“Not another yankee drama?” Suikyu Yankees is very un-yankee in a way that they chose to battle in water than get all bloody while fighting using metal pipes. This is Nakajima Yuto’s first lead drama and it was well-received at 8.8% in ratings despite the late time-slot. The drama is full of speedos, hairspray and heart.
Here is a quick recap of Suikyu Yankees : Episode 1
10 years ago, young Inaba Naoya is being bullied by three yakuzas after he accidentally bumps into one of them and spills his ice cream. It’s the usual, “you bump into me so repay me” thing. Inaba goes on crying until a hero arrives, a blonde yankee in all-black school uniform.
Fight started and Inaba was just gobsmacked with what he saw. The blonde yankee’s friends arrive, calls his name, and the pathetic yakuzas eventually recognized him as Kurosawa (Yokoyama Yuu), Kasu High’s gang leader. After they learned Kurosawa’s identity, they ran with wagging their tails behind.
Kurosawa then tells Inaba that he can’t accept seeing men cry and Inaba says that he doesn’t like it either. Kurosawa then tells him his famous words that will forever be ingrained in Inaba’s mind, “If you give up right away then you can’t do anything. It’s not over until you give up, the possibilities are endless.” Kurosawa then approaches Inaba, drapes his jacket uniform, and tells Inaba that once he has gotten stronger, he can then return Kurosawa’s jacket. How can yankees say cool things?
10 years after…
Iwasaki Nagisa (Ohara Sakurako) excitedly waits for her childhood friend who will returning after years abroad. She prays at the temple with hopes that Naoya grew-up cool and her mother also hopes the same. However, both of them find it odd why Naoya want to enroll in Kasu High School. Iwasaki-papa arrives and Nagisa gets the shocked of her life, or maybe just her high school life.
At Kasu High, the news that there will be a student returnee spreads like wildfire. The faculty office is not expecting too much from the student but the Principal (Morimoto Leo) tells them that this student rejected an offer from Suiran High School so there must be something in him.
In class, Shimura Kohei (Nakagawa Taishi) is particularly excited since the student is from abroad and it might be a girl (typical delusion for someone in an all-boys school). Kimura Tomoki (Chiba Yudai) can only laugh at his friend’s idiocy and as they fool around, they got interrupted by Kato Shinsuke (Yoshizawa Ryo) 3D otaku moment as he watches an announcement from his favorite idol, Kanna-chan. The three continuously squeal on their angel-like idol and how a talent like Kanna-chan only appears in a thousand years, when Tomoki asks who is the top idol 1,000 years ago, Kohei answers that it must be Ono no Imoko. LOL. This makes Mifune Ryuuji (Yamazaki Kento) laughs and tells them that Ono no Imoko is a man.
The door opens and the returnee student arrives with too much hair spray and 90’s fashion sense. The homeroom teacher scaredly introduces the new student, who then writes his name on board, and introduces himself as Inaba Naoya (Nakajima Yuto) along with nonsense facts about spirit, chivalry, fighting, and announces that he transferred at Kasu High to take the top position.
Class started, Inaba takes one look at his “Aim for the top” notebook/planner and immediately goes to where Ryuuji is seated. Math teacher Chiharu (Oomasa Aya) gets ignored by Naoya as he demands the corner back window seat from Ryuuji since according to Naoya’s yankee dictionary, the corner back window seat is where the leader always sits. XD.
At first, Ryuuji ignores him as he was playing with his PSP, until he died because of Naoya’s interruption. He stood up and had a staring match with Naoya, which gives him the idea that Ryuuji might be the current leader of Kasu High. Seeing that Chiharu is in a pinch, Miyaguchi Koki (Yamoto Yuma) wakes-up Chiaki Ryo (Mamiya Shotaro) to rescue his beloved teacher. Chiaki acts tough and goes to Ryuuji and Naoya to stop an impending fight but Ryuuji accidentally elbowed him, leaving Chiaki on the floor. Seeing that, Naoya confirms his earlier suspicion and challenges Ryuuji to a fight and even gives him a challenge letter. Don’t tell me he always carry that around?
Class have ended for the day and Naoya is still at the rooftop waiting for Ryuuji. haha. Chiharu goes up to return his notebook, which is full of his plans to be Kasu High’s top. Chiharu tells him that he must have read too many yankee mangas in abroad because Naoya’s looks and attitude have long been GONE. Chiharu also adds that Ryuuji is just like Naoya who turned down an offer from Suiran, she recalls a distant memory and wishes that a guy like Naoya have arrived a little sooner. Hmmm….
Elsewhere, Kohei is convinced that Naoya have time-slip. haha. It’s the only explanation he can think of why Naoya dresses and acts that way. While they were eating some croquettes, Shinsuke receives an email that he got invited in Kanna-chan’s handshake event and while they rejoices Shinsuke’s invitation, Ryuuji looks at Suiran High School’s Water Polo Team poster cheering them on to take their 3rd championship.
