Jdrama Review: Tumbling
I like gymnastics. I can’t do any to save my live (I can barely do the customary forward roll), but I love watching them. My older sister and I used to spend hours watching gymnastics, especially during the Olympic season. Now I had heard of rhythmic gymnastics prior to this series, but I had no idea that they had synchronized performances much like you would see in cheerleading and swimming. Female gymnastics are really cool and artistic, male gymnastics, while artistic, are definitely more powerful. Seeing this blend of the artistry and tumbling was completely awesome. Learning that the boys spent many hours training nonstop in order to perform the tricks themselves, really impressed me. The boys can act and do rhythmic gymnastics!
English title: Tumbling
Broadcast station: TBS
Broadcast dates: April – June 2010
Cast: Yamamoto Yusuke, Seto Koji, Miura Shohei, Daito Shunsuke, Nishijima Takahiro, Tomiura Satoshi, Yanagishita Tomo, Kaku Kento, Tamoto Soran, Isaka Tatsuya, AKIRA, Kuninaka Ryoko
Theme song: “Manazashi” by Honey L Days
Synopsis: So, the basic story is that Azuma Wataru [Yamamoto Yusuke] is the boss of Karasumori High School. He terrifies other students with his looks and fierce temper. When he is told that he has to join a club, he eventually decides on the men’s rhythmic gymnastics club in order to be close to the cute new transfer student Satonaka Mari [Okamoto Azusa]. Through interaction with fellow club members and his own close yankee friends, these boys start changing for the better in pursuit of a common dream—to compete in a team competition with six members.
Now, I won’t really go into a whole lot of detail. Suffice to say, the boy’s team doesn’t have very many members, a good coach, nor quality gym time. They are constantly teased and belittled because of their club and are constantly kicked out of the gym by the prestigious girl’s team. They are also looked down on by other boys’ teams. Unfortunately, in many societies, boys will be looked down on for doing more “feminine” sports. As the boys start to come together as a team and their skills improve, they slowly start commanding attention and earning respect. Of course, their path to their dream is ladened with trouble from fighting, smoking, heart problems, and a former friend turned enemy.
I have heard many people say that they love this drama and were particularly affected by Seto Koji’s acting in his role of team captain Takenaka Yuta. While, I don’t disagree about Seto’s acting, I have to say he was not the sole person who made you tear up or touch you. Actually, going through and watching each boys’ own story play out really hit home, some more so than others, but still. Yes, Seto made you want to cry along with him. He also annoyed with his quick to give up at times attitude and his lack of desire to understand his reforming delinquent teammates. That being said, he really comes through at the end of the drama. He has become much stronger and has become a better leader.
But if I am completely 100% honest, Yuta may be the team captain, but it is really Wataru who is the heart of the team. He is the one who inspires and encourages while also annoying and angering his teammates. He starts off very brash and abrasive, but you know he really has a heart of gold deep down as he values friendship and family above all other things. And even though he started the club with very insincere reasons, it becomes his passion and dream as he develops a strong attachment to his team members and sport. I actually loved watching Yamamato acting this role. It makes me think he would have been an excellent choice to play the lead in Yankee-kun to Megane-chan well. His comedic roles are so outstanding, but when he gets serious, he is an amazing actor as well.
I first saw Miura Shohei [Tsukimori Ryosuke] in the not-so-great reboot of Hana Kimi [ok, technically THIS drama, but I only watched 1 episode when it was airing, not because I didn’t like it, but just time constraints] and then in the drama Shima Shima. He does bare a striking resemblance to Ikuta Toma who originated the role of Nakatsu in Japan. He is also a great younger actor. Playing Wataru’s best friend and fellow delinquent, Miura did an excellent job at showing how conflicted he was with his best friend’s devotion to this crazy new club. While Ryosuke could be more mature, he was really the next hotheaded one always looking for a fight. He was also a club member to be jealous of as he did have great natural ability even though he never really applied himself at first. Miura has been acting pretty steadily since 2008 with Gokusen 3. I really can’t wait to see him headlining more dramas as he is a very good young actor.
Daito Shunsuke as Kiyama Ryuichiro was just awesomeness. He’s like the big brother of the group. Even though he wanted to stay away from people after inadvertently causing the death of his best friend in middle school, he was always secretly concerning himself and getting involved. This man can do it all, bawl emotionally, show fierce anger, and dorky happiness. He’s probably the most observant out of all the club members [and coincidentally, the last to join]. I loved him as Kyoya in Ouran and you can see parts of the smiling devil here in this series as well. As for what he did in the final episode. It was so, so his character. He will be the daddy making sure his kids’ dream comes true. And you know it just wasn’t to save his and his friends’ dreams, it was also to try to save Akabane. Did he deserve saving? I don’t really know. His attitude was a complete mystery to me. But I have to say Daito really suits this big brother/shadow leader type role very well. 😛 Must watch more stuff with him in it as he’s slowly turning into a favorite and he and Yamamoto have a great dynamic together. Much like Yamamoto and Seto who have also acted in several dramas together.
