Drama Review (Part 2): Nobuta wo Produce (NTV, 2005)

Pure. Magic. Realism.

by Ender’s Girl

[Read Part One of review]
[Related post: Nobuta wo Produce / Seishun Amigo vid clips]
[Related post: The Nobuta wo Produce Readers’ Choice Awards Poll]
[Related post: 86 Nobuta wo Produce icons from topazera @ LiveJournal]

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The Cast:
Kamenashi Kazuya, Yamashita Tomohisa, Horikita Maki, Toda Erika, Hiiragi Rumi, Natsuki Mari, Okada Yoshinori, Takahashi Katsumi

(SpoilLert: MOAR of ‘em!)

[Recommended companion track: “Seishun Amigo” by Shuji to Akira, natch!]

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Welcome to Planet High School: Abandon Hope, All Who Enter!

The beauty of Nobuta wo Produce is that it doesn’t purport to be anything other than a high school drama, and that’s precisely what makes it so much more than just a high school drama. (Am I even getting my point across? Lol) What I’m trying to say is that the characters are every inch high school kids — no more, no less, neither dumbed down nor savvied up. But they speak from the heart because the writing keeps it all REAL and just lets the characters be themselves, be the thinking, feeling, self-aware teens that they are.

This drama explores the inner universe of adolescence, governed by its own whimsical vagaries and constant flux of emotions. And I love the judicious use of voice-overs as the main characters ponder such things as the future and the uncertainty of life. The dialogue is intelligent without being pseudo-intellectual, complex without being contrived (uh, Dawson’s Creek, anyone? man, talk about a series that tried too hard to be smart and deep and witty, but always felt like it was written by 40-year-olds *roll eyes*). The writing of NwP doesn’t try to be all these, it just IS. Just because the drama is about a bunch of high school kids doesn’t mean it has to be infantile and shallow, nor does it have to play at being implausibly grown-up.

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In NwP high school life is rendered with spot-on detail: students tally the number of times their teacher hitches up his pants; are not above devious means to circumvent school rules; and feverishly latch on to the latest trends in fashion and accessories as quickly as they discard them. Perhaps this drama’s best encapsulation of high school life is the school fair in Episode 3. Anyone who has ever been in high school may remember their fair with great fondness: the flurry of preparations, the distracted zoning out of class lectures in the week of the big event, the extra shots of adrenalin and esprit de corps that amplify the convivial atmosphere on the day itself. This is perhaps the only time of the year when high-schoolers are happy to leave their adult-but-not-quite-adult selves at home and just let loose, enjoy the fair, and get a kick out of cheap thrills — be they haunted houses, maid cafes, silly boxing matches, fashion shows, amateurish plays and concerts, etc.

The high school stereotypes are here in NwP, but with a distinctive Jdorama twist. True, the Class Clowns aka the Destiny Duo may not have the most gut-bustingly funny of spiels, but at least they never annoyed me, and always seemed to be having so much fun in their own little world — making funny puns, and punny fun. Beetlejuice Guy would be the closest thing to the resident Obsessive Basket Case, and adds a dash – just a dash! – of signature J-screwiness to the overall flavor of Class 2-B.

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Only Bando and the Bandettes are given the extreme treatment of all the 2-B students. True, the bullying is especially vicious in the first few episodes (because let’s face it: teenagers can be such mean little sh*ts, ya know), and I understand why this has turned many a casual viewer off the drama altogether. But the fact of the matter is that bullying as it is shown in NwP is probably closer to reality than we think. In his mind-blowing analysis of modern Japan entitled “Dogs and Demons,” Japanologist Alex Kerr makes this disturbing observation about school bullying:

“The acceptance of violence against those who are weaker than you is part of Japan’s educational process, as it enforces group unity. Given the intense pressure to conform from kindergarten onward, Japanese students frequently turn to bullying, known as ijime. Ijime is a national problem, and it results in several much publicized suicides of schoolchildren every year.”

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Nobuta to Mariko: Seishun Amigas

And Mariko (Toda Erika) the Perfect Girl, she of the Amazing Bento Boxes – I love her! She’s sweet and kind but never irritating, and earns the viewer’s sympathy early on when she all but lays her heart on the line for Shuji, hoping he will one day do the same. (Oh, Mariko.) I enjoyed how the Shuji-Mariko arc was developed in the drama, because Mariko is clearly no idiot, and in fact susses out Shuji’s insincerity when all the telltale signs begin to add up: his blowing her off at the last minute, his glib excuses, and the realization that despite Shuji’s apparent enthusiasm about her (and her bento), their relationship has never really progressed beyond shared lunches in the science lab. Shuji breaking her heart is more of a slow, torturous descent than a blind-siding blow, and his raw admission in Ep. 8, really a confirmation of what she has guessed all along, is the inevitable coup de grace. (Poor Mariko!)

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Nobuta and Mariko’s individual arcs, which have barely touched for the first seven or so episodes of the drama, finally get to converge right when both girls are at their lowest. They share a memorable scene in Ep. 9, where the two get to bond over roasted chestnuts… and their shared love for Shuji. (Mariko: “It’s lonely to be lied to.” Nobuta: “But lying for a long time is lonely, too.”) Both are still hurting (Mariko from her heartbreak, Nobuta from the full revelation of Aoi’s perfidy), and both need the reassuring empathy that only another girl can give. By opening their hearts to one another they feel the pain and loss becoming a little lighter to bear, just as both girls realize that they are actually stronger, more resilient than they thought. Oh Shuji, if only you had liked ONE of them.

That said, I’m very, very happy that Shuji and Mariko have their closure before he leaves town. His taking her out for a “Date at the Beach” is a sweet and unexpected conclusion to their almost-relationship. And just like the visibly delighted Mariko, you do appreciate all that went into this undertaking — the neon sea creature cut-outs, the picnic table and umbrella, the carefully packed bento boxes, the gentle sound of the waves (arigatou, Nobuta and Akira! *flying kiss*). And it isn’t so much the effort as it is the sincerity in which this little treat is given that makes Shuji and Mariko’s final date so special. It may not be the perfect ending for this non-couple, but in light of the circumstances, it is the best one. And at least you know they can part without rancor (though with just a little bit of regret), and you know that if and when they ever meet again, they’ll be able to smile at each other like old friends.

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“Adults are just kids who owe money.” — line on bumper sticker, lol

The grown-up characters are shown to NOT know all the answers to life, or possess the key to the Fount of Adult Wisdom. They’re mostly shown to be… big kids, really, just more beat-up around the edges and looking the worse for wear, maybe a little wiser and more jaded, and more accepting of the realities and disappointments of life. Hirayama the Tofu Guy (Takahashi Katsumi) provides a solid, comforting presence as Akira’s ever-obliging guardian — though not without his own share of regrets and hang-ups. Hirayama has an interesting dynamic not just with Akira, but with Akira’s volatile CEO father (Masu Takeshi). Both men take their stake in Akira’s upbringing quite seriously, but share an interesting “good cop, bad cop” approach to this responsibility. (LMAO @ the time both grown men bond while assembling the Nobuta keychains in Tofu Guy’s living room!)

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At first Akira’s dad is reluctant to give his son the space to live and chart his own life, and father and son’s epic rumbles in Hirayama’s tiny apartment can be a riot to watch (pun intended), but at the same time are indicative of the tough choices we all must make — and continue to make — as we get older. As a viewer you fully understand where Akira’s otosan is coming from, given his backstory where, as a young father, he also struggled with his own overbearing parents but eventually capitulated in order to give his family a comfortable life (*sniffle*).

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Then there’s Shuji’s pinstripe suit-wearing dork of a dad (Ukaji Takashi) who hates his job even more than his two boys hate schoolwork, and who at one hilarious but “awww” moment ruefully dispenses this timeless nugget of fatherly advice: “Shuji, wear what you want now. When you grow up you’ll have to think of others and use common sense… making your superiors happy, making your customers feel good. You’ll have to take everything into consideration and you can no longer wear whatever you want.” (LOL, but oh-so-true.)

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I love how the Kiritani family feels like a real family — well, ¾ of a real family. And Nakajima Yuto as Shuji’s li’l bro Koji is the most perfect little boy you will ever lay eyes on… except that this was five years ago and he’s not so little anymore (heh heh). The scenes where the three Kiritani boys (small, medium and large) are just chillin’ at home — dad cooking dinner, Koji doing his homework, Shuji (with that topknot, lol!) patching up a torn sock — are always enjoyable to watch. Ditto the dynamic between Shuji and Koji — case in point: the moment the brothers share in the haunted house in Episode 3 is heartwarming without being hokey.

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It helps, of course, that Kame and Yuto (then a Johnny’s Jr. who also performed in the “Seishun Amigo” music video, poor kid, lol) share a wonderful on-screen chemistry. (I know a lot of fangirls, upon Johnny-san’s instigation — I mean c’mon, you really think the evil old gnome isn’t behind all this? — would like to read a wee bit more into Kame and Yuto’s overhyped senpai-kouhai relationship, but not me. I mean, NO. NONONOO. Gross.)

The mothers, however, are such non-factors in this drama: Nobuta and Akira’s moms are virtually absent from beginning to end, while Shuji’s own okasan flits in and out of the storyline and makes no significant impact on her sons’ lives. On the other hand, a small part of me didn’t want Shuji’s mother to be a more tangible presence because the family dynamic of father and two sons was already working so well. Even Akira’s mother being a superfluity sort of makes narrative sense because Akira’s main personal conflict is between him and his father; plus, he doesn’t even live at home at the time being. So this leaves me feeling very ambivalent about the moms… and like me, the writer probably didn’t know how to make all three of them relevant to the story, lol. But what I am sure of is that Nobuta’s mother should have been written in, because her relationship with her daughter would’ve helped us understand the root cause of Nobuta’s self-image issues.

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I just love the faculty (!!!), this motley bunch of teachers who represent high school Jdoramas at their screwiest best. I felt that I got to know these well-meaning, if foible-prone adults; they weren’t one-dimensional clichés like teachers are depicted in so many other teen J-dramas, nor did they grate on me like, say, Nakama Yukie’s uber-hammy principal-nemesis from those Gokusens *shudders at the memory*. But oh man, these teachers in Nobuta wo Produce will pull at your heartstrings because the actors playing them never mug for the camera, and instead allow their well-written characters to shine through.

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There’s Yokoyama-sensei (Okada Yoshinori), the nerdy homeroom adviser-cum-frustrated poet. The episode where the unsold copies of his self-published poetry collection become fodder for school-wide ridicule, is as hilarious as it is touching. Good thing Delphine the bookshop owner makes Yokoyama an offer he can’t refuse, and I love their little heart-to-heart at the back of the school building where Yokoyama discloses that despite what people may think, he has no regrets about leaving his failed literary bid to become a teacher. He says simply but truthfully, “It may be hard to believe, but my job right now is really fun.” And you believe him, you really do. When a youthful dream ends, it doesn’t mean the end of the dreaming, because a new aspiration — a better one, in some ways — may come along, and in the end, you’ll realize that you turned out just fine.

