Maki Horikata - Mizuki Ashiya
Shun Oguri - Izumi Sano
Ikuta Toma - Shuichi Nakatsu
Too many others - Too many GREAT characters!
The live-action Japanese drama based on the manga by Hisaya Nakajo was AWESOME. I loved the entire cast. I was surprised by the up-staging of Sano (Shun Oguri) by Nakatsu (Ikuta Toma.) I don't know if it was just the acting (quite possibly) or if it was the actor or character. I absolutely loved Nakatsu. I found myself wanting Ashiya to choose Nakatsu instead of Sano. But, I'm getting ahead of myself - aren't I? I really aught to give you a run-down of the plot first, shouldn't I? Ok here goes. The story is about Ashyia Mizuki (Maki Horikata), a female American student who secretly enters an all-boys academy in Japan. The reason for her deception is to help the object of her affection/obsession/whatever return to participating in the high jump. The reason she feels the need to help him varies in all three different tellings of the story (the original manga form, the Taiwanese drama and the Japanese drama) but, nevertheless she goes all the way to Japan to help Izumi Sano (Shun Oguri) return to the competing in the high jump he once loved. Along the way, she befriends Nakatsu Shuichi (Ikuta Toma) and the rest of Ohsaka High School. The Japanese version of this show varied completely from the Taiwanese version, let alone the manga. I've enjoyed all three, but the Japense live-action was very passionate and fun. I laughed really hard at some of the parts, which was refreshing. I think the casting was really good for this show. Dr. Umeda was really great. He was attractive and cold, but compassionate towards Mizuki. The three main characters were wonderful. I still like Shun Oguri as Rui Hanazawa better though. My biggest issue was the casting of Kyo Nobuo as Masao Himejima (Oscar M. Himejima) He looked funny and WAY too old to be a high school student. Don't get me wrong, over time I came to love him, but in the manga he was such a pretty boy and Kyo Nobuo really isn't. One of the biggest differences I noticed was the ending. I don't know how the original story ends (in the manga) because the English version isn't done printing yet. (We're on volume 17 or 18 I think) But the Taiwanese version was left wide-open, while the Japnese version had a definite end. Not that they didn't leave room for a special or season two. It is a company based on ratings after all. But, if you are looking for a laugh and lots of passionate acting check out this drama. It's definitely worth the time to watch it.
Oh - did I mention the yummy factor? The amount of attractive young Japanese men in this show had me swooning like a school girl. If I had been on the set, I probably would have fainted.