Princess Princess D

 I apologize for not sharing any insights with you last week, having been in the midst of preparing to attend Setsucon. However, to make up for it, here’s what you would have seen:  

Every once in a while, it seems necessary to share something I didn’t particularly enjoy, just to keep things interesting (I have a tendency to gravitate towards stories that pique my attention, but for the purpose of this column, I may have to move away from that). In this instance, I’m talking about “Princess Princess D”, based on the manga and anime “Princess Princess”.  

Before we go any further, I’d like to mention that I did in fact (intentionally) complete the anime before sitting down to the drama, so that I’d have an idea of what was coming. The anime was quirky and funny, but also heartfelt, and so even though I’d been warned against watching the live action series, I was wondering whether it could really be that bad.

Princess Princess D, main cast

Princess Princess D, main cast

 

Princess Princess is the story of students in an all-boys school that has a tradition of choosing a few of the prettier freshmen to dress up as girls for school events and club activities to relieve the stress of being in an environment of all boys, all the time. In the anime, Tooru Kouno transfers into the school mid-year and is immediately chosen to join the existing princesses Mikoto Yutaka and Yuujirou Shihoudani (in the live action, he transfers in at the beginning of the year and is elected at the same time as the other two). The plot focuses mostly on their struggle to find balance between their school lives, private lives, princess responsibilities, and relationships with each other.  

The biggest draws for me to the live action series were Takeru Sato (Rurouni Kenshin, Kamen Rider Den-O), who played Tooru, and Ray Fujita (Garo, Zero: Black Blood), who played Yuujirou. It’s really a shame that even with their skills, they weren’t able to carry it as well as the anime. Probably the main reason it fell apart was because of the budget. The story demands a lot of extra actors to fill in gaps when the princesses are appearing in their female garb, to give the illusion that this is in fact a popular activity at the school. Unfortunately, aside from the three princesses, the student council, and the drama-only “dark princesses” the student body was incredibly sparse. Pairing that with princesses that while are good looking guys, are very awkward as girls, and the live action sadly falls flat.  

I ignored the warnings to stay away from this one, but I hope you’ll take it seriously.

Rating: 1st gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]

Nobunaga Concerto (live-action drama)

It’s been done before, and it will probably be done again. Sending characters through time somehow seems to not become overused – as long as it’s done well.

Nobunaga Concerto

In this case, I’m talking about Nobunaga Concerto. The story starts with a high school student named Saburo, played by Shun Oguri (Lupin III, Space Brothers), who is on a field trip to a historical style village. Having wandered off by himself and gotten turned around, he climbs up onto a wall to try to find his way out. His foot slips on a shingle, and he slides off, falling down a long hill and onto a dirt road. Around the bend come two figures on horseback, one of which being Nobunaga, of the famous Oda clan of Japanese history. Nobunaga is frail and under constant threat of murder. He and Saburo size each other up, noticing that their faces are identical, and he asks Saburo to take over his role as the up and coming leader of the clan, handing over a sword that will serve as proof of heritage. Saburo, thinking he’s still inside the historical tour, accepts it with a smile.

Saburo of course quickly discovers that it’s all very real. He’s really in the “Warring States” era, his life is really in danger, and everyone thinks he’s really Nobunaga. Including Nobunaga’s wife Kichou, played by Kou Shibasaki (Battle Royale, Galileo). Coming from a future where there’s an atmosphere of relative peace, he has a lot of trouble with the concept of everyone trying to kill each other and themselves. He is gradually able to win people over though, as he continually makes the arguments to start building towards his future.

I’m not much of a history student, so I really appreciate shows like this, even knowing full well that they’re mostly fiction. Every once in a while, Saburo comes across someone else who had fallen through the time slip (offhand I can think of two), and aside from his school textbook I’m actually glad that aspect wasn’t given a whole lot of attention. The story was largely character-driven, and it was great to see the chemistry between all the actors. I had somehow grown so attached to Saburo, that I found myself in tears when he faced his biggest decision in the climax of episode 11.

Having read an unfavorable review of the anime and watched part of episode 1, all I can say is that there are a lot of things that can be done in live action that can’t necessarily be done with animation, especially in this case with differences in time allotment per episode. The sets and costuming were gorgeous, and while the dialogue may not have been historically accurate to character, it was believable.

I’ve seen rumor that there’s more to the story. The manga extends beyond what we’ve seen, so I sincerely hope the rumor is true. Because if it’s not, somebody wasn’t planning very well.

Unless historical fiction is the complete opposite of your “cup of tea”, I definitely recommend checking this one out.

Rating: 4th Gear

[If you have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future article, please don’t hesitate to email me at Sara at otdt.net.]