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Then there’s Sebastian (Kimura Yuichi), the oversized teddy bear of a gym instructor who publicly gets dumped at school by a prospective fiancée for honestly saying he loves his mother more than he does her. (Poor Sebastian! Nice guys finish last, it seems?) His little story line ends with a terrific scene on the rooftop where Shuji walks in on a crestfallen Sebastian, and then sits with him through the painful postmortem while a strange fragrance fills the air, the scent of a heart breaking (oh Sebastian!!!!).

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And I enjoyed the wackily skewed (but affectionate) dynamic between Principal Iehara (Fuwa Mansuko), that timorous little dumpling of a man, and his brassy deputy Catherine (Natsuki Mari), the progressive-minded, back-flipping, wall-climbing, rule-flouting “crow lady.” I looove Catherine to bits! For of all the teachers it is she who understands the growing pains of her adolescent wards best, and always seems to know when to let the kids be kids, and when to step in with firm but fair adult guidance — on matters of the heart or otherwise, i.e. “Don’t ever forget that there are heads and tails to money,” she cautions Shuji, Akira and Nobuta in Episode 6. In this sense, and if we take into consideration the magic-realism atmosphere of the drama, Catherine would be the closest thing to a fairy godmother these three kids ever had.

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And if there were a fairy godfather, it would be Delphine (Kiyoshira Imawano), the eccentric bookshop owner-cum-temple caretaker. Though not of the high school faculty, he’s still very much an authority figure in their neighborhood despite his less conventional attributes — the outré makeup and psychedelic hair matched with traditional garb, the exorbitantly priced novels (which he of course authored), the weirdly discriminate store admission policy, i.e. “No bad girls,” “No ugly people” (poor Sebastian! for the love of Pete just let the chump read his magazines, Delphine!). And there’s a strange but comforting affinity that grows between Delphine and Nobuta, for he does come to her aid quite a few times. Perhaps their bond is born out of their shared oddness, but whatever it is, it gives Nobuta a boost of confidence knowing that even nutsos like Delphine can successfully belong in society and live normal, fulfilling lives just like anybody else.

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The Magic Realism of Nobuta wo Produce: Finding Truth in the Strange (and the WTF!)

The realism of Nobuta wo Produce doesn’t quite have the gritty, inner-city feel of, say, Dangerous Minds or Stand and Deliver, because there are offsetting moments of hyperreality (e.g. the horrific bullying, the vandalism/sabotage arc, the zany characters) as well as surrealism (e.g. the living spirits, the dream about Santa Claus, and the dream about Aoi) that all add flavor and character to the drama without overpowering its faithful depiction of Planet High School. This balancing act between hyperreal and surreal is a tricky line to tread: a production that exaggerates plot and characters will always feel facile despite any entertainment value (uh, Hana Kimi anyone?), while a drama that is too dependent on fantasy/dream elements can feel rarefied and thus run the risk of alienating the viewer.

The strength of NwP is that it doesn’t skew towards either extreme, but reaches a comfortable — yet dynamic — equilibrium, which is no small testament to the virtuosity of both writing and direction. The finished product retains its solid core of realistic narrative/character development and naturalistic technique, but is complemented by these pleasantly unexpected but contrasting touches of loopy Jdorama hyperbole and floaty phantasmagoria. This drama, ladies and gents, is pure magic realism at its working best.

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There are other fantasy elements that aren’t supernatural per se, but fall under the surreal because the main characters believe they have mystical qualities. The willow tree, for one, holds special meaning for both Shuji and Nobuta not because it’s enchanted, but because for all their nonchalance, teenagers deep down are ready to believe anything that can calm their restive souls — even the strange and unexplainable. Ditto the monkey’s hand amulet, the freaky little Mayonaka-sama doll, the ubiquitous Hontou Ojisan, the mysterious crow’s cackle terrorizing the whole school, and even Vice-Principal Catherine’s “Is she or isn’t she an 800-y.o. witch?” reputation (lulz!) — which all later prove to have a rational explanation behind them, but which help reinforce the overall sense of magic and awe pervading this drama.

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The only truly surreal plot aspects that have no empirical basis whatsoever are the visitation by the living spirits in Episode 3, and the two dreams that Shuji, Akira and Nobuta share near the close of the drama. The incident of the living spirits actually ties in beautifully to the drama’s main motif of growing up, by evoking the very familiar adult nostalgia for the golden days of youth.  Plus, the completely unlooked-for (and hair-raising) twist in this episode is a perfect complement to the haunted-house theme. The dream in Ep. 10 where Santa Claus visits the three in turn and offers to make their wishes come true, ends in hilarity while retaining the “awww…” vibe that typifies this whole drama: Nobuta passes up her wish and sends Santa off to Shuji, who sleepily directs him to Akira, who, instead of letting the Great Santa Runabout come full circle, promptly asks for — curry bread! LOL!

The trancelike sequence in Ep. 9 has a weightier significance because it serves as the main plot resolution to the ShujiAkiraNobuta vs. Aoi arc. I personally would’ve wished Aoi a far worse fate than jumping-off-the-rooftop-but-not-really-because-oh-looky-it-was-all-just-a-dream! I felt that she got off too lightly given her litany of crimes and I did not like how she was punished without really being punished. But I appreciated how this whole sequence was executed, and loved the progression of suspense punctuated at the end by a dream-within-a-dream twist. I love how the twist casts a deliciously eerie pall on the three friends (plus a shaken Aoi) as they stand over the low rooftop wall, looking down at the outline of a body in the grass below and coming to grips with the unsettling nearness of death and suicide… Such is the flipside of magic realism, this nebulous nexus of the strange, the dark, the frightening. The drama gives no explanation for the dream, and very wisely leaves it at that.

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Technical Aspects: Direction, Lighting, Score

I was blown away by the director’s creative vision, which elevated this production to fantastic new heights and left its genre-mates biting the (Jdorama) dust. What struck me the most was the care and deliberation that went into the planning, framing and execution of each scene. I’ve seen a surfeit of teen dramas (and even just dramas, period) where the director was aiming for the barest minimum in style and rendition. In contrast, the direction in Nobuta wo Produce is never perfunctory, static or uninspired, but reaches a masterful balance between technical proficiency and artistry.

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Director Iwamoto Hitoshi (Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, Enka no Joou, Gyne) and assistant director Sakuma Noriyoshi utilize a whole array of cinematic tricks to make the story of Shuji, Akira and Nobuta come alive for the viewer: the sweeping crane shots (e.g. those taken from the school rooftop or Shuji’s apartment complex) vs. up-close-and-personal zoom-ins (too many to mention!); the high-angle (e.g. Shuji sitting on the lush green grass beside a tree — niiiice) vs. low-angle perspectives (e.g. from inside the Shuji-Akira-Nobuta team huddles); as well as the rotating shots, freeze frame captures, and motion blur photography used in certain scenes.

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The lighting design can also get very interesting: color gels and camera filters are used to bathe a scene in a particular type of light — i.e. warm yellows and oranges for the after-school scenes, and bleaker, bluish hues for the before-school shots. In addition, I love how backlight and under-lighting techniques are used to frame Shuji in silhouette as he thinks his dark, cynical thoughts — even while walking through a bright and busy school hallway. And there are times when the entire 2-B classroom is plunged into darkness to isolate Shuji, Nobuta, Akira and Aoi from everyone else. It’s an excellent way to accentuate the mood and tension within and among the main characters, and I appreciate the directorial team going this extra mile to make our viewing experience all the more enriching.

But above all, I doff my hat to the director for bringing out the best from his three teen idols. It wasn’t just enough to have a great script to work with, but he also took on the formidable challenge of putting flesh on the textual bones by helping the main actors understand and believe in these unique young individuals they were portraying. Nobuta wo Produce just proves that under proper guidance, even the most feeble of actors (*cough* Pi *cough*) can give the performance of a lifetime. These kids OWNED their characters, from the outward quirks and mannerisms to the riskier nuances of emotion and psyche. They also seemed to enjoy bringing Shuji, Akira and Nobuta to life. Kame, YamaPi and Maki OWNED these roles. Who wuddathunkit? Certainly not I…

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And kudos to Ike Yoshihiro (Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, Magerarenai Onna) for the unforgettable score. From the morning reveille of “Seishun Banba” to the more subdued poignancy of “Gakkou no Okujou de” and “Green Willow” (my favorite track), the NwP soundtrack is a standout. Man, just listening to it can throw my tear ducts (and mucous glands) into overdrive. Now the drama’s theme song “Seishun Amigo” is another matter, heh heh. (See comments in related post.)

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As for the end credits… W-T-effin’-F, man. Someone please help me make sense of that short animated clip, because I just don’t get it: So there are two little piggies living happily in a turret, then the blue one gets beaten to a pulp by three mafia swine, and so pink piggy takes blue piggy on its motorbike — but blue piggy falls off and DIES on the road, cradled in pink piggy’s arms — er, forelegs, then pink piggy throws back its snout and howls with grief. /End of animated short. Sure, the animation tallies with the lyrics of the theme song, but has nothing in common with the drama besides the obvious porcine connection to the titular character, of course. So if there’s something I missed, call me, because I’d love to know! Hahahahaha come to thunkofit — NOT.

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My Top 8 Shuji-Akira-Nobuta Scenes (in chronological order):

1. Ruminations on the Roof (Ep. 3)

After a most unforgettable school festival, the three exhausted kids lie sprawled on the rooftop (with Yuto playing by himself in the background, lol). They are spent beyond words, quiet and pensive — but happy. Their conversation drifts to the strangeness of the day’s events, and on to other things as well… like how long they believe friendships — their friendship, really — can truly last.

Nobuta: “I was digging for a long time on my own, like a mole. And then suddenly, you two came up… In the future, am I gonna meet people like this, too? If so, it’s not so bad to keep digging just by myself.”

Akira: “You’ll be able to meet other people.”

Shuji: “And then someday… you’ll never see them again.”

It is indeed a sobering thought and they trail away into silence, content to soak in the moment — here on the rooftop, in their own secret place where time holds no sway.

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2. Otanjoubi Omedetou, Shu-uuji-kun! (Ep. 4)

Today is his birthday, but he never meant to tell anyone, lest they fuss over him and do something so juvenile as give him a cake. Too late, Mariko has found out and actually baked him one. He has no choice but to accept it with a delighted smile and the promise that he will eat it at home, while his mind thinks of ways to dispose of the silly confection without being found out. So he takes it up to the rooftop and plunks it in front of Akira and Nobuta. They dig in with relish while he walks over to the railing, away from the offending cake. She goes up to him with a slice, which he promptly rejects. Mariko won’t even know I didn’t eat her cake, he tells Nobuta dismissively. At least here, with them, he need not pretend anymore.

