The Gist: Shy girl Nobuta (Horikita Maki) has a rough time at school. Constantly teased by her classmates who are alarmed by her ghoulish appearance – think Sadako in Kimi ni Todoke, Nobuta needs some friends. Those come in an unlikely pairing: Kiritani Shuji (Kamenashi Kazuya), popular but secretly apathetic to just about everything, and Kusano Akira (Yamapi), an outcast odd ball with a warm heart. The two of them take on the task of making over Nobuta, so that her life can be easier, while simultaneously getting more comfortable at being themselves.
Considering this was one of my first dramas, the actors weren’t familiar faces the first time I watched, but I loved them all the same. Now that I know them pretty well, the Johnny’s boys and Hana Kimi vet, I am ever more impressed. Their chemistry works together remarkably well for such well-known actors and their characters let you get right at their hearts. Of course, it’s a little bit old hat for Kazuya to be playing Mr. Hot and Popular who hates it, but he does it well, so we’re letting it go. Also, love seeing Toda Erika pop up every now and then.
2. The Makeover
Or I guess I should say I’m glad that the makeover wasn’t really a makeover. It would have been disappointing for this show to turn into “let’s cut her hair and change her clothes,” but it never really does and I appreciate it for focusing more deeply on the emotional. Really the makeover Nobuta needed was just some support and a few good friends and she gets that in Kiritani and Kusano. It does what Yamato Nadeshiko Henge does, but I’d argue Nobuta does it a little better and a lot less campy.
While I appreciate the nuances of this show, it does drag on a bit in the middle. Since there isn’t really an end goal when they don’t really makeover Nobuta, the show sort of wanders without purpose for a while. I would have appreciated a few more subplots to spice up the friendship development. That said, I did like the progression of growth between the characters, which stays decidedly fuzzy for a while, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more.
2. Will They/Won’t They
I spent a good chunk of NWP, trying to figure out if it was supposed to be a romance. When you’ve got a group of friends with two guys and a girl, everybody’s got to be crushing on everybody else. NWP hints at it, sometimes strongly, without ever really going full blown romance. The problem with this is that I couldn’t decide if I liked that decision or not. Pairing off our characters would have left someone in the lurch, which would have been tragic, but not doing anything when they keep bringing it up makes the duration end a little anti-climactically. I’d say this show is probably appreciated more on a second watch through, when you already know what to expect from it.
**SPOILERS** I’ve said it once and I’ll say it a thousand times. I hate shows that cart off one of their main characters at the end. It’s played out and just frustrating. While I appreciate Nobuta learning to be happy on her own, it sort of left you with a hole in your heart as you see her left alone…again. While obvious they would have had to separate for college or jobs or something, it was just a sad note to end on to leave Nobuta alone again. That said, I did find it a nice touch that Kusano went with Kiritani, speaking volumes about their friendship. I just wish it didn’t come at Nobuta’s cost.
Final Grade: B-