly to what the world looks like from a student’s perspective, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is a technically solid anime. The animation is fluid, and the artwork is gorgeous. Backgrounds are richly rendered, and lighting brings Komichi’s world to life. From the Akebi residence’s rustic designs, to the crisp rural air and the tenour of Rōbai Academy’s facilities, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform spares no expense to detail, creating a captivating world that is every bit as immersive as reality to really draw in viewers and evoke a sense of nostalgia, giving the sense that viewers were there alongside Komichi and her classmates as they make the most of their youth. Similarly, with a warm and full sound, the incidental music creates a feeling of nostalgia; for Komichi and her friends, living so wholly in the present creates unparalleled memories, and for viewers, seeing this group of youth seizing the moment brings back memories of one’s own time as a student. Altogether, the aural and visual components in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform are every bit as strong as its thematic piece. The world of youth is one of curiosity, exploration and discovery; giving Komichi every opportunity to learn her strengths, cultivate her friendships and develop an identity is facilitated by the wonderfully detailed and inviting world this group of students find themselves in. With Akebi’s Sailor Uniform now in the books, it is plain as to why this series one folks have recommended to me: the messages and setting might be familiar, but the combination of the two sets Akebi’s Sailor Uniform apart from its predecessors. Ultimately, I found this anime to be a worthwhile one for bringing back memories of my youth, as well as for celebrating the notion that there is no better time than youth to discover one’s place in the world: appearances notwithstanding, people are defined by what they do, and promoting this early on instills in people the confidence they need to find success as the grow older.

23 responses to “Akebi’s Sailor Uniform: Whole-series Review and a Full Recommendation

  1. gridlynk May 15, 2022 at 02:21

    I still need to finish Akebi’s Sailor Uniform myself, but I’ve been keeping up with the manga for a few years now. If you haven’t read the manga it’s also very good and one of the most highly detailed beautifully drawn manga I’ve ever read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith May 19, 2022 at 17:24

      I definitely should keep the recommendation in mind, and would be curious to hear your thoughts on the manga and anime (e.g. contrasts, what each do differently, etc).

      Like

  2. folcwinepywackett9604 May 15, 2022 at 11:41

    Excellent review. Akebi was one of my favorites from the Winter season and I am happy you enjoyed it. “My Dress-up Darling” took most of the kudos for Winter but Akebi was not far behind. MAL has Darling at 8.39 / 361,460 users while Akebi registered at 7.79 / 44,081 users. Both from Cloverworks where them artists were flexing hard! As a huge SoL fan, Akebi was my number one from Winter. The art which you can clearly see in your slides is absolutely stunning. But it was the design of all the characters which just sealed the deal. These girls are not cardboard cutouts, but living flesh and blood individuals, and all of them are rich in detail, and just so appealing. Akebi’s family is just to die for. What? a family with no dysfunctional elements??? Many fans had their fav girl, but for my heart Akebi’s mom was heart and soul above all of them. Had we been age compatible and she were single I would without hesitation confess to her, and ask her to marry me. Unfortunately, she has a husband much more handsome and wonderful than I, so tough luck! Every character brings out a different feel, and all of them have such affectionate relationships. The pacing of the story was just oozing with that SoL feel of total relaxation and “all is perfect” in this world without antagonists. I also thought that the ending was brilliantly conceived where we have a retro look back at the series retold in the dance moves of Akebi and the girls in the audience recognize their stories in that dance. Unfortunately it appears there will be no second season in a manga story far ahead of the anime. Anyone who is an SoL fan and enjoys beauty in the art, and honest, real feels, will most definitely enjoy “Akebi’s Sailor Uniform (明日ちゃんのセーラー服) Akebi-chan no Sērāfuku”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith May 19, 2022 at 17:32

      I’ve never been terribly fond of the dysfunctional family archetype that is common in the West. The worst offenders are Simpsons and Family Guy: the stories derive humour by making the characters suffer. To perpetuate the comedy, the characters are never allowed to keep the lessons they might learn after a misadventure, and this can grow tiresome. Anime offers a respite from this, and it always gives me happiness to see an ordinary, happy family.

