Koukou Debut is one of my all-time favorite mangas together with Akuma de Sourou (Devil Beside You) and Nodame Cantabile. These three are the only ones in my manga collection aside from a few volumes of Ranma 1/2.
So when I heard that they were going to make a live action of the manga, I was so excited!
But I already had my reservations the moment I saw the girl. Haruna is supposed to be a sprightly, lively, cheerful girl. If this were Shen Mama (Office Girls reference), she would have described her eyes as “smiling” the way she describes Roy Qiu aka Qin Zi Qi’s eyes. I could forgive the broody acting of the actor playing Yoh because Yoh is like that.
The movie was to be released just before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami happened. Nothing was heard of it after the disaster so I wondered if they pushed through with the launch. Apparently, they did but it barely made noise. That may be because everyone’s attention was on the disaster or that the movie really bombed. And judging from the trailer, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
But I had to see for myself too. So I looked for a streaming site. You can watch it here without subs.
The problem with reading the manga first before the live action, there’s the danger that the latter may end up failing to meet expectations. Of course you’d have a clear picture in your head on what the character should be like on live screen. But when you’re confronted with something that is very far from your imagination, then disappointment sets in.
This didn’t happen though with Kimi ni Todoke. The live action had its charms. I watched Devil Beside You first before reading Akuma de Sourou. I love both. I love the drama because of my OTP, Mike He and Rainie Yang. But there were a lot of details in the manga that they didn’t do in the live action, like the epilogue, and it would have been amazing if they did. Same thing with Nodame Cantabile, I liked the manga, drama and movie.
So it’s not as if I had impossible expectations of Koukou Debut’s live action. I just wanted Yoh and Haruna to be better versions of my imagination while reading the manga. To be fair, Junpei Mizobata was OK as Yoh, but he could have been better. But Ito Ono was not able to capture Haruna. Not even when she was trying to be perky. She looked like a young girl forced by her mother to do something against her will–in this case, act in a movie.
Sae Miyazawa of AKB48 was OK as Mami, Haruna’s best friend. But she was the only one in the support cast that stood out. Let’s start with Yoh’s friends: Masaki Suda as Fumiya looked like a total slob; Yuki Furukawa as Asaoka looked so gay and not as charming as the manga character. Rina Aizawa as Yoh’s pretty sister Asami only got the wavy hair right; the rest… let’s not even talk about it. Rei Okamoto as the lovely ex-girlfriend Kurihara was pretty but by the time she appeared, the movie was beyond salvation for me.
Such a pity that Koukou Debut failed as, well, a debut for its upstart cast. Total miscast.
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