For those not altogether familiar with Japanese TV dramas, much like anime the stories can be quite eclectic in nature. Some are quite serious and deal with tough, emotional issues. Others are comical throughout and thrive on a near continuous series of humorous moments and lines. Most dramas though are a combination of the above. By using a mix of humor and emotion the creators of these shows create TV delights that entertain the audience while offering sometimes profound messages about everyday life. Yukan Club is a perfect example of this synthesis.
Based on a manga of the same name, the Yukan Club drama centers around six high school students that attend a prestigious Japanese high school, which they seem to take for granted on a daily basis. Each member of the Yukan Club, or leisure club as it’s translated, comes from a prestigious background of some sort. They reflect their worldly importance in their own statuses at school, since the club is filled with student council leaders and/or team captains. The Yukan Club members’ only motivation in the show is to keep themselves entertained in lieu of the boring classes (which they rarely attend). While a host club would seem appropriate, the Yukan Club chooses instead to meddle, thus becoming what I like to consider the Japanese equivalent of the Scooby Doo gang. Their oft repeated motto “make the impossible possible” is usually associated with the Club solving a mystery, or somehow helping someone have a better life, which is essentially what happens every episode.
While there are so many elements of this show that make it worthy of chuckles and praise, the characters by far stand out the most. Each person is a unique archetype and together they all make a cool team, albeit an odd one. Shochikubai Miroku is the assumed leader even though he’s only the Vice-President of the Student Council. He has charm and boyishly good looks that in the series is actually underplayed. Instead his sensitivity and good-naturedness is what drives his character. Miroku’s played by Jin Akanishi, a member of Japanese boy band KAT-TUN. Akanishi’s bandmate Junnosuke Taguchi plays Bido Granmarie, who is son to the Japanese ambassador for Sweden. Bido is known as a playboy and very little else. The third male in the Yukan Club is Kikumasamune Seishiro, a brilliant martial arts champion whose determination, brains, and fighting skills often get the club out of serious jams. Seishiro is played by Yokoyama Yu, who is also a member of a Japanese boy band called Kanjani8.
The ladies who make up the other half of the team are equally unique and in their own way help make the club as strange, and strangely successful, as it is. Perhaps most prominent, and easily one of my favorite characters, is Kenbishi Yuri. Yuri is known not only for her all around athleticism, but also for her constant hunger and her quirky family. Yuri is played by the actress Minami, and she is featured in perhaps more episodes of Yukan Club than any of the other characters. Hakushika Noriko is known as a reserved girl who has an extraordinary fear of men, and comes from a more old-fashioned Japanese family, having a mother who does tea ceremonies and a father who makes traditional Japanese art. The actress who plays her is Kashii Yu. The last member of the Yukan Club is Kizakura Karen. Much like Bido, her character is known predominantly for her looks and personal vanity. One might say her screen time is equally minimal. She is played by the actress Suzuki Emi.
Ultimately each character’s own distinctive personality comes through and, in one way or another, helps lead to a positive resolution. Beyond the characters though, and the actors own draw, the story itself definitely earns points. Not because of anything brilliantly profound in the episodes, but more for the creator’s ability to weave good natured lessons into the characters humorous antics. While a fight scene might show Yuri high-kicking an enemy 20 feet away, all in the name of comedy, the reason for the fight might be to stand up for a friend in need. This synthesis is what caught my attention to begin with and I believe is what continues to bring new fans to the Yukan Club.
Whether you’re new to J-Drama, or a long term veteran, this silly yet endearing show is a must. This Yukan Club will make you laugh, may make you cry, but most importantly, with it’s combo of sleuths meet goofs, it’ll entertain you. I highly recommend this for your viewing pleasure.
Score: 4 out of 5