      For me, I probably would relate to Kei the most, for her academics and for the fact that she’s pretty shy. I’ve met my share of Komichis in life, too. In terms of personality, though, I’m quite fond of Erika, although yes, all fifteen of Komichi’s classmates are unique in their own way, lovable. The fact that everyone gets their moment in the limelight, in no small part thanks to Komichi’s ongoing (and successful) effort to befriend everyone, is to Akebi’s Sailor Uniform‘s benefit.

      Finally, I am watching My Dress-Up Darling, too. I had heard many things about this series and wanted to see for myself what was driving all the buzz. I’m about halfway through now, and although initially, the series employed more conventional means of driving things, it became clear that there is a great deal of depth to this one, as well. CloverWorks had a very strong season, and it’s a positive sign for the studio they were able to produce two shows for a season without compromising either. It’s a shame there won’t be more Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, although fortunately, there is a manga to continue the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • folcwinepywackett9604 May 24, 2022 at 08:18

        I hope you finish My Dress-Up Darling, and that you post a full review. Would be very interested in reading your thoughts and reactions to the work especially following all the controversy from
        “Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S” and the intro of Ilulu. If Dragon Maid comes under the ban for some, then Darling must have blown more than several fuse boxes.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. David Birr May 15, 2022 at 19:08

    “There’s something immensely adorable about children using giant leaf as an umbrella,…”

    Or childlike multi-millennia-old goddesses, such as Suwako Moriya of Touhou Project:
    https://safebooru.org/index.php?page=post&s=view&id=1918639
    At least when she’s got such a cheery expression.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. AK May 16, 2022 at 04:33

    Yeah, I think I need to give this one a second try. Seems I wasn’t fair to drop it after an episode, even if I’m not generally a slice-of-life fan — there was stuff I could appreciate about it, anyway. Beautifully animated, nice setting, and an interesting premise to start with. Akebi is going back on my watch list, thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • infinitezenith May 19, 2022 at 17:39

      Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is probably (and you may have to take this with a grain of salt, as it comes from me) slice-of-life in its purest form, portraying the little details about life as a middle school student. Other anime of its ilk tend to give the characters an accompanying activity to drive things (e.g. camping, hiking, astronomy, fishing, light music, to name a few), and as such, a pure slice-of-life had better be working hard to keep viewers engaged. Akebi’s Sailor Uniform manages to do this, and it does this with its gorgeous visuals. I do hope you’ll enjoy this series; even amongst the genre, this one is particularly optimistic and positive.

      Liked by 2 people

      • AK May 19, 2022 at 17:55

        That first episode certainly was beautiful, yeah. Character models took a little getting used to, but they have a unique look for sure. I know pure slice-of-life isn’t exactly my thing, but I’m happy to pick it up again and see how I do with it, especially since it’s so well-regarded.

        Like

        • infinitezenith May 19, 2022 at 19:58

          The character models were indeed a little off-putting initially: those smiles felt a little wide! After a while, I found them quite expressive, and in a way, reminiscent of the other shows I’d previously seen that had more unconventional designs and ended up being enjoyable anyways 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

      • folcwinepywackett9604 May 22, 2022 at 08:05

        Had not thought about that myself, but now that you mention it, I cannot think of a more pure form of SoL than Akebi. Perhaps “Non Non Biyori” might come close. But really neat observation!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Michael E Kerpan May 19, 2022 at 13:31

    I read the manga first — and felt ambivalent about it. I thought the SoL story was quite nice, and the art was lovely — but it sometimes felt more than a bit voyeuristic in the way it looked at its middle-school characters bodies. This made me worry about how the anime would handle the adaptation. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried. The anime almost entirely avoided producing the sometimes voyeuristic feel of the manga.

    The show was visually exquisite — and he relationships of the various girls with each other were equally lovely. Story-wise there was little beyond a portrayal of middle school life (albeit in a very privileged private school setting). But the execution of the day to day life of these characters was first-rate.

