Shimbashi Koi Story is a Japanese BL series about two customers falling in love at a gay bar. The main character is a shy and lonely bachelor in his late thirties. He frequents a bear bar with his best friend. One evening, they meet a newcomer who mingles with them. The protagonist is attracted to his new acquaintance. However, he struggles to open up and make the first move.
The bear-friendly cast in Shimbashi Koi Story is one of its most significant selling points. The actors are more mature and have a different body type than the usual leads in BL dramas. However, they give stiff and amateurish performances. I'm also bored by the generic plot, bland characters, and dry romance. This unimaginative series lacks excitement and loses my interest.
Shimbashi Koi Story Summary
Around 1 hour
Nice and gentle
Around 10 to 15 minutes
Tatsuya is a gay bachelor in his late thirties. He frequents a bear bar with his best friend, Kotetsu. The chatty Kotetsu has an outgoing personality and likes socializing with other patrons at the bar. In contrast, Tatsuya is shy and doesn't approach others easily. As a result, he often feels lonely.
One evening, a new customer visits the bar. Jun-nosuke's appearance catches Tatsuya and Kotetsu's attention. Kotetsu quickly introduces himself and befriends the newcomer. Jun-nosuke explains it's his first time visiting the bar. As they chat, Tatsuya remains quiet. He's too shy to open up and interject in the conversation.
Jun-nosuke leaves for the night. Kotetsu and Tatsuya are annoyed because they forgot to ask for his contact information. The bartender reveals he doesn't know how to communicate with Jun-nosuke either. Jun-nosuke doesn't show up at the bar again as the days pass. Tatsuya is secretly disappointed because he looks forward to seeing his crush.
Finally, Jun-nosuke reappears and explains that he has been busy with work. Kotetsu chats eagerly with him, while Tatsuya remains a quiet bystander. However, Tatsuya musters the courage to join the conversation and finally converses with his crush. After the night is over, the three men depart. Suddenly, Jun-nosuke surprises Tatsuya by asking for his phone number. Jun-nosuke is interested in getting to know Tatsuya better.
Shimbashi Koi Story Trailer
Shimbashi Koi Story Cast
Tatsuya is a single gay man in his late thirties. He has a shy personality and doesn't approach others easily. Tatsuya is best friends with Kotetsu, who is also single. The two frequent a gay bar together. Tatsuya develops a crush on Jun-nosuke after meeting him at the bar. Yet, Tatsuya is too shy to initiate contact with him.
Jun-nosuke is a new customer at the gay bar that Kotetsu and Tatsuya frequents. Both men seem fond of him. After Jun-nosuke's first visit, he disappears for a while due to being busy with work. On his next visit, he meets with Kotetsu and Tatsuya again. Finally, Jun-nosuke asks for Tatsuya's contact information and wants to know him better.
Shimbashi Koi Story Review
Drama Review Score: 5.9
Shimbashi Koi Story stands out due to its casting, which goes against industry standards. Many BL dramas feature young fit studs in the leading roles. They often have muscular torsos with six-pack abs or lean physiques with slender waists. In contrast, this bear-friendly series includes mature men with a different demographic and body type than usual. Shimbashi Koi Story puts bigger and older guys at the centre of its love story, providing a welcomed representation in this genre.
Unfortunately, the casting may be a double-edged sword. Made by a real-life gay bar, Shimbashi Koi Story uses its employees to film the BL drama. None of them have prior acting experience, which is sadly evident in their rookie performances. They struggle to emote, converse, or behave comfortably on camera. The leads don't look relaxed, from stiff body language to stilted line delivery. Their visible nervousness takes me out of immersion in each scene. Compared to professional performers, the acting in Shimbashi Koi Story is embarrassingly amateurish.
