Kidou Eita is a studybug gunning for a med school scholarship and uninterested in love, but his high school life is complicated when he’s assigned the coveted seat next to the coveted Natsukawa Masuzu. One day she confesses to him in front of everyone. While walking home together, she admits it was a ruse to get the other guys off her back. She uses his diary she found in a used bookstore to blackmail him into agreeing to be her fake boyfriend.
As this was directed by the guy who helmed Usagi Drop, and featuring a lovely pastel-y palette, we hoped this series would transcend is long and somewhat silly title. And man, that Candy Land OP was hard to get through. But what was waiting on the other side was a very attractive, nicely-paced school rom-com featuring flawed characters with potential. It is also a thoroughly safe, by-the-numbers affair inundated with well-traveled themes, but we are not averse to watching different executions of those themes, and the execution in this first episode is praiseworthy.
Among some of the finer qualities is how both Eita andd Masuzu are first presented to us. We aren’t just told that they hate love; we’re shown why. Eita’s parents divorced, found new lovers, and vanished, ditching him when he was in the eighth grade. It’s a contrived past, but it certainly explains his aversion to romance. Masuzu’s beauty makes her an object of constant (unwanted) attention and has been asked out 58 times in two months, so it’s no surprise she’s tired of it and gone all anti-love.
In addition to their mutual cyncism, the two are also very bright and perceptive, cutting through the BS with ease. Their thoughtful banter is the highlight of this episode. Our suspicion is that one or the other or both will lose perspective as the fake relationship becomes more real. There is no question that Eita’s lack of gawking at her is attractive to Musuzu, and Eita acknowledges she’s a hottie (Koko’s lil’ sis!) but for now, things are strictly business. We’ll see how long it stays that way, and how Eita’s somewhat annoying childhood friend Chiwa comes into play.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)