At Suiran, the Water Polo Team practices at pool (wherelse?) lead by their captain Kitajima Torao (Takaki Yuya) with the guidance of their advisor, Shouji (Kurashina Kana). Nagisa happens to be the team’s manager and she gets scolded by the two girls in the team lead by Fujisaki Rei (Shinkawa Yua) for not keeping the score properly. Nagisa apologizes for it and when Shibata Riko (Sano Hinako), one of nicer girls from the team, asks her about her childhood friend who have returned to Japan, she can only sigh.
Nagisa continues to sigh at an okonomiyaki restaurant when Kohei, Ryuji, Tomoki and Shinsuke arrives and greets Nagisa. Oh, so they know Nagisa? Small town, huh. Shinsuke isn’t too please to see about a Kato-chan special for Suiran’s water polo team on their restaurant’s board. His brother reasons-out that it was decided by the Shopping District Association that they must cheer more for the said team.
As it turns-out, the entire district takes pride on Suiran’s Water Polo team and is just loved by everyone while Kasu High is being looked-down. They joke that it’s only Nagisa who treats them as humans. Tomoki also starts telling Nagisa about an “absurd yankee idiot” who transferred at their school, when described further, Nagisa realizes that they were talking about Naoya. When asks about Nagisa’s friend who will stay at their place, Nagisa gets flustered and immediately says that she has an urgent business. She left running, leaving her water polo notebook behind.
Seeing the notebook, Ryuuji decides to follow Nagisa and eventually, she confesses that they guy who transferred to Kasu High is her childhood friend who is also staying at their place. Ryuuji decides to give Nagisa the challenge letter that Naoya have given earlier and Nagisa’s irritation and disappointment on Naoya started to escalate further.
Naoya arrives back at Nagisa’s place after waiting until sunset for Ryuuji. Nagisa confronts him in her shrine maiden attire and asks how Naoya have changed that much. She adds that he’s no longer cute and the scaredy-cat Naoya who runs to Nagisa for help. I guess that’s actually a good thing for him to have man-up. Anyway, when Nagisa asks him what made him a yankee, Naoya tells her how the gang leader of Kasu High saved him when he was little. After that incident, Naoya just want to be stronger so when he sees Kurosawa again, he can return Kurosawa’s uniform.
Nagisa don’t get it and tells Naoya that Kasu High will soon close anyway. This send shockwaves to Naoya.
The next day, the three cute idiots (can I call them that?) where dancing with joy as Shinsuke receives the ticket for the handshake event when some guys from Suiran water polo team arrives. You could feel trouble brewing the moment they commented how the cute idiots were having fun early in the morning.
Elsewhere, Naoya have started his plan to prevent Kasu High from closing. However, putting-up posters is a Herculean task as the entire town is very much pro-Suiran. He sees Ryuuji and tells him he understands why Ryuuji didn’t show up at rooftop, Naoya understands that with the school close to being shut down, one-on-one match is just irrelevant. Uhm, you didn’t really understand anything, Naoya.
Naoya then blabbers about cooperating together and even gives Ryuuji his share of posters to put-up when Suiran’s Torao and Rei calls on Ryuuji. Naoya recognizes them as the guys from the water polo poster (though Naoya reads it as water ball). You can feel dark aura everywhere and Torao starts his trash talk on how a former ace like Ryuuji is hanging with guys like Naoya. Naoya, obviously, is too dense to read the mood and tells Torao that Ryuuji is just a temporary leader and will soon be his position.
The rest of the Suiran Water Polo team catches-up to their captain and goes-on with more trash talk Ryuuji. Those guys makes my blood boil. One of those trash-talking guys throws something at Ryuuji and he recognizes it as the handshake event ticket of Kanna-chan. Immediately, he ran to his friends.
Ryuuji finds the three cute idiots on grass and somewhat wasted (awww…) and Shinsuke tells him that those trash-talking guys told them that trash like don’t have the right to have them and such. Naoya has had enough of being told by a school like Suiran how Kasu High is better if it gets abolished. He confronts Ryuuji and asks if he is not frustrated being told that and they even did something unforgivable to his friends. Kohei tells Naoya that they can’t do anything about it, the Water Polo team is glorified by the town and them at Kasu High has to give-up on living the moment they enter Kasu. Err, then die.
Naoya finds everything unacceptable and tells them that he was just like them, he has given-up on life. However, he recalls Kurosawa’s words on how it’s not over until he hasn’t given up. Thus, Naoya ran away towards Suiran High School. Ryuuji and co. follows him though Ryuuji reluctantly enters Suiran as memories of his past began flooding in, something about him quitting Water Polo.
Naoya arrives at Suiran swimming site and the Water Polo team are all dressed-up in their speedos. Naoya gives a lengthy speech on how Suiran are acting like a bunch of heroes, looking down on people, and stepping on the weak. You go, Naoya! However, Naoya’s speech was ignored as Torao would rather face Ryuuji who is now at Naoya’s back. When Torao asks Ryuuji if he has the right to be in that place, Naoya tells Torao not to mix things-up since [water polo] is just playing ball in water.
Torao is insulted on how lightly Naoya sees their sport. Ehh, people who call other trash don’t have the right to complain when they get insulted as far as I’m concern. Thus, Torao challenges Naoya to a one-on-one match. It’s fairly simple, Naoya must score at least one goal and if he does, Torao will stop looking down on Kasu High and if he can’t score at least one ball, Naoya has to get down on his knees and apologized.
The 10-minute match starts and Naoya is obviously at disadvantage since he’s finding it hard to stay afloat since his feet can hardly reach the floor. The game goes on and Torao’s score is now 9, Naoya asks Ryuuji how can Torao stays afloat, Ryuuji tells him its water treading. Ryuuji also tells him to give-up as he won’t win with Torao as his opponent. This irks Naoya and tells Ryuuji that he really won’t win if he gives up.
Naoya then goes underwater and sees how Torao does it. He mimics Torao’s movement and soon enough, Naoya is treading as well. Now that he can tread, the battle to get a single goal continuous, Naoya gets the ball and jumps as high as he can to throw the ball in the goal area. However, it was too high that it hit the post and shortly after, Naoya lost consciousness.
I don’t know who saved Naoya but he was places on the floor, Chihara together with Kohei, Shinsuke, and Tomoki goes to Naoya though the three quickly leaves to follow Ryuuji who left without a word. Hisashi asks Nagisa to guide them to infirmary and tells Torao that its been too long since he saw Torao get beaten in height. She must be referring to that jump Naoya did.
Naoya wakes-up in an infirmary, Nagisa is beside him, and Chihara arrives to give his uniform. Naoya touches the Kasu High’s school pin on his collar. and he was just frustrated especially with the fact that the school will soon close down after he yearned for it all those years. However, Chihara tells him that there’s a way for Naoya’s beloved Kasu High not to close down.
The next day, Naoya goes to rooftop for an entirely different reason. As students start arriving, Naoya starts his speech on his huge plan for the school not to close down and that is the recruitment of members for Kasu High Water Polo (ball) Club.
The principal did nothing to stop Naoya and even gushes that a brand new wind have just blew in.
Suikyu Yankees is really good and I’m not saying this because of Yuto. You know how when time seems to be fast when you’re enjoying something, that’s just like with Suikyu Yankees. It feels like it finished quickly because it’s such an enjoyable watch.
Yuto fits the role perfectly, he’s a yankee but he has this certain aura that you won’t be scared with him and even laugh at him. Also, he should have done comedy roles long time ago since it suits him well. Yamazaki’s role is better this time compared to his wuss-self in YowaKate; its amazing how he can be so effective with two different characters. On Takaki’s role, he is effective for a jerk since he pisses me off. XD. After all, its rare for a Johnny to take on the role of a villain.
Aside from the main guys, I love the three cute idiots. haha. They are so natural with their acting that I can totally see why Ryuuji wants to take care of them. They also have this right chemistry with each other. Nagisa is so-so and I wish that Inaba will go the sensei route with Chiharu. haha. I’m thinking that Chiharu knows Kurosawa.
With the plot, water polo is refreshing theme and I’m hoping for less useless drama, more water polo fighting, and lots of humor. I’m familiar with the sport since I did that for college PE, I’m just surprised that you can play water polo in mixed gender since I thought that its played separately. That or girls and boys just want joint practice. Also, I hope that this won’t be like YowaKate were they just keep on practicing and the games were just toward the end, I hope that Suikyu Yankees will have proper matches by 4th episode.
I also find it ridiculous that Suiran is glorified by the ENTIRE TOWN for being water polo champions. I’m not belittling the sport but compared to a famous product, local cuisine, and a cool tourist spot, water polo isn’t exactly something you could market for profit. Maybe I’m just the one thinking about profits or that the town they lived in is so inferior that they look-up to Suiran as heroes. Well, Naoya did say that the prefecture have nothing but Suiran’s Water Polo Team, no wonder the team is at their wits end with all those pressures.
Nevertheless, pressured or not, what’s with athletes bullying random students? I’m sure that powerful athletes sometimes bully those who are inferior or those who are a threat to them, but to pick on non-athletes who are just enjoying their handshake ticket is totally unheard of. The sport must be so stressful that they have to picked-on those who have nothing to do with water polo. Furthermore, I thought that exercising gives you endorphins, a happy hormone, so why do those Suiran athletes look like they swallowed a bitter pill?
All in all, watching the first episode will surely make you smile so go watch it!
Raw : YYeTs
Screencaps : mine