A-Z Drama Challenge: Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou

R, by the way wasn’t skipped. Just isn’t a JDrama so we continue on with S!

Well, this is one of those titles you should really only be watching if you’re a Johnny’s die-hard, particularly of SixTONES, or an AKB48 die-hard whose favs were in the 2012 line-up. As someone who loves a good idol drama, this was a shoe-in for me to get to eventually and now that time has come!

Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou, or Bakaleya Private School is the the combination of Bakada High School, a former all-boys school known for its rough and tumble delinquents lead by Tatsuya (Morimoto Shintaro), and Catteleya Academy an all-girls school known for their beautiful and well educated students led by Fumie (Shimazaki Haruka). The schools are forced to blend together, but with students of such varying backgrounds and skills can they really get along? Not to mention… why were these seemingly opposite schools even merged together in the first place?

This is a drama that has not aged gracefully. From the Johnny’s Jr’s hair, the uniforms, even the slang and sets are pretty trapped in 2012. As a throwback watch it’s pretty fun, but viewers might find that charm rather short lived when it comes to pacing and plot. Shiritsu Bakeleya Koukou is a series that thrived on being shown once a week, not intended to be seen back to back. I even made a point to only watch an episode or two a day to try and replicate the effect, but even that still left a lot of glaring flaws.

Unofficial PR Video but all in good fun.

The pacing, being twelve 30-minute episodes was rather crisp. Every episode there’s a fight and something new going down at Bakaleya! However all these events don’t really amount to much by the end. Don’t get me wrong the fights are fun, but a lot of the choreographies leave much to be desired. It doesn’t matter how cool Tatsuya or Tetsuya (Matsumura Hokuto) look in the foreground if you can clearly see in the background guys punching and kicking nothing, or even worse just running around. These fights rarely led to any character development beyond Bakada is the strongest – which doesn’t mean much since we never fully understand why that’s important other then Tatsuya says so at least once an episode.

The girls don’t get much better treatment. Even when it’s an episode focusing on a female student, it’s done through the lens of the male students. Their stories don’t build into a bigger narrative for the girl’s school’s motives or goals – they just happen due to circumstance and dramatic effect. Even worse is most of these stories are told, and just moved on from, not essential for the main plots. The only two female students that get any sort of context and real story are Fumie, and Saya (Oba Mina) and that’s mostly due to Fumie being the student council president and her and Saya having a conflict over… you guessed it one of the boys.

Which is a bit of a shame. Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou had a good idea when the opening episodes where Fumie was finding parallels to her own life and the traditions at Bakada. You could really see her developing an imperfect understanding of the boys, but the writer threw out that idea by episode five. I would have liked to see it flipped on with Tatsuya doing the same and seeing him get a better understanding of Catteleya.

Speaking of Tatsuya, man was Morimoto Shintaro and SixTONES so young in this one! This is the drama where after completion they became a unit after all. It’s really impressive how early on Shintaro and Hokuto’s acting skills were debuted. They had some really insane on screen chemistry, and really highlighted their characters strengths well. It wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but there was a lot of promise. I’m interested if the duo would ever want to play off each other like that again.

~Baby SixTONES~

The members of AKB48 were just as remarkable. Shimazaki Haruka and Oba Mina were the right choices to lead the group in this drama. Their chemistry had just the right amount of reserved princess-like qualities, that did get down and dirty when they needed to.

It’s a bit of a shame that aside from these duos that the cast chemistry didn’t extended beyond their gendered groups. Aside from a one-off moment of two, we rarely saw a non-main cast guy and non-main cast girl really interact in any meaningful ways. Episode five being the only real exception. Clearly it was meant that way with the ‘follow the leader’ mentality, but it was a little disappointing. Not particularly surprising since both Johnny’s and AKB have no dating policies. I have my theories that they were probably policed off camera to so no natural cast chemistry had a chance, for better or worse.

Then again, I guess my biggest take it or leave it was how… mild this premise was. For the boys being yankees… they just kinda rolled over and let the girls take over their school. Bakada didn’t really have a code of conduct that included something like “no girls allowed” or “we’re not above hitting a girl” so I guess it made enough sense. At the same time it didn’t feel fully thought out. At any time the boys could have just hoisted the girls over a shoulder and deposited them outside the school no hitting involved and problem solved. Although it is kinda refreshing that the girls could just steam roll them in that regard, but also just… confusing.

Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou, the drama is a time capsule of SixTONES before they were SixTONES, and 2012’s AKB48. For an idol fan like me, despite my confusion and conclusion that the actual drama isn’t much to recommend – it’s still a type of whacky that’s enjoyable to watch. I mean, I’m still amped up to see what the movie sequel brings so I hope you’ll check out that post when it goes up later today!

One comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s