Senpai, This Can't Be Love is a Japanese BL series about a cute office romance.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love! is a Japanese BL series about a cute and quirky workplace romance. The protagonist is a shy new employee at a 3D design agency. He has a secret crush on an older colleague, who mentors him in the office. As the two leads flirt coyly, they must navigate their unspoken feelings for each other.

I adore Senpai, This Can’t Be Love! The bubbly romantic comedy conveys a playful office flirtation with a lighthearted vibe. Also, the entertaining story and funny characters make me laugh enthusiastically. This silly BL drama endears me with its charming interactions, cheeky humour, and cheerful tone.

Senpai This Can’t Be Love Summary

What is the drama called?

先輩、断じて恋では!

Where was the series made?

Japan

When was the drama released?

2022

How long is Senpai, This Can’t Be Love?

Around 3 hours

What is the genre?

Office romance

How would you describe the series?

Cute and sweet

How many episodes are in the drama?

8 episodes

How long is each episode?

Around 24 minutes

Plot

Yanase is Kaneda's mentor in the office.

Kaneda is a new employee at Max Pictures, a design agency specializing in 3D rendering. Kaneda and his friend Iguchi are the two latest hires in this small company. The two young men receive a different mentor to help them get acquainted with their job. Kaneda is paired with Yanase, a skilled CG artist with a playful personality and an impressive resume. Meanwhile, Iguchi must work with Ichikawa, a stern colleague with high expectations and a no-nonsense attitude.

Yanase is a rising star in his industry. Previously, he worked in Vancouver for two years, gaining valuable career experience. His portfolio includes doing the CG designs for the Red Honey project, a famous superhero franchise. In addition, Yanase has a warm and easygoing personality. He’s eager to be a mentor, passing on his knowledge and helping the new colleague adjust to the workplace.

Kaneda seems bashful around his senior coworker, responding poorly to Yanase’s enthusiasm. Yanase is a touchy-feely guy who likes patting shoulders, touching hands, and leaning in too closely. Kaneda has expressed his discomfort with the boundary issues on multiple occasions. Everyone in the workplace has the impression that Kaneda and Yanase do not get along. Their boss, Imaizumi, even suggests finding a more compatible mentor for Kaneda.

The truth is that Kaneda harbours a secret crush on Yanase. He admires his older coworker and sees him as an idol. Kaneda only seems unfriendly towards Yanase because of his nerves. He’s unable to concentrate when they have close body contact. At home, Kaneda collects news clippings of his role model. He also builds a mini shrine dedicated to Yanase, literally worshipping him. Yet, Yanase doesn’t know about these covert feelings. From his perspective, he thinks that Kaneda doesn’t like him.

The company has a new design project requiring Yanase to be the team lead. Imaizumi uses this opportunity to relieve Yanase of his mentoring responsibilities, so he could focus on the work instead. However, Kaneda is devastated about this decision. He had enjoyed their one-on-one time. At a staff orientation party, Kaneda gets drunk and gathers the courage to confess his feelings. Yanase seems surprised that his junior coworker is hopelessly smitten with him.

Senpai This Can’t Be Love Trailer

Senpai This Can’t Be Love Cast

Characters

Kaneda

Toshiki Seto (瀬戸利樹)

Kaneda is portrayed by the Japanese actor Toshiki Seto (瀬戸利樹).

Kaneda is a new employee at Max Pictures, a design agency specializing in 3D renderings. He came from a rural background and used to work on a family farm. Kaneda changed careers after watching the Red Honey movie, inspired by the spectacular CG. He idolizes his colleague, Yanase, and harbours a secret crush. However, Kaneda is too bashful and acts awkwardly around his role model.

Yanase

Shuichiro Naito (内藤秀一郎)

Yanase is portrayed by the Japanese actor Shuichiro Naito (内藤秀一郎).

Yanase is an experienced CG artist at Max Pictures. He is responsible for mentoring Kaneda by helping the junior colleague adjust to his new position. Yanase worked in Vancouver for two years and accumulated valuable industry experience. He has a friendly and easygoing disposition. However, Yanase can be too tactile, and his body language often makes Kaneda uncomfortable.

Supporting Cast

Benjamin is portrayed by the Japanese actor Nelson Babin-Coy.

