After watching Ouran High, I actually went backwards to catch an older drama (2010) starring Shunsuke and Yusuke. Titled "Tumbling" and the story theme revolves around the bromance between the 6 guys and the male rhythmic sports.
Frankly before watching this drama, I will confess to my ignorance that I never knew this 6party group sport existed for the male gender, even lesser so that it originated from Japan! So I guess there is something to learn everyday!
Story plot (with some spoiler)
Basically Yusuke (Tamaki from Ouran High) starred as a bad arse 3rd year student Wataru, who is like a "gang leader" in his school. Leading a bunch of followers, he basically was undefeatable and struck fear in all the other gangs from other school (and basically everