You know what? I am satisfied. Not because this show is good or anything profound like that, but because I’ve actually enjoyed myself after having had a pretty large dry spell between the last trashy harem I liked to this trashy harem I like. And my god, you just had to get both Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Shimazaki Nobunaga in this thing too now didn’t you?
After having had his first love taken from him by Kachi Shirokusa, an acclaimed author that seemed to have been interested in him at the time, former child star Maru Suehara vows to take revenge on the girl by coming up with an elaborate scheme of pretending to get together with his childhood friend as a way to get back at Shirokusa, before promptly confessing to and dumping her at the school’s confession festival when that rolls around. Because schools have public confession events now, I guess.
If I had to put it simply, Osamake is a series of thinly veiled catfights between three girls that all try to get with the same guy that they each proclaim as being their first love. Each arc/set of episodes is effectively a new situation where Suehara interacts with the show business world in some capacity only to have the three girls stumble their way into the plot somehow and attempt to earn brownie points with Suehara via Death Note mental mind games in order to become the winner in the end. All ending in a little interaction with the token best friend character and another dude that loses his role entirely after the first arc where they talk about who ‘won’ in the arc and where the standings of the three girls lie. More often than not, I find that the plot doesn’t actually matter all that much because a majority of the show is centered around the constant infighting or attempted shots at romance where the girls find new (and sometimes stupid) ways of getting Suehara to look their way. And I love it.
More often than not I found myself amused by how consistent the show attempts to make itself seem smart given the constant scheming and uncharacteristic shots or closeups of the girls falling into their own imagination or perception of what’s either going to come their way, or what the ultimate outcome will be. In a way, it feels like an ‘edgy romance’ where sometimes, any actual attraction to the trophy we call a protagonist is forgone in favor of more sparks between the girls where one flaunts their current position over the others, or ‘fatal’ mistakes cause one to fall behind in one aspect, but they’re good in a different aspect so it’s not hopeless just yet. Now does this make the show good? Absolutely not. Because of its arc-based story structure and general plot set up, Osamake tends to fall back on a lot of romcom stereotypes, and there’s hardly anything here that you won’t find anywhere else. Credit where credit is due though, I will say that the show manages to keep a pretty consistent thread of showbiz and related topics on the subject of showbiz throughout its runtime, so if anything, the show has that going for it as a bit of intrigue since not everything is just your bog standard high school romance series. Now do they show all of what’s happening with the showbiz stuff before cutting to the ending current standings talk? No, but I guess that would’ve required more runtime that the show didn’t have.
In the end however, there’s not too much else I can really say about the show without piecing it apart into stereotype after stereotype. You got some perverted moments, the beach episode, some unnecessary scenes where mob characters are annoyingly jealous of the MC, and a large amount of bait and switch moments where the main character and one of the girls seems to get closer but ultimately goes nowhere because yay harem series. All wrapped up in a more emotional final arc as a way to give the series a proper climax that ends up just kind of ending in an unsatisfactory fashion cause no much actually happens to drive the plot forward in a meaningful fashion. Which is a shame, but I’m used to stories like this not having resolutions.
Now, would calling Maru Suehara a ‘generic harem protagonist’ be that far from the truth? No. But, I think that kind of generalizes his character more than it should. For one thing, Suehara practically is the series. Each arc for the most part centers around Suehara’s relationship with the show business world, so much so that every bit of the show thereafter the reveal is basically an extension of his character growth from his early retirement to what he wants to do with it now. It’s kind of rare to find a harem series that devotes this much time to building up its main character, and it’s nice to see a harem protagonist for once taking the spotlight in the show with a fairly in-depth backstory instead of the girls. That being said, stripping that away from him, and he’s kind of…ordinary. Like there’s not much else about him aside from that, and a lot of his reactions and interactions with the trio of girls chasing after him are akin to a lot of tried and true stereotypes that feel unfortunately familiar to other things I’ve seen before.
As for the girls, well…honestly, Momo, Shiro, and Kuro all kind of the same character with different layers of paint over them. All three of them have some kind of childhood connection to Suehara, so much so that it effectively encapsulates their character in a way that strips them of any individuality, and all of them fight each other for control/better standing in the battle of romance for their first love. The only real different one could say they have would be the different niches they fill, that being the ‘little sister’, ‘next door neighbor’, and ‘cool beauty’ tropes respectively with various sliders of the archetypes moved around in order to make them a little more unique to what they ordinarily would be. Putting them all together though does make for some interesting catfights, and the relationships they each have with one another as rivals is definitely the bread and butter with the series in terms of what kind of potential enjoyment one could get out of this show.
