Episode 12 – Akebi’s Sailor Uniform

“I’m Not Alone” is such an apt title for Akebi’s Sailor Uniform‘s finale that I found myself tearing up before I even hit play. That said, hitting play drops us into the dog days of Japanese summer post-rainy season, and more importantly, the school sports festival.

Hardcut to Komichi’s performance on the grand stage as part of the cheer squad. Yet, she’s alone. She’s terrified, frozen in place, unable to move. Komichi even notes that it feels like she’s underwater, a feeling I can relate to trapped as someone perpetually at the precipice of what feels like a heart attack but is actually anxiety, coursing through my veins like a raging river. Anxiety like that is isolating. It’s like being in the bathyal zone of the ocean, 3,300 feet below a churning crush of emotions, barely able to see a way through.

Then Erika comes on stage and starts playing the piano, turning Akebi’s Sailor Uniform into my everything for Winter 2022.

You already know. Cue the tears and open mouthed, gasping sobs as we go back through all of these lovely, key moments over the past few days that inspire Akebi. Moments spent with her classmates, watching them practice, watching them grow, observing their own SMALL WORLDS. It’s this really beautiful, extended scene that brings together days and weeks and months and seasons of Komichi engaging with school life and growing cheer up.

And it’s beautiful. It’s really, really beautiful. Erika switches to violin, and the music swells with this rich, warm series of chords as Komichi dances her heart out in one of the most memorable sequences, and I gently laid myself on the ground to weep because gosh darn it, there is something so nice about a show centered on young female happiness. Something so utterly breathtaking that I long for those halcyon days when I made my own joy and didn’t care about anyone’s opinion in it but my own, when I swept up all my friends in laughing and screaming and being utterly cringe in public.

I find it striking that Akebi’s Sailor Uniform‘s finale is largely a series on montages. There’s voiced lines, but they’re sparse, opening the show up to the diegetic soundtrack and sound design for the bulk of the episode. In fact, it’s only in the last five minutes that things shift back to a “normal” episode, and even then, the conversations are few and far between, leaving space for one last moment with Komichi as she gets ready for school. We see her off, her sailor uniform just so, before she dashes off to school. It’s a proper way to end things, coming full circle on one girl’s tender beginnings in middle school, and all the beautiful memories she’s made.

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.

As the credits rolled with a brand new verse in the OP (Hajimari no Setsuna, or The First Moment), I found it hard to breathe as I silently sobbed over my mechanical keyboard because, damn, I love it when the anime ends like this, especially when it’s full of young women just existing. While Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is definitely a Seen (proof: anytime the camera does what the camera does), I found so much joy in reading this series as a coming-of-age story about a teenager just being passionate. A part of me hopes that in the source, Komichi never loses her passion, that she’s just this ray of sunshine who never gives up and inspires others to be exactly who they are. I can certainly say that’s exactly what Komichi has inspired me to do with my own small world. Hopefully, she inspires you as well.

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Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is currently streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Mercedez is a JP-EN translation and localization light novel editor & proofreader/QA, pop culture critic, and a journalist who, when not writing for ANN, writes for Anime Feminist, where they’re a staff editor. They’re also a frequent cohost on the Anime Feminist Podcast, Chatty AF. This season, they’re reflecting on their youth with Akebi’s Sailor Uniform. When they’re not writing and reviewing, you can find them on their Twitter or on their Instagram where she’s always up to something.

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