are there really only 2 skill slots per character?
Indeed. I didn't really bother with skills at all. I'm already at the final dungeon. I'll play with the skill system in new game+.
EDIT: I just beat it, meaning it's possible to complete Suikoden V without really worrying about the skill system.
And unfortunately, learned skills don't carry over into new game+(skills I upgraded to C went back to default of D). That means less incentive to max out skills for every single character.
Only the total shared pool of skill points carried over. But using points from that pool means less points to carry over into the next new game+.