My Boss, My Hero
aka Mai ★ Bosu, Mai ★ Hīrō
My Boss My Hero is a Japanese drama series that aired in 2006. Apparently the base material was sourced from Korea, of which there is a similar show of the same title that aired in 2001 as well as a novel of the same title. I watched this series quite a few years ago but just recently had the knackering for some crazy lighthearted comedy to cheer me up…which resulted in my rewatching of almost half the series.
Now, if I were to summarise MBMH (My Boss My Hero) in a few words, I’d say it’s shouting yakuza cheese school comedy topped with pudding served by a cute girl wearing a clown suit. Okay that’s a pretty horrible image so I shall elaborate further (cue awkward laughter).
Synopsis: Sakaki Makio, also known as “Tornado” is a tough 27-year-old high school drop-out. By academic standards, he’s pretty dumb. His father decides to force Makio to return to high school to receive his diploma and he asks an old friend who happens to be the principal of a nearby school to admit Makio. If Makio doesn’t graduate, the position of boss will be given to his younger brother, Mikio.
Furthermore, he must pose as a 17-year-old during school hours and in the presence of any classmates or teachers outside of school. If his cover is blown, it would be the end of his high school career as well as his hopes to become boss. Things start out rough and tough as Makio’s violent temper is tested. As the lessons and days go by he learns there is much more to school than just tests and studying.
As far as comedies go, the premise for MBMH has alot of potential. It’s a simple concept of an extreme character in a mundane everyday setting. This sort of basis isn’t particularly new or revolutionary, being revisited many times before (and after as well) in Japanese television – Kinpatsu sensei, GTO, full metal panic, yankee kun to megane chan. Since it has a rather simple plot, there isn’t much room for an overarching storyline (there is one, but barely) so MBMH becomes quite episodic. Whether this is good or bad is up to you but an episodic 10 episodes is fine in my opinion. However, there is a buildup of events leading to the ending in which just about every little plot line gets tied up in a neat, warm, fuzzy bundle full of cheese, making MBMH one of the very few drama series that delivers a satisfying final episode.
On hindsight after rewatching it 4 years after its release, MBMH’s cast is actually quite spectacular. Many of the major and minor characters go on to have successful careers and more prominent roles, though they may not have put up exceptional performances in MBMH itself, there is that novelty of seeing a now big name actor/actress starr in a minor role. This is gonna take a while to write!
Nagase Tomoya takes on the role of SAKAKI MAKIO!!!!! whose kanji name literally translated into chinese is GOD VERY HAPPY BOY. They could not have picked a more fitting or more brilliant actor to fill this role which you’ll come to realize as his yakuza mannerisms, stuttering and funny faces start to grow on you over the first few episodes. His ability to switch from a stuttering, nervous guy out of his element to the confident, merciless yakuza boss is remarkable. One gripe I would have is the endless (well, almost) shouting and screaming that went on in all 10 episodes of MBMH. Being the most established and mature actor in the cast of MBMH, you would expect him to be putting on a one man show but this is not the case. Much of the drama relies on his interactions with various other characters and at times I could tell that Nagase, rather than blow his colleagues out of the water, would support them. This greatly enhances the effect of many scenes and also allows the spotlight to shift smoothly.
Tegoshi Yuya starrs as Sakurakoji Jun aka Sakura-nantoka. I’ve got my pet peeve with this guy (the actor) but putting all that aside, this is one of his better performances that I’ve seen. I’ve probably watched 3 or 4 of the shows he’s acted in and they’ve all been quite unbearable except for MBMH. He’s done well in terms of being expressive, successfully executing monologues and showing some hotbloodedness but it’s nowhere near perfect. He’s just not good enough to be the main supporting actor next to Nagase Tomoya.
Yuu Kashii is the homeroom teacher of class 3-A, Minami Yuriko aka tekkamen. I never would have thought that an actress trying her hardest to be iron-faced could make such a big impact. She’s got sharp, obvious facial features which lend a manga-style “half-closed unimpressed eyes” look to her at times which cracks me up. Her character evolves ever so slightly in the course of the series and this experienced actress adjusts her style to suit that. Good work.
Aragaki Yui makes her appearance as Umemura Hikari, one of her last roles before breaking through as one of the more famous actresses in Japan. As is expected, her performance in MBMH is dripping with her unique style of cuteness. I thought this was particularly interesting as her short, sweet and natural mannerisms are very refreshing compared to the “conventional” in-your-face high pitched bubbly fakeness that is Japan’s idea of “kawaii”. I am guilty of seeking out and watching a few of the other productions she’s had prominent roles in and even though her cuteness just doesn’t get old, she’s not particularly versatile as an actress. All her characters are more or less the same but she’s definitely improving at what she does – her performance in “Smile” is absolutely unforgettable.
Honourable mention: Naka Riisa as Chiba Akane aka one of those random girls who sits at the back. When I first watched MBMH, I didn’t notice her at all since her job was to blend into the background and support the rest of the cast, along with about 15 others, but armed with my hindsight goggles (and having watched a bunch of her movies), she really stands out. Some of the things she does in MBMH seem like little “easter eggs” foreshadowing her subsequent roles and revealing that her talent has been there all along.
My Boss My Hero looks and feels very exaggerated. At times, the director parodies the customary camera angles and film elements that are so often used in yakuza films and hero films, but there are also times when quirky cartoon/anime style filmography is employed. There’s no scenery to be had here but there’s certainly alot of silly faces and hilarious imagery that will have you rolling on the floor or exclaiming “omg what theeeee!?”. Other than that, the cast features some actors and actresses who are quite easy on the eyes. I love Japanese dramas.
Soundbite: Theme of Hero
MBMH’s soundtrack is one that gets the job done, but nothing else. Not much to say here except that I’m thankful it doesn’t make me want to press the mute button.
Shouting. Shouting while you run like a madma- oh wait. My Boss My Hero is a feel good comedy series that will have you smiling by the end of each episode, and possibly even slightly change your outlook on life by the end of it. You won’t need to think very hard while watching this series and it’s a great show to introduce to non-geeky friends because of the clean family-safe humour. Is it shallow? Of course, and that’s the way it should be!