The most disappointing aspect of Shimbashi Koi Story is the generic plot. Every storyline is terribly bland and uninspired. The series lacks originality, copying all the typical cliches in the romance genre. Where's the imagination? Based on the unique profiles of the cast, this drama has the opportunity to tackle fascinating topics. Some ideas include embracing bear culture, exploring the dating scene in your late 30s, or examining prejudices and discrimination. Yet, Shimbashi Koi Story rehashes the usual tropes of love triangles, jealousy, and misunderstandings.
In addition to the dull storylines, the quality of the writing is subpar. The clunky scenes flow awkwardly and pointlessly. I'm perplexed whenever the leads respond unnaturally or behave irrationally. I can't picture someone reacting this way if the fictional situation occurs in real life. Another problem is the characterization, which feels too simple. Tatsuya and Jun-nosuke have cookie-cutter personalities that never develop beyond a few traits. They aren't charismatic, endearing, or memorable. Nothing sets them apart from a generic BL protagonist.
Tatsuya and Jun-nosuke have a sweet yet superficial romance. Their relationship scenes are too plain and ordinary. Many mundane interactions don't explain their compatibility or what they find attractive about each other. While the actors share little chemistry, they resemble two regular guys falling in love. The couple looks remarkably different than most pairings in the BL landscape, from age to body size. Their distinctiveness is one of the prominent selling points in this series. You may appreciate seeing lead characters who aren't pretty boys or athletic hunks.
The Shimbashi Koi Story crew doesn't work in the entertainment industry. They have little experience filming a BL drama, resulting in clumsy shots or awkward angles. The series lacks polish compared to professional productions, although everything still looks presentable. I admire that a real-life gay bar steps outside its field of expertise to create two seasons of a web series. These indie filmmakers have challenged themselves and completed a project with considerable difficulty. Shimbashi Koi Story deserves my respect, even if there is much room for improvement.
Shimbashi Koi Story disappoints with bland characterizations and generic storylines. The uninspired plots contain many typical cliches, showing little imagination. Many scenes are clunky and awkward.
Tatsuya & Jun-nosuke have a sweet yet superficial romance. They share little chemistry. However, they resemble two regular guys in love and look remarkably different from most BL couples.
The actors, who work as staff at a real-life gay bar, are inexperienced. The leads give stiff, amateurish performances. They look nervous on camera and fail to emote convincingly.
Shimbashi Koi Story has a happy ending where Tatsuya and Jun-nosuke reconcile after an annoying misunderstanding. The drama leading up to the finale is dumb and cliched.
I admire the indie filmmakers for stepping out of their field expertise to create this BL drama. With that said, the series looks plain compared to professional productions.
Shimbashi Koi Story is a bear-friendly BL drama that puts bigger and older men at the centre of its love story. It loses my enthusiasm due to the generic plots, amateurish acting, and cliched romance.
Shimbashi Koi Story Episodes
Shimbashi Koi Story has a total of 4 episodes. Each episode is around 10 to 15 minutes long. The last episode is around 15 minutes long. It is a short BL drama, and you can finish the entire series in under 1 hour. This first season started on October 23, 2022 and ended on November 2, 2022.
The series also launched a sequel, which contained 4 episodes. The second season started on November 13, 2022 and ended on December 4, 2022.
Shimbashi Koi Story Season 2
Shimbashi Koi Story 2 (2022)
After the first season, the series released a follow-up in November 2022. It is approximately one hour long. The story continues after the first season, but there is a time skip of two years. The main characters are in a blissful relationship. However, their relationship struggles when two new love rivals arrive. You should watch Season 1 before starting the second season.
The second season shares similar flaws as its predecessor. It suffers from uninspired plots and generic romantic tropes. The lack of imagination prevents the exploration of meaningful themes. Also, the new love rivals are annoying characters with little depth. Meanwhile, the protagonists behave aggravatingly, making me like them less. Their lack of chemistry and amateurish performances continue to disappoint. Overall, this sequel is worse than its first season. Nonetheless, fans of the original may appreciate this sequel.