A-Z Drama Challenge: V no Arashi

I feel like if the past two years of working on this challenge have taught me anything it’s that fall is my season for drama watching. I always seem to pick up momentum around this time. Honestly, it’s probably the unofficial crunch of winter coming soon and I really want to cross this challenge off my list…

But back on topic. V no Arashi a SPORTS! series in live action form, from back in the good to be alive time of 1999. It of course stars the then on the rise supergroup Arashi, and it’s surprisingly short run time of about 6 minutes on average per episode. An itty bitty series before short form content took off!

V no Arashi is the story of transfer student Ninomiya Kazunari, who hailed from Hokkaido and now is in Tokyo. And being a healthy teenage boy, he’s already on the hunt for a girlfriend. He encounters his ‘soulmate’, Aiba Miwa and immediately knows it’s her. Too bad the only thing she’s in love with is volleyball. Thinking quickly, he joins the volleyball team assuming there was a boys’ team. However, their school doesn’t have one, the male members Matsumoto Jun and Ohno Satoshi are managers. So what’s Ninomiya going to do to get Miwa’s heart?!

Being as kind as possible, V no Arashi is a goofy 90’s series that was made with clear but earnest intentions. There’s themes of overcoming past obstacles in order to play a sport you love again, represented via Sakurai Sho’s character. Aiba Masaki’s character is how the love of a sport can change over the course of time due to circumstance and injury. There’s the reluctance to commit via Ohno Satoshi, passionate but no natural talent in Matsumoto Jun’s character, and finally Ninomiya Kazunari’s original intentional being lost as he realized the true value of the sport. It’s all pretty par for the course in terms of a SPORTS! series.

L to R: Jun, Ohno, Ninomiya, Aiba, Sho.

Being a bit more critical, the intention of this series was two fold. The first, based on how often Matsumoto Jun’s character usually did this, was to info dump about volleyball on an Olympic level. This being a not-so covert way to get teen girls into the sport. How much success this had, I can’t be sure but hindsight makes a lot of things obvious. The second being a bit of padding to Arashi’s collective acting portfolios. V no Arashi is Ohno Satoshi’s first leading role in a drama ever.

As you can imagine, the actual drama was pretty mixed bag in terms of overall enjoyability. The plot was a little too simple to really engage you. The action of volleyball is framed in the most concise ways possible – there’s more scenes of the girls team warming up then playing, Arashi members rarely rally their hits, etc. The characters are pretty much stereotypes – anyone familiar with the types of characters Sakurai Sho plays will be familiar with his character here. The only thing that surprised me was how much fan service, between the school nurse and Miwa’s character was on screen. It made sense given Ninomiya’s motivations, but it did shock me a little since I’m assuming this was aimed more at girls then guys.

It was really hard for me to get a real grasp on the cinematography – the quality of the video I watched was not great. Plus there were of all things, Korean subtitles on all versions of the episodes I could find so some of the lower screen action was obscured. The shots were decent enough for a short TV series, showed what they needed to show, but not much else.

I saw that comment that you don’t really watch this series for the plot, but rather the very young Arashi. I have to say that I largely agree. V no Arashi has it’s moments, but truly you’re not watching this for the volleyball. As a title that barely had an hour and a half of material total – that’s fine with me. It tickled my nostalgic side, and that’s perhaps what’s best.


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