First Look: Good Morning Call

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Manga Adaptation by Fuji TV/Netflix Japan.
Streaming on Netflix.

Premise

Nao Yoshikawa is moving into an apartment and is excited to have picked up an absolute bargain close to the school. It’s short lived, however, as while she begins to unpack her things, an unlikely guy from her school shows up. It turns out Hisashi Uehara, one of the school’s most beloved boys, is also due to move in to the same apartment.

Euri’s verdict: Cliché, But Satisfying

Good Morning Call is part of a collaboration between Fuji TV’s on-demand service and Netflix Japan. Not having it air on terrestrial TV isn’t particularly strange when you look at on-demand services like this and how they like to flaunt their exclusive programming, but seeing it advertised on the front page of Netflix UK does strike me as a bit odd. A drama adaptation of a shoujo high school romance seems like something that would stay on the Asian services, but here we are with a simulcast and numerous subtitle options. It’s fantastic news for J-Drama enthusiasts, and hopefully it’ll perform well enough for future shows to receive the same treatment. At any rate, having a Japanese drama with “Netflix Original Series” plastered over the show poster certainly piqued my interest.

My first impressions were not positive. We receive a brief introduction to Nao before learning more about the junior high school she’s attending, and shortly after that we’re introduced to three girls, each the leader of one of the school’s cliques. They all have a lot to say to one particular girl for daring to speak to Uehara, one of the school’s top three boys, without their express permission to do so. If the drama was to focus on this crazy student hierarchy, as it appeared to be doing in the first ten minutes or so, I’d likely have dropped the show after the first episode. Fortunately this is not the case, and this scene exists more to set up how ridiculous Nao’s situation ends up being, showing Uehara as a bit of a loner and setting up for a small character arc later on. This is luckily not another show about toppling the power-mad student council.

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As the show moves along, we start to see more of the greater picture. It’s a show about two kids being forced to live together for fear of losing their accommodation, whilst also needing to keep their predicament a secret from the swarm of overprotective Uehara fans back at school. There’s also the taboo nature of living with a member of the opposite sex, a particularly Japanese view to have, which puts some of Nao’s friends into an interesting position when they eventually notice what’s going on. Then there’s Nao and Uehara’s relationship, two characters who dislike each other even before being forced to live under the same roof.

This show is as cliché as they come; it’s not difficult to guess what the relationship will look like by the end of the series, but Good Morning Call is a fun show. It does literally nothing to stand out from similar shoujo stories, but what it does, it does well. It doesn’t matter so much that there are often-used set pieces and familiar scenarios aplenty because it remains entertaining, and I think you’ll find it difficult not to crack a smile as you watch it. It’s not setting any new standards but it’s definitely going to hit the right buttons if you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy. It’s also quite light, making it a perfect starting place if you’ve not watched a Japanese drama before.

It’s airing every Friday until June for a rather large 16 episodes, so there’s plenty of story still to go. We’ll be revisiting it shortly after the finale, but until then, the early signs are certainly looking good.

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