    One interesting thing for me was the fact that I utterly loved the closing credits presenting snapshots (so to speak) of Akebi’s mother’s school days. The nostalgia impact of those scenes was intense for me. I really wished I could see an anime that portrayed Akebi’s mother’s school life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • infinitezenith May 19, 2022 at 17:51

      I’ve not read the manga, but there were a handful of viewers who felt some of the scenes in the anime were crossing the line (see Kei’s self-shot). However, I would imagine that such a design choice was made to accentuate the fact that Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is focusing on the moment, whether it is one of self-discovery, or embarrassment, etc. This extends to the body, and while it is unfortunate that a few deviants can make it difficult to discuss this, the body is nothing to fear or be humiliated about in and of itself.

      To be honest, I’ve not seen an anime this gorgeous since Violet Evergarden: everything from the middle school to Komichi’s countryside home is lovingly portrayed, and I found myself thinking, if there were a heaven, it would be a rural home somewhere tranquil. One wouldn’t expect an anime about school life to be this captivating, but in practise, it’s the characters that make this one a winner.

      Thanks for the insight about Akebi’s Sailor Uniform‘s ending! I am (somewhat) ashamed to say I skipped the ending because I was watching on my lunch breaks, and since I work from home, there’s the need to also clean up the kitchen after I make lunch, so I wash the dishes while the ending is going. I should go back and check this detail out; it does sound like a clever callback to Komichi’s mother. Such an anime would be quite interesting; my parents’ era was dramatically different than the one I grew up in, and similarly, my parents love watching videos about Hong Kong when they were students because it brings back memories.

      Liked by 1 person

    • folcwinepywackett9604 May 22, 2022 at 09:13

      I enjoyed every minute that Akebi’s mom was on screen especially with the serious crush which I carried for her!

      I had wanted to send another note to Master Kerpan from our previous discussion last year but could not find a Reply button or Email address even on the linked Blog. Master Kerpan had recommended (平家物語 Heike Monogatari) to me and so I found a copy at my library, and read the entire work! It was not an easy read.

      I am going to write up the review and post it. In any case thanks for the reference!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael E Kerpan May 28, 2022 at 20:28

        Glad you managed to check out Heike Monogatari (the book) — I loved this overall but will confess that I typically skipped those multi-page list of warriors (etc.). I think this is easier to comprehend (in many ways) than Genji Monogatari (but still not an “easy read”). I was pleased by how much of the essentials of the book came across in Yamada’s anime adaptation. Looking forward to your comments.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael E Kerpan May 21, 2022 at 18:43

    There are several shows where I always watch openings or closes. The end of Akebi was one where I almost always watched the ending.

    The recently-concluded Shenmue featured a segment set in late 80s (or very early 90s) Hong Kong (including now-demolished Kowloon).

    Liked by 1 person

    • infinitezenith May 21, 2022 at 20:22

      I take it you are referring to the Kowloon Walled City? Kowloon itself is still bustling and well in the present day, but I’ve long held a fascination and interest for the seemingly-lawless but tight-knit and curious enclave that my grandparents warned my parents about never getting close to when they lived in Hong Kong. This interest was so strong I ended up pestering my aunt to pick up a copy of Greg Girard and Ian Lambot’s “City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City” (upon which my aunt apparently had a shouting match with a vendor when they didn’t have an English language copy in stock, and which was resolved after I empathetically stated I was okay with the Traditional Chinese copy, since I could get my parents to read me the book).

      While Shenmue prima facie appears to be something outside my area of interest, mention of Hong Kong has piqued my interest, and I will now add this series to my ever-growing list of series I aim to watch. I know Hong Kong very well thanks to my parents, and this series would be worth checking out solely on the basis that I’m curious about its portrayal of my parents’ homeland. Bonus points if the story itself is amazing 🙂

      Like

      • Michael E Kerpan May 28, 2022 at 09:26

        Yes. The “Walled City” (not all of Kowloon.

        Shenmue was one of those shows that are probably “far from perfect” yet nonetheless fascinating. Animation was overall quite “basic”. Voice acting was usually a bit stiff. And yet, this took me on a journey that interested me. So, it is unfair to demand more.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Eximius Blogger Award! – Anime as a Cup of Tea

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