But she won’t leave him be. Take it, she insists. Take it. It doesn’t matter if he likes cake or not, what’s important is that it came from the heart — Mariko’s heart. By honoring the gift, you really honor the one who gave it. Her quiet persistence needles him. Now isn’t the time to lecture him on what’s fair or what’s right. But he knows she’s right, and it irritates him even more so he snaps back at her unthinkingly. She stares at him for a moment, then wordlessly walks away and leaves the cake on the table, her shoulders hunched more than ever.

Akira, who has been watching them all this time, ambles over to Shuji and steers him to one side of the roof deck, bidding him to look down. There it is on the schoolyard, painstakingly drawn in multi-colored powdered chalk, a giant cake with the words “happy birthday.” Shuji realizes he just received two birthday cakes today, one of flour and the other of chalk, but both crafted with love, both made straight from the heart.

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3. Dating Tips from Shuji + Akira (Ep. 5)

Shuji instructs Nobuta on how to behave during her upcoming date with Shittaka: act pleasantly demure, he tells her, and don’t freak out when he tries stuff like holding your hand. And Akira, who all the while has been sitting some distance from the two (due to a self-imposed restraining order, lol), jumps up in violent objection when Shuji attempts to demonstrate this with her. Under great psychological duress, Akira elects to take Shuji’s place on the seat beside Nobuta, but cannot bring himself to put his arm around her shoulders, for it would be a defilement of his pure, innocent, sacred love for her. (Oh Akira!)

So a compromise is reached, with Shuji and Akira playacting Nobuta and Shittaka, respectively. What ensues is one for the freaking books. I mean, oh my goodness I cannot begin to describe how unbelievably entertaining this whole scene is. The slash factor reaches Defcon 1 proportions… like, KERREYYZEEE. And the meta factor – you know, Kame acting like a girl the way he LOVES to act like a girl every chance he gets at a KAT-TUN con, ugh – is just hilarious!!! Love this scene to bloody, pulsating bits.

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4. Red, Yellow, Blue (Ep. 8 )

After class dismissal, a still-ostracized Shuji makes ready to leave, but Akira and Nobuta come up to him with yellow, blue and red strings (one for each of them). Nobuta does a magic trick that links the three separate loops together, and she and Akira chant “Nobuta powah, chunyuu!” Then Akira drawls “Shu-u-uji-kun, let’s go home,” and the three link arms, leaving behind a suddenly quiet 2-B classroom.

Shuji’s fall from grace turns out to be a boon because it releases something: the truth. And it frees the three from having to keep their friendship a secret — no more furtive glances across the classroom, no more holing up in rooftop corners or stairway landings. The truth is indeed liberating, and this humiliating experience of Shuji may just have been the best thing that happened to their friendship.

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5. “Call Me Akira!” (Ep. 10)

Shuji arrives at school to find Akira and Nobuta on the rooftop. He knows now is the time to break the dreaded news to them, that he will be leaving town during winter break — for good. But Akira preempts him with a weighty announcement of his own:

Akira: I… have something I wanna say to everyone…
*Shuji and Nobuta nod*
Akira: Why.. don’t you call me by my name?
Shuji: We don’t?
Nobuta: What did we call you?
Akira: Like “hey,” or “ne,
” or chotto”… But I call you guys Shuji and Nobuta.
Shuji: We do call you… uhh… *thinks* Kusano!
Akira: It sounds like you barely know me.
Shuji: Then what? What do you want?

Akira giggles and imagines Nobuta saying “Ne, Akira-kun~” with matching kon-kon hand

Akira: Call me by my first name!
Shuji: What’s your first name?
Akira:  Akira SHOCK!!! You don’t know??? It’s Akira!
Shuji: Ahhhh… Ok Ok Ok
Nobuta: AKIRA!!!
*boys are jolted*
Shuji: Are you mad? *faces Akira* You want this?
Akira: She’s mad…
Shuji: Try again.
Nobuta: AKIRA!!!
Akira: Say it nicer!
Nobuta: A… AKIRA!!
Shuji: Say my name.
Nobuta: …Shuuji…
Akira: *indignant* She’s nicer!
Shuji: Then, say “Shuji” and “Akira.”
Nobuta: …Shuji… and… AKIRA!!

LOLLLLL. And while they stand on the rooftop laughing, Shuji cannot bring himself to tell the two that he is going away.

(Credit to Caffeinated Choco for the transcript)

Sidebar: I must say that parts of Episode 10 suffer from choppy editing. The most glaring continuity problem happens right after Shuji discloses to his friends that his family is skipping town. Nobuta wordlessly rushes out of Akira’s pad and he chases her to the playground, but before anything can happen, the scene changes to the Kiritani household, with Shuji at home. Here’s the deleted scene with Akira and Nobuta in the playground, followed by Shuji meeting Akira while on his way home.

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6. Christmas Eve (Ep. 10)

Presents are exchanged, and they all receive the same thing – it’s the funny doll that Catherine had said would bring happiness to those who had two of each. This is the first and last Christmas they will ever spend together, and the room is unnaturally subdued. Little else is said, because little else needs to be said; they already know. They’ve said it through the presents. They already know.

Later — Shuji and Nobuta look out of the second-floor window of Akira’s place. Outside, the snow falls in a gentle white flurry to disappear on the asphalted road. Shuji, the Boy Who Loved Nobody, tells Nobuta, the Girl Who Loved Him: “I never understood what loving others meant until I met you. But because of you, I think I understand now… In the future, if ever I am able to love someone, I’ll probably remember you. Everything you taught me I’ll remember. Really, thanks.”

(Oh, Shuji.)

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7. Breaking the Curse (Ep. 10)

While sweeping the yard of the shrine, Nobuta accidentally snaps a twig from one of the trees, an act which Delphine claims will bring bad luck to the person dearest to Nobuta unless she takes an omamori (or wooden amulet) to that person. Frantic with worry, Nobuta goes running off in search of – who else? – and finds the boys by the creek, crouched against the stone wall and talking. But who to give the omamori to, she cannot decide. For she loves them equally, that at least she is sure of.

What follows is a hilariously touching moment: each boy claims to not really want the charm, and instead enjoins Nobuta to give it to the other one. Then all of a sudden Akira wants it, and he just so happens to be carrying a pocket saw (LOL!!!) which he tries on the omamori. Nobuta finally decides to hurl the amulet into the creek. Whatever happens will happen, but no bad luck or misfortune can befall them so long as they are friends. And in their heart of hearts, the two boys know it, too.

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8. Sayonara, Shu-uuji-kun! (Ep. 10)

So the secret is out of the bag, and Shuji says his goodbyes at school: to his teachers, who fondly give their farewell presents and later plan a big bon voyage bash that somehow goes all fubar (LOL! oh those sensei…); to his 2-B classmates who, being the teenagers that they are, have since forgiven his transgression and are back on chummy terms with him; and finally, to his two friends.

The last few scenes fittingly cap the whole drama on a moving and bittersweet note, one that will bring a familiar ache to your heart, tears to your eyes, and a loopy grin to your lips —  and all staying long after you’ve turned off the monitor/TV screen. On the day of his departure, Shuji gets a touching and unexpected send-off from the entire 2-B class (even Aoi shows up, bugger! just go jump in2 da river, biyatch). The moving van stops by the wayside and Shuji alights to say a last goodbye to his classmates. They swarm around him with cheers, adieus and good wishes, and take turns posing for a souvenir photo with him: the Bye-byecycle Boyz, the Gatten Group, the Nerds, the Kimchi Clique, the Ikemen Posse, the Korete Destiny Duo, etc. The past is already ancient history, and to them, he is and will always be their popular, well-liked Shuji, everybody’s friend.

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Standing on the fringes behind the excited crowd of students are the two people whom Shuji knows he will miss the most. They say nothing amid the clamor, content to watch in the background as the other kids occupy Shuji’s last few moments in this town. For they know that everything that needs to be said has been said. He sees them, and understands. And because they cannot help it, the two flash him the Nobuta power sign, their faces bravely conveying encouragement. Unobtrusively, he flashes the signal back, his eyes locked on theirs, his heart too full for words. Then it is time for Shuji to go back, and that is that.

As the moving van rumbles away, Shuji’s classmates try to keep up while calling his name and waving wildly. Their voices and faces become a blur, but he waves back and smiles just the same. Smaller and smaller they get, and his eyes search out the two who have also started to half-stumble forward on the grassy embankment, as if their legs would give way anytime. Nobody sees these two clench their fists at their sides and silently will all their love and strength over to Shuji, hoping it will be enough for the journey ahead, and for the life ahead — whether they meet again or not. Nobody sees them, except Shuji. And he can feel the power wash over him, coursing inside him to warm his heart, where it will always remain unless summoned forth. Shuji cranes his neck out the window, watching Akira and Nobuta until they are no more than still, dark specks in the distance, until they are fully out of sight.

***

After winter break, Shuji bikes over to his new school in his new town. He’s the new boy now, but doesn’t feel as apprehensive as others normally would. He has always been confident about fitting in; this was never a problem for him. I love, love, love how he is still the same Shuji in many ways: His old habits have not changed (except the bad ones that is, like lying), and he still fixes his hair before he mirror, he’s still kind of vain that way. His life philosophy has not changed either, maybe just tempered with a little more experience and perspective: “Everything in the world is a game. Thinking you’ve lost, or giving up midway, is stupid. The one who lasts till the end and enjoys the game, comes up the winner.”

And surprise, surprise, guess who also just (literally) landed in town…? WTF it’s Akiraaaaa!!! *E.G. SHOCK!* Okay, I know a lot of people who loved this drama (my best friend included) wished for Akira to have stayed behind with Nobuta, and believe me, had that happened I would’ve been happy about it, too. But Akira ending up with Shuji? That I didn’t mind!!! I didn’t mind at all!!!! Hahahahahha. But this was the last thing I expected, I thought Shuji would be alone from now on. When I came to the scene where he’s just about to enter his new classroom, I parked my thumb on the pause button and sat there blubbering before my TV screen. (It was some time before I could press play again.)

Then all of a sudden, the writer throws us this curveball — in the form and shape of that gooey screwy kon-koning little fluffball we’ve all come to love. (OMG Akira, being airlifted into town by Daddy-o’s private helicopter? That’s soooo Akira, hahaha. Oh, and did you say “Heli”? As in… Doctor Heli? Doctor Heli hahahaha! Lolz, sorry bad joke. Go away, nasty Code Blue memories, away, away!!!) For Akira to leave Nobuta — well, that is sad, too. But as much as a part of me — the Akira+Nobuta-shipping part of me, that is — mourned this unyoking of my two favorite weird people, I knew that Nobuta would be okay by herself. Even more than okay, in fact. And that other part of me, the part that, uh, shipped two boys in blue blazers? Happy as a clam.

