WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Adachi & Shimamura Season 1, Episode 1, "Playing Ping-Pong In Our Uniforms," streaming now on Funimation.
The highly anticipated new slice of life/yuri anime Adachi & Shimamura begins with an introduction to its two titular characters, two of Shimamura's goofy friends and a mysterious character wandering around in a spacesuit. It's very much a slow-burner but gives plenty of details on how Adachi and Shimamura first met, their differing personalities yet similar lifestyles and portrays a friendship starting to blossom via ping-pong matches in a gym loft.
At first glance, the two girls seem very different. Shimamura is more open, reflective and free-spirited. She keeps her friends at arm's length due to a fear of conflict and the idea of losing her individuality by becoming too attached to another person. Adachi, on the other hand, is more of a loner -- quiet, shy and generally wary of others. She has no real friends until connecting with Shimamura, and even then she holds a slight fear that the feeling isn't mutual. She needn't worry though.
Despite those differences, both Adachi and Shimamura are viewed by others as delinquents, especially Adachi. They first meet while skipping class and venturing up to their school's gym loft, passing the time by playing ping-pong and getting to know each other. Adachi is a particularly skilled ping-pong player, showing off fancy moves to the point that Shimamura ventures to a bookstore to look up techniques so she can improve. Both quickly come to enjoy the time they spend alone together -- but, notably, not once is that time spent in a classroom.
The episode also introduces two more female characters: Shimamura's fellow first-year friends Akira Hino and Taeko Nagafuji. Close friends since elementary school, these two are peas in a pod and both provide comedic hijinks to balance out Adachi and Shimamura's slowly building friendship. Nagafuji is said to be a bit dense and gets teased by Hino for her large breasts, while Hino is a goofball but also exceptionally intuitive. She catches Shimamura browsing the ping-pong book and correctly deduces that the gym loft must be where she goes when she skips class.
When Hino and Nagafuji find Adachi and Shimamura playing ping-pong, they sit down to have lunch together. It's a striking portrait of Adachi's introverted nature as the other three happily chat while she awkwardly stands by the table. Soon enough, however, Hino and Nagafuji strike up a conversation to include her. Though smiling on the surface, Shimamura internally notes that she likes spending time with Adachi but not around others. It's almost certain the feeling is mutual from Adachi's standpoint.
In addition to the main quartet, a highly cryptic fifth character is introduced: a short person traveling around town dressed like an astronaut. This person is seen floating down a stream, drinking tea and repeatedly chanting the word "shukoh." The little astronaut's connection to the story and its heroines isn't clear yet, but Hino had previously seen them at a fishing hole, and soon brings Shimamura along to prove she wasn't lying about the encounter. Who is this person? And if there really is a child under the suit, why are they wandering around town instead of being at home or school?
A recurring theme throughout the premiere is its literal and metaphorical references to water. There's an internal monologue where Shimamura, shown sinking deeper and deeper into an ocean, reflects on true friendships and relationships requiring a person to give a great deal of their time and effort to another, and how intimidating that level of commitment can be. In a later scene, Hino and Nagafuji ask Shimamura what she knows about Adachi's personality. The first thing Shimamura remembers is Adachi's fondness for mineral water -- which she herself bought for Adachi one day. These allusions may seem unrelated on the surface, but they all serve to highlight Shimamura's character. Her hesitation toward befriending Adachi, while also realizing she likes spending time with her and learning more about her, even if it's a mundane detail like water preferences. In the end, remembering those minor details is a clear sign of a growing friendship -- and maybe something more.