I've waited to watch this drama for a pretty long time, mostly because of cast reasons (it has both Kanata Hongo and Dori Sakurada together, I had to see how that turned out), so I wasn't expecting too much out of it other than what a typical sports drama in high school entails. And it is, kind of. But it's also a welcomed surprise, in some aspects. The drama has the main tropes of a sports high school drama: one team initially divided, one teacher who is there to change their fates, a girl coach with an attitude, a reporter, bonding and lots of failing. But not all of it is exactly as it seems. The team is actually bad, really bad and, from day one, they recognize they suck. They won't try to change miraculously overnight, they won't try to out-power their more qualified competitors, they will do what they can with what they have. It's pretty much a Dragon Zakura take on sports, if you will. Which, honestly, is a welcome change in my opinion. The teacher, who seems to be there to change their fates and lives (played by Nino), is actually kind of really done with everything. All the time. And not in a "I pretend I don't care but I'll stay up late cleaning" kind of done, he seems to genuinely not care. Which, of course, has deep roots in memories and a background story to be resolved, but it pays off because, when you get to see emotional Nino, you feel the intensity much more clearly. In dramas like this, with so many cliches, what really makes them stand out to me are the characters and their growth. I have to say I was invested with almost all of them (with the exception of a love triangle I really didn't care about enough at all). My special mentions go to Kanata Hongo, Shotaro Mamiya and Kento Yamazaki (those last two have some really interesting story and development together I was very interested in). All in all, yes, it's filled with cliches, but most of them have their own spin, and it's worth a try. Most of all, my favorite thing about it is that it's unapologetically honest and raw at times. There's a certain scene which is very emotional, for example, and it has absolutely no background music at all, which I thought was a great move to make it even more intense. If you like sports dramas but want something a bit different and don't mind the drama, try this one.
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