Benjamin

Nelson Babin-Coy

Imaizumi is portrayed by the Japanese actor Satoshi Matsuda (松田悟志).

Imaizumi

Satoshi Matsuda (松田悟志)

Iguchi is portrayed by the Japanese actor Taisuke Niihara (新原泰佑).

Iguchi

Taisuke Niihara (新原泰佑)

Ichikawa is portrayed by the Japanese actor Shu Watanabe (渡部秀).

Ichikawa

Shu Watanabe (渡部秀)

Omura is portrayed by the Japanese actress Rikako Sakata (坂田梨香子).

Tomoyo

Rikako Sakata (坂田梨香子)

Tanimoto is portrayed by the Japanese actress Hitomi Uneda (畦田ひとみ).

Tanimoto

Hitomi Uneda (畦田ひとみ)

Nakayama is portrayed by the Japanese actor Junya Asada (朝田淳弥).

Nakayama

Junya Asada (朝田淳弥)

Furukawa is portrayed by the Japanese actor Shunsei Ota (太田駿静).

Furukawa

Shunsei Ota (太田駿静)

Cast Highlights

  • Yanase’s actor (Shuichiro Naito) had a supporting role in the 2020 Japanese BL drama Fujoshi, Ukkari Gay ni Kokuru.

Senpai This Can’t Be Love Review

Review

Drama Review Score: 8.4

B+
Kaneda and Yanase fantasize about an office romance.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love is a cute workplace romance with a goofy story, quirky characters & cheeky humour. I adore the enthusiasm of this bubbly romantic comedy, which thrives on lighthearted jokes and playful mischief. Many amusing scenes make me grin, giggle, or wheeze in laughter. The series maintains a cheery and energetic vibe, putting me in a jovial mood after each episode. Senpai, This Can’t Be Love is delightful, upbeat, and consistently entertaining.

This series doesn’t have a complex plot. It follows a linear narrative about two office employees with a blossoming attraction. The story revolves around CG design, a unique subject for BL dramas. Yet, this detail isn’t significant enough to impact the standard formula. Senpai, This Can’t Be Love compensates for its simplicity with a lot of silliness. It derives humour from putting the two ordinary leads in eccentric scenarios with exaggerated reactions and heightened ridiculousness. I find the comedic moments charming and genuinely funny.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love offers a cozy romance. The leads have a tiny personality clash at the start and a cool-off period near the end. Otherwise, the rest of their journey is packed with whimsical BL content. Kaneda and Yanase endear me as a couple. I enjoy their sweet exchanges, shy flirting, and smooth rapport. Also, I respond well to their mentorship dynamic. Their feelings for each other come from warmth and admiration instead of disrespect and animosity. While their superficial bond could develop more profoundly, I’m satisfied with the relationship building.

Although the romance is pleasant, this series teeters on a dangerous line. Yanase’s touchy-feely habits come awfully close to workplace harassment in the beginning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the HR department reprimanded him for inappropriate misconduct. Keep your hands to yourself, mister! The iffiness eases in the later episodes, but the boundary issues still exist here and there. A few scenes give me anxiety, not knowing whether a character may overstep and make someone uncomfortable. I don’t endorse the casual harassment embedded in the story.

I like Yanase’s actor (Shuichiro Naito) a lot. He radiates heartfelt sincerity with a bright smile, kind eyes, and relaxed mannerisms. In the story, Yanase demonstrates some questionable behaviour. However, the performer exudes such an easygoing charisma that I can believe his character doesn’t have any malice. It takes a while for me to click with his costar, who seems more reserved. Kaneda has a timid personality, but I don’t know if his actor (Toshiki Seto) sells the bashfulness convincingly. Nonetheless, he slowly wins over me by the end of the series.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love introduces tension in the last two episodes, getting in the way of the romance. I’m okay with the conflict because it adds much-needed complexity to the plot and raises the stakes. I enjoyed the symbolism behind the ending, but then I browsed online and the negativity shocked me. The unfavourable fan reception to this campy series makes me wonder if I’m out of touch with the BL community. But that’s okay! I take pleasure in giving defiantly high review scores to underrated gems like Senpai, This Can’t Be Love. 😁

Summary

Lighthearted story

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love is a cute workplace romantic comedy that compensates for its simplicity with lots of silliness. The lighthearted story is funny, energetic, and cheerful.

