The 2022 Japanese mini-series ‘Old Fashion Cupcake’ sucks you into a world which doesn’t seem contemporary and yet, it is very much set in the present. Directed by Kato Ayaka, it tells the story of handsome hard-working Nozue (Takeda Kouhei), who is almost 40 and still single. His mundane daily life is shaken up when his junior colleague Togawa (Tatsunari Kimura) takes him to a dessert cafe and suggests they hang out like young girlfriends do, in order for him to feel youthful.
Adapted from a fluffy-looking light Manga series of the same name by Sagan Sagan, the basic premise might seem a little silly to some – two men play pretend at cafes, to eat desserts, take selfies and gossip about stuff like women, because Nozue thinks girlfriends have it better, their friendships seem a lot more fun and fulfilling than friendship between men. Takeda Kouhei and Tatsunari Kimura however deliver their lead roles with such sincerity, they breathe an intense authenticity to the series about a 29-year-old who is in love with his older boss.
Amid the crush of teen romances, ‘Old Fashion Cupcake’ is a delightful break about two busy working adults trying to make some time for the lighter things in life. The first episode begins with a satisfying montage of Nozue’s morning routine, including cooking up a delicious breakfast spread. Takeda Kouhei is endearing as the technology challenged Nozue, blissfully unaware of his charm, happy to just go about his routine life. Tatsunari Kimira as the younger, attractive Togawa possesses a subtle sensual aura, which generates palpable sexual tension between his character and Nozue. The onscreen chemistry between the actors is off the charts, too bad there are only 5 episodes, but it gives viewers a crisp romance that can be binge-watched in one go.
The cinematography is simple, the makers use a lot of warm colors which add a touch of domesticity to the office scenes. International viewers get an interesting glimpse into the Japanese work-life and their concept of ‘mixers’, where single working professionals go drinking in hopes of landing a date by the end of the evening. Overall, ‘Old Fashion Cupcake’ is a sweet slow-burn romance, with the leads having known each for a couple of years. We get nostalgic flashbacks to understand Togawa’s fiery infatuation with Nozue; it helps that they make a strikingly good-looking pair.
Watch the show over a weekend for some ‘old-fashioned’ romance, that’s filled with dates, desserts, yearning, stolen smiles and a few tears. It’s a 8/10 from me.
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