Tuesday, June 4, 2013

JDrama Review: Shiritsu Bakaleya KouKou

The Gist: Tatsuya (Morimoto Shintaro), head of infamous fighting school, Bakada, and his best friend Tetsuya (Matsumura Hokuto) are mortified to learn that his school will be merging with a well-mannered Catholic girl’s school, Cattleya. Led by student president, Shinyouji Fumie (Shimazaki Haruka), and her second in command, Saya (Oba Mina), the girls try to instill rules and structure on Bakada’s rowdy students. The two sides clash immediately, though Fumie begins to identify with the boys and admire their close friendship. Though the girls don’t understand the boys fighting spirit and the boys hate how the merger has ruined their reputation, they have to start working together when outside forces threaten their hybrid school.
1.Episode 5

This is the first episode that doesn’t rely heavily on our four leads, but rather centers around the issues of Sayuri (Mitsumune Kaoru) and how Maya (Kyomoto Taiga) tries to help her. Every other episode of this drama pales in comparison to this one. It has a perfect blend of serious problems that aren’t so cartoony and the boys and girls working together. Not to mention, Sayuri and Maya are probably two of my favorite characters and some of the best actors of the bunch. I loved every second of this episode and I wish that more of the show was like it and that they actually did some development with their friendship – you never really see them talk again after that episode.
1.The Acting

While it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be after reading the reviews, it was still awfully obvious that many of the kids have never acted before. For those of you who don’t know, this show is basically there to display popular girl group AKB48 and the Johnny’s Juniors. While that gives it a built in fan base and some decent eye candy, the talent is lower than if they had cast each part impartially.
2. The Romance

If you can even call it that. Little crushes start popping up, centering around our main four peeps. While it adds a little something extra, the show never really commits to the idea and ends up just not addressing the whole thing entirely. I feel kind of torn because I’m glad it didn’t get too caught up in the romance, but if that’s the route they were going to go, I think they focused on it too much anyway.
3. The Length

Now, if I’m saying a show is too short, it’s too short. I normally really appreciate the conciseness of a short show, but I felt like this one was restricted by its time limit and therefore, didn’t get a chance to fully develop the characters. On a similar show, Gokusen, I felt that I had a good grasp of each character, whereas this show made me wonder about a lot of our central cast. I think the show would have benefitted from focusing a few more episodes on side characters rather than rehashing the same things over and over again with the main few.
1.Too Similar!

While I don’t have any issues with Tatsuya and Tetsuya as characters, the face that they named their two main characters so similarly drives me crazy! I thought for at least half the series that Tatsuya and Tetsuya were the same name, sometimes misspelled, but I couldn’t figure out which character that name belonged to. I was finally so confused that I looked it up, which is pretty annoying. Luckily if you’re reading this before you watch, you won’t be so mixed up, but that still rubs me the wrong way.
2.Not Really Growing Together

The real basic story of this show is how the two schools, if not become friends, at least learn to get along. Yet, despite the occasional episode where they directly work together (ep. 5 as mentioned above and Saya’s stalker episode are good examples), they’re mainly kept separate with parallel storylines. I never really felt like Bakada and Cattleya fully merged. I think that Fumie does a good job becoming friends with the boys, but she’s really the only one. By the end of it, I feel like the boys are still pretty much keeping to themselves and I had hoped for more integration and cooperation between the two.
3.The Movie
*SPOILERS* So, you can’t really not watch the movie by the time you get there. The last episode of the show is a total cliffhanger. Still, I feel like there wasn’t really a point to the plot of the movie. It’s unbelievable that they’d shuttle the students around so much. Also, the boys turning on each other was so out of left field after 11 episodes of relationship building that I felt very confused. Then, a small conflict started between Fumie and the president of Branch 1, but it never really amounts to anything before it fixes itself. Also, Fumie totally bails before I felt that the story wrapped up. I always mourn the shipping off of characters at the end of a show – it’s a device I loathe unless it really makes sense – and this seemed to just add drama. No likey.
So… this show is fine. It only sort of does what it sets out to do, but it was never going to be more than a popcorn show. Despite how many things are in my Meh/Hate categories, I didn’t regret watching this show and did find it at least a little entertaining. It’s not great television, but won’t disappoint Johnny’s and AKB48 fans or fans of this genre.
Final Grade: C

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