Saturday, August 25, 2018

Samurai High School: Mochizuki Kotaro

I’m not totally sure what I want to think of this as, but I’m going to talk a bit about quite possibly one of my favorite dramas among the small handful that I’ve watched -- Samurai High School, and in particular it's lead character. "Samurai High School" aired 9 episodes in 2008 on NTV in a late night time-slot, and is a super-natural slice-of-life/coming-of-age comedy about Mochizuki Kotaro, a high schooler who comes to be possessed by his ancestor of the same name who was a samurai that fought under Yukimura Sanada.

Mochizuki Kotaro of the present (left) and past (right). 
The premise of the show is fairly basic -- When Kotaro is under duress, his ancestor will take over and due to the culture gap between 1615 and 2008, hijinks then ensue. It begins rather episodic for the first handful, portraying various incidents at Kotaro's school that he is dragged into and must deal with while trying to do damage control on his ancestor taking over his body now and again.

Kotaro has an over-bearing mother, a little sister with better grades and prospects than himself, and no real ambition for what he wants to do with his life. He's a fairly standard slice-of-life protagonist when you write him out on paper. But I think the thing that truly stands out to me about Kotaro is how earnest he is in his mediocrity, and how aware he is that it stacks the deck against him.

Kotaro's ancestor is loud and abrasive, ready to fight for anything and against anyone, which often puts Kotaro is some very real physical danger. He criticizes Kotaro for essentially being the opposite, avoidant and non-confrontational, but frequently tries to guide his descendant into not letting the world beat him, or his friends, into submission.

Much of the core theme of the show beneath it's time-travel-ish antics is Kotaro learning that even though the world is unfair, and the race is rigged for him to lose because there's nothing in particular he accels at, that doesn't make him worthless. He's got a good heart, people he loves, and even if the world isn't going out of it's way for him, Kotaro can still carve out his place whether the world likes it or not.

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