08/04/2022

The Magic of Cherry Magic: A review of how the manga to the live action drama and movie captured the world

Header Image: Cherry Maho the Movie Official Website

The Cherry Magic movie is finally here and fans have been anxiously waiting for the continuation of the hit drama! Want to know what Cherry Magic, also known as Cherry Maho チェリまほ, is all about and why it’s so popular? We did our best to sum it up including thoughts from a megafan and a little preview (with no spoilers) of what to look forward to in the movie!


Table of Contents

  1. Intro to Cherry Magic
    1. Cherry Magic Manga to the Live Action
      1. Cherry Magic Live Action Drama 
  2. Why is Cherry Magic so Popular?
    1. BL has become much more openly accepted and popular
    2. The Pure Love Story of Cherry Magic
    3. The Characters of Cherry Magic
  3. Cherry Magic Live Action Cast Leads
  4. Where to Watch Cherry Magic the Drama
  5. Cherry Maho the Movie
  6. Takeaway

Intro to Cherry Magic

The full title of this work is 30歳まで童貞だと魔法使いになれるらしい (30sai made Doutei dato Mahoutsukai ni Narurashii) or the English title: Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!

Yes, this title is real. But don’t let the title stop you (or maybe it intrigues you?) from checking out what it’s all about.

The basic story follows Adachi Kiyoshi (安達 清), an average salaryman (white collar worker in Japan) who discovers that on the morning of his 30th birthday, he is able to hear people’s thoughts when he has physical contact with them, whether it’s shaking their hand, leaning against their shoulder, anything. This is apparently due to him still being a virgin - thus, turning into a “wizard”. 

If that wasn’t bizarre and troubling enough for timid Adachi, he accidentally comes to realize through his new powers that Kurosawa Yuichi (黒沢 優一), his coworker who is the ace salesman in his office, is secretly in love with Adachi and has been for a long time. 

The title is often shortened to its nickname チェリまほ (CherryMaho) - Cherry which is slang for virgin, and Maho being short for 魔法 (mahou) or magic. Thus, the English nickname for the series is Cherry Magic. Much shorter and cuter (and maybe less reservation?) for introducing to people, right? 

Cherry Magic Manga to the Live Action

Cherry Magic first began as a series posted by manga author Toyota Yuu on their Twitter account at the beginning of 2018. Due to its popularity (it has 158,000 likes on the first tweet alone!), it was quickly turned into a published series. 

It was even translated into English - the first BL (Boy’s Love) manga translated and distributed in English by Square Enix Manga. You can get it on Amazon, Rakuten, etc

As of March 2022, the manga itself has sold over 2 million copies, according to the author.

Just a heads up about the manga in terms of rating. The drama has scenes of Kurosawa fantasizing about Adachi and it is kept quite PG (or stops before it goes beyond that), but drama fans might be surprised to see that Kurosawa’s fantasies in the manga venture into more mature scenes (which are still on the tamer side according to BL fans), but have earned the manga a “Parental Advisory for Explicit Content”. If you're already into BL, this might not be surprising for you, but for those who are reading BL for the first time, it's something to keep in mind!

Drama CD

Before it got turned into a live action drama, it was first adapted into an audio drama, or what are called “drama CDs” in Japan. 3 CDs have been released so far, which include some small original side stories about the characters, so fans of the manga are quite pleased with the voice actor’s work and the production value. 

Cherry Magic Live Action Drama

While this work was already gaining a solid fanbase through the original manga, its popularity exploded with the release of the live action drama in October of 2020, not just in Japan but around the world as well!

Even the manga author thought, “This drama is going to be a hit!” when they saw the cast and production. Not only did the actors fit the characters’ images perfectly, but the author appreciated the way the production team treated and advertised the work as a pure love story rather than sensationalizing that it was about two men falling in love or making fun of the fact that the main character is a virgin.

※Pixivision, “恋愛のチート能力×恋愛未経験者のBLマンガ『チェリまほ』がドラマに!豊田悠インタビュー

According to Cinema Today, the drama was trending 5th worldwide on Twitter, 1st in Japan, while episode 7 aired. Everyone was watching and waiting excitedly to see what Adachi would do after Kurosawa verbally expressed his romantic feelings towards him. It was also trending 2nd in Thailand, 3rd in Vietnam at the time. The drama was also a HUGE hit in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Let's take a look at why!

※Cinema Today, “「チェリまほ」Twitterで世界トレンド5位の大反響!

Why is Cherry Magic so Popular?

Several members of our team are big fans of Cherry Magic, especially the drama, so we decided to interview one of them, arguably the biggest fan of them all. She has gone to most if not all of the filming locations for the drama, been to multiple fan meets and events for the work and for the actors, organized fan events not even in Japan but in Taiwan!, and has a lot of insight to share about this work. 

She breaks down the drama’s popularity into 3 main reasons. 

