Sugarless (NTV/ 2012 )

sugarlessAs a fan-girl of the Yankee/Teenage delinquent genre one such drama that has to be watched and is strongly recommended is Sugarless, based off the manga with the same name.

The love child between LDH and D-Boys.

The series is only 12 episodes and the theme song “Brave it Out” is sung by GENERATIONS from EXILE. Two members of the group also acting in the drama. As well as LDH members are D-Boys; Masahiro Usui, Horri Arata and Endo Yuya in his last performance as a member of the troupe.

As far as yankee/teenage delinquent battle dramas go Sugarless does offers something a little bit different from the mostly young cast. It offers both some ‘good’ fight choreography balanced with light-hearted humour, and if you examine closer plenty of interesting life lessons, courtesy of the protagonist Shiba Gaku.

The Storyline

Shiba Gaku (Shirahama Alan) has transferred to Kujima High School, a neighbourhood yankee school that boasts some of the strongest students. Shiba has one ambition in life, to reach the position of TOP – but to achieve that he has beat the best in the school, a senior named Syake (Sokichi). Gaku immediately picks a fight with Syake, but is cut off by students who demand that he defeat them first. Shima promptly starts provoking other students and looses successive fights, but his demeanour and attitude catches the attention of the schools strongest; first years Mamuro (Suzuki Nobuyaki) , Urabe (Machida Keita), Shiro (Sano Reo), and No. 2 in the school Kirio (Usui Masahiro). Can Shiba beat them all and reach the top?

The Characters

Shiba Gaku is a first year transfer student. Shiba is a simple-minded individual with the ambition to become TOP. Only problem is he is weak fighter, but that doesn’t deter the seemingly always positive and fearless student. Shiba lives by the words ‘until I admit defeat, I haven’t lost’ which means that he has never lost, because he has never given up a fight. He is constantly knocked unconsciousness, provoking impossible to win matches, but never admits defeat. Normally ready to go again a second round once he regains consciousness. He is very single-minded in his quest, and doesn’t care much for school yard politics or rankings. Everyone a free target and potential opponent. He does have one weakness though which is Haruka, a female classmate at the same school that Shiba experiences ‘love at first sight’ with but ignores his existence until later episodes. And although Shiba is an impulsive and delusional individual he also has hidden strength with bringing the best out of people. His fearlessness contagious and influential on the people he encounters.

Hiraori is a first year who Shiba calls “small fry” even though he is better fighter than Shiba, and was the first to beat Shiba at school. Horiato is a well-informed student and constantly gives information, Hiraori data, about other students and rival schools to Shiba and the trio of first years. He is Shiba’s friend and confidant.

Marumo Taiji, is a first year student and powerhouse. He’s a former wrestler and brawler of a street gang who is nowadays reluctant to fight. But his reputation is that of one of Kureshima’s strongest. He lives in the shadow of his father who was a pro-wrestler before his untimely death in the ring. Ever since Marumo gave up fighting. However after an encounter with Shiba, Marumo steps in to help the other from getting his skull bashed in with a baseball bat. Protecting Shiba who saved him from OGA’s gang the day previously, when Shiba called him out on his cowardice. His fighting style is all wrestling.

Shiro Mukai is a first year student, known to be the strongest. His father is an elite attorney and since birth had brought his son up with the mantra that failure is not an option. However, one day during his childhood a young Shiro lost a fight and his cold-hearted father disowned him as his son and heir. This motivated Shiro to never again fail. Always viewing people are only rivals and is constantly training his body and mind to never lose in both fights and academics. He is intelligent, with a cold personality because he has never had friends and spends most of his time on the punching bag listening to music. His style more like that of a traditional martial artist and boxer. He later becomes the groups tactician.

Urabe Osamu is another first year and former leader of the Hydra group who recruited members to one day have enough man power to take down the TOP. However during a battle his teammates were injured and abandoned him, triggering a flashback to Urabe past where a similar situation happened and he never forgave himself. Nonetheless after his beat down of Shiba, Urabe disbanded the group believing in himself for the first time that he could take down TOP alone and not hide behind numbers. He seeks redemption. Urabes fighting style capitalizes his best asset his legs, using a variety of kickboxing and martial arts moves.

Kirio is a second year student, and considered no.2 in the school. He is playboy, stealing other students ‘honey’s’ and the leader of the second years. Kirio also alternates between speaking in Japanese and English. He was known for his finishing move, his powerful left punch. The only person ever not to be affected Syake. Kirio aims to be TOP but is content with his position as no.2, bidding his time to attack, until Shiba exposes that he is actually afraid. After beating Shiba, Kirio is then inspired to take action and feels more than ever empowered to take down the TOP although he knows already that he’ll lose. Kirio then takes advice from Shiba and in the first time in forever feels alive. He later becomes ‘comrades’ with the first years and even respects Shiba.

Nikado is a third year student and Mio High’s student council president. His father the school’s director and comes from a wealthy household. He essentially encounters Shiba when the other attacks him due to his arrogant personality. As a counter attack Nikado declares war of Kujima students, offering cash rewards for the strongest students.

Kunemitsu is a third year student and TOP at Kagura High, considered to be one the strongest in the prefecture. In freshmen year he battled Syake, both too powerful, that the fight ended as a draw. Kunemistu and Syake have never fought again, Kunemitsu vowing not to fight a ‘meaningless’ battle. Nonetheless the members underneath Kunemitsu vowed to place the whole world under Kunemitsu-kun’s control. Because of this internal strife within the gang occured with those who declared war against Kujima. This lead to Shiba’s involvement and encounter with Kunemitsu. Which results in an all out Kagura and Kujima’s war.

Syake/Shake is a third year student and TOP at Kujima High. He is a powerful fighter feared by kohais and rivals alike. He doesn’t speak much, and spends most of the day on the rooftop surrounded by his third year comrades looking up at the flag. He has never been beaten, and doesn’t shy away from competition.

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