At least I now know for sure that overly long and descriptive titles are not just used for anime and light novels. Live action TV in Japan also suffers from trying to stuff the whole plot into the title.
Okay, Cherry Magic isn’t the kind of plot I’m usually drawn to or interested in. Guy doesn’t have sex until he’s thirty and then discovers he has a magic power, which in this instance is to read minds when touching someone. Throw in the contrivance of his male co-worker actually liking him and this one definitely had all the red flags of being pretty generic and forgettable. If I add to that I’m not a huge fan of live action Japanese TV because I find the exaggerated facial expressions of the actors kind of painful to watch (I seriously wonder if they have a face masseuse on staff to help deal with all the pulled facial muscles), then there were all sorts of reasons to just pass on this even if I did stumble upon it while randomly trawling Crunchyroll.
That said, I was kind of curious and reading the reviews on Crunchyroll they promised a really sweet and cute experience so I decided to dive in. I was feeling sick having come down with yet another cold that was taking up residence in my lungs and feeling a bit on the miserable side so at worst I was about to find something light to sleep through. Half-a-day later I finished episode 12 and was left feeling relatively satisfied with the viewing experience. Actually, if Cherry Magic had ended after seven episodes, I’d have been solidly in love with this story. Unfortunately, the story continues beyond a confession scene and in the grand tradition of romances, the act of falling in love is more interesting than the random conflicts and interferences that occur afterward. Even the attempt at wrapping up the magic power side of the story all felt a bit extraneous given we already knew the conditions for Adachi to lose his ability to read minds.
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The plot is, much as the synopsis describes, a relatively straight forward one for a romance set up. Adachi just kind of goes through the motions of his life and is neither really liked nor disliked by those around him. He isn’t bad at his job but nor is he particularly recognised. Really, he’s just the most ordinary guy you could imagine other than the absence of any kind of romantic interaction by the age of 30 (and honestly that’s not as uncommon as movies and TV would like people to believe sometimes).
Cue a 30th birthday arriving without any particular ceremony and suddenly Adachi can read minds. This leads to an awkward encounter with his much more prominent co-worker, Kurosawa, in an elevator, and wouldn’t you know he’s thinking about how cute Adachi is and is worried if he’ll hear his heart beat.
Adachi is understandably freaked, given he doesn’t really get romance at all and kind of hadn’t even considered a male romantic interest, however fate, and a little persistence will bring the two together over and over again. Including the usual tropes of missing the last train and needing to do a sleep over, a sister staying over requiring another sleep over, and just a whole bunch of coincidental meetings and seemingly random touches that naturally convey the most pertinent thoughts to Adachi.
Like, why is Kurosawa never just wondering whether it will rain later?
Likewise, every-time Adachi eats when Kurosawa is anywhere near he ends up with some food on his face. I mean literally every single time. While this only results in the stock-standard eating the rice grain that you just plucked off the object-of-your-affection’s face once, it gets a little repetitive.
However, just in case you think I’m tearing this to pieces for the fun of it, I’m really not. Standard is fine in romance as long as it is executed in an interesting way and the characters have enough chemistry to pull it off. Adachi and Kurosawa fall absolutely into the adorable category and as they both lamely work their way toward episode 7 you can’t help but smile every time they manage to actually connect on the same wavelength.
So while the basic premise is a little on the twee side and there aren’t a lot of surprises in store, there’s a definite charm to watching this story. My only real complaint of the first seven episodes are the subplot involving Adachi’s writer friend, Tsuge, and his growing attraction to his delivery guy. Seriously, while they convolute things a bit in the final arc to make this subplot in some way relevant to the main plot you could largely just cut it entirely without hurting the narrative. And given Tsuge is the character with the least on-screen chemistry in the cast it would probably actually end up improving the overall flowof the story.
Of course I do need to discuss the final episodes, though I will avoid spoilers. Part of me is thrilled that we past beyond the confession point but it is in these final episodes that the execution seems most lacking. They shove in a subplot about Adachi taking initiative at work where he decides to enter a planning project, Tsuge’s subplot comes back into focus, and the supporting co-workers who had been charming enough in the first half suddenly show up to drop in some unnatural dialogue about how Adachi has somehow inspired them. If it wasn’t for the payoff of all of this, episode 12, I’d actually just suggest not watching beyond episode 7.
But episode 12 is well worth watching and does in fact bring everything in the story full circle, including the encounter in the elevator back at the start. So you’ll just have to get there even if during episode 11 I swore at the TV more than once and paused the episode twice to berate the characters for just being idiots. Okay, I may have been a little too emotionally invested in this particular story. I’m blaming my fever.
Bottom line, Cherry Magic is a sweet romance between two nice guys who both genuinely want the other to be happy. Don’t expect much in the way of action because you’ll barely get a kiss on the forehead and even the final scene gets cut off before it gets started when the elevator door closes. What you will get instead is some great emotional connections as these characters stumble and fumble their way through to romance and when the not-official fireworks go up in episode 12 you’ll be cheering on the inside if not actually just cheering for them.
I definitely enjoyed watching Cherry Magic even if objectively I know it wasn’t particularly good or bad as far as a TV series goes. What elevates it from beyond pure mediocre is the majority of the cast and the two guys at the centre of the romance. Which largely proves that characters and chemistry are probably the most important ingredients in a romance story rather than innovative writing or direction.
Images used for review from: Cherry Magic! Dir. H. Kazama, H. Yuasa. M. Hayashi. TV Tokyo. 2020
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