Cute romance

Kaneda and Yanase have a warm, cozy romance with adorable exchanges. I enjoy their charming relationship dynamic, even if their connection isn’t too substantial.

Smooth acting

Yanase’s actor (Shuichiro Naito) exudes warmth, sincerity, and charisma in his performance. He captures my attention and comes across as genuine.

Happy ending

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love has a happy ending where the leads overcome their relationship rift. I enjoy the symbolism in the finale, although some viewers may not like the last-minute contrived drama.

Pretty artistry

This drama looks bright, colourful, and vibrant with attractive styling. However, I must dock points for that iffy kissing scene by the CG background, which the series doesn’t execute smoothly.

84%

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love is a bubbly BL drama with a quirky story, endearing characters, and lighthearted humour. This easygoing series is packed with charm, comedy, and cuteness.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love Episodes

Episode Guide

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love has a total of 8 episodes. Each episode is around 24 minutes long. It is a medium-length BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in around 3 hours. Senpai, This Can’t Be Love started airing on June 16, 2022 and ended its final episode on August 12, 2022. Tomohiro Takahashi and Akihiro Watanabe directed this series.

Episode 1
Episode 2

Episode 1

Episode 1 Summary
Kaneda gets drunk and gives his love confession to Yanase.

Kaneda is a new hire at a CG design company. His mentor is Yanase, a friendly colleague in charge of training him. Yanase is eager to help the younger employee adjust to the office environment. However, he’s a pretty touchy-feely guy, and his tactile behaviour makes Kaneda uncomfortable. The other coworkers have noticed their incompatibility.

The company begins working on a new project for the famous superhero movie, Red Honey. Yanase’s boss wants him to lead the task due to his overseas experience. Imaizumi also suggests removing Yanase’s mentorship responsibilities. At a staff orientation party, Kaneda gives a passionate speech. He reveals that Yanase is his role model who inspired him to work in this industry. Hearing this compliment makes Yanase blush with pride.

Despite his aloof demeanour, Kaneda secret harbours a crush on Yanase. He seems unfriendly around his role model because of shyness and nerves. In reality, Kaneda is smitten with his coworker and even dedicates a shrine to him. His real feelings for Yanase differ from how everyone else perceives their relationship. After the party, Kaneda is heavily intoxicated. He confesses his love for Yanase, who seems pleasantly surprised. The episode ends with Yanase initiating a kiss with his coworker.

Episode 1 Review
Yanase is a friendly employee who mentors his colleague Kaneda.

I like the clever storytelling twist in the premiere. The series introduces Kaneda as a character who seems unfriendly and uncomfortable around Yanase. Then, we find out about his secret crush, which explains his nervous behaviour. This revelation overturns the viewer’s expectations, making us reassess the characters and their dynamics. Kaneda appears aloof from Yanase’s POV, yet he’s actually giddy and gushing over his senpai. The contrast between perception and reality is amusing to me.

Yanase needs to keep his damn grubby paws to himself. Kaneda shouldn’t have to speak up twice about his discomfort with the body contact. Where’s the HR department in this company!? They gotta intervene and teach Mr. Handsy about workplace harassment. After Kaneda’s first warning, Yanase disregards the boundary issues by touching his coworker again. Shockingly, the episode ends with him initiating a kiss with his intoxicated colleague. Dude, back off! While I don’t believe Yanase has malicious intentions, he deserves to get reprimanded for inappropriate behaviour.

Episode 2

Episode 2 Summary
Kaneda daydreams about an intimate moment with Yanase.

Episode 2 begins after the first kiss between the leads. Kaneda feels embarrassed and runs away without addressing what happened. He’s worried about facing his senpai the next day. Kaneda wishes to clarify the situation with a mature discussion. However, they never find an opportunity to chat during a busy day at work. Nonetheless, their relationship improves. A flashback reveals that Yanase already informed his boss he wants to keep mentoring Kaneda.

The entire company is excited as they start working on the new Red Honey movie, one of Kaneda’s personal favourites. The work day gets busier when Yanase receives an urgent assignment. He has a tight deadline to complete the project and must sacrifice quality in exchange for speed. Yanase stays behind after work hours to complete the project, but Kaneda volunteers to accompany him and provide assistance. The two designers work through the night, spending quality time together. 

