Japan Drama Review: Five (2017)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

 


Five

Country: Japan

Year: 2017

Episodes: 8 episodes, 25 minutes each

Genre: School, Romance, Friendship, Reverse Harem

Starring: Nana Asakawa, Ryuji Sato, Koudai Matsuoka, Mario Kuroba, Yukito Nishii, Takuya Negishi

My Rating★★

Click to read more of my reviews for Japanese entertainment.

When you delve into Dramaland you quickly discover that there are good dramas and bad dramas. Five is so bad that it's funny and wormed its bizarre little way into my heart just a little bit. Not enough to ever rewatch it, but still.

My Story Synopsis for Five

When Hina Aso joins her new high school, she is put in an all-boys A-Class (these are the smartest kids in school). The only friends she makes are the 5 most popular boys in the school, Toshi, Takui, Jun, Nao, and Kojiro. Get it! Yes, the name of the series makes sense now! *eye roll* Naturally, this makes her an enemy of all the girls in the school, as well as, for some unknown reason, the student council who seems to thrive on trying to take their A-Class students down a peg or two and disperse them into the other classes. Add to that Hina's feelings about Toshi and Takui's feelings about Hina and we have a glorious love triangle, one of many.

My Thoughts on Five

This drama starts out ridiculous and ends ridiculous. 



The Acting and The Story

It's overdone, over-dramatized, over-acted, pretty much any over you can think of. The entire series is a collection of stereotypes thrust together. You've got the playboy with the heart of gold, the intellectual, the kendo (sports) enthusiast, the best friend, and the gay boy (although the jury's still out on that one). To say nothing of Toshi's best friends from childhood who are both in love with him (a girl AND a boy). Because that happens so often. The stereotypes are remarkably weird. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge also had stereotypes but they were less, shall we say, PRONOUNCED than in Five. There was more to work with, even though it had its absurd moments too. Hopefully, I'll actually review YNSH at some point since it's one of my favorite dramas and it's sort of a crime that I haven't written about it yet.

Five is also awash with popular Japanese tropes, like love triangles/squares/quadrangles, etc. There's the bullying girls in the school, the bullying boys in the school, the good girl falls in love with the bad boy trope (although he's a straight-A student so how is he a delinquent other than his bleached hair?). There's even the "hero and heroine get locked together in the school basement overnight" trope. His fear of the dark was somewhat original. As is her bizarre personality change when she drinks coffee. That was just weird. Caffeine doesn't do that. There's the sports festival, although it's not the traditional kind usually seen so that was different. There's even a crossdresser. And of course, the biggie, the reverse harem, meaning one girl and many boys in love with her. 

The Screenplay

I'm sorry, folks, but the episode screenplays are just not good.

There's a problem with the dramas under 30 minutes in length per episode. These are usually of lesser quality than the ones in the 45 - 60 minute an episode timeframe. Five proves that point. It's a lesser drama created from a lesser manga. Thankfully, it's not one of the more content-heavy mangas turned dramas since that's a whole other issue that's been cropping up in the last 5 years or so. Overall, Five is definitely a B Grade drama, possibly even a C Grade since I almost feel like labeling it B Grade is doing a disservice to B Grade dramas. It feels like they're running out of decent material so they work with the manga leftovers.

Objectionable Content

Planned rape that doesn't get off the ground, highly stylized fistfights, a couple of Japanese no-touchy non-kisses that they disguised pretty well with clever camera angles, minor swearing, a girl presenting herself as male for unknown reasons considering she's actually in love with her male childhood friend who's definitely straight (that was pretty weird since there was a near kiss involving another girl), and of course, the bizarre idealized reverse harem in the first place. It's an easy trope to get wrong, and Five gets it weirdly wrong. There's also potential triggering for any bullying victims.


All the Feels

At least we have Hina. She's fairly sweet but has tougher skin than I expected. I like her and I kind of like her and Toshi together. She doesn't let herself get pushed around and she stands up for herself and her friends. It's not always the guys leaping to the rescue, which amazes me. But whereas My Little Monster (CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW) did the weird boy vibe so well with Suda Masaki as the male lead, Five just doesn't quite get there. Ryuji Sato tries, but the character is just a little too stereotypical reformed bad boy (again, not sure how a straight-A student is a bad boy) so there isn't much he could do. I give all the lead actors kudos. They all exhibited enthusiasm, but the story is just too absurd for words. I laughed a bit and by the end was somewhat invested, but I did an awful lot of eye-rolling. I'm amazed I watched the whole thing.

If you're new to Japanese dramas, Five probably isn't the place to start. It's too absurd for newbies, and almost too absurd for me. I do sort of wish there'd been a 2nd season since that would have helped wrap things up, but oh well. That's another issue with the under-30-minutes series; there's rarely a follow-up season when one is needed.

Where can I watch Five?

If you want to watch it with English subtitles you can try this page at DramaCool. That is if you actually want to even try it and have 3 hours or so spare for a drama that's probably not really worth your time.

WARNING: There are offensive ads on DramaCool. I have an ad blocker (Kaspersky) that I use when on DramaCool so I don't see them. Go read my reasons why I think you need an adblocker before viewing content on DramaCool.

4 comments

  1. This sounds a lot like Boys Over Flowers. A k-drama, but they seem to have a lot of similarities.

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    1. It's funny you would mention Boys Over Flowers. I'm actually about halfway through the Japanese drama version from 2005 called Hana Yori Dango, and you're right, there are a few similarities, probably because they utilize a couple of the same tropes. While the guys in Five are admittedly nicer to start with than the ones in BoF, BoF is far more original and feels more authentic. Japan really loves its high school and college stories. I'm always so intrigued when a story takes off and gets 4 or 5 different reboots like Boys over Flowers. There's even a version from Thailand!

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    2. Oh that's funny. It does seem to be a popular trope.
      I have liked what I've seen of Boys Over Flowers so far. It is neat that is has so many versions.

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    3. I should probably finish the Jdrama at some point. There's a second season too so it's a little bit of a commitment, but their shows are rarely longer than 10 episodes.

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Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!