Samurai high school is a nine episode Japanese TV show with comedy, drama, and action. It is a bizarre specimen among the dramas I have seen, with a uniquely Japanese premise. It stars Hauma Miura as Kotaro Mochizuki a timid, introspective teenager who attends a private high school. One day he discovers an old book about the Japanese civil war. The book turns out to be dealing with his ancestor who even shares his name and age. Upon reading the book the spirit of his ancient ancestor leaves the spirit world and lives within Kotaro to poses him whenever he finds himself in a difficult situation. The samurai takes control of Kotaro’s body to protect him and to further his vague cause of “restoring honor”. The contrast between the quirky introverted Kotaro and the serious and respectful samurai is pretty interesting and it’s interesting to see how people react to his change.
There’s not much in terms of story here in fact I pretty much just summed it all up. Each of the 9 episodes tells a self resolving story the exception being the final two episodes that are connected. Each episode begins with a new plot element being introduced, such as a camera crew showing up at the school to film an exceptional student for a day. Kotaro faces a dilemma usually dealing with his personal life or one of his classmates and he initially hides from the problem. After some time though, Kotaro decides to deal with the situation. Eventually if Kotaro finds himself unable to deal with the problem by himself the samurai posses him to deal with it. The final story is a two part finale but it pretty much follows the same format.
The biggest element that continues through the series are the relationships between Kotaro and the other characters as they develop and react to the major changes Kotaro goes through at random. He gains a friend in Nakamura Tsuyoshi played by Shirota Yu and he grows closer to his lifelong friend and crush Ai Nagasawa played by Joker Yerezaru Sousakan’s Anne Watanabe. The friendship with Nakamra is pretty natural and the slow love story with Ai was also done well and made even more interesting when Ai actually starts being more attracted to the samurai. Besides the relationship with Ai the best developed was the one Kotaro and his father who figures out something is going on with Kotaro right away. Throughout the series he goes to his father for advice and help. I really liked this part of the show and I found this relationship very relatable.
The show juggles drama and comedy mostly but every episode has its fair share of action whenever the Samurai takes over. Each of these elements serves its purpose and none of them feel forced or overplayed. When the show wants to be comedy its funny when the show want to be drama it’s serious, each idea is presented in a way that the audience shouldn’t get bored. I felt invested in each situation and I think it’s all thanks to a great performance by Miura. I was surprised by his characterization initially as the unsure class clown because I had grown so used to his character on Bloody Monday. But very quickly I realized what a diverse actor Miura could be and he is consistently good thorough this series whether he’s being the lazy student or the badass samurai. Ill admit though I found it amusing to imagine that Samurai high school was in the same story as Bloody Monday and Joker Yerezaru Sousakan because of the two lead characters and the high school it is shot at seems to be the same from Bloody Monday. But I guess that’s just me being a drama nerd.
I really liked this series overall, everything comes in a great balance and it was just a fun series to watch. Have you ever watched something and felt nostalgic even though you never have seen it before? That’s how I felt while watching because I found the characters so relatable and real. I felt like I knew the characters from my own life. Japanese TV is known for having over the top characters and while the situation of this show is over the top the characters (besides the samurai) are not. This show is very watchable and accessible, if you’ve never watched a drama I suggest starting here.
- Introduces the characters and the situation, the friendship starting between the main two characters begins.
- A TV crew shows up to focus on an exceptional student and Kotaro has do deal with some injustice when he is asked to lose to him for dramatic effect on camera.
- Ai seemingly disappears to follow her dreams and Kotaro rallies his friends to find her and support her in her dreams with dramatic consequences.
- Kotaro notices a classmate has been missing from school for some time and decides to investigate what happened to the straight a student. Weirdly gangsters are involved.
- An episode based around Kotaro’s relationship with his family kind of a touching one but it ends in a bombshell that his father has been fired.
- In the wake of his father’s job search Kotaro decides to give up school and get a job even though he has very low work ethic. He wants to help his sister pay for collage for herself, or does he just want to avoid studying.
- After returning to school Kotaro is attacked by thugs working for an old school rival.
- An ancient samurai sword randomly appears on Kotaro’s doorstep, he has to find out who it belongs to and has to return it before he is caught with a weapon.
- The final episode in the series, a good conclusive episode wraps everything up nicely.