Nishijima Takahiro [member of jpop group AAA affectionately nicknamed Nissy] played Hino Tetsuya and boy can that boy really do the cold stuckup role well. He also really proved his acting chops when it came time to learn the reason Hino is, well, Hino. Given AAA’s dance performances [they do a lot of cool tricks with their dancing], I think Nishijima might have been one of the actors more suited for this role. In fact, his character did more advanced things at first [though all the boys’ tumbling was really good and they all worked really hard to be able to synchronize and perform]. His crying face was ugly as sin at times [funny because he is so pretty], but you could really feel the emotions coming from him. I really enjoyed his performance and being able to see more of him. I never realized how tiny he was until you put him in with all the others. He looked so tiny compared to Miura and Yamamoto. I must say I loved watching him go from cold to having this little love rivalry with Wataru over Mari. Not that anything really happened until the last episode, but Wataru was aware Mari liked him and thus that made Wataru dead set to win against the arrogant Hino.
I can’t really say too much about Tomimura Satoshi as Tsuchiya Satoshi. He was very delicate and feminine and suited to being the mascot/manager of the group. While his acting wasn’t bad, there were times I don’t think he was quite as good as the other group members. And as much as I loved Kaku Kento and he did give some great, emotional performances as Nippori Kenji, another of the delinquent bunch that joined because of his devotion to his aniki Wataru, he kind of faded into the background a bit unless he was bickering with fellow member Kaneko Atsushi [played by Tamoto Soran] who also faded a bit more into the background. Though all three do play important roles in the development of the other characters and such. It’s just that they didn’t have much screen presence as some of the other members.
Now I don’t think I’ve ever seen Yanagishita Tomo in a straight role and by straight, I don’t mean in the comedy sense [and I know he has played straight men roles, but just not that I’ve actually ever really watched him in any as of yet]. I first saw him in the Renai Shindan seriens (Forbidden Love or something like that) in which he played a young man who had an inappropriate relationship with his stepfather and eventually fell for another young man. And then I saw him in Takumi-kun which is more yaoi. This drama is no different. It actually takes half the series to learn of his sexual preference and the events leading up to that declaration and the fallout was quite good. How it was handled afterward…well, it wasn’t. Did it need to be? I don’t know. I just found it funny as so much was built up, but everything went almost immediately back to normal once the club members accepted him. Not that there was anything wrong with things going back to normal…that was a good thing that they didn’t start treating him any differently.
The actors playing the two coaches had some nice development (character and romance-wise) and of course, Otsuka Nene as Azuma Natsuko [Wataru’s mother] was completely awesome. I do admit to not quite understanding why Akabane Reiji [Isaka Tatsuya did a wonderful job playing him] was as evil as he was, but if we didn’t have an arch nemesis [besides the rival school], then we wouldn’t have all the drama. It was always funny to watch that one man constantly pursue Natsuoko. Too bad she never gave him the time of day. 😛 I could have done without the Wataru father incident, but then again, it became important in helping Hino’s development.
I really liked the evolution of the characters. Watching them battle their demons, deepen their friendship, and struggle towards their common dream was awesome. Even though the plot did get redundant a bit [there is always fighting, arguing, etc.], it was still touching as you watched the characters grow up. The final episode was blasé at times when we had the boys all talking about their dreams and the road the led them to compete in the Kanto tournament, but the ending actually made up for that in not being the typical underdogs win. It was realistic in that sense. While it was sad that the boys didn’t make it to the national tournament, to place 3rd at Kanto [which is more like regionals] amongst competitors who had been training longer with experienced coaches, was still pretty great. Also, their performance was highly unique and actually got the audience involved.
Oh, and you have to love how almost every episode has a bath scene. That’s where a lot of bonding and talking problems over happened believe it or not. LOL. Oh, and the yankees reactions to wearing the leotards and bright pink shirts…priceless!
I really wished at times we could see more of the tumbling and less of the drama, but that’s okay. The drama parts weren’t horrible or laggy. At least it wasn’t as bad as kdrama The Musical in which the first few episodes focused solely on putting the musical together and the rest just focused on the characters. That saddened me and kind of ruined the impact of the drama. This one at least was more balanced with showing the tumbling practices, training, and the characters’ interactions and developments.
If you’re looking for a good, high school drama with good looking boys and a strong theme of friendship (and bromance), then this is definitely a must see and I will definitely be rewatching this again. I know it.