A-Z Drama Challenge: Ossan’s Love

I had an online friend who was obsessed with this show when it was airing. They held it incredibly high regard and were constantly updating about it while it was airing. 2018 being a turning point in Japanese media with more queer media on the rise.

That being said, I tentatively put it on my list for later investigation. The fandom in 2018-2019 was still a bit too impassioned for me to dare tread into. So in 2022, with it subtitled on Netflix and the sequel movie there too. I figured it was about time for this one.

And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Ossan’s Love, is the story Haruta Soichi (Tanaka Kei), a real estate agent and full time bachelor living with his mother. At 33-years-old, Haruta is more of a child then a man and his mother walks away from him, leaving him the house to force him how to live independently. He has no domestic skills, until he decides to invite his co-worker Maki Ryota (Hayashi Kento) to live with him, who also happens to be good as housekeeping. Haruta’s new life takes a strange turn when both Maki, and Kurosawa Musashi (Yoshida Kotaro) confess their romantic feelings to him.

One of the strongest points of this series is that it’s a rom-com at it’s finest. The whole situation is absurd in more then one way, but at the same time it’s grounded just enough that everything works. Haruta has never once expressed an interest in men, nor has he ever been popular, and suddenly boom, he’s the talk of the office. There’s always been the sentiment that any rom-com premise should just be remade with queer characters played exactly the same, and Ossan’s Love fits that bill.

Just because it’s a rom-com though, doesn’t mean that the feelings are a joke. The feelings are raw and real and treated with respect. Kurosawa had been in a 30 year marriage before suddenly falling for Haruta, and is earnest about it. Same with Maki, who had quietly fallen in love with Haruta at some point. They both have some powerful moments talking about how love isn’t something you can force, nor is it something you can quite chose either. Haruta, while originally coming off as straight, isn’t ever disgusted by their advances. He’s more confused, but eventually gets the spirit and realizes that a gay relationship really isn’t any different then a straight one.

Which does lead to a bit of disbelief on my part that there’s a surprising lack of homophobia as a plot conflict. At first I was a bit miffed, considering the setting and all but tying this back to a rom-com; a straight story like this none of the cast would have a reason to push back, so a queer story shouldn’t either. All the supporting characters treat the situation exactly the same, and that’s a large part of the fun!

Speaking of those characters, I really liked how incredibly average everyone felt. It really made the whole story, from the setting, character dynamics incredibly relatable. Since there was no particular ‘stunner’ in the cast, it really felt like you were part of the office watching this latest drama go down. It also was nice that aside from the queer love triangle, there were a lot of other non-traditional relationships explored through side characters; older singles finding love, ex’s working together, and even an older women/younger man. All of which are given funny moments, but still treated with respect.

L to R: Maki, Haruta, and Kurosawa.

One of the best parts of the story was that the character’s weren’t afraid to get over dramatic, and occasionally even ugly. Haruta and Maki more then once would squabble in the living space, resulting in a spat that played out not unlike my own siblings fights. I mean Kurosawa is an old school, grand gesture romantic which more then once escalates to an over the top let down when Haruta requests he scale it back just a bit. And nothing, hands down, is more relatable then Haruta’s ugly cry scenes – I want to feel that indecision, doubt, but admiration and love and a pretty cry is never going to cover it.

Ossan’s Love has the added bonus of being seven, forty minute episodes. There’s just enough content per episode where you can watch them one a day, but it’s also just right that when you get into it you can marathon it easily. Coupled with a movie follow up (review coming later today of course~), the story might leave you wanting more and there’s more to be had should you want it!

I think the best part of the drama though, was the core relationship. I thought I had missed something at first since I couldn’t quite follow Haruta’s eventual course of action. There had never been this big moment of ‘ah, yes Haruta is in love with X’. But then I realized, that was the point of the story. Being in love isn’t a fireworks moment of ‘OMG they’re in love’, real love is made up of those small subtle moments, the quiet, the domestic ordinary things that bloom quietly when you least expect it. Showing that, rather then telling us or making it super obnoxious, was really something special.

Ossan’s Love, by no means is the perfect queer representation. One look into the old fandom drama will show you that. It is a very big step in the right direction, especially with how well received it was in Japan when it originally aired. It’s gets so much right, and really is a gem in the rom-com genre.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s