Starring: Yamamoto Yusuke, Nishiuchi Mariya, Triendl Reina, Ide Takuya, Ono Ito, Mamiya Shotaro, Kobayashi Ryoko, Miyama Karen, Kojima Fujiko, Matsui Airi, Takuyama Hidenori, Nagae Yuuki
Genre: Romantic comedy, supernatural
Ever since I started attending Japanese language classes, I’ve taken the initiative to watch more Japanese shows that extend beyond anime. Despite having seen a few since then, this will be the first one I’ll be touching on- simply because I suck and had next to no opportunity to write during the time. Perhaps one of these days I’ll write about the rest, because there were quite a few gems in the lot.
After watching so many slice of life films and tv shows, I decided I wanted to try something different. I wanted to see the Japanese’ hand on the fantasy genre. Should be interesting, right?
So, compelled by the eye-catching DVD cover and 3 for RM30 offer, I picked up “Yamada and the Seven Witches”, the live-action version of a manga series by Yoshikawa Miki.
What is it about?
The story starts with the introduction of the two main characters, Yamada Ryū (Yamamoto Yusuke) and Shiraishi Urara (Nishiuchi Mariya).
Yamada is the school delinquent. Much like a good chunk of anime/manga protagonists, Yamada is naive, blunt and as dumb as a sack of bricks. Shiraishi, on the other hand, is a quiet, smart girl who is currently being bullied by her peers.
One day, Yamada and Shiraishi accidentally trip whilst they are walking up a flight up stairs. A rough fall in which they knock into each other and inadvertently have their lips connect is where the string of events that follow begins. This is because after Yamada awakens from his fall, he realises that he’s in Shiraishi’s body, and she his.
They had swapped bodies.
What in the holy Hell?! Panic grips him and he works with her to return to his own body. Unfortunately for Yamada, however, it doesn’t just end there. He soon finds himself in a mind numbing web that involves witches, dastardly schemes and magic.
Time for the nitty gritty
If you’re the sort of person who likes watching shows with actual depth and meaning, you should probably give this one a pass.
Although “Yamada and the Seven Witches” does have its highlights, it is largely a show that runs on a senseless plot that solely depends on fanservice, with the added trait of trying to emulate the immature side of anime/manga as much as possible. It is for the latter reason that “Yamada and the Seven Witches” is rife with over the top reactions, strange logic and bizarre interactions that cannot be found in real life. The characters are, in the simplest term possible, caricatures.
So those who are unfamiliar with the nature of anime/manga will likely find this incredibly off-putting and nonsensical- although to be fair, older fans of the genre will probably share the sentiment. The main difference is that they would understand why the material is the way it is. It is crack and honestly isn’t meant to be taken seriously.
That is not to say that this eight episode series is a total loss; as mentioned earlier, it does have its strong points.
These strong points are the cast and the light-hearted humour it is injected with. For all of “Yamada and the Seven Witches” faults, the actors and actresses have done no wrong and have simply done their job in giving a good performance. Colourful and vibrant, it is through their work that the series retains some semblance of entertainment value, thank Heavens.
So would I recommend this to anyone who wants anything remotely serious? Definitely not.
But I would recommend this to someone who doesn’t mind spending a lazy Sunday afternoon watching senseless fun and a near endless stream of fanservice.
“Yamada and the Seven Witches”? More like “Yamada and Every Man and Woman on the Planet”.
You get the picture.