With a poster in which our perceived protagonist is holding a vibrator, her lingerie sets are out in the open, a still asleep male companion in the background; not going to lie I was ready to dive in. Good or bad, seeing such a realistic set up of a Japanese apartment with relationships, those based in sex on display proudly in Japan? Count Me In!
The storing being that Studio Delta is an animation studio that specializes in 3D animation, with five full time staff members. Each of the staff is currently unmarried with rather unconventional romantic endeavors. Their section chief frequents a soapland, and is hopelessly in love with his favorite worker. Takasugi Ume (Ohta Lina) shows no interest in anyone aside from her 2D favorites. Masaharu Hayashi (Takenori Goto) is a ‘second virgin’ hung up on his ex, but trying to start a new relationship. Matsuda Ken (Koseki Yuta) is a male slut, and uninterested in establishing a ‘proper’ relationship. Lastly, is Omori Momoe (Uchida Rio) a female slut, with five sex friends as she perceives the act of having sex as an inexpensive hobby. Between the deadlines of a small production studio, and their individual lives these five help us explore the new world of modern Japanese relationships.
What an actual breath of fresh air. The usual troupes that plague JDramas are gone. This is a series that isn’t shying away from the not-so clean image of adults. It shows a set microcosm of Japanese society, as the members of the studio pursue consensual sex with fellow adults. There’s no extended commentary or waxing poetic on the modern nature of hook-up culture.
That doesn’t mean these characters are thoughtless. In fact, I’d say these characters are more aware then usual and not in the self serving way. Both Momoe and Matsuda are self desribed sluts in the series. Thus, they both naturally pick up on the nature of one another and how easy it’d be to hook up with one another Yet, they have standards.
The two both know that hooking up with a co-worker is a no go. Both are so content with the current chemistry of their studio, that they refuse to sacrifice it for a casual hook-up. They’re aware once you cross a certain line; you don’t get to go back. It’s something that is rarely touched upon when talking about ‘slut’ characters. Even though they had the perfect build-up for it to happen… but I digress.
There’s also plenty of non-sexy relationship stuff going on as well. I mean, they are an animation studio so a lot of modern work struggles are explored. There’s also concepts related to relationships, romantic and not that are explored in a very direct lens. These ideas are examples but not limited to; sex workers and their struggles, being transgender and dating, modern dating via apps, and most importantly having healthy non-sexual relationships when your romantic relationship goes to hell. None of these concepts are preachy either. The narration is often nonchalant if not cheeky in their commentary, especially give the title of the scene is blunt in what is about to occur.
One of my favorite explorations in non-hetrosexual relationships is Ume-chan’s experiances. Ume-chan is a female co-worker of Momoe, and absolutely loathes the idea of dating men. She has no problem with shipping 2D men together, but is completely clueless to real life romance. While she doesn’t mind hearing Momoe’s exploits, she’s rather indifferent to sex as well.
Seeing that her co-workers all in their own ways are pursuing relationships, she toys with the idea of exploring her own desires as well. She’s unsure of this, but somewhat inspired by Momoe, she decides to go for it. Of course, requesting Momoe’s assistance as accompaniment in areas that both Ume and Momoe have no experiance in. Momoe not only supports Ume’s endeavors to explore her sexual preferences, but also accompanies her to these in-person locations.
Which, I think speaks a lot about our heroine Momoe. She does first appear as being rather lazy, if not sex obsessed and therefore seeming to be selfish and one-track minded. However, she is probably the most self aware character of the series. She’s perfectly aware of the circumstances she’s put herself into, and how much it hurts. There’s a scene when her group chat of her high school peers are updating everyone about marriages, and children. Momoe longs to lead a life like her friends, while her friends express envy that Momoe has held out and still ‘free’. It’s a very short, but powerful moment in the series.
Momoe isn’t the only character that has these moments of self awareness. Each member of Studio Delta has their chance to express both their satisfaction and disappointment in their current relationships. There’s a variety of young adults, who all look and act differently, but jell together as a fantastic cast that’s dynamic and relatable. Romantic or not. Although the chemistry between Uchia Rio, and Koseki Yuta is off the charts.
I desperately need another story where they are the lead pair, like so bad.
A series that doesn’t shy away from the rather under addressed modern dating scene in Japan, while still maintaining an air that’s casual and approachable. Easily my favorite 2020 drama thus far, and 100% worth watching.