Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Majisuka Gakuen

In case you are wondering, the guy on Atsuko's left is not a guy, though she looks more manly than Yamapi.

At the beginning of Majisuka Gakuen, the following disclaimer appears: 'This drama is an extension of liberal arts and in some parts the acting of the characters may look unpleasant, but it would be greatly appreciated if it could be seen warmly.' The Diet should pass a law requiring this warning on every johnny dorama. Hell, the disclaimer should apply to most jdoramas. What the disclaimer does most of all is let me know that the creators are aware of their limitations and are going to do the best with what they have. So what exactly is Majisuka Gakuen?

Prepare to be very sick of the word maji when watching this show.

Majisuka is basically the female equivalent of Crows Zero starring the girls of AKB48. If you haven't seen Crows Zero, its a high school fighting movie. Basically about gangs fighting in a school or between schools. Maeda Atsuko plays a transfer student with the same name who is shadowed by her dark past. She wears glasses, doesn't want to get into fights but whenever someone uses the words maji (serious) when challenging her, she drops her glasses on the floor and becomes super butt kicking Maeda Atsuko.


If you've seen/read high school fighting manga/anime/movies, you know the drill. Transfer student reluctantly starts getting into fights, builds own gang and soon has the face the top gang in the school before finally the big face off against the big boss. This is pure violence dorama with cliched characters but the emphasis is to keep things moving fast and the fights interesting.

Itano Tomomi looks so kawaiii~~~~. Too bad she can't fight.

Considering it is AKB48 doing the fights themselves, one can't really expect anything much from them. This is the type of situation where I can approve of lots of fast cuts and close ups. Actually, the funny thing is, you can see how physically capable certain girls are depending on the fights. It is obvious that Kojiharu and Itano Tomomi do are very limited. Considering the skills of the girls and the budget, I think the director did a pretty excellent job of doing the fight scenes. There usually is a story to the fight and you can see the moves however weakly they are executed. I'm judging this with way different standards than something like high kick girl.

My ultimate kryptonite; the neko smile! In case you are wondering, her name is Matsui Jurina and she is only 13!

And of course the blood. The hallmark of Japanese B grade movies. No arterial spraying blood since but the girls get bruised and abused a lot. At least the midnight screening time is good for something. Actually comparing the quality of Crows Zero which was pretty successful to Majisuka, there's barely any difference. Lots of posturing and trying to look badass.

Maeda Atsuko does an OK job playing her expressionless namesake but it is Shinoda Mariko who plays the deputy leader of Rapapa, Sado who steals the show. I never thought I'd say this about a girl but she is kakoii. She's got screen presence and the only one in the show allowed to do any acting. I never noticed her in AKB48 until now but she's definitely on my radar. And yes, her name Sado comes from sadomasochistic.

I don't know whether it was lowered expectations or because of how crap Mendol was but I really enjoyed all the things that Majisuka did well. I can sense a level of dedication and care towards making Majisuka I rarely see in midnight doramas. Majisuka isn't a good show by any stretch. Cliched dialogue and one of the biggest plot disappointments in Nezumi's plan but its so bad that it is fun to watch. Lower your expectations and I hope you'll have fun like I did.

Forgot to mention I really love the behind the scenes stuff in the credits with Sakura no Shiori playing. For 25 minutes they try to convince you that they are this bunch of ass kicking students and next thing I'm having warm fuzzy feelings watching a bunch of idols rehearsing their fight scenes. Maybe I'm biased cause it evokes the classic Momusu girls next door trying to idol/actor gambatte feeling.


Anonymous said...

I have this one queued up, but I have not gotten around to it yet. Still not sure, but I will give it a whirl. By the way, "Love Shuffle" as really good. I would have missed this if I had not seen it in your 2009 review.

Your review of "High Kick Girl" was hilarious.

- D

Akiramike said...

If you're familiar with Japanese B-grade movies, give it a whirl. If not, probably try Crows Zero first.