Good Morning Call Review — Love Triangles Everywhere You Look

We’re going to need a bunch of 8×11 papers and Number 2 pencils to make the state machine required to encompass ’em all.

Well it’s Netflix show reviewing time again, and this week let’s look at one of their prolific J-dramas: Good Morning Call. Yes, you heard me right. That Good Morning Call. The shoujo manga about the guy and girl who end up living together due to an apartment scam, causing them to deal with all sorts of goofy antics and more love interests than a season of Friends in their attempts to make the best out of the situation whilst falling in love with each other in the process, because it wouldn’t be a shoujo manga without that sort of plot turn. The one whose live-action adaptation made manga fangirls glee all over because “finally, a live-action shoujo adaptation that doesn’t suck!” to which I reply “was Mischievous Kiss really that bad?” It was successful enough to get a sequel that supposedly continues from that Good Morning Kiss thing, so I guess Japan is carving out its own Netflix niche pretty well. Just need for things to work on the animation side with Little Witch Academia and whatever that Production IG thing is and then we’ll be golden.

“Hey wait a minute, Mr. Flawfinder,” says the three people who still care about me. “Why are you reviewing this show right now? You still have Summer anime to review like that other more popular shoujo show that people seem to enjoy as long as they’re not elitist scum.” And while I’d like to discuss my viewpoints on Orange and how its message regarding suicide is about as profound as Trolls’ idiotically naive drivel, there’s a few other things I want to take a look at first to spice up the inevitable review, and Good Morning Call has sat in waiting for a good while longer given that I finished it about two months ago, so the live-action Japanese flirtations take priority.

“Well what about that I’ve Always Liked You thing that came out a few weeks ago? Are you ever going to review that?” What do you want me to say about that thing you should have already forgotten by now? Poorly animated? Horrible usage of romantic cliches? Trying to fit in three barely connected romance stories in a limited run time just makes all of them mediocre? Yeah, how about you treat it like the rest of the world does and instead focus on a romance story the rest of the world actually notices for a change?

That dude’s surprised expression is hilarious and I will not hear anything to the contrary.

Anyways, some of you are probably wondering why I bothered even watching Good Morning Call in the first place. Well even though it still has yet to really impress me, I’ve been trying to give the shoujo romance genre more of a chance these days, and given the acclaim this Netflix original has gotten, I thought I’d discover how well the cliches translate when using flesh-and-blood actors rather than the over-exaggerated shoujo faces that people still claim to be funny to this very day. If Good Morning Call is anything to go by, they translate really well given how the fucking love triangles and obnoxious misunderstandings caused me to barf inside every time the show threw one out from its oversized box in order to move the plot a certain direction. And unfortunately, that box isn’t know for quality control. At one point, the show follows up a misunderstanding in one episode with the exact same misunderstanding in the very next, which is particularly jarring when you’re watching a show in one go rather than waiting for the next episode to air.

Also keep in mind, Good Morning Call is seventeen episodes long where each episode can take about fifty minutes to complete, so you’re going to be spending a long time with these shoujo cliches, not helped by the fact that it plays pretty much all of them down to the letter. The main girl, Nao Yoshikawa, is pretty much your irritating bubbly-headed female protagonist who just wants to live free from her parents for a while, only to end up living with Hisashi Uehara, a hardass who’s also one of the four most popular boys at one of the largest schools I’ve ever seen since the 2006 version of Kanon. Obviously, the two don’t really like each other from the start, but when they’re forced to be together due to plot contrivances, they end showing sensitive sides to each other that get complicated when every male protagonist with a name falls in love with Nao whilst Uehara gets his own mini-harem away from all the fan clubs that worship him, including his own sister-in-law who he loved as a kid, and a girl who’s apparently supposed to be twelve in the manga, but given how she’s played by someone who’s clearly at least college-age in the drama, I’m going to assume the producers aged her up a bit in order to make the attraction less creepy.

So apparently, gangster girls in Japan don’t wear ties.

Yes, originality is not Good Morning Call’s strong point. You watch it because you’re a shoujo fan and nothing else. But to be fair, the show is a step up from most of the recent fare we’ve gotten over the years because being in live-action, Good Morning Call has to rely on the nature reactions of flesh-and-blood actors to carry the humor rather than stupid special effects and the exaggerated faces from the manga. And my god is anime humor a lot better when it’s not actually being animated and doesn’t lean so hard on the cheese. When the show wasn’t doing one of its lengthy frustration moments, I actually laughed at the absurdity of the different girl cliques (nerd, gangster, and a third one I can’t recall) ranking the hottest boys and Nao opening a box expecting Uehara to be hiding in it. Plus, the reaction faces that Uehara’s actor makes whenever somebody does something stupid in front of him are solid gold, because he looks like he’s constipated every time he does it.

The ending in particular got a big laugh out of me in its anticlimax, even though I saw it coming because I read the summary on Wikipedia ahead of time. For all the show’s frustrations, there’s a certain heart to it that kept me going even when I wanted jump into the screen and yell at Nao “you never told him when your birthday even was!” Maybe it’s because the main couple admits their feelings for each other by the halfway point so we can get some shoujo humor directed at them hiding their commitment rather than just their external situation. Of course, a lot of the drama that comes from it is still cringe-inducing. I mean at least Uehara has a stupid status made by a bunch of rabid fangirls who have no life. What the fuck is Nao’s excuse for having so many men coming after her? And how many times can characters say exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time?

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m not bothering to describe the drama itself because there’s no point. We’ve all seen these contrived frustrations before. There’s nothing new here. Well okay, that’s not entirely true. Some of the drama gets a little teeth, like when Uehara’s brother is mostly a pushover except when it comes to his wife, Yuri. And there’s a girl introduced in the later episodes that does her best to avoid the pointless drama when she sees it coming from a mile away and mostly succeeds at it, although it does make the last few episodes feel like they exist because whoever produced this show ran into the typical Netflix problem of ordering too many episodes to tell the story they want to tell. Oh, and when Nao’s parents discover she’s living with a boy her age and try to take her home, it ends up playing out in a sorta-respectable manner, even if the “nice mom, strict dad” routine is a bit old. Other than that though, I don’t see why I need to give attention to one of the other four hot guys who also happens to be Nao’s childhood friend having a crush on her or Nao misunderstanding Uehara’s future serious conversation for a marriage proposal…oh wait.

Nothing clever to say about this image. I just took it because it looked fitting for this review.

I’m not quite sure what propelled me to marathon this series, but if I had to guess, it’s because while I’m as far from a shipper as you can possibly get short of stranding all of them on a remote island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I’m also a bit of a romantic guy and I was curious to see whether these two people who I kinda liked would get together. The show generally makes fun of their living situation, but there are genuine moments when it raises some actually interesting and bittersweet moral dilemmas on two high school students of the opposite sex living in the same apartment, and the romantic rivals are mostly likable when they’re required to be. But then again, I’m not sure if it’s the writing itself that contributed to that or the actors, who pretty much fit their role to a tee and both good and bad ways. Still, I always got a smile whenever drama was resolved, and I don’t think it was just because it was finally over.

So Good Morning Call gets my recommendation to fans of the original manga or the shoujo romance genre in general, but everyone else who’s curious better have punching bags in close proximity.

Minor Quips

  • Maybe Nao gets as many admirers as she does because she’s the only female in this show who doesn’t whore herself out to a dream.
  • I wonder what a live-action adaptation of Hanasaku Iroha would be like?

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