Doga Kobo’s 2021 office romcom was a surprise runaway success and it is easy to see why. Well written, intelligent and funny with a generous dose of sympathetic characters with interesting back story. There was little or nothing about this show that wasn’t to like. Its central theme is an odd-couple office romance between gentle giant Harumi Takeda and his fiery Kōhai, diminutive Futaba Igarashi. Poor Futaba never had her growth spurt and is trapped in the body of a middle-schooler. What she lacks in height she makes up for in personality. Her well-meaning colleagues love her but make the mistake of talking down to her. All she wants is to be treated like a grown adult. She is not helped out much by her habit of falling asleep and collecting fluffy toys. Her boss (senpai) Takeda has a bad habit of patting her on the head and tussling her hair. This is the main source of her annoyance with him. However, by equal measure, she appreciates his many fine points: he is hard working, kind and big hearted even if he is a bit of a dummy when it comes to women.
As season one progresses the initial antagonism Futaba felt towards Takeda falls away as the two become closer. Her initial annoyance gives away to warmer feelings which she struggles to come to terms with. The tale comes with a good supporting cast. Souta Kazama is a shy male colleague who harbours feelings for pretty co-worker Touko Sakurai. Although he seems unwilling to admit it, those feelings are clearly reciprocated to the chagrin of his male colleagues all of whom fancy her. Then there is Futaba’s best friend since school, Natsumi Kurobe, a bit of a slacker but with a love for keep fit and, in particular, running. They befriend young Yuuto Sakurai (Touko’s little brother) by coincidence, one day, and soon a close friendship group forms between the six of them such that they hit the beach and basketball court together. The whole show simply exudes charm with every beat. It takes time out to explore back stories in a manner that all feels completely natural and in-context. The warmth coming from Takeda makes the man-giant adorable, whilst Futaba’s growing embarrassment at her very public affection for him, raises many a smile. This was one of the stand-out feel-good romances of 2021. The fact that it was set in an office, with such a wonderful bunch of characters, made it outshine pretty much everything else. A real heart warmer. It won ours.