Nobuta wo Produce is a Japanese High School drama from 2005. It centers on Kiritani Shuji (played by Kamenashi Kazuya) and Kusano Akira (Yamashita Tomohisa) and their efforts in "producing" the new girl, Kotani "Nobuta" Nobuko (Horikita Maki) into a popular, well-liked girl...
And that alone might not be enough to get many people to watch it. However, it is not all as simple as that.
Shuji is a popular guy who seems to be "friends" with everyone, but is in fact only pretending to be Mr. Popular. Akira is a loud, strange, touchy-feely boy with a rich (and slightly hotheaded) father. He constantly follows Shuji around proclaiming to be his friend when they alone, which is the only time Shuji will ever break his facade and show his true self. In truth, he is afraid of losing his popularity and prefers thinking of school as a game.
One day, while he frantically looks for the willow tree he ritualistically touches every day before school (it had been removed earlier) Shuji stumbles across a dark, scary-looking girl who had wanted to hang herself on the branches of the missing tree, but didn't get the chance. He later sees her again at his school, and learns that she is a new transfer student, Kotani Nobuko
Unfortunately for Nobuko, she is horribly bullied by the girls in her class. Yet she does nothing to stop it, having experienced it all before. Shuji notices this, and privately decides that he does not agree with it. He enlists Akira to help "produce" her (like record companies produce normal-looking nobodies into idols). She reluctantly agrees to it after being attacked by her classmates and hosed-down with cold water in the girls bathroom. They decide to nickname her "Nobuta."
It was originally based on a book by Shiraiwa Gen, but differs greatly from the book in that Nobuta's gender and Shuji's personality were altered, as well as the inclusion of the fan-favourite character Akira. The series is widely loved by fans of J-dramas, and is often applauded for it's fantastic use of lighting, characterization, morals, plot, music and writing. It covers such themes as love, friendship, betrayal, trust, learning when not to give up and when it is a good idea to give in, and the possibility that people can change the way they interact with the world.
This show provides examples of:
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mariko subverts this beautifully, but Aoi plays this horribly, horribly, straight.
- Bitter Sweet Ending
- The Bully: Bando, who surprisingly is not exactly the Alpha Bitch (the rest of her classroom doesn't seem to like or admire her much).
- Catch-Phrase: Many.
- Akira has "Kon kon!" "Akira SHOCK!" "Akira DOWN!" and "Shu~u~ji-kun!"
- Shuji has "Bye Bycycle!"
- Nobuta has "Nobuta Power...CHUU NYUU."
- Character Development: Almost every major and minor character shows growth during the series, in very realistic and refreshingly different ways.
- Cool Old Lady: Catherine.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Akira begins giving hints of this by the fourth episode, where he delivers a brief but effective beatdown to Bando's boyfriend after catching him hitting her, and threatens Shuji into publicly accepting Nobuta's fake love confession (long story) by breaking a pile of bricks with a single punch.
- The Eeyore: Nobuta is an interesting subversion. What with her head always down, her sad school life and her being unable to properly smile, one would think she's this — but she's actually quite optimistic, and usually sees a brighter side of things than Shuji and Akira do.
- Freudian Excuse: Bando. Boyfriend abuses her → She abuses Nobuta.
- Girl Posse: Bando and her friends.
- The Glomp: Akira, in almost every episode.
- Keet: Akira.
- Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: The basic plot.
- Love Triangle
- Loners Are Freaks: Nobuta
- Miko: Nobuta's part-time job later in the series.
- No Sense of Personal Space: Akira really likes to touch people, although he MOSTLY seems to display this behavior with Shuji...
- Pygmalion Plot: Akira falls in love with Nobuta, but sadly they don't get together.
- Running Gag: Every time something happens, the teacher goes "Our class again, sigh."
- Akira constantly hurting his right leg by banging into something.
- School Festival
- School Idol: Shuji, whose only ambition in high school seems to be popular even though he pretty much dislikes everyone and thinks they are childish, including his own girlfriend.
- Shrinking Violet: Nobuta.
- Stepford Smiler: Shuji.
- True Companions: Shuji, Akira and Nobuta (and debatably, Mariko too.)
- The Un-Smile: When Nobuta smiles, Shuji asks her if she her stomach is aching.