Episode 8, “I Want to Win Next Time” is peak anime. That’s it, end the review, that’s all I’ve got to say. No, gotta write more? Okay, then let’s start again.
Episode 8, “I Want to Win Next Time” is beautiful from the very first second of its opening sequence, which is near-silent save for the ambient noise and the shrill cry of a whistle that signals the two girls to dive into a perfectly pleasing blue pool.
Post-OP, we’re back with Komichi post exams, and it turns out she ranked fifth, which is an impressive feat that highlights just how intelligent – and driven – Komichi is. But there’s no time to worry about tests when the infinitely more exciting school sports festival looms, and it’s time to choose students for all the different activities!
Naturally, Komichi goes for the oendan (a type of traditional Japanese cheering performed with flags and drums and lots of enthusiastic shouting), but what’s less expected is her getting dragged into a competition with bob-headed Riri, a girl who’s known for being an ace swimmer and wants to be the anchor for the class’ swim team. And this is no low-risk race, mind you: Komichi’s sailor uniform is in jeopardy if she loses, which means Komichi just has to win! (Or does she?)
But Akebi is a series about the journey to friendship, not competition, and it’s immediately evident that Komichi and Riri will end up as friends. And it happens in one of the best sequences of the entire cour: a swimming scene that pits Komichi against Riri. It’s got the whole package: perfectly enthusiastic music, immersive sound design, detailed animation, and the formation of a new, beautiful bond between the girls. It’s hard to express the specific emotion that I felt while watching the scene, which is a blend of elation, longing, enthusiasm, and excitement. Suffice to say it made me gasp, and left me open-mouthed as I roll back the progress bar in favor or seeing Riri and Komichi race just one more time. It’s delightful, and stands out as one of the most cathartic scenes to date.
And it feels good when Riri cements their new relationship by assuring Komichi that they’re friends. Good in a soul deep way, in the way that friendships feel like when you’re a kid. I say that because maintaining friendships as an adult is… complicated. It’s a square dance of navigating interests, schedules, energy levels, relationships, personalities, and the desire to stay awake past seven. That’s a sea I often feel adrift in, unable to parse things out the way Komichi does. Perhaps it’s really the case that friendship is easier at her age; or maybe it’s just as complex, requiring a bit of bravery and a lot of willingness to try.
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. They pull on something so intrinsically human that language barriers don’t matter because in the end, the phonetics of friendship are the same, regardless of what language you use to convey it.
Ultimately, episode 8 is full of lovely moments: a look at Komichi’s summer sailor uniform, the tender relationship between Komichi and her mother, Riri and Komichi’s exciting competition. It is, in essence, the platonic ideal of what I have come to really like about this show, sinking its rustic hooks into me as we move into a new season in Komichi’s first year of middle school. Akebi Continues to find new ways to appreciate the smallest moments in Akebi’s life as she grows her gaggle of friends each week, making Winter 2022 a much warmer season than I’d have ever thought it could be before.
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.