***

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Nobuta

She can feel a smile coming — bubbling up within her, tugging at her lips — and she races down the school corridor, leaving a slightly puzzled but smiling Mariko (I’m SO happy these two girls become friends!!!). She’s eager to show her smile to the two boys up on the rooftop. But she stops at the landing, realizing with a pang that they won’t be there anymore. Ever.

Back in class, she notices how the room feels… different, emptier, with those two vacant seats that have not been filled. Nor can they ever be filled by anyone else, she knows this in her heart. Beyond the window to her left, the sky beckons — inviting, reassuring. After dismissal, she wastes no time making her way to the rooftop — but less hurriedly now, for she knows there is nobody waiting. Alone on the highest point of the school building, she gazes up at the brilliant azure vastness of the sky, feeling a tear roll down one cheek. “I am able to laugh now,” she tells no one in particular, her soft voice breaking.

The smile that almost came this morning now lights up her face. And it doesn’t matter if only the sky is there to see it: she keeps on smiling — through the tears, through wave upon wave of emotion, missing those two boys so much it physically hurts. She keeps on smiling because her heart, though aching, is finally at peace.

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Shuji and Akira

Two boys are on a sandy stretch of beach, looking out at the horizon where endless blue-green sea meets endless gray-blue sky. They do not say a word, but their thoughts are one. So they stand in silence, pondering the parting words that Nobuta had given Akira before he left Tokyo to be with Shuji — and upon her own insistence, at that. They can almost hear her as if she were standing next to them: “Shuji and Akira are who I love, together. I’ll be fine by myself. The first three days I’ll cry, but I’ll be all right.”

And both boys know who must be standing on the roof of their old school this very moment, looking up at the same sky. No matter what happens, some things will never change. Ever. And it is indeed a comforting thought.

Finally, Shuji manages to speak. “The three of us, we can live wherever we are.” Akira blurts out something goofy (as usual), and Shuji gives him a small affectionate smile before turning to walk down the beach. Akira will be Akira: some things will never change. Akira follows Shuji — the way he’s always followed him, and always hopes to. They spend the afternoon frolicking in the breakers and on the sand, two seventeen-year-old boys just being boys, and with their whole wide future ahead of them.

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Where is the (Boy)Love? Kame to YamaPi: Seishun Amigo

I refuse to call this “slash.”

Okay, whatever. Maybe it is.

Oh, I’m well aware of the homoerotic undertones this whole drama oozes through every pore (and I’m not just talking about the characters, but the J-idols playing them). I’m also willing to bet my entire Kimura dorama DVD collection that if the average viewer was very much aware of this, how much more the writer, director, network execs, and actors, right? Well, you can credit that to the source material. In fact, the premise of the original novel is exponentially more homoerotic than that of the drama, and from what I’ve read about the book, there is no Akira character, the original Nobuta is a guy, and while Shuji is still the producer, their relationship is of a darker, more obsessive kind. (Well thank gawwwd NTV didn’t follow the novel to the letter, ne? *shudders* I mean, can you imagine a world WITHOUT Kusano Akira? Well dammit, but I can’t.)

But let me get this straight (pardon the pun, heh): I ship Shuji and Akira not as gay boys, or as friends-with-the-potential-to-become-gay-boys-later-on, but as FRIENDS. Just friends. Call it what you want, but to me, what they’ve always shared was this “extremely close male bonding.” Which also is… extremely refreshing to see. IMO, the reason they get to be so close (uh, waaay close, actually) is not because Akira is gay, but because Akira is Akira. Akira digging his chin into Shuji’s bony shoulder? The spooning in Shuji’s bed? The sticky hugs and puckered lips? All Akira, being Akira. LOL. I mean, seriously. Akira, GAY? Gimme a break. That gooney wouldn’t know GAY (or even “bisexual”) if it crawled up his wazoo and died there.

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And by the way, I don’t ship Kamenashi and Yamashita in REAL LIFE, the way other NwP fans do. (What’s that they call the pairing? PiKame?) I mean, what’s the point. Pi seems straight, anyway. As for Kame, I think his brand of sexuality goes way beyond anything we’ve seen on this planet, so there’s no point in trying to define it, lol. Besides, there’s something manufactured and forced about the real-life boy-rabu-rabu being peddled in the J-Ent industry. (So stop stuffing it down our collective trachea, Johnny-san you dirty old pederast.) At least Akira being the way he is feels organic to the story, whether or not it was an intentional move by the writer and director to milk every last drop of slashy cracky goodness from his character. So, the Kame+YamaPi fake skinship? Not buying it. But Shuji+Akira? Hell yeah, forever and ever. And ever. => And this, dear readers, is why I did not object to NwP ending the way it did. For me, that last shot of the two boys at the water’s edge? Was perfect.

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… An’ Diz Is Why Imma Jdorama Fangarlz, Yo

So, thanks to Nobuta wo Produce I will always, always, always hold Kame and Pi dear beyond words no matter what mess they’ve made — and continue to make — of their post-NwP career trajectories. Maki I remain fond of despite her lackluster performances in Hana Kimi and Kurosagi; I know I’ve been extra hard on her in my past reviews, but only because I think she’s capable of better things and hope a suitable film or TV project will eventually come her way. But my fondness for Maki is cosmically — cosmically I say!!! — eclipsed by all that I feel for Kamenashi of the pencil-thin brows, and Yamashita of the dead-fish stare. Now wait a minute, some of you might ask: How dare she even make that claim? Isn’t this E.G., who uses her blog to flay those boys alive as if there were no tomorrow? Isn’t she the harpy who likes to chain them to a rock and feast on their livers — again, and again, and again?

Er, yes on both counts. It’s haaard to explaiiiin, but the reason I rip these poor boys apart all the time is because I like to play with my food because they mean THIS MUCH to me. (Readers go, “Eeeehhh? Nandeee” *headscratch*) But see, such is the power of Shuji to Akira, that whatever Kame and Pi do in the years to come — whether as J-pop pinups warbling way off-key, or wannabe actors out to carve their own niche in the Leading Man Canon — I will be there to watch them, and love them in spite of it… maybe even because of it. Even if it makes my ears bleed, my eyeballs implode, and my spleen liquefy and dribble out the nearest body orifice (don’t ask which). I am their F-A-N, and their F-A-N for L-I-F-E — and all because of a pair of seventeen-year-old schoolboys who liked to bond over soy milk and take sunset bicycle rides together.

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But I’m also the kind of fan who harbors no illusions about Kame and Pi’s dramatic abilities (for Pi, it’s the lack thereof haha); I’ve seen enough of their collective oeuvre (practically all of it, actually *blushes*) to know that Nobuta wo Produce is the best work they’ve ever done, or will ever get to do. (Like I said, that drama was puuure maaaagic!) Since NwP, each boy has made exactly ONE other drama I believe they can be proud of: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi for Kamenashi, and Proposal Daisakusen for Yamashita. (Never mind the rest; the rest are just the necessary evils you slog through to ultimately earn the title of “Kame/Pi Completist.” The reward? A 10-disc set of KAT-TUN+NEWS’ greatest hits. And a lifetime supply of cheap wine. *Kame fans remember Kami no Shizuku and promptly lapse into a coma* And one year’s subscription to AnAn. *Pi fans go: “YamaPi showah… chunyuu!”* Lulzzz)

Between the two, Kame is by far a more natural and versatile actor than his pink-loving seishun amigo; he does drama and comedy better than YummyPi my little Gummi Bear, who really can’t do much but… be himself. That’s why I’ve always thought that Yamashita Tomohisa’s best dramas — Lunch Queen, Stand UP!, and natch, NwP — worked so well because they just let him be his weird, spacey and endearing self — unlike the more recent ones which sucked the sweet, the warmth, the life out of the boy and left this… sleepwalking six-pack with deep-fried hair in his place.

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And so, such has been my own “self-revelatory odyssey” that went from knowing nothing about these two boys a little over a year ago, to recoiling from the first photo of theirs (see above) that I came across (and it also made me go, “Egads, these kids look weeeiiirrrrd!” — sounds familiar? well hello-oo E.G.’s KimuTaku Space Odyssey, lol), to acquiring Nobuta wo Produce (I’d heard good things about this netizen hit, but left it on the back burner because of… said photo), to finally giving in and watching the damn drama. And just like my experience with Pride, the rest is history, my embarrassing (and at times, downright incomprehensible) Kame/Pi fangirly devotion lovingly smeared all over this blog. It’s too late to take it back, to act more dignified and unsullied by this dark, guilty pleasure of mine. But, hey — if Nobuta and Akira could live with their weird little selves, I suppose so can I.

And to end this review with the wise words of a Green Day song:

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life…”

To Shuji, Akira and Nobuta, I hope you had, and continue to have, the time of your life… because you sure as heck gave me mine.

Grade
Artistic and technical merit: A
Entertainment value: A+
Final: A+

***
Photo credits: alypotato.multiply.com, anime.tedfox.com, babyj0sette08.multiply.com, blog.juno3.com, bura @ listal.com, burndvdburn.blogspot.com, cheesemon.livejournal.com, crunchyroll.com, darkeyedwolf.livejournal.com, dumbotaku.com, enmatehllama.blogspot.com, flickr.com, goddesscarlie.com, haraheta.wordpress.com, jamaipanese.com, japanator.com, keizou.blogspot.com, lezette.wordpress.com, listal.com, lungga.blogspot.com, mms @ d-addicts.com, omgasians.wordpress.com, protocolsnow.com, skyofblueberries.blogspot.com, tokidoki.animeblogger.net, tvrage.com, vesperholly.wordpress.com.

Video credits: CryBaby211, ntdlaurent @ youtube.com

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77 Comments on “Drama Review (Part 2): Nobuta wo Produce (NTV, 2005)”

  1. doozy Says:

    Thanks again, E.G.!
    Writing the review of NwP, was it as hard as you thought it would be?

    Re: the animated sequence
    I, too, had a WTF? reaction after I saw it but then decidedly that it was best not to ask any questions and just move on. Heh.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Heh heh. Believe me, this was the hardest (and longest, duh) to do. I always get bogged down in the middle part while writing a review, and this time it took me 2 whole weeks for the inspiration to return. (Watching all those vids on Youtube certainly helped, though!)

