OP: 「Chance! & Revenge!」by Azuna Riko
「幼なじみが絶対に負けないラブコメ」 (Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Rabu Kome)
“Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose”
Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy’s first episode is an adorable yet airy introduction to a romcom where the childhood friend wins to spite the girl that friendzoned the main man. But while its art and aesthetic are very cute, its fluffy atmosphere comes at odds with the story’s “revenge” plot.
While the anime pitches itself as a subversive jab at romcom stories that sideline the best friend character, the first episode shows us that this anime does have one large flaw in common with other romcom manga/anime; the miserable protagonist. Sueharu Maru is a bland, callous character whose one-track-minded pursuit of Shirokusa Kachi goes belly-up the moment he finds out she has a boyfriend. He spends most of the beginning so in love with Kachi that he disregards his friend Kai’s advice to look elsewhere and rejects his childhood friend Kuroha Shida out of virtue that he wants to put all of his eggs in one basket for Kachi.
When he finds out, he starts sobbing about losing the first girl he fell in love with, allowing his delusions of grandeur to trick him into thinking that a girl he interacted with a couple of times was interested in him that way. He gets roped into a “revenge plot” to date Shida to rub it in to Kachi and her boyfriend Abe, but seeking “revenge” because you got the wrong idea about a friendship is kinda lame and feels like an impotent gesture given that Kachi probably couldn’t care less that some guy she talked to a couple of times finally found somebody.
I suppose that’s why Shida used his heartbreak as a golden opportunity to trick Maru into a relationship. His wet blanket chivalry might have bitten him on the butt, but Shida happily presents herself as “Option 2” if it means she gets to have her own dream relationship underway. That’s not to say there aren’t obstacles though since Maru’s personal hangups about wanting Kachi make him unable to return the affection that Shida wants to give him.
If you wanted to, you could see this as an observation of why it can be selfish on both ends to manipulate a one-sided relationship into becoming a reality. But the tone of the series doesn’t have the mean-spirited or callous backbone that other subversive romcoms have displayed recently. Maru isn’t a self-absorbed monster that couldn’t easily come around to loving Shida when he would be head-over-heels if it wasn’t for Kachi, and Shida genuinely wants the relationship to be romantic and affectionate. He’s not some crazed incel and she isn’t some spiteful manipulator, so the plot for Maru to “avenge his first love” loses a lot of its bite. It’d be more surprising if that thread wasn’t dropped earlier on in favor of actually building a relationship with the two.
While the cozier atmosphere makes Maru a blander character, it does wonders for Shida, who is cute as a button and dotes on Maru in an innocent enough way that makes all of her admirers intensely jealous. Once she convinces Maru to treat them getting together as a revenge plot to rub it in his old crush’s face, she gets serious about her role as a girlfriend, wanting to skip ahead to the point where they can cuddle and kiss each other. Maru initially shot her down and continues to push her away because he’s still carrying the torch for a girl who doesn’t like him, but she’s also a dream girl who doesn’t hold his flighty personality against him.
What makes Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy worth it is the cute atmosphere from the smooth, appealing character designs courtesy of Doga Kobo and the charm that Shida has as an affectionate childhood friend that finally wins. It is kinda airy and forgettable though considering how milquetoast Maru is and how lukewarm their revenge via “rubbing it in” is. Personally, the revenge aspects could have been nixed since there’s no way you’d be tricked into thinking a show that looks and feels this fluffy could be as disruptive and full of attitude as some of the more subversive romcoms of recent years have been. But if you’re looking for an adorable romcom to help pass the time, there is a ton of potential for Osananajimi ga Zettai ni Makenai Love Comedy to give us an interesting spin on romcoms by making its titular childhood friend a pivotal character in the show’s main romance.