Naito Shuichiro, the lead actor of the 2022 Japanese series “Senpai, Danjite Koidewa”, has one of the most honestly charming smiles in the industry, but even that couldn’t keep me invested in the flaky show until the end. Sigh.

Adapted from a manga of the same name, ‘Senpai, Danjite Koidewa’ AKA ‘Senpai, This Can’t Be Love’ follows Kaneda Yuki (Seto Toshiki), a new employee at a 3D Designing firm, where his role model Yanase Jun (Naito Shuichiro) works. Sparks fly, awkward things happen, cringe-worthy situations arise, misunderstandings evolve, eventually the leads talk it out and everything is resolved in a cliched ending.

The series is only eight episodes long, but the poor writing made me lose interest after the first four. While I haven’t read the manga, it feels like the writers didn’t put in any effort into tweaking the script for the live-action adaptation. And even though such unrealistic series can exist in their own bubble and be ridiculously entertaining, ‘Senpai, Danjite Koidewa’ fails to impress.

Both the leads are grown working adults, but behave like lost school boys, which doesn’t really fit well with Kaneda’s character – who is an international 3D designer and is hinted to be someone who is quite adept at navigating through his personal life. If the creators wanted to give viewers a sweet/silly/soft high-school romance, might as well serve one upfront. The settings, characterization and story-telling needed a lot of work.

It’s a 4/10 from me.

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