      “I, too, had a WTF? reaction after I saw it but then decidedly that it was best not to ask any questions and just move on. Heh.” << LULZZZZ mebbe that's what I also shoulda done! Q__Q

  2. jana Says:

    Oh, I’m so impressed by your long and detailed review! I’ve just printed it and it’s a perfect article with many lovely pictures. Thank you so much! I’d love to read something similar about my favourite dorama Kimi wa Petto…

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Wow, you actually printed it, huh? Kewl, thanks! Glad to know you liked it that much.😉 And yeah, the pictures/gifs are amazing and I’m really grateful to all the blogs and sites that made them available to the rest of us.

      Kimi wa Petto – heh heh, I dunno if I’ll ever get around to reviewing this (let alone watch it). Sumimasen!😀

      • jana Says:

        No problem:) I saw your review queue and I´m looking forward to them! You made me watch THnK and Kimura Takuya is my favourite j-actor, so please write a new review soon:)

  3. v Says:

    i dont want ur post to end…. TT
    it’s so good… btw, i believe the pairing is referred to most often as kamepi… altho pikame might work.. but ur right, i root the 2 to be friends in the drama, and well, in real life as well but the real life part is not that important to me. the call me akira dialogue was PRICELESS!! thank u for putting it here!!! i agree, NwP is epic and sacred and now, after reading all this, it is UNAVOIDABLE and VITAL for me to go for a NwP marathon!! how do i miss Pi the cute weirdo!!
    and if it makes u better, nobody really understands y we’re so obsessed…we just are.😄. let’s blame it on us being human. we’re all flawed. hahaha!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Yay, a NwP marathon! (I know I just had mine but I envy you already, lulz)

      Well, at least I’ll be taking good Akira memories with me when I do my Code Blue 2 watch soon, heh heh heh. At least I’ll have something to focus on every time the camera zooms in on Dr. YamaPi’s dead mug… @___@

      • v Says:

        i finished the marathon!!! dunno if it’s ur review or not but i swear, this drama gets better and better every rewatch! or maybe not better but more endearing and mesmerising?
        oh dear… good luck with CB2! altho the hairstyle isnt as bad as CB1 i think…
        as for One tree hill… at first, i didnt hate it that much…i didnt like peyton and still dont… and i went WTF every 10s, thinking do u guys have BRAINS??? but i was rooting for haley and nathan. they were the only “sane” couple (who married as high schoolers.. haha). and then they couldnt even give us that. it went from bad to worse to ridiculous to i’m SO dropping this show. as for chad, his character was totally messed up and he had the attention span of a teaspoon where girls were concerned. I was like “UR supposed to be the good guy?? the MODEL son/student??” where is this world going… and none of them looked like teens to me. but yeah, we all have our guilty pleasures… cuz bad or not, i actually watched One tree hill, and gossip girl, and roswell too (what a show!) and ive read twilight (YY)… but really, with reflection, those messed up but guilty pleasure shows are y i think the world of asian dramas. while they have their own flaws, they are as entertaining without all the complete nonsense
        and immorality.
        sorry this turned into a western dramas rant.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Really, CB2 = better Pi hairstyle? Well, thank heavens for that. (What about the gratuitous abs shots? Still there in full force I hope? hwehehe)

          LOL @ your OTH comments, hahaha. Yeah, Haley and Nathan were the least annoying characters by far. It’s just a pity that the actor playing Nathan had bad skin so he was ALWAYS wearing 2-inch-thick pancake makeup, sooo distracting. I watched a couple of episodes here and there, but I think my point of no return was when Nathan’s dad killed his brother, man that just made me go LOL WHAT, ARE YOU SERIOUS???

          Roswell had more plot holes than Swiss cheese (young aliens! with powers! finding their way back to their home planet!), but I liked the characters, their chemistry, and the teen love angst, hehehe. Twilight – haven’t read the books, and the first movie didn’t really rope me into the whole Twi-verse because Rob Pattinson always reminded me of a beluga whale. Still does, sorry. >D

          “while they have their own flaws, (asian dramas) are as entertaining without all the complete nonsense and immorality.” << Yes. THIS. Hollywood teen shows these days seem to be all about who's sleeping with who and all that MelrosePlacey stuff. The only Hollywood teen dramas (Of!Quality!Not!Guilty!Pleasures!Then!) that I really loved were My So-Called Life (starring Claire Danes and Jared Leto) and Veronica Mars (LoVers 4vr!). Needless to say, nobody watched these shows and they got axed way too soon, sigh.

          • mrmz Says:

            Veronica Mars was fun!! OTH liked the first season but dropped the rest😛
            But most teen American series I can’t stand!!! I can’t stand how stupid they are… ppl sleep with ppl just to annoy others!!! and characters get so mixed up u that its disgusting. Not all are bad just teen dramas though😛 I love criminal minds, Prison Break, Bones,Supernatural & some other scifi stuff😀

            Anyways 4 years ago I got into the asian world drama and, yes with their many flaws, they’re still soo enjoyable to watch!!
            NwP is one of my favorite (so heartwarming) there’s also, don’t know if ppl seen “The Long LOve Letter”, this one affected me for so long

            Anyways thx for the review it was a fun fun read😀

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            You’re welcome! Am really glad you liked the review😉

            Kewl, so you’re into procedurals huh? Have you seen any of the J-procedurals? There’s SCADS of them😀

            Long Love Letter — yeah I’ve seen this one, although I can’t say I loved it hehe😛 I dunno… I was expecting a straightforward ren’ai starringTsumabuki Satoshi and Tokiwa Takako, but got post-apocalyptic deserts! giant rubber spiders! Lord of the Flies! time machines! and… Kubozuka Yosuke’s hair!!! instead. x_O

          • mrmz Says:

            Yup I’ve seen a bunch of J-procedurals, but not all are good, some are pretty far fetched, but others are pretty fun. I also like ones like Liar game, which is full of twists and mystery. I find Japanese are very good at that.

            As for Long Love Letter, its true it took me a long time to watch it, mainly cuz I didn’t understand the synopsis, but then i gave it a shot. I usually don’t like post-apocalyptic shows, but i dunno y i liked this one. maybe cuz they showed different dimensions to it, and very concentrated on both characters facing it and the people left behind. Sometimes i really don’t know y i like something that is usually against my taste, but like I said it left and effect on me. Yasha ending left a similar effect too.

      • zooey Says:

        Thanks for the in-depth review. I think NwP will be one of those h.s. dramas that will stand the test of time, in fact, it’s well on its way to being a classic. I first saw it a month or two after it came out and I couldn’t help but marvel at how well it turned out. As if all the stars aligned to give these young upstarts a drama that’s watchable (for a change) and more importantly, memorable.

        Haven’t seen Maki in something that’s not cringeworthy ever since. And Pi, well let’s just say that I have never gone beyond episode 3 of Code of Blue. His attempt on doing something serious ain’t cutting it.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Yeah, this drama is def. destined to be a classic. The more Jdramas I watch the more convinced I am of this.🙂 (lol @ “young upstarts”)

          CB ep. 3? Oh no worries, you got to see the best part anyway, i.e. Pi’s Locker Room Money Shot in Ep. 1 heh heh heh. (Um, did you not like ProDai, btw? :D)

          • zooey Says:

            Aww, ProDai… I actually thought it was cute for a couple of episodes but the darned thing started to become repetitive. I mean, how many shots at happiness can a person be given? How many chances are there to screw up? Well, apparently, in this case, eleven. Yep, 11 long episodes wherein you just wish that Pi would stop chewing/biting in his cheek and get his act together. It also didn’t help that I hated Masami’s character by the end of the drama. Which reminds me… I have yet to watch the SP. >_<

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            The SP was all right for me, although I know a lot of ProDai fans were thrilled to have that final scene by the beach. I just thought the drama could not have ended better and the SP was icing on the cake.🙂

  4. jicks Says:

    Bravo for a great review :)) Def considering a rewatch!

    I personally don’t think I heart this drama as much as you do (something did lack for me in Maki’s character… I think, like you said, her backstory wasn’t meaty enough?) but I did really appreciate the uncontrived plot. It was as simplistic as it was sincere.

    What I liked most was how it really made me reminisce the innocence of high school; the long walks, the sitting down in random hangout spots thing- friends, just spending time w/ ea other, every day. You didn’t have to think much of the words you were going to say, it was just whatever was on your mind or in your heart.

    In terms of the cinematography, I agree, I think it was excellent as well. The lighting & the colours perfectly complimented the mood of the story, & the array of camera angles had a purpose. Even if you weren’t a fan of the story, it was still a v. visually stimulating show to watch (& not just because of Pi-Pi’s bootiful good looks *KON-KON*)

    My fave moment was probably the chalk birthday cake situation (heck, I think I even got a lil misty-eyed here!) I also remember how I felt when I first saw Akira @ home & he’d tied his bangs up in a mini pig-tail at the top of his head… for some reason, it was a little bit of a hypnotic moment for me… I can’t explain it in words, it’s like, How cute is this boy!! I wish he was my brother! lol

    P.S. The animated gif of Shuji+Akira on the beach together… can not stop ogling @ Kame’s left hand palming Pi’s left buttock (*^_^*) Money $$$

    BTW, can not help myself, “Bye-bye-bicycle!”
    ^^Oh yeah that felt good xD

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Omg, my high school experience was exactly how you described it to be!!! The “long walks” and “random hangout spots” => TO.TAL.LY. I think back on that time and remember all the silly, shallow stuff we’d do (like ask my crush to the prom, hahahahahha the twerp made me wait a week before saying yes, hahahahahhahaha) and yeah, it only felt fun when we thought about it later on. Good times, good times.

      “P.S. The animated gif of Shuji+Akira on the beach together… can not stop ogling @ Kame’s left hand palming Pi’s left buttock (*^_^*) Money $$$” << LOLOLOLOLZZZZZ whahahahahaha so true! I cannot believe you made me scroll up and watch that gif again (and again, and again, doh)! I'll bet that little skank couldn't wait to feel Pi up ever since their Junior days, hahaha.😀


  5. Hi, I just wanted to tell you my sincerest thanks for this post. It brought me to tears *sniff sniff*

    Yes, just thinking about this drama brings me to tears thats how much I love it. And I agree with everything you said, NwP goes beyond cinematography, it is pure magic!

    One thing that always gets to me when watching NwP or reading reviews about it is just how much it reminds of what I missed in my own life. My high school years were anything but magical but what I really missed and will regret never having for the rest of my life is REAL FRIENDSHIP. That kind of friendship that was portayed in NwP is just beyond any expiriences I ever had in my life. Or will ever have unfortunately.
    I’m really sad!
    But happy to have known it still through NwP.

    Also agree with you on the assesement of everyone’s acting. I love Yamapi with unreasonable insane fangirl love but I really don’t think acting is his forte. Being cute and sexy and cuddly and singing with a stoned face? YES

    And of course agree about Kame too. Actually Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, along with NwP, Love Shuffle, and Utahime are my favorite jdramas =]

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you so much for reading it! (Lol, that sounded kinda desperate, didn’t it?)