Yanase finishes the project in the morning, even though Kaneda falls asleep at his desk. After waking up, Kaneda feels terrible and apologizes for being a lousy assistant. However, Yanase isn’t mad. He’s grateful for Kaneda’s help throughout the night. His kind words bring the younger employee to tears. The episode ends with Kaneda hearing an alarm bell ringing. It addresses an earlier reference to Red Honey’s superhero ability since she hears an alarm noise after falling in love. Senpai, This Can’t Be Love implies Kaneda has developed romantic feelings for Yanase.

Episode 2 Review
Kaneda cries at the end of Senpai, This Can't Be Love Episode 2.

I absolutely love the idea of Red Honey. Imagine a superhero who falls in love with her enemies, and an internal alarm rings every time she gets horny. The character sounds hilariously messy lmao. I would watch a movie with Red Honey for sure. 🦸🏻‍♀️

Do you know who really needs an alarm? A siren should ring whenever Yanase comes close to intruding on his coworker’s personal space. In this episode, he tried justifying his kiss by saying that’s how they greet people in western countries… Okay, what country has a culture where you “greet” a drunken colleague with a kiss on his mouth!? The more Yanase talks, the more he incriminates himself.

I like Yanase & Kaneda’s interactions in this episode, highlighting the mentorship dynamic effectively. When Kaneda told Yanase, “…but I know you care about the quality”, that line made an impact because his observation felt intimate and personal. Kaneda saw through the facade and understood his senpai better than Yanase knew about himself. I also enjoyed the final scene where Yanase comforted the crying Kaneda. He exuded warmth and sincerity. Yanase comes across as a kind-hearted character, giving gentle encouragement to somebody in distress.

Episode 3

Episode 3 Summary
Kaneda and Yanase go on a work trip to visit the temple.

Yanase and his coworker Tomoyo plan on visiting a temple as part of a work trip. The purpose is to take photos and collect research for a scene they will be designing. During a casual chat, Tomoyo notices Kaneda’s interest in Japanese temple architecture. She offers him the opportunity to go on this trip instead. Yanase and Kaneda have an enjoyable time at the temple together.

Meanwhile, Kaneda’s friend Iguchi is struggling at work. Iguchi is also a new hire who joined the company around the same time. His mentor is Ichikawa, a stern employee with a no-nonsense personality. Ichikawa is often annoyed with Iguchi’s rookie mistakes. Also, everyone in the office likes Kaneda for his work ethic, making his friend look worse by comparison. Recently, Iguchi messed up again and forgot to take photos with a special camera, which is currently in Kaneda’s possession. Iguchi asks his friend to help him take the pictures on his behalf.

Kaneda agrees to help Iguchi with his photography project, but the assignment is weird. It involves using the camera to take pictures of the male physique. Later in the day, the leads rest at their lodgings. As they get settled in their room, Kaneda has a surprise request. He will take off his clothes and asks Yanase to snap images of his body. Kaneda looks awkward as he unbuttons his shirt, but his colleague stops him. After understanding the project instructions, Yanase strips and becomes Kaneda’s shirtless model instead.

Episode 3 Review
Kaneda takes picture of a shirtless Yanase.

That shirtless photography scene was so ridiculously over-the-top. When I first heard about Iguchi’s assignment, I thought his request was weird. Taking pictures of your shirtless coworker is an unrealistic scenario only conceivable in BL. Although Kaneda accepts the task, he uses the worst possible approach. He provides zero context before telling Yanase, “I’m taking off my clothes. Can you snap pictures of me?” His lack of etiquette shocked me so much that I burst out laughing inappropriately. WTF!? 😆

At first, I thought Kaneda was joking and made a socially clumsy remark. But then, he starts unbuttoning his clothes in front of Yanase. The scene stopped being funny and turned tense instead. I was like, “Wait, is he actually undressing!?” My mouth was agape because I couldn’t comprehend Kaneda’s eccentric actions. However, Kaneda looked so tormented as he stripped that I returned to giggling nervously again. Why is he doing this!? Nobody is forcing him to take off his clothes! I felt amused by Kaneda’s earnestness under such bizarre circumstances. 

