Tezuka Productions’ 2020 high school romance is ultimately an unsatisfying drama. It is simply too content to gaze for too long at its own navel rather than reach specific conclusions. First year high school girls Sakura Adachi and Hougetsu Shimamura meet whilst hiding in their school’s sports hall loft when skipping class. Shimamura is an outwardly bright and friendly girl, yet she is bored of school and feels no great attachment to her small circle of friends. Adachi, on the other hand, is sensitive, painfully shy and socially awkward. She has no friends and struggles in her relationship with her mother. The two girls become fast friends, drawn together by some mutual need for attachment to someone special. The audience experience their relationship from both girls’ points of view. Adachi quickly develops a mad crush on Shimamura to the point where she wishes to hold hands and hug her friend in public. In private she goes further and dreams of something more intimate – of seeing Shimamura naked and kissing her. Shimamura on the other hand, although extremely fond of Adachi, is somewhat less romantically orientated. Although happy to be close to Adachi she finds her friend a little desperate and clingy. She likens her, on occasions, to a little sister or worse – a puppy dog. The story focusses on their relationship and Adachi’s pain as she desperately tries to get closer to her crush.
If that was all this would not rate very highly. There is a little more going on thankfully…. Shimamura has two other classmates, Akira Hino and Taeko Nagafuji, who are also in a close relationship. This one is driven by Nagafuji who likes to tease her smaller partner with kisses to the forehead and occasional breast fondling. Hino is a little embarrassed be her friend’s attention but in no way rejects it. Then there is the most enigmatic element in the plot: the little future-alien girl Yashiro Chikama who initially appears in a space suit. She is bright and breezy, always showing up out of nowhere and acting eccentrically. The funny thing is that, as far as the audience is aware, little Chikama is an alien. She glows bright blue, emits a continual flow of sparkly-effervescence and, in one scene, apparently can fly. Everyone takes this in their stride like it is normal. It is almost like she is bleeding in through from a completely unrelated anime. Chikama actually adds very little to the story but does contribute to an underlying theme of pop-philosophy that runs through the show. Her presence is intriguing, hinting at the presence of several mystery characters whose role is to influence current events in the knowledge of how the future will turn out. Is somehow Adachi and Shimamura’s relationship too important to be left to the vagaries of pure fate alone? We don’t find out.
Season one of “Adachi and Shimamura” leads pretty much nowhere with the two protagonists being little closer than they got in the first few episodes. They know each other better, but that is all. Is there a point to this? A destination, or a conclusion? There are a lot of unanswered questions about where ultimately the story is heading. Based upon the imbalance in the romantic intentions of the two, a grown-up reaction would be to expect only heartache and pain for these two young adults. No news of a season two at time of writing (January 2022). It would be sad to leave the story in such an unsatisfactory state. An enjoyable watch but a frustrating one.