      And I truly hope that you find some wonderful friends down the road. Some people I know got to forge deep and meaningful friendships only much later as adults.😉

      “Being cute and sexy and cuddly and singing with a stoned face? YES” << Hahahahaa, zomg this is spot-on! You're a NEWS fangirl then, yes?😀

      Wow, I love Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, too! (In fact, after NwP I just had to start my nth re-watch of THnK, heh heh. Hirotoooooooooooooo *eats tablecloth*)


      • Lol yes you could say I’m a News fangirl but to be honest I think the only reason I became one was because of Yamapi <3333 But of course gradually I learned to love every single member too (not as much as Yamapi…I mean I was like seriously obsessed and watched every single drama with him. Dragon Zakura!! And Code Blue! And even Stand Up!! I'm clearly insane XD) And I even learned to love their music ! Very cheerful and always puts me in good mood.

        ThnK is sooo good! I really like traditional love stories done well. Especially with hot male leads. How did Kame manage to pull of such a hawt, manly character?? I never found him attractive anywhere else, but in THnK he's so sexy it should be forbidden!!!

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Lol, you totally nailed everything that Kame was in THnK!!!😀 I’m in the middle of my re-watch and can’t get over how much I love this drama.😉 (And there’s this Youtube fanvid I keep watching over and over and over again… Ahhh to be young and in luuurrrve)

  6. ockoala Says:

    Hi EG:

    Thanks for an EPIC NwP review, it was lyrical to read and astonishingly in-depth for me to digest in one sitting. For sure this is the end-all of all NwP reviews. 🙂

    I guess this means I need to watch Tatta Hitotsu no Koi now, both to understand the Kame as leading man in a renai appeal, plus spend some time with my Ayase before Hotaru no Hikari season 2 starts this July.

    Thanks again, keep up the great work, and hopefully you can squeeze in one or two K-dramas here and there. There have been some good ones lately (not much, but a few).

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, well thanks for slogging through the review!😀

      No pressure, but I’d love to hear what you think of THnK if and when you ever get around to watching it (I know your drama plate must be full right now). And re HnH2, oh yessss this is the J-drama I’m looking forward to the most this year!!! (Tsuki no Koibito huh? whaddat?) I have high hopes for this drama and am praying it won’t disappoint…. oh heck, what am I saying, even if it turns out sub-par, I’ll just be happy they did this at all.

      Yeah, hopefully a few K-drama reviews can muscle their way into this blog. Thanks for the encouragement!🙂

      • ockoala Says:

        EG: stay far far away from TnK. No amount of KT love can justify watching that. Unless you want to write a snark-only review about it, in which case, watch on, my dear!

        Hhhmm, how best to describe it’s trainwreck potential, ah yes, that video you posted of SMAP “singing” Koi no Ame?, yeah, imagine that level of suck and WTF happening over this drama. I’m sad for KT and Ryoko. But at least they have each other to lean on.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Ah trainwreck, ehhh? Now I’m more psyched than ever! *rubs hands*😀

          • momosan Says:

            Oh Dear.

            ::makes note to send Ender Girl some sake because she’s gonna need it::

            My Kimutaku fangirl-ing is pretty strong. I’d watch the dear read the phonebook. But even I pitched out after ep. 2. The torture was too great.

            ::makes another note to send EG Yankee-kun, the only known cure for watching TnK::

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Hehehe, thanks momosan for the concern for my personal welfare *blows kiss* but I figured, if I could slog through Kurosagi and Code Blue for Pi, and then that stupid wine drama for Kame, 7 episodes in hell doesn’t sound so bad after all…😀 But I’ll def. take you up on that sake, hoping my brain cells will be too sloshed to commit hara-kiri by the halfway mark, lol.

            Yankee-kun, seriously? It’s that good? *strokes non-existent beard* Lol, how many more times will Narimiya Hiroki need to play a high school student? The dude’s like, 28. But okay, I’ll defer to your better judgment since you’re actually watching this drama. And the premise does sound interesting at the very least. Thanks for the rec, I’ll go grab me a copy when the subs are complete.😉

  7. tgbgbt Says:

    Wow, thanks for the review! I had to save this for an appropriate time to read (without exam-related stresses spoiling my love for NwP).

    I think I need to rewatch this drama. While reading your descriptions, I realized I couldn’t really remember what happened, except that I really really liked it. It was just such an awesome portrayal of friendship that I’ve never seen again in another drama (this was at the beginning of my drama obsession).

    I shamefully admit to watching Kurosagi and frantically hoping for some sort of Pi and Horikita Maki reunion that never happened. And then watching Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, and just not seeing the same magic happen. And then Kame became that guy whose hair is always so long and orangey, and Pi faded into a single composite expression of blankness. Good-bye, NwP.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Well, this review ain’t going anywhere, so anyone can read it whenever they want.😉

      “And then Kame became that guy whose hair is always so long and orangey, and Pi faded into a single composite expression of blankness. Good-bye, NwP.” << THIS. SO FUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!😀

  8. Dai Says:

    Wow, this is a really thoughtful in-depth … I’d say “review” but it’s more like a dissertation, LOL. And you really covered a lot of what I feel about this drama.

    It still is my favorite drama ever and Akira one of my favorite characters in all media. He is just so much crazy and sweet brilliance. I can’t imagine what the show would have been like if Akira had been “normal” (which apparently the show runners had wanted) and I’m forever grateful that Yamapi wasn’t lazy for once and put a lot into his character, despite the doubts.

    Thanks for putting everything I love about this show into words.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      You’re welcome! Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.😀 (lolol, first someone called it a “term paper,” then a “thesis,” and now it’s a “dissertation”??? uh… I’m… flattered… i think? lol but I appreciate your honesty ;-))

      Oh man, for real? Akira was THIS close to being normal??? Wow, I’m so glad the director stood his ground. It sucks when network brass keep meddling in a production, bah. Well, at least Pi will always have that one shining moment when he proved his detractors wrong. At least he’ll always have Akira, which was the role of a lifetime.🙂

      • Dai Says:

        Oh man, for real? Akira was THIS close to being normal???

        Pi mentioned it in one of his 0409 essays, if I recall correctly. Add to that that most of Akira was apparently just Pi adlibbing and the director letting him and I guess we were lucky.

        Alas, he may not top Akira ever, judging by how he’s doing, but he’s still young. We can hope. Kenzou was the closest to Akira in terms of how well he performed him, but even Kenzou was nowhere near as good.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Whoa, Pi ad libbing? That’s way cool! (I suppose the kon-kon thing was his idea too, eh?) Now I’m more fond of the boy than ever…😀

          Pi as Kenzou — yeah, I liked him in ProDai too. But I loved him as Ken-Ken in Stand UP!… so adorkable!😉

          • Dai Says:

            The Kon-kon and the “Nobuta Power” were all his. And also “hallelujah chance.” The guy likes stuff like that, apparently.

            Ken-Ken was cute, and pretty well-acted, although there were moments when he seemed a bit blank. But the train otaku bits, and the shy but desperate virgin bits were great, LOL.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Those four doute boys were unforgettable, I want to hug them right now!😀

            Wow, I ought to give Pi a lot more credit for his Akira character — and I thought I had already given him a lot. From what you’ve shared, he does seem like a fun, Type-B guy in real life — if a bit on the screwy side, lol. Now I hate Johnny-san more than ever for turning this sweet boy into a prettified golem, ugh.😦

  9. Dai Says:

    Ahaha, I keep coming back and replying to you because it’s so rare that I can talk to someone about Yamapi without the conversation regressing to just “OMG, PRETTY!”

    Prettified golem, indeed. It’s unfortunate that it’s what the casual observer usually assumes, because he’s kind of insane. It was more obvious during his junior days, before he was put in NEWS, but even now, he’ll occasionally break his golem character and say or do something amazingly weird, warranting “WTF?!” glances from his costars/bandmates.

    Anyway, a lot like Ikuta Toma, I think Yamapi is better suited toward comical or more energetic/passionate characters — not so much the introverted, analytical types like Aizawa/ Kurosagi, much like Kame is better suited to emo and angsty rather than hyper or crazy.

    And I love Stand UP! I approached that show with trepidation because it looked like it would leave me dying from second-hand embarrassment for Narimiya, Nino and Pi. Instead, it left me dying from laughter.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, but “OMG, PRETTY!” is kind of where I am right now with Miura Haruma, so unless we start discussing him here, we needn’t worry about regressing… yet =D

      Stand UP! was like, laugh-a-freakin’-minute for me, too! Like, straight from the diaphragm. (Did you feel like hopping down your street at the beginning of every episode, too? :D) And the great thing about it is that the comedy is sustained all throughout, unlike, um (being totally random here) My Boss My Hero, where the laughs just stopped for me after a pretty hilarious first ep.

      “Anyway, a lot like Ikuta Toma, I think Yamapi is better suited toward comical or more energetic/passionate characters — not so much the introverted, analytical types like Aizawa/ Kurosagi, much like Kame is better suited to emo and angsty rather than hyper or crazy.” << I agree 100%! The problem with Kurosagi (aside from, well, everything? lolz) was that Pi obviously was still in Akira mode coming off NwP (Kurosagi doing the “bang!” thing to Maki? tooootally sumthin’ Akira would do), but the JE memo from the top *cough* Diyanni-san *cough* told him to act cool and stuff (well, the character itself is “built” to be angsty and cool, blerg), so viewers got a half-baked, monumentally confused performance (at best) from Yamashita. Aizawa M.D. is just DEAD DEAD DEAD.

      Anyway, I totally agree Kame, bec. I love him best when he plays it straight, i.e. Shuji, Hiroto, Odagiri (heh heh). But between him and Pi, Kame is better playing “hyper/crazy” than Pi is with “emo/angsty.” 1PG was totally slapstick, but I actually enjoyed Kame’s performance. Or mebbe it was just me, lol @__@

  10. Dai Says:

    I agree about Kurosagi. It was so strange because Kurosaki would often show signs of dorkiness. I would have preferred a dorky and occasionally emo Kurosaki to one that was like a stone wall and only occasionally dorky. I didn’t know that he’d been told by Johnny to play it cool. Ugh.

    Oh, Aizawa. There were moments when he showed signs of life. I think that’s partly the fault of the writing, too. He needs to be written as a bit more vulnerable. Personally, if I were writing for the show, I would have broken Aizawa in the second season, LOL. *secretly a sadist* It would have made his character more interesting.

    The laughs stopped for you after the first episode of MBMH? The subsequent episodes were still funny to me, but not as much as the first, I agree. Most of my problem with the show had to do with Tegoshi (and Tegoshi’s awful, awful, AWFUL acting).

