This is number 2 of my “forgotten blog entries”. First off, a disclaimer: I saw Nobuta wo Produce almost two years ago and took a couple screen captures for a blog post that never happened. I’ve forgotten most of the details about this drama, but since I had the screencaps lying around, I figured I might as well dust them off and get them online.
Nobuta wo Produce is a high school drama and a coming-of-age story about several students. Kiritani Shuji (played by Kamenashi Kazuya, center in image) is the most popular kid in school and respected by everyone, but his friendly and cool personality is a deceptive one that he uses to get whatever he wants. Kusano Akira (played by Yamashita Tomohisa, right in image) is the wacky class clown who talks a lot and makes a lot of noise but seems to be largely ignored by everybody, as far as I can remember. He looks up to Shuji and wants to hang around him, but Shuji wants nothing to do with him.
One day, a shy new student shows up at the school: Kotani Nobuko (played by Horikita Maki, left in image). She quickly becomes an outcast and is bullied by the other girls. For some reason I have forgotten, Shuji and Akira decide to have some fun together and begin a project to help Nobuko get out of her shell and make her popular.
This may sound like the cliché American high school comedy where the unpopular girl is given a makeover and all of a sudden becomes the hottest, most outgoing girl in school, but Nobuta wo Produce isn’t like that. Nobuko makes a few friends, but still remains pretty shy and never makes it to alpha girl status. In fact, Nobuko’s transformation isn’t a major focus. Instead, the friendship that develops between these three students is the point of the drama.
Ordinarily, reading about a show with this kind of premise would not motivate me to watch. But while browsing through the D-Addicts community recommendations a couple years back, this show was one of the highest rated shows so I decided to give it a shot.
I have to admit that I didn’t find the drama all that entertaining or interesting, though at least I managed to finish all the episodes. My only explanation for the extremely high rating (I just checked and Nobuta wo Produce is still #3 on their all-time Japanese drama rankings) is that D-Addicts has tons of zealous Kamenashi Kazuya and Yamashita Tomohisa fangirls who voted for the show, which is very likely considering how many girls are in that community.
It turns out that Kamenashi Kazuya and Yamashita Tomohisa are popular singers who also have acting careers. The two together created a temporary J-pop group called Shuuji to Akira, named after their characters in Nobuta wo Produce, and sang the show’s theme song called Seishun Amigo. This turned out to be the #1 best selling Japanese single of 2005. Admittedly, I thought the song was pretty good before knowing about all this and would always let it play out after each episode during the credits.
I feel sheepish that I didn’t find all this information about the actors’ backgrounds and the music until after I finished watching the show. But the show’s popularity also makes more sense now. Personally, I thought Nobuta wo Produce was rather boring. Because it’s been so long since I watched, I can’t cite any specifics as examples, but that’s been my predominant memory of the show whenever I see the name. Sure, not a very defensible position, but in some ways, these “long afterwards” impressions are the most accurate. How many times have you felt passionate about a show or a movie immediately after the first viewing, but a couple days later after you’ve given some time for it to sink in, it’s not nearly as good as you first thought it was? Well, in this case, I’ve had not two days, but nearly two years since I finished the show!
For anybody who loves this show, feel free to drop a comment about why you’re such a big fan.
Aired Autumn 2005
Genre: School drama