JDrama Review: Is This Love Checkmate?

As we continue to look for ways to be amused at home, sometimes we need a little fluffy filler in our lives. This drama has so much fluff and sweetness that you will need to brush your teeth when you are done. If you like awkward male leads and older female leads then continue reading, cause this was a treat.


A love story between a 24-year-old office worker who has neither love experience nor communication skills and a 32-year-old female shogi player he meets on his daily commute. -Mydramalist


Taiga Kohinata is just an average working man. He’s focused on his job and very little else. He’s completely awkward in social situations and says all the wrong things. On his morning commute, he is squashed next to a beautiful lady that he starts seeing everywhere he goes. She is a famous Shogi player named Tae Komada. As their paths continue to link up, they become closer.

Clkytta: I found the plot to be interesting simply because it was so simple. He’s just an everyman, which I found appealing. She’s famous, but it’s a different kind of celebrity where she leads a pretty normal life. I liked that there was romance, mystery, and a bit of comedy. I’m also a huge fan of Noona (older woman/younger man) romances, mainly because it’s one of the instances where writers will make the woman competent and capable.

Telzeytalks: Tae comes across as trusting and inexperienced with men. She has a lot of fans and some of them seem kind of sketchy, which gives us an idea of where the story is going. It isn’t too predictable though; we get quite a few surprises. Even though he is so much younger, Taiga feels protective of her right away.


Kohinata is adorable. He’s awkward, smart, and spews random stuff every time he tries to hold a non-work related conversation. He’s young, only 24, and he has more progressive ideas about the roles of men and women.

Clkytta: I love an awkward lead. I don’t know why, but I find it so charming when a man is a little unsure of how to proceed with pursuing the woman he likes. He’s a very intelligent person, but not confident in social situations. I like that he wants to know more about her and how they do a comparison between his sincere interest and a crazy fan’s interest.

Telzeytalks: He doesn’t talk a lot and struggles inwardly to know what to say, but when he feels strongly about something he speaks up. I love it that when he is dragged to a company dinner, he objects to having the women do the serving for the men.

Komada is a well-known Shogi player who has devoted her life to the game. She is beautiful in a nerdy girl way. She has a close friend named Sanae who can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Clkytta: So the truth is that for a while I actually thought Sanae was going to be a second lead. She kept showing up and picking on Kohinata! Komada is super sweet and dedicated to her job. She seems to like how Kohinata goes on little tangents when he talks. Her job is to see patterns and understand why people move like they do, so she sees him as a deep thinker and not a know it all.

Telzeytalks: Sanae certainly is lively and interesting. She even does a really good off-balance drunk walk. Tae is much more gentle and thoughtful, and you can see her importance by the way they photograph her with a lot of soft light like she is an elf-princess. This picture is from a night scene, the same scene as the picture of Taiga above, but you wouldn’t know it.

Should you watch it?

Clkytta: 8/10 I enjoyed this drama, but I think it’s kind of an appetizer drama. It’s something you watch when you are between shows. I found the premise to be charming, but I found the story to be a little flat in the romance area. They spend a lot of time focusing on his physical reaction to Komada, and then we don’t have any actual couple interaction. If you are looking for a short, sweet romance, this is your drama. If you want to see a well-rounded relationship you may get bored.

Telzeytalks: This show is fun to watch and never goes too dark. The main characters are very likable and their interactions are overall quite innocent. On the other hand, there is a stalker, and they put more attention than I care for on Taiga’s reaction to seeing cleavage, so it’s not exactly a kid’s show. It was interesting to learn a little bit about shogi, which is a treasured tradition in the way the tea ceremony is. Tae playing shogi reminded me of Taek playing baduk in Reply 1988, and that actually made me enjoy the story more.

Until the next move,

Clkytta and Telzeytalks

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

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