#1 BL has become much more openly accepted and popular

BL, or Boy’s Love, is a genre that has been around for a long time, but became known as BL specifically around the beginning of the 1990s. While popular, it was considered a niche market, and received little attention from mainstream media. A lot of works, including those adapted to live action movies, also had very mature themes and scenes which wouldn’t “be appropriate” for mainstream audiences. Plus with Japan’s very conservative views on LGBTQ issues (same-sex marriage is still not technically legal in Japan although certain major cities allow same-sex partnerships), it made things difficult for BL to be little more than an underground genre despite everyone still knowing it existed.

And in terms of live action works, our team member explains that she

“liked BL manga, but not usually the live action. The actors were relatively unknown and they usually were not my type or didn’t fit the image of the characters at all.”

However, a work named Ossan’s Love changed everything. 

3 mainstream actors were cast as the three leads of a BL TV drama, which aired on a major network in 2018, and it was a huge hit. People liked that it was a romantic comedy about coworkers falling in love, who just happened to be men. It helped that each of the three actors already had an adoring fanbase, and that their portrayals of the characters were incredibly endearing and made you want to root for their earnest attempts at finding love and themselves. 

The drama was so popular that it had a second spinoff season and a movie. People were talking about it in person, on social media (the work even had several of its own social media accounts), and BL was now out in the open. Ossan’s Love was even remade in Hong Kong.

You can watch Ossan’s Love available in several countries on Netflix

Thanks to the success of Ossan’s Love, more BL works started to become adapted for mainstream audiences. And according to our team member, casting got even better as more mainstream actors began to star in these works.

The live action drama of Cherry Magic came just 2 years after that, and its timing was perfect. And it definitely contributed to more people getting into the BL genre, as the success of this drama has sparked even more future BL works!

But of course, being shown at the right timing isn't the only reason this drama was a hit!

#2 The Pure Love Story of Cherry Magic

Our team member said that she hadn’t been planning to watch Cherry Magic, as she hadn’t read the manga either, but happened to see a clip. The comedic aspects initially caught her attention, but it was the story that got her hooked. 

As she explains, 

“The natural flow and buildup to the romance was what I liked. Other BL works tend to be more fast paced, but I liked the slower development which built up at a good, realistic pace.”

The most surprising thing to her was how even the people around her got into it, including people who don’t like or were never interested in the BL genre.

“I couldn’t recommend it to my mom because I didn’t think she’d be into BL and because of the title (童貞 doutei or virgin being so prominent in the title can be a little off-putting to some), but one day, she told me she had gotten into it on her own, which really surprised me. She checked it out to see why it was so popular in Taiwan, and ended up loving the story and the characters. She thinks Kurosawa is like a prince and is the ideal kind of man.”

While BL fans may have been the first to start watching, many people like our team member’s mother, checked it out because of the fans raving about the series on social media, not to mention the high ratings.

Many fans describe it as the perfect work to introduce new people to the BL genre, as it’s simply a very pure straightforward love story with one man in love with another and hoping his feelings will be reciprocated someday (and many comedic heartwarming situations in between).

As mentioned earlier, certain BL works were off-putting to some because of the explicit content, but Cherry Magic keeps things very “innocent love” for the most part, and this is also thanks to the characters, which is our next point. 

#3 The Characters of Cherry Magic

Adachi Kiyoshi is the main character with the special ability to read people’s thoughts. Yet instead of using this power to manipulate others, his introverted nature and lack of self-confidence makes him want to avoid using the power as much as possible. So when he finds out that Kurosawa is in love with him, it should make things easier for him to communicate if he wants to start a relationship (and maybe get rid of this power in the process…) but instead, he finds himself struggling to decide what to do. 

As the manga author states, “One of the themes of “Cherry Maho” is that even if you can read people’s thoughts, romance doesn’t start unless you yourself take the first step.” 

So manga readers and drama viewers end up rooting for Adachi as he has to decide whether or not to take that first step (and following steps) into a relationship with Kurosawa, while also gaining more confidence in himself as a result.

※Pixivision, “恋愛のチート能力×恋愛未経験者のBLマンガ『チェリまほ』がドラマに!豊田悠インタビュー

Kurosawa Yuichi, on the other hand, is the ace salesman in the office and is often seen as “perfect” by his coworkers. He’s tall, handsome, and gets along with everyone. So whether it’s in his inner thoughts which Adachi happens to hear, or the kind, considerate actions he shows Adachi, he’s just so likable. It also helps that despite him having been in love with Adachi for a long time, Kurosawa is never pushy or selfish about his feelings and makes sure to put Adachi’s comfort first while still making his feelings for him clear. But it sure doesn’t stop him from fantasizing and daydreaming about Adachi in the process, which is where a lot of the humor comes in!

And it’s not just the main characters that get all the love in this work! The supporting characters are all fantastic - whether it’s Adachi and Kurosawa’s coworkers Rokkaku and Fujisaki-san, or Adachi’s best friend Tsuge and his own love interest Minato - they’re all very warm and supportive. No one is there to create unnecessary drama or tension between the main characters which is quite refreshing. 

