Osamake: Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose is an insult to your intelligence. Even if you’re looking for a “trashy” romcom, this is not the show to watch. When the protagonist and the love interests are aggressively unlikable, the ensuing shenanigans are aggravating rather than amusing.
The first thing you need to know about Osamake is that it’s a story driven by a gimmick. When the title tells you up front that “the childhood friend doesn’t lose,” you can pretty much guarantee that there’s a twist involved somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s a rather predictable twist that only serves to drag out the “will they or won’t they?” plot. You can probably figure it out by yourself just by thinking for two seconds about the most cliched way to tell this kind of story.
There is, admittedly, a glimmer of an interesting idea in the climax of the first act, where a series of love confessions comes full circle and all of the characters are revealed to be massive assholes motivated by pettiness. It’s enough to evoke a chuckle within the context of a standalone novel because it’s the kind of trick ending that’s supposed to kill your interest in finding out who actually ends up with who. Sadly, the story continues, and the viewer is subjected to another nine episodes of tedious hijinks with characters who have proven themselves to be too immature for romance.
It’s not as if those first three episodes were actually well-written, though. Let’s not delude ourselves here. The story begins with the protagonist Haru vowing to get “revenge” on a girl for the crime of dating someone who isn’t him. Not exactly a likable or sympathetic standpoint, as you can see, and things don’t improve from there. His childhood friend Kuro’s bright idea for helping him is to have him pretend to date her to make the other girl jealous—a tactic which by all means shouldn’t work at all, but for some reason works extremely well here. The protagonist then decides that he’ll confess his love to Shirokusa in front of a large crowd at the culture festival and steal her away from her boyfriend.
As if all this wasn’t enough bullshit to deal with, the story throws in a half-assed backstory for Haru as a retired child actor. This aspect of his character never feels believable considering that in all other ways he is a painfully generic human being who exists only to get jerked around by the girls around him. On the bright side, at least it’s something to make this series stand out beyond its clickbait title… except the execution is horrendous. Haru’s sob story is that his mother died when she tried to act out a car accident in the filming for a TV show. It’s stated that the car never actually hit her, but she died because she was acting too hard. It’s the kind of dumb twist that inspires a laugh of disbelief rather than sympathy for the protagonist.
Things get even worse when the story moves back to the present. After playing the part of an ordinary student for six years, Haru decides to bank on his acting and stage talents in order to impress his crush and succeed in his cuckolding plan. This culminates in the most poorly animated and choreographed dance-off I’ve ever seen, but it somehow amazes the entirety of Japan in this story. It’s also the springboard for the rest of the show’s B-plot, which is Haru’s return to showbiz by making commercials with his high school club. Basically, it found the most generic high school anime way to present the showbiz theme.
The other “unique” part of the story is that most of the characters are playing mind games with each other in order to make Haru confess his love to them. It cynically reduces romance to a story about power plays and getting ahead in a race—the kind of thing that’s just begging for viewers to gather around and argue about “best girls” as they chew on popcorn. The problem is that not only do all of the girls suck as human beings, they aren’t even smart when it comes to manipulating. There’s no fun in watching these assholes jerk each other around because their gambits come down to really obvious ploys like “pretend to have amnesia for sympathy” or “wear a sexy swimsuit at the beach.”
Maybe you could excuse that kind of obvious fanservice-bait plot if the art and animation were appealing, but this anime is frankly one of Doga Kobo‘s weakest offerings ever. There’s no delightful character animation to be found here, only stiff movements that occasionally look as if the in-between frames didn’t get delivered on time. To add insult to injury, the characters have a tendency to go off-model, and their size proportions aren’t consistent either. Considering that the source material novels began serializing less than two years before the anime came to air (in the middle of a pandemic to boot!), it truly reeks of a cynical marketing push that was rushed out to the detriment of everyone involved. Doga Kobo deserved better.
Do yourself a favor and don’t watch this anime.