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “dorky and occasionally emo” << That's like, Akira! lol😀 Speaking of our favorite weirdo, have you seen the NwP icons by topazera over at LJ? Awesome stuff — and judging by my feel of you, something you’ll probably enjoy a whole lot.😉 (Dunno why I didn’t include them earlier in my post, doh.)

      Re Aizawa showing signs of life — you mean the scene in the convenience store with his obaachan? Ok, I’ll concede him that, lol. Oh and about Johnny ordering Pi to tone down the flake factor beginning with Kurosagi, this is just my theory.🙂 (But then I can’t imagine anyone else with as much clout and control over Pi’s career direction and image, so who else could it have been, right.)

      MBMH – Nagase Tomoya is terrific at physical comedy and 99.99% of the laughs were on his account, but I dropped this series midway because I couldn’t stand that little polliwog Tegoshi, either. (I didn’t say this initially because… well, I assumed you to be a NEWS fangirl and didn’t want to hurt your feelings ;-)). But ZOMG, WHY was he given so much screen time??? Why was he in this drama at all??? Argh just thinking about Tegoshi following Nagase Tomoya’s Makio around like a sick puppy going, “Mukky… Mukky…” makes me want to STOMP all over his stooopid moony-eyed faced with Dutch clogs, over and over again. /rant over @____@

      • Dai Says:

        Oh and about Johnny ordering Pi to tone down the flake factor beginning with Kurosagi, this is just my theory.

        Oh, I see. But it’s a theory that makes sense! Damn Johnny! We want our flaky Pi.

        Nagase is quite possibly the best actor in Japan for playing funny crazy violent yakuza, and Koki didn’t do too bad in MBMH either. But — ugh. Tegoshi! Finally, someone who agrees with me. I have yet to see him in a role where I didn’t want to chuck things at the screen. You’re the second person I’ve encountered who dropped the series because of Tegoshi. Have you seen YamaNade? I couldn’t get past the first episode because Kame, unlike Nagase, couldn’t make up for Tegoshi’s being there.

        Ahaha, and you needn’t have worried about hurting my feelings. I’m a NEWS fan, but I think you can tell that I’m more of a really big Pi fan. I have thick skin, LOL.

        Oh, and thank you for the link to the icons! I love them! They will be used immediately.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          “Damn Johnny! We want our flaky Pi.” << Hear, hear!!! *pounds gavel*😀

          I skimmed the first episode of YamaNade while doing a QC on my newest batch of DVDs, and the sight of that shrimp made me grind me teeth into calcified little stubs. But I’ll still watch this drama in a few weeks maybe. Maybe it’s just me, but in my little corner of the doramaverse, the Kame Effect is still stronger than the CrazySexyCool pull of Tomo-baby. So… slog on, I must! @__@

          And you’re welcome about the icons!🙂

          • Dai Says:

            Oh, I see. If it’s any consolation, Tegoshi’s acting is slightly better in YamaNade, mostly because he’s just playing himself.

            Kame and Pi for you must be Pi and Nagase for me. I have to watch all of their dramas. Actually, I have to watch everything they’ve ever been in, period, LOL. I’ll know I’ve hit rock bottom once I start collecting their CMs.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Lol, I’ll get my consolation the day Tegoshi plays a garden grub.

            Oh, so you’re into Nagase! Hehe, but he is one sexeh beast. I don’t know if I want to complete his work, but I have Tiger & Dragon and IWGP lined up. Good choices?

            “I’ll know I’ve hit rock bottom once I start collecting their CMs.” ROFL I so agree! PVs = yes, CMs = no. I don’t think I’ll do that even for Kimura (except maybe the Gatsby CMs with the black&white Karl Lagerfeld plushie)😀

  11. nattacatta Says:

    ack! this was so good! i also commented part 1 but i thought of more to add
    i too love the boys ending up together and nobuta alone at school
    i love love love that she became friends with mariko- because she did- she accomplished a friendship independently and because of her ‘makeover’ and her friendship with shuji to akira she became someone strong enough to go to a school by herself and have a friend

    i have never seen or heard of either kame or yamapi prior to watching this, and this is the only thing i have seen either of them in so i loved them in this to a great extent
    i really like maki, and having seen quite a few of her dramas think that this is totally her best
    i love the moments you talk about- and the dating tips- lol!
    akira’s inability to touch her is so so funny!
    thank you for giving us this amazing review!
    thank you!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!😀 Yeah, I think it’s a lot easier to get into the whole NwP vibe when you don’t have all these preconceived notions and expectations about Kame and Pi — i.e. idoru!!! Johnnies!!! gheiboyz!!! no talent!!! X__O

      Love your insight re Nobuta becoming friends with Mariko independently of the two boys. Totally agree!🙂 Which is why I was fine with Akira leaving Nobuta for Shuji, no matter how painful it must have been for Akira and Nobuta (and us!!! *sob*).

      Oh, so you haven’t seen another Kame/Pi drama since NwP? They did at least one or two others I wouldn’t mind reccing at all. The rest of their stuff ranges from brainless fun to… well, just brainlessness, lol. Q_Q

      • nattacatta Says:

        thank you for the response!
        i actually didnt even know what johnnies were or about the whole idol scene in japan until recently (i only started watching both k and jdramas last year)
        yeah, i havent seen dramas of either of theirs since, due to the fact that i have been remiss with jdramas lately (damn javabeans- i swear i would not have a kdrama obsession if it wasnt for that blog- when i read a recap i feel compelled to watch the episode!) so any recommendations of good ones they have been in or good ones in general would be greatly appreciated!

  12. tinysunbl Says:

    Thanks for the review. I really appreciate that you wrote a great deal about the minor characters, who are equally endearing in the show. Delphine and his “Hidekichi” dream. The teacher and his loose pant. The vice principal who reminds me of the Granny in “Granny Mischief…” They bring back so many memories…

    For your 7th favorite scene, the Breaking-the-Curse one, I also love it when Akira sees Shittaka (I think) gets wounded from falling the stairs right after. He thinks it’s the curse Nobuta’s talking about->the person Nobuta cares the most is Shittaka. The boy’s eyes are tinged with jealousy…LOL. There really is something very pure in the script that speaks to our hearts.

    Beside this show, the only good one I enjoyed that has Yamapi in it is Stand Up. His other dramas are blah and, no matter how cute the boy is, his acting ruined it for me. Proposal Dasaikusen was good until it turned so bad that Pi’s awkwardness could no longer be ignored. Too bad I’m fond of the boy as an idol.
    For Kame, my heart melted for him in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. I really think Kame has potentials, lots of potentials indeed, to become a good actor. His basics are less awkward than most of other Johnny boys (but again, who else is good? Matsumoto Jun, maybe). His comic acting in Nobuta and even One Pound Gospel is adorable and decent, if not outstanding. In some serious scenes, I can even see a spark of fire in his eyes. The boy just needs a good manager or someone who really knows how to read and pick scripts. For some reason, Kame’s acting style, especially in THnK reminds me so much of Kimura. They shared the same acting teacher at Johnny or what?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol @ “Granny Mischief” ^^,,

      OMG, I totally LOLd at Akira’s conspiracy theory delusions about Shittaka and Nobuta!!! That was so sweet, awww now I wanna hug him again!!! (Akira, not Pi, hehe)😀

      Oh, Kame was funny in 1PG even if the rest of the drama felt like Gokusen in a boxing ring, i.e. same dilemma repeated 384834x per episode, blerg. I totally agree re Kame needing the right projects and career guidance. Can’t trust the old gnome no more, look what the last few years have wreaked on the boy’s career, tsk. Re Kame channeling Kimura’s style, there were times when I felt it, too. Like — how Kimura likes to nod his head slightly while delivering his dialogue? Kame would do that too in THnK — a lot. Well, I ain’t complainin’, better for Kame to be copying Kimura than… oh I dunno, Morita Go? lolz

  13. Cristelle Says:

    Ahhh so I went back and watched NwP after reading this review and I feel so enlightened🙂. It was such a nostalgia trip haha (watched this drama like two years ago)… There really is a lot to appreciate in a second viewing- and I watched it with my nine-year-old sister this time, which is always entertaining =P. I liked Mariko a lot more the second time around (probably influenced by your points in this review XD). But GOD, this drama was one of my first (and my first time EVER seeing Kame)… it hurts to see bony Kame! I cringed at the last scene when YamaPi jumped on him cuz I felt like he was gonna break XP.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “it hurts to see bony Kame! I cringed at the last scene when YamaPi jumped on him cuz I felt like he was gonna break XP.” << Hahahaha!😀 Yeah, Pi had already begun working out around this time, so he def. would've snapped Kame's twiggy brittle bones into little shards. (But I dunno… I like that Kame’s body has filled out, but his old bony face I find better on the eyes than his current puffy-cheeked mug. Oh well *shrugs* ;-))

      Well, it's great to know the Nobuta magic was still very much alive the second time around. So did your kid sister root for NobutaxAkira, or NobutaxShuji? (Or ShujixAkira, hehe)😉

      • Cristelle Says:

        I sort of miss his skinny-ass days sometimes too(will he ever be “best jeanist” again with all that newfound muscle? lol). Did you ever watch that one episode of Cartoon KAT-TUN when he said he was like 40 kg when he was in Nobuta though? Thank god we never saw him naked back then.
        haha she only liked Akira cuz of his wackiness… so I guess NobutaxAkira? but I’ll make sure to remind her to re-watch it in a couple of years when she’s capable of choosing an OTP😉 Also, she didn’t know he was “Akira”- she him “LamaP” most of the time.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Oh, when did Kame win “Best Jeanist”? I must have missed this one. He actually has short legs (like Kimura) but he can still pull off the look — esp. back when he was Hirotowwww😀

          40kg??????? Yikes. “Thank god we never saw him naked back then.” << ROFL!!! So true!!!

          Awww, your sister is so cute!!! ("LamaPi" = hahahahahha!!!! such a sweetie) Give her a couple more years and she'll be flailing alongside her oneechan, eh? (Or maybe she'll be fangirling the younger ones, like a HSJ or a JJr. ;-))

  14. yetispageti Says:

    Oh my God! I cant believe I haven’t read this post.. haha.. Kon kon!!!

    I love nwp, the kamepi, the yamaki, nobuta power, kon kon, the rooftop scenes, kame’s cute ponytail! I embraced everything in this drama, hahahah!

    at first I thought yamapi will just play a supporting role to maki and kame, but I was amazed that all 3 of them shine in every episode.

    In the “breaking the curse” scene, the choice nobuta made was unpredictable.. I thought she will choose shuji, and if she does so, something big will be revealed right?? but i was amazed that she opted to throw it in the creek, she really values the friendship they have!

    I agree with the Kiritani family, yuto is the cutest li’l bro I’ve ever seen.. hahaha..

    thanks for making this post!=)

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey yeti! A kon-kon right back at ya!😀

      Glad you enjoyed this review — let alone finished reading, it, lol.😉 Hahaha and like you, I’m glad that Nobuta didn’t choose Shuji (which would’ve RIPPED Akira’s little kokoro apart, I don’t know how the poor thing could ever recover lol), and didn’t choose Akira either (because Nobuta wouldn’t be true to herself, plus it wouldn’t have been fair to Shuji).

      Yuto = gosh how old is he now? The boy oughtta be given more acting jobs because the rest of JE doesn’t have enough talent to go around as it is. Yuto is the Answer!!! lol

      • yetispageti Says:

        Of course I enjoyed this review!
        Honestly, I enjoyed reading your posts, I’m a constant lurker here, I always finds time to visit your site (routine na, hehe), and jicks’ posts too, hi jicks!:)!!! I admire you guys for being so passionate in writing super detailed posts, thanks! thanks! thanks! 8D *stress-reliever posts hehehe*

        “don’t know how the poor thing could ever recover lol” -> how about the brown smelly pot?8P

        Yuto and Yamada! hahaha..

  15. Helicidae Says:

    Hmm, I’m not sure what happened to my previous comment. But anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you again on that great article. It was an interesting read and I Nobuta Wo Produce is definitely my favorite J-drama.

    Now, I’m curious if my message gets lost again…

  16. Helicidae Says:

    PS: Ah, I just noticed this part: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” *facepalm* That, of course, explains everything. Now I’m feeling really blond. Sorry.😦

  17. snowangel Says:

    I just wanna say… I love your review. I had seen Proposal Daosakusen but didn’t really know Pi was the lead (had to rewatch it when I found out ). I first watched Stand Up and I gotta say I liked Nino there. I just checked on what othet dramas the cast did and saw NwP has a good review of Yamapi. I bought it but didn’t really watch it soon enough.. After I did, it did make think about the friends I made and that how wherever in the world we are… We have each other. I was also rooting for Akira (from the moment he first said “kon”) and his loyalty to his friends was really disarmingly loveable. It would be nice to fantasize that he and Nobuta would meet again in the faroff future.. Hehe…

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you! Awesome to meet another NwP fan. Yeah, this drama does have a way of transporting you back to THAT time, huh?😉 And yes, there’s like a buttload of NwP fanfics floating about, esp. those set in the future where the characters’ paths cross once again. I’ve liked the few that I’ve read, but I don’t actively search for the fics because there’s one side of me that goes, “MOAR!!! MOAR Shuji-Nobuta-Akira stories!!!” but another side of me is like, “DON’T mess with what’s sacred!!!” Hahaha. Actually there’s this idea for a fanfic that’s been germinating in my head the past year or so, but if I sit down to write it (even if it’s just for myself) I know I’ll never forgive myself afterwards. @__@ Better to know when to leave well enough alone, lol😄

      I wasn’t in love with ProDai, but I thought it a decent drama overall. Stand UP! is like, one of my all-time faves! Those 4 Doute Boys were absolutely adorkable and I was laughing my face off every second of that drama!

  18. frooby Says:

    After stalking your blog for the past week I feel like I should tell you how much I love your reviews…🙂 I agree with you on NwP absolutely! Oh man, do I miss YamaPi when he was the funny, quirky guy instead of the cool, impassive characters like in Code Blue, Kurosagi and Buzzer Beat. Him as Kenzou in ProDai was pretty good though huh, in the earlier episodes whenever he looked so stressed out after every failure cracked me up. I really miss Maki’s character as Nobuta too, the characters she’s played since then have been really serious and boring too… sigh.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you for looking so favorably on my dinky little brog! lulz😀

      Argh, I miss Maki as Nobuta too!😦 But Imma give Byakuyakou the movie a chance — mainly ‘coz Jenny, one of the blog regulars, is a big fan o’ hers🙂 … and ‘coz that Kora Kengo boy is HAWT hehe. Anyway, hope Maki delivers.

      Oh poor Kenzou!!! I really did feel for the character even if it was Pi playing him lol. I think I even teared up during a few of his Timeslip FAIL!!! moments. ^^;;

      I think I hated Kurosagi even more than Code Blue. Man, it was just… so… sad watching Pi in Kurosagi, lol. At least HeliDoctorPi showed his abs ‘n’ biceps more so I tended to be more… forgiving haha.

  19. Kat Says:

    I like your 2 part novel xD
    This being my second drama (Hana Kimi my first), it was really thought provoking! And, imo, so publicly understated. I found it by chance because I was looking up Horikita Maki.
    It’s like what you said in one of your trillion paragraphs when you were talking about how they didn’t over or under portray highschool. They just made it how it really was. They did an almost scary job of emotionally tying everything in, so that it’s not presented to you but slowly building up over the show and popping like a little bubble in your brain making you come to realization.
    And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who appreciated the focusing-on-friends-not-love-triangle plot. They beautifully incorporated it WITHOUT making the main goal!!
    It’s been a few weeks since I’ve watched it, but your post makes me want to re-watch it xD
    Great review =D

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you Kat!🙂 Hehehe, I appreciate the time you took to read this review all the way to the end and leave a comment. And I really like what you said about how the writer slowly built up and incorporated the themes of friendship and high school and puppy love.

      “It’s been a few weeks since I’ve watched it, but your post makes me want to re-watch it xD” << Could not have asked for a better compliment! It's comments like these that want me to keep on blogging! Spread the love, baby! Nobuta powah, chunyu!😀

  20. tatka Says:

    Thank you for a terrific review. You brought up some points I haven’t even noticed on first watch, so I happily rewatched Nobuta with your thesis in hand. I especially loved comments on directing/lighting.
    And so I have a favour to ask. Can I use the loose translation of you review in tv recommendations community (russian), with reference to your blog?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey, thanks!😀 You’re more than welcome to use the translated version of this review. Whatever it takes to spread the Nobuta love, right?😉 And thanks for taking the time to translate and rec this review elsewhere, appreciate it.

      (LOL @ “thesis”)

  21. dashcooray Says:

    I am so going to watch this after your aclaimed review!! Your passion for this dorama is apparent in your words and also, I would love to watch a high school drama that’s about the friendship first, enough already with the overdose of high school romances!!

    I think that Yankee-kun to Megane-chan is amazing too, idiotic and dum dum but it warms the hart!!❤
    Thanks for this EG

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey you’re more than welcome, I’m so excited to hear you plan to watch NwP!😀 (Er, I only regret that since you read the review first, you already know what’s going to happen. I wish this doesn’t affect your viewing enjoyment too much @_@) Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think of the drama when you’re done!😉

      Ah yes, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan… I’ve seen the first few episode but this drama got bumped down my to-watch list a wee bit. Dunno why the story didn’t grab me from the onset. Hopefully I’ll find the time to give it another shot.

      I don’t know if you’ve seen the 2003 drama Stand UP! (with Yamapi, Shun, Narimiya Hiroki, Nino & Suzuki Anne), but it’s the only other high school+friendship drama I know that’s as deeply moving and heartwarming as it is riotously funny.🙂

  22. leilana Says:

    I just started to watch Nobuta wo Produce and… well, what can I say… it’s absolutely wonderful!!! I fell in love with Kusano Akira from, like, the first moment he stepped into the picture. Yamapi is so aDORKable in this role! And Kame… and Maki… see, I can’t even find the proper words to praise them! Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! ^_^

  23. leilana Says:

    Ahhhhh, I just watched episode 8. My eyes were full of tears at the end. I LOVELOVELOVE the three of them. Sorry for spamming your blog like this, but at the moment I feel the urge to share my love for this dorama with the whole universe!!!

  24. Sonya Says:

    Thanks for an absolutely wonderful review! NwP is my favorite drama and I always find myself coming back here whenever I’m feeling nostalgic–no other article/review allows me to relive the brilliance that is NwP quite like yours🙂 Like many others, I first watched it for Kame (lol), thinking it would be just another high school drama, but NwP is truly one of a kind and you’ve somehow managed to capture that so well. I loved that you analyzed the technical and symbolic aspects which make the drama great in addition to the cutesy/fangirly aspects, which so many other reviewers are prone to do (through no fault of their own, of course–Shuuji, Akira, and Nobuta are just that awesome), while making apt references to ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ and the quote by Gorbachev (now one of my favorite). NwP was my first introduction to magic realism; I had initially found it a bit off-putting and just suspended my disbelief for the sake of enjoyment, but your “thesis” (lol @ previous commenter) has definitely given me a new appreciation for its role in developing the tone and underlying messages of the drama. One of the things which struck me the most was your observation that NwP has successfully walked the fine line between being meaningful while still honest to the emotions and struggles of the typical teenager. As much as I like the drama, I’ve often wondered why it’s hard to find many good quotes from it–good standalone quotes–but it is probably the very fact that the dialogue is so organic, that it flows so naturally and thus has to be taken within the context of the plot and characters’ reactions in order for its relevance to be felt, that allows NwP to be able to be “complex without being contrived” in the way that it is. Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to share your lovely insights😀 It’s always so nice to engage with the drama and fandom from time to time; your review makes this that much easier!

  25. Ai Tennshi Says:

    Thanks for the great review!! I downloaded the whole series and just can’t get enough of it…but when I get tired of re-watching episodes, I come and re-read your review.😛 *is a bit obsessed*

    I believe, going from the 5-hour-before-the-first-episode special, the pigs in the ending are supposed to be KamePi (the pink one) and YamaPi (the greenish blue one). Beyond that, though…no clue. XDD

    Or maybe they mean them to be Shuji and Akira respectively, but on the computer screen they show “Kamenashi-san” and “Yamashita-san,” so…who knows? More homoerotic subtext, just in case there wasn’t enough already?

    I think, though, that YamaPi’s best acting yet was in Buzzer Beat. Apart, obviously, from his acting as Akira, because that’s in a category all its own. But honestly, Proposal Daisakusen just struck me as a YamaPi more wooden than ever, with very, very little chemistry between Ken and Rei. (Which is just tragic, because that same pair of actors was overflowing with chemistry as Naomi and Yusuke in Dragon Zakura—come on, the setting was practically the same, what happened there?? I ended up just pitying Fujiki the whole way through, because you know he’s not going to get the girl and yet he’s so sincere and so silly and… *sighs and shakes her head*)

    Anyway, that’s just a matter of opinion—and I haven’t seen Long Vacation, which seemed to be the origin of a lot of your disagreements with Buzzer Beat in your review.

    Anyway, thanks so much for all your wonderful reviews!!!🙂


  26. Hi there i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anyplace, when i read this piece of writing i thought i could also create comment due to this sensible paragraph.


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