Sunday, December 21, 2008

Medaka


I did not take any interest in Medaka when the subs came out. I had seen Mimura in the Ima Ai ni Yukimasu dorama and she did not catch my attention. It was definitely the dorama's fault though, trying to stretch a movie into a 10 episode dorama, especially when the movie was more about the twist than character exploration. Then of course, she blew me away as Mano-san in Saitou-san. Her performance as the timid suburban housewife who idolised Saitou-san was something I couldn't picture any other actress doing. She had this ability to play the nice, naive girl without making her look stupid.


My chance came when Medaka was chosen as jdorama of the week and I could not miss the opportunity. Medaka however sat in my HD for a long time, until today when I was desperately searching for something enjoyable to watch to cleanse the bitter taste of Bloody Monday. I needed a show to restore my faith in jdoramas and unfortunately the subs for OL Nippon seemed to have stopped.

Pretty sure I've seen fencing girl before but can't remember which dorama...

Mimura plays the title character, Medaka who teaches at a night school, ie a high school where classes are held at night for people who are unable to go to regular schools for one reason or another. Basically its very similar to Kinpachi sensei with Medaka helping her students with their various problems except that her students are underdogs of society. I think I didn't want to watch the show in the beginning cause I thought nothing could top Jyoou no Kyoushitsu and had no desire to see another teacher dorama.

Medaka wouldn't be as fun without these two..

Because the students are not your typical bunch, ie a hostess, salaryman, florist, socially inept kid etc, this automatically makes them more interesting than a bunch of kids with too much chemiclas in their hair pretending to be cool. Plus, we don't get any stunt casting ie people who cannot act with the sole exception of Kuroki Meisa. OMFG is she bad. I didn't really notice it in One Pound gospel with Kame stinking up the whole show and I was too pissed off their screwed up another Takahashi Rumiko adaptation but her acting is rigid, emotionless and unnatural. They should have given the three girls a chance to show what they can do. Not even Kuroki Meisa's constant showing of her long legs can distract me from the abomination that is her acting. I'm just happy that she was only majorly featured in only one episode.

There's something about Mimura's smile that makes her characters endearing.

Medaka is pretty similar to Mano-san in that she wears her heart on her sleeves. She is very driven but is not too preachy unlike many jdorama teachers. She always second guesses herself and thinks she's to blame for everything but is not afraid to try. Most importantly, she is a joy to watch. Mimura has the 'it' factor. The screen presence and ability to play a goody character without making her look stupid. It is because the emotions that Medaka experiences seem real and connect with the audience.

Sakai Wakana and the drunk ojisan from Densha. Come to think of it, he's always playing alcoholics in jdoramas.

The supporting cast is superb. Even though I'm sick to death of Kita Yoshio, once again he played his part well. Watching Medaka, I realised why Kinpachi sensei is always better than crap like Gokusen. Its because kids aren't idols so they cast according to talent while high school shows are just a stupid excuse to feature Johnnys. Medaka's stories are nothing that we have not seen before but the execution is excellent.


The episodes are mostly stand alone stories with some side stories weaved throughout the series. Medaka starts of slow but picks up around the 3rd episode. The middle episodes are superbly heart warming and fun to watch until we get to the Kuroki Meisa story in episode 8. She certainly does not dress like a teenager whose parents are in serious debt. Her fake smiles really poisoned that episode. I know she's supposed to be a model but ffs couldn't they have dressed her down for her role? Why did she have to wear diamond earrings and shit. If you're playing a poor character, look poor. And not do a half hearted job at it like the guy from Celeb to Binbo.


Episode 8 is also bad because the big reveal about Shiina's past is super lame. I think they must have run out of scenerios for teachers with a dark past. The reason for his brooding and mental anguish is just too laughably bad. The only silver lining is that luckily it was in Kuroki Meisai's episode so that out of 11 episodes, only one is unwatchable. The last two episodes weren't as exciting as I had hoped but by then, I had become so enamoured with the characters that I just wanted to watch them complete their journey. I really enjoyed the side story between Sudo Riso's hostess and Oyamada, the part timer. Side stories are great for filling up space for pacing, comedy and the little payoffs make jdoramas more watchable.

Sato Megumi in a small cameo in the end. I want Medaka 2 as long as she's in it!

So how good is Medaka? I wouldn't say its must watch. Kuroki Meisa obviously did a lot of damage. Its definitely close to must watch, especially for the acting but some parts that were a bit slow do take some points away, especially at the end. Probably the most succinct comment I can give Medaka is this; if you like Mimura in Saito-san, Medaka is must watch.

8 comments:

Jung said...

Who is she? I'm preey sure she's the uber-bitch henchwoman in LIFE. Her name is haruka suenaga.

First I thought it was the cute chick from GTO... http://www.jdorama.com/ivideo.124.htm But then I started watching this clip and realized GTO chick is cuter, and the age didn't quite add up...

Thanks for the review. I'll grab this for dorama dryspell. (Next season is shaping up to be one)

jaycbll said...

mimura ~~~
i remember i had fun watching this show!
for some reason i was feeling a little bitter towards the end...im not sure why...
btw, i did the same thing u did to get bloody monday out of my system..only i watched ' souri to yobanaide ' which made me throw 'Change' into the bin.excellent show! had to re-watch the last episode just for the goodbye speech.

Anonymous said...

thanks for pointing this one out, I've started watching it and I like it!

animemiz said...

Ehhh... this is a pretty old drama.. but hmm.. I felt the same way as jaycbll.. I also felt bitter toward the ending. Forgot why though.. but this was an okay drama.. .

Jung said...

I was so looking forward to Mimura in a bunny costume. I felt so cheated...

Is Meisa's acting that bad? My problem with her is that, I just can't look at her face too long because it freaks me out.

Jung said...

I blew through the series in 2 days. I agree with everybody's sentiment about the show getting crappy towards the end. The show was pretty decent through episode 7. But by this time, the writers began had already begun robbing audience of their heroine (Mimura) and her inner struggles, and she was emotionally cut out. (yes she still had good amout of screen time)

I liked episode 1, 4 (Takasugi guy who refuses to talk), 5 (magic show, even though no bunny costume), but I really didn't care for Shiina sensei and his problems, and Eita's going to college problems).

Thanks for the write up once again. The show was decent enough to detox this bad dorama season... But I have to say, Bloody Monday improved after episode 9. They set the bar so low in ep 9 that 10 and 11 were actually not bad. lol

hamanosilence said...

Yeah Mimura is really something in doramas. And as you said she was so good in Saitou-san.

Luckiely we'll see more of her this season in "Zeni Geba".

Akiramike said...

Bloody Monday set the bar so low for jdoramas that I didn't mind all of Medaka's problems at the end.

Jung, the fact that the watched the whole series of Bloody Monday means are an M, not that there's anything wrong with that. :)