Cherry Magic Live Action Cast Leads

We can’t talk about the Cherry Magic live action without talking about the actors who brought the characters to life. The careers of the two main leads, Akaso Eiji and Machida Keita, skyrocketed thanks to this drama. In 2021, both of them ranked in the “National Ikemen (Handsome Guy)” Ranking done by Vivi Magazine, with Akaso ranking 3rd in the “Now” category and Machida ranking 1st in the “Adult” category, taking them from actors some people knew about to actors many people in the general public now recognize. 

※Oricon, “『ViVi』“国宝級イケメンランキング”全部門発表 NOW1位は松村北斗、2位は目黒蓮、3位は赤楚衛二

Akaso was perfect as the timid, hesitant but purehearted Adachi, and Machida stole hearts as the suave, handsome Kurosawa. Fans loved these two so much that, according to our team member, overseas fans made happy birthday posters and train ads for the two in Taiwan and Hong Kong - which wasn’t cheap for sure!

 

【星分享-赤楚衛二生日應援燈箱】 在台灣的大家看過來!如果最近有在台北接搭捷運,記得到捷運忠孝敦化站停留一下,因為那裡有一位可愛的男孩在等你唷~ 由 赤楚衛二 Fanpage發起的生日應援燈箱活動,已經在3/1 #赤楚衛二...

Posted by 日本娛樂觀星台 on Wednesday, March 2, 2022

(Note: Image copyright laws are quite strict in Japan. It’s necessary to obtain permission from the actor’s respective agencies or the drama / film’s producers to use their images in these ways.)

Not only that, but the two actors seemed to get along so well that fans loved seeing the behind the scenes of the work. Thousands of fans watched their joint Instagram lives talking about and promoting the drama. The two of them covered the popular magazine Anan to promote Cherry Maho the Movie, and that particular edition came with 3 versions with different covers and photoshoots each for the first time in Anan’s publication history. 

The two of them as a set was such a big draw that only 2 years after Cherry Magic aired, Akaso Eiji and Machida Keita were cast in another (non-BL) tv drama together called Super Rich in 2021.

Unfortunately, not all of their work is available legally with official subs outside of Japan, but we did our best to include some that certain countries can access. (We apologize in advance if these are no longer available.)

Other Recommended Works for Akaso Eiji

  • She Was Pretty on Netflix

  • Omoi, Omoware, Fure, Furare on Netflix

  • Hiru on Wowow (Japan only; Wowow subscription necessary)

Other Recommended Works for Machida Keita

Where to Watch Cherry Magic the Drama

You can find Cherry Magic the live action drama as official releases on

Each website may limit which countries have access. We hope one of them works for you!

Cherry Maho the Movie

The highly anticipated film, titled チェリまほ the Movie (Cherry Maho the Movie), was released on April 8, 2022. It follows Adachi and Kurosawa after the events of the drama, when (spoilers for the drama), they were able to successfully get together and start a relationship. Fans are excited to see scenes of them going on dates, as well as work through one of the main conflicts of the film, which is their relationship becoming long distance.

Our team member brought up how the drama only teased a kiss and didn’t actually show one at the end of the drama, so many fans might be excited to see more physical affection between the main characters. Popular BL works overseas, such as Thai dramas, tend to show a lot more physical touch between the characters, but Japanese works tend to shy away from that in general, so fans are wondering how much will be shown especially since the big question is why Adachi seems to still have his powers as shown in the trailers.

Well, we went to go see the movie, and while we won't give any spoilers, we believe that this movie is not only great for fans, but an incredibly powerful work in general. Things move along a lot faster in the film than it does in the drama (and there's a very brief recap of the drama in the beginning for people unfamiliar with the drama's events!), as the movie covers many major events in their lives after becoming a couple, but it does follow the drama in the sense that each of these events in progression grows the characters to face the next challenge together. It is so touching to see Adachi grow in confidence, even more from the drama, and Kurosawa is able to truly be himself in front of Adachi, something he struggled to do in front of others. And if this is to be the final work in the Cherry Magic live action series (although we wish there would be more!), it does a beautiful job of incoporating the core of who the characters are as well as what it means that they, in their world, are a couple, as well as making a statement as to what these characters can mean in our society today.

As for the question of physical touch in the film, again we won't spoil the movie, but fans have a lot to look forward to from Adachi and Kurosawa, both words and actions. Each scene between the two - as there are both lighthearted scenes and very serious ones - were shot beautifully and with a lot of care. There were even some audible gasps and awws from the audience when we went to watch it - and that's quite rare in Japan as the audience tends to be very quiet when watching films!   

We hope fans around the world will be able to see this film soon!

Fans in Taiwan worked hard so that the film would be released on the same day in Japan, and according to our team member, showings of the film are already sold out for 3 weeks! 

It’s clear that fans are incredibly excited to see this work and show their love for it, both in Japan and overseas, based on the buzz on social media in many different languages. 

Takeaway

We hope this article captures and explains even just a little of the charm that is Cherry Magic, and we hope that you check it out for yourself.

Cherry Maho the Movie Official Site
Cherry Maho Official Instagram
Cherry Maho Official Twitter

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