And finally we get to the tertiary cast which includes the supporting elements of the show like Tetsuhiko, the best friend character who schemes and works for his own benefit more so than the benefit of others, varying family members of the main trio of girls, and Rena, who just kind of exists as a supporting member who draws in some of the protagonist’s attention away from the other girls because it was imperative that she had a bust somewhat disproportionate to her less than average height. Nonetheless, I kind of like the supporting cast this time, at least those in the immediate party with the protagonists, cause it helps give that slight tinge of additional edginess and power dynamics given all of the scheming and otherwise selfish nature of these other characters.
Given what else Doga Kobo has done in the past, I’m not really all that impressed by what Osamake got in terms of artstyle treatment. The whole show screams ‘standard fare’, with parts of the early few episodes looking surprisingly lower quality than what we got in some later scenes. Not that much of a big deal, but overall from the colors to the design of the characters, there really isn’t much that I can say really wows me. This point becomes especially more prominent given how lifeless both the characters’ eyes and hair shimmers look. They’re drawn weirdly flat with much of the shine in them being flat colors with very little depth to them. It definitely stands out by making the show look less budget than it probably is, which is a weird conundrum that I haven’t really seen as a problem elsewhere.
To drive that point even further, animation isn’t exactly something the show has too much of, but weirdly enough the show does have a select few stylish scenes that do work in the show’s favor. At least in terms of being unique. But those are really rare instances that I wouldn’t particularly count towards anything.
“Chance! & Revenge!” by Riko Azuna is an OP I didn’t find myself really attached to, but has some merit for it if only because it has some generally unfamiliar beats in J-pop anime music and stands out for that reason and that reason alone. I wouldn’t put it under the memorable folder, but it’s definitely not a bad song by any means.
As for its ED sister, “Senrykuteki de Yosoku Funou na Love Comedy no Ending Kyoku” (god that’s a mouthful) by the VAs for Kuro and Shiro is one of those Seiyuu songs that I’m not really fond of. It’s got an interesting beat to it and again stands out as a J-pop song, but it feels both weirdly in-place and out of place. It hones onto that ‘edgy romance’ angle that I talked about before, but on the flipside, it falls onto some pretty generic sounding beats and hooks that cause it to also not stick out all that much. All around a really mixed bag of songs that I’m not too fond of.
In a way, I feel like getting Matsuoka Yoshitsugu, Shimazaki Nobunaga, Inori Minase, and Ayane Sakura was practically the only way this show could’ve drummed up any attention because my god, what an all-star fucking cast you got to voice in a sub-par romcom anime that takes itself probably too seriously than it really should.
Aside from the showbiz angle (and potentially the amount of scheming the girls do), there’s not that much about Osamake that I would say makes it stand out. The show effectively plays a bingo card from a roulette of harem tropes that it uses in order to create most of the smaller moments in its plot, effectively drowning out the more interesting aspects of the show with reused tropes that a majority of the anime community already knows about. And you know what? That’s ok.
Truthfully, the most fun I had with Osamake was just seeing how subpar and often times edgy/trashy it was. The show is exceedingly selfish, with most of its main cast being schemers or narcissists with clear goals that amounted to only benefiting them in the long run. Sure the main protagonist was just a trophy at the end of the day (a trophy with emotional baggage and a surprisingly substantial backstory), but the real fun was watching the three girls try to reverse uno card each other in stupid and childish ways wither with public displays of affection or discussions that sounded more like business compromises or wartime tactics. I cannot stress how serious this show takes itself sometimes, and I genuinely got a kick out of seeing the kind of bullshit everyone ended up trying to do because they were all trying to one up each other.
Yes, this show is really not that amazing and you could stand to find other, better shows that’ll probably be more worth your time, but the fun, dumb “all according to plan” romp that these characters bring is the kind of stuff you can’t really find in the otherwise ‘good’ shows that people seem to try and find these days. Far from a masterpiece for sure, but a high recommendation for dumb, enjoyable romance fun if you’re looking for a stupid harem without a completely but still somewhat worthless protagonist.