A lot of Japanese shows exist in a bubble of their own, like the 2022 series ‘Minato Shouji Coin Laundry’, which is based on the manga of the same name. Set in a sea-side town where the summer air rings with the buzzing of crickets, the show explores a high-school student’s crush on an older man.
Created by Yuasa Hiroaki, Eda Yuuka & Kanai Junichi, the series stars Kusakawa Takuya as Minato Akira, who leaves a stressful job in Tokyo to go back to his fishing town and run the family laundromat. His simple semi-rural life is turned upside down when the handsome 18-year-old Katsuki Shintaro (Nishikagi Sho) woos him after finding out Akira is gay.
Spread over 12 episodes, ‘Minato Shouji Coin Laundry’ starts off strong – right in the first episode Shintaro expresses his interest in Akira, who is completely stunned at the confession. While Akira is in his late twenties, it’s the younger Shintaro who is bold, confident, assertive, a little too serious for his age, although he does have bouts of teenage immaturity. Nishikagi Sho is the absolute show-stopper in this series, keeping the romantic tension alive in the story with a devilish charm. Kusakawa Takuya portrays the capricious/indecisive Akira hilariously, the character is a total goofball and one can tell the writers haven’t tweaked his traits to be more realistic than the manga/comic.
While it makes for an exciting change to not wait around for a character to confess their feelings after a whole bunch of episodes, things slow down significantly after Shintaro’s candid confession about his feelings for Akira. Shintaro keeps trying to win Akira over, only to be turned down again and again. ‘Slow-burn romance’ would be the ideal term to define this series, it’s filled with little silly moments, laden with scenes where the creators lead you to believe things are going to finally escalate between the leads, and then leave you hanging. So despite being a whirlwind romance of sorts, ‘Minato Shouji Coin Laundry’ can also be frustratingly slow at points. However, one can understand Akira’s reluctance to date someone who’s just about legal and Shintaro’s intense feelings for a cute guy who doesn’t look much older.
Despite the slightly exaggerated Manga like love story, the cinematography is simple and realistic. Minato’s laundromat looks like it’s the 1990s and his flat is cluttered with knick-knacks, making it look like an actual bachelor pad, unlike most modern series where even college kids live in places that resemble fancy hotels. Food is a big part of the show, the two leads constantly have little meals together and their table is usually filled with delicious looking home-cooked dishes. The creators infuse a laid-back seaside living essence to the tale, which matches the largely lazy pace of the story; might make some viewers yearn for the kind of life Minato lives, away from the anxiety inducing big city bustle.
Now even though ‘Minato Shouji Coin Laundry’ doesn’t have music as its theme (a lot of BL series tend to have characters who are singers), the background score is an essential element in the series. Instead of adding popular songs or generic royalty free tracks, the creators use a piano based tune which not only blends seamlessly with the story but often-times enhances the mood, especially in comical scenes.
There’s a little sub-plot about Minato’s classmate Asuka (Oku Tomoya) who also happens to like an older teacher called Hiiragi (Inaba Yu), which was felt unnecessary, especially because it doesn’t get enough screen-time and also due to Hiiragi’s bizarre character. While Tomoya is endearing as the playful flirty Asuka, Inaba Yu was out of place as the older Hiiragi, a teacher who is emotionally detached and is only interested in architecture. Fukushi Seiji has a small but sweet cameo as Sakuma sensei, a teacher at Shintaro’s school who is kind, empathetic but featherbrained.
There aren’t many twist and turns in the series, it’s a straight-forward romance and it looked like the last episode was headed towards a very typical grand-romantic-gesture sort of climax. Thankfully, the creators don’t serve a cliched closing scenario, instead giving viewers a light, funny but adorable ending. Kusakawa Takuya and Nishikagi Sho’s chemistry shines in the last few episodes and the two deserve a season two.
It’s a 7.5/10 from me.
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