Rating: 4 out of 5.

What a breezy little romance set by a sleepy seaside town this is! Just about five episodes long, the Japanese high-school romance “Kimi to Nara Koi wo Shite Mite mo” (君となら恋をしてみても) is an adaptation of the manga of the same name by Kubota Maru.

Directed by Matsumoto Hana, the series stars Okura Takato as the spunky-sweet Kaido Amane, who moves to Enoshima to live with his grandmother and start anew in a new high school. On his very first day in the new place, he runs into a kind teen called Yamasuge Ryuji (Hyuga Wataru), who is exactly his “type” and also turns out to be his classmate. As the two become friends, Kaido finds himself battling with romantic feelings for Ryuji and wonders if he should go for what his heart desires and risk their friendship.

Since the story is set in Enoshima, a small Island, the cinematography captures the cozy beauty of living in a seaside community. Episode one starts with a simple shot of a beach, with ambient sounds of birds and the waves, setting a pleasant for the show. And then viewers are introduced to Amane, who arrives at Enoshima station and looks at an advertisement for an aquarium with jellyfish. “Jellyfish have no emotions, so they probably never experience love either,” the teen wistfully observes. Amane is gay, and due to an incident at his old school, he feels like he won’t find love, but that changes when he meets Ryuji.

Okura Takato is adorably charming as Amane, who is refreshingly honest about his feelings despite his vulnerability and his lack of faith in those around him. Hyuga Wataru isn’t as endearing, but he pulls off the part of the earnest, hard-working Ryuji, who works at his family-run restaurant and is very considerate of those around him. Ryuji reminded me of Ida Kousuke from “My Love Mix-Up,” another high-school romance, where, just like Ryuji, Ida too seriously considers a confession made to him by a male classmate, instead of being dismissive, mean or cruel. But unlike “My Love Mix-UP”, which was a hilarious Japanese romantic-comedy, “Kimi to Nara Koi wo Shite Mite mo” is a much simpler, slice-of-life romance, with few jokes, but many sweet moments.

Since the series is only five episodes long, the story moves at a steady pace but never feels rushed and the focus is always on Amane and Ryuji’s developing relationship. The background music largely relies on ambient sounds, so there’s a lot of pleasant seaside ASMR audio throughout the runtime; however, there are two distinct theme songs in the series that are very catchy. The track “Kiramekek Kimochi” by J-pop band “the shes gone” is upbeat, youthful and sounds perfect for “Kimi to Nara Koi wo Shite Mite mo”; same goes for the ending song that plays after each episode titled “Night Trouble” by Osage.

The last episode is all about the butterflies, excitement, nervousness and anxiety that comes with teen love. I feel like Okura Takato carried this entire show on his shoulders with his lovable portrayal of Amane, who wears his heart on his sleeves, and despite starting off as a character who has no hopes of finding love, he gives himself a chance when someone catches his fancy. The climax is really cute and wraps up “Kimi to Nara Koi wo Shite Mite mo” on a high note.

Rating: 8 on 10.

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