Just when I thought the scene couldn’t get any stranger, Yanase suddenly volunteers to undress. I don’t know how others reacted, but I was cracking up at the comically absurd events. Logically, I know everything that happened was stupid and outrageous. Yet, the characters treated the situation so seriously. Their sincerity amplified the inappropriate humour. As Kaneda snapped the pictures, he suddenly said, “Can you bend over?” OMG, I gagged at that line. Senpai, This Can’t Be Love successfully made me wheeze in laughter with this hilarious BL scenario.

Episode 4

Episode 4 Summary
Kaneda has an awkward moment after taking pictures of a shirtless Yanase.

The shirtless photography session continues in Episode 4. As the leads make eye contact, Yanase suddenly feels embarrassed about the situation. Just then, a temple priest walks in on them intertwined in a compromising position. Despite the humiliating circumstances, Kaneda finishes Iguchi’s assignment. Later, Yanase seems impressed by Kaneda’s willingness to help his friend. The two men are comfortable enough to joke about the earlier incident, putting the awkwardness behind them.

Unfortunately, Iguchi’s work situation worsens. Kaneda gets credit for the photography assignment, making Iguchi feel inferior and envious. The disgruntled employee finally gets fed up and threatens to quit his job. However, Kaneda gives a persuasive argument and talks his friend out of this decision. Iguchi chooses to stay at the company. He apologizes to Ichikawa and patches up the relationship with his mentor, who forgives him. Kaneda is delighted to see his friend happier in the workplace.

Meanwhile, a new business executive arrives at the company. Benjamin is the VFX supervisor overseeing the Red Honey movie. He’ll stay in Japan to manage the project. Benjamin and Yanase are well-acquainted. Previously, Kaneda saw an intimate photo of the pair that suggests they shared a romantic past. Kaneda follows them to a bar and overhears an unpleasant chat. Benjamin accuses Yanase of stalling in his career, and his work suffered in quality. Kaneda is upset over hearing these criticisms. The episode ends with Kaneda confronting Benjamin angrily.

Episode 4 Review
Kaneda gives encouragement to his friend Iguchi.

I like the storyline with Kaneda’s friend. Both are new employees, but Kaneda thrives while Iguchi struggles to adapt to the workplace. The viewers can compare their different experiences. Since Iguchi gets stuck with a cranky senpai, we appreciate Yanase more because of his friendliness. Also, the dynamic between Kaneda and Iguchi is intriguing. They’re almost like friendly rivals. You can sense Iguchi’s insecurity toward the praise Kaneda receives. I wish the series had explored this subplot more deeply, because there’s potential for engaging drama.

I’m not fond of Benjamin, who gets introduced in this episode. This series already flirts dangerously with workplace harassment and problematic power dynamics. The last thing we need is a new character who blurs the line between personal and work life. Benjamin shows inappropriate misconduct, playing grab-ass with Yanase in the company lobby. Dude, back off! Worst of all, Yanase can’t reject his advances without fear of retaliation. Benjamin is an important client for the company who has control over Yanase’s career. Their romantic entanglement is iffy.

In this episode, Benjamin insults his ex for not making career progress, causing Kaneda to confront him. While Benjamin could’ve softened his choice of words, I don’t think his criticism is meant to hurt Yanase. Instead, I see Benjamin as a senpai, giving honest feedback about his junior’s professional development. A previous episode hinted Yanase was willing to compromise quality to get the job done. Benjamin’s observation echoes the idea that Yanase suffers from burnout at work.

Episode 5

Episode 5 Summary
Yanase gives Kaneda motivation for his work.

Kaneda defends Yanase’s design skills during the argument with his new boss. Nonetheless, Benjamin insists Yanase has lost his ambition since returning to Japan. Kaneda feels embarrassed when the conversation turns to his keen interest in his coworker. He leaves awkwardly, but Yanase chases after him. It’s raining in the middle of the night. Yanase invites the younger employee to stay overnight at his apartment nearby. 

Kaneda is nervous yet excited about visiting his crush’s home. He picks up Yanase’s everyday habits, including his oil diffuser, shampoo scents, and unique way of eating snacks. Yanase reveals that he loves sweets and desserts. Kaneda informs him about a new parfait shop and asks if they could visit together. The two men prepare for sleep, with Yanase resting on the sofa. The next morning, Yanase cooks him a delicious breakfast.

The leads grow closer at work. Although Yanase is busy with the project, he leaves cute little notes on Kaneda’s desk to motivate him. After work, they find time to visit the parfait shop. Both enjoy the sweets, and Kaneda admits he likes spending time with Yanase. However, the episode ends ominously. The final scene shows Benjamin planning to offer Yanase a job overseas.

Episode 5 Review
Yanase gives encouragement to Yanase in the office.

Yanase is so dreamy in this episode. The character’s attractiveness doesn’t only come from his looks, but he’s also appealing because of his winning personality. Yanase does cute random acts of kindness, like giving supportive notes to motivate his coworkers. It’s a small gesture that nonetheless highlights his thoughtful nature. Plus, the actor (Shuichiro Naito) succeeds in coming across as warm, genuine, and relaxed. His performance is charming and charismatic. I feel at ease watching him on screen.

Who else thought Yanase looked adorable as he nibbled on his Pocky stick? 😙 I like how Kaneda watches Yanase eat food with riveted interest. Oh my god, he eats the chocolate part first and the biscuit later! Kaneda reacts to the tiniest gesture like it’s a momentous revelation. His observations are funny and lighthearted, but they also successfully depict his crush. We see Kaneda marvelling at his love interest with every new discovery. He comes across as smitten and fascinated with Yanase.

Episode 6

Episode 6 Summary
Kaneda and Yanase kiss by a CG background.

Yanase hears about the job offer from his boss. This work arrangement will last a year. Although the company won’t force him to relocate, Imaizumi encourages him to improve his skills and develop his career overseas. Yanase turns down the proposal. He isn’t ready to leave his comfortable lifestyle in Japan and work elsewhere.

Kaneda and Yanase work on an assignment together. Kaneda brings up an issue with the client’s instructions. Yanase doesn’t want to cause trouble and plans on following the brief, even if it’s factually wrong. However, Yanase senses his colleague’s hesitation and feels lousy about his decision. Kaneda tries cheering him up with compliments, but Yanase believes he’s a fraud and struggles with self-esteem. Later, Kanase boldly challenges Benjamin on the design error and receives praise. Yanase is inspired by his courage.

Yanase changes his mind and accepts the job offer. His colleague Tanimoto overhears the gossip and spreads it around the office. Kaneda is upset that Yanase will be leaving. Tanimoto feels awful for causing a rift in the men’s relationship. Secretly, Tanimoto and Tomoyo are fujoshis who ship the leads together. Near the end of the episode, Kaneda encourages Yanase and gives a motivational speech. Yanase thanks Kaneda for reinvigorating the passion in his job. The episode ends with them sharing a kiss over the CG background of the temple.

Episode 6 Review
Yanase contemplates accepting an overseas job offer.

In theory, I like the storyline exploring Yanase’s insecurities about his career growth. Kaneda puts his senpai on a pedestal and considers him a role model. However, Yanase sees himself differently, like a fading star who can’t live up to his former glory. Art is a creative field that requires you to be innovative and disruptive. Yet, Yanase seems complacent, unwilling to leave his comfort zone or challenge the client’s mistakes. His character is in a rut until Kaneda’s passion inspires him to be ambitious about self-improvement.

Unfortunately, Yanase’s storyline is clunky in execution. He awkwardly transitions from having self-esteem issues to finding the confidence to work overseas. Yanase makes a significant life decision, yet his introspective journey feels rushed. The series could do a better job fleshing out Yanase’s thought processes. We only get a few scenes conveying Yanase’s job disengagement, barely scratching the surface of his psychological state. Instead, let’s dedicate more time to building up the plot’s momentum. 

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love has two kissing scenes. The first encounter is in Episode 1, a drunken encounter before the characters knew each other well. The second exchange is in Episode 6, where the leads kiss in front of the 3D design project they worked on together. Their intimacy is well-timed, but the CG backdrop doesn’t look good visually. I appreciate how the production team tried to create a beautiful display. Sadly, they fell short and diminished the special moment. I wish Kaneda and Yanase simply kissed with an ordinary background instead of a green screen.

Episode 7

Episode 7 Summary
Yanase imagines giving Kaneda a hug upon his return.

Episode 7 begins a year after Yanase departed for his overseas work exchange program. It’s 2023, and he has returned to Japan. Yanase is excited to return to the office and see Kaneda again. He has compiled a top 10 wishlist of activities that he wants to do with Kaneda upon their reunion. Some ideas include embracing him, praising his work, and going home together. His plans never come to fruition. Their initial meeting is awkward, like they don’t know what to say to each other.

Kaneda now mentors a new employee, Furukawa, who sits at Yanase’s old desk. Yanase has a job promotion as the team leader with more responsibilities. Yet, Yanase feels bothered that he doesn’t work side-by-side with Kaneda anymore. Kaneda and Furukawa seem chummy together. Yanase spies on their interactions with envy. Yanase wants to meet up with Kaneda after work. However, their busy schedules clash, so they miss each other on multiple days. Finally, Kaneda stays behind after work to wait for Yanase. Kaneda seems tense, but he brings Yanase to his home.

Yanase is curious and examines Kaneda’s room closely. He unknowingly stumbles upon some embarrassing mementoes, making Kaneda self-conscious. Before they could chat, Furukawa calls his senpai at night for something to do with work. Kaneda lies about being alone, but Furukawa asks to come over for a visit. Kaneda compromises by agreeing to visit his apartment instead. Yanase is shocked about their close relationship. The episode ends with Kaneda leaving to meet Furukawa, abandoning Yanase alone in his room.

Episode 7 Review
Senpai, This Can't Be Love had a one-year time skip in Episode 7.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love asks us to make two assumptions with this time skip. Firstly, we must believe that Kaneda & Yanase didn’t stay in touch online. No emails, no social media, no phone calls. Secondly, the leads don’t reconnect right away after Yanase returns to Japan. They act awkwardly around each other for a couple of days. Despite some skepticism, I guess I could believe both scenarios happening.

Realistically, they should’ve talked throughout the past year. However, I can imagine the leads not maintaining contact during their absence. Kaneda’s shy personality, Yanase’s focus on his new job, and their time difference explain why they might alienate. Plus, the characters weren’t a couple before the time skip. They left each other as colleagues with a brief office flirtation. It may be possible they aren’t close anymore after a year apart.

A year later, Kaneda now mentors Furukawa, a new employee at the company.

I like that Kaneda is now mentoring a new employee after the time skip. It shows his character’s growth, like how the young grasshopper is now the senpai. The love triangle drama with Furukawa is a tired trope, but it adds suspense and tension to spice up the plot. It also brings out the insecurities in Yanase, who focused too much on work and neglected his love life. He got complacent, taking Kaneda’s feelings for granted. Oh, Kaneda will wait for me~ Now, the stakes are higher, and there’s doubt about where their relationship stands.

Yanase’s visit to Kaneda’s home is a hilarious scene. I enjoy his spiralling about where to sit or whether it’s appropriate to hang the laundry. I also like Yanase discovering Kaneda’s mementoes, like the temple and calendars, showing continuity with the past episodes. Plus, Kaneda’s over-the-top reactions are cute and funny. Poor Yanase did nothing wrong except look at the two calendars on the wall. Yet, Kaneda freaked out, made a mad dash, and almost tackled him to hide the embarrassing items. 😅

Episode 7
Episode 8

Episode 8

Happy ending
Senpai, This Can't Be Love has a happy ending where Kaneda and Yanase become a couple.

Senpai, This Can’t Be Love has a happy ending where the leads become boyfriends. The characters drifted apart after Yanase returned from his overseas work trip. They haven’t been in touch for a year. Yanase assumes Kaneda’s feelings for him have cooled off, especially since they couldn’t catch up at work. Yanase becomes upset by Kaneda’s bond with the new coworker, Furukawa. After some spiralling, Kaneda and Yanase reconnect during an emotionally honest chat. Both reveal they still feel the same way about each other.

Earlier, Kaneda didn’t return home for the night after visiting Furukawa. He also forgot to bring his phone with him. Yanase is disappointed to see Kaneda changed his phone’s wallpaper, removing a picture of his senpai. Yanase meets Kaneda’s mom in the morning, who drops by for a surprise visit. She tells him pleasant childhood stories about her son. At work, Kaneda apologizes for leaving Yanase alone overnight. Yanase isn’t mad, but he feels insecure about Kaneda’s relationship with Furukawa

Ending explained
Kaneda shows Yanase how to play baseball.

Kaneda and Yanase finally have a chance to chat after a work meeting. Yanase confesses his love through a video call, even if these feelings aren’t reciprocated. As they talk in person, Kaneda also admits he likes Yanase. His behaviour seems standoffish because of his bashfulness. Kaneda adds that Yanase inspired him to become an ace mentor to Furukawa, but their relationship is platonic. Yanase goes in for a kiss, although Kaneda stops him. He’s shy about office intimacy and suggests taking their romance elsewhere.

The leads go on an outdoor date where they play baseball. Kaneda teaches Yanase how to pitch the ball, reversing their previous mentorship dynamic. After the game, Kaneda spontaneously suggests taking a selfie photo together. Yanase discovers Kaneda hasn’t changed his phone’s wallpaper picture after all. He was only being more discreet about it. Then, they enjoy a delicious homemade meal in the privacy of Yanase’s apartment. Yanase used the recipes he learned from Kaneda’s mom.

After the meal, the two characters are on the floor and gaze into each other’s eyes. The music plays as they slowly draw their faces together until their lips almost touch. The final scene references the top 10 list that Yanase compiled since the last episode. Yanase put together a list of activities he wanted to do with Kaneda. The running gag is that Yanase fails to fulfill the first nine wishes because something unexpected would disrupt his original plans, However, we learn Yanase’s last wish has come true. He got to spend a lovely one-on-one weekend with Kaneda.

Ending review
Kaneda and Yanase take a selfie together in the Senpai, This Can't Be Love ending.

I enjoy Yanase’s top 10 list as a storytelling device. It contrasts his ideal relationship fantasies with the more pragmatic version of events. In his imagination, Yanase sees himself as a smooth talker who reunites with his lover confidently. In reality, he feels awkward, jittery, and insecure. This checklist helps us understand Yanase’s expectations and sympathize with his disappointment. I love how the series ends with him fulfilling the last wish on his list. As he had hoped for, Yanase finally gets to spend a weekend with his boyfriend. So sweet!

I really like the baseball scene because it reverses the mentorship dynamic. Kaneda coaches Yanase, becoming his senpai in this sport. In the past, Kaneda idolized his love interest, similar to how a student may admire a teacher. In this ending, they’re like equals who can teach and learn from each other. Kaneda also shows growth in other areas. He initiates the selfie in this episode, compared to his nervousness about taking pictures in Episode 3. It shows he’s more comfortable around Yanase now.

This ending is missing a kiss. The series concludes with the leads on the floor as their lips almost touch. The shot looks artistic, but it doesn’t resemble a real kiss. Maybe I’m antsy because the two past encounters weren’t that great. Their Episode 1 smooch happened under uneasy conditions, while the Episode 6 scene was a green screen dud. I hoped they could make up for it with a proper intimate moment in the last episode. Unfortunately, the series shies away from an epic finale kiss, a slight disappointment to an ending I otherwise enjoyed.

Senpai This Can’t Be Love OST

Senpai This Can’t Be Love Information

Links

  1. I also seemed to like this one better than some of the other reviews I’ve read online. I agree with most of your assessment and higher than average ratings. One surprise from your review (and forgive me if I missed it), but I was looking for your comments on that scene from Ep 7 where Yanase sucked the blood from Kaneda’s finger after he cut himself picking up the broken glass. Although I’m assuming it was meant to be an expression of closeness between the two, this might be taking it a bit far. Just cleaning up the wound and bandaging it would have communicated the same message IMO.
    Thanks again for your excellent reviews of these BL series/movies. I am still pretty new to the BL genre and have been going to your site for suggestions on which ones to watch next. 🙂

  2. I do not understand these dramas where the story is about adults, but they behave like teenagers, to me it seems wrong. The young audience (mostly girls?) gets miss representation of the adults world, strange behaviour, very childish and hysterical. It might be my wrong cultural judgment, I am western and not from Japan but I cannot understand why they make young viewers think adults behave like this.
    In my opinion the plot didn’t advance in an interesting way, nothing much happened and the last two ep i didn’t like and honestly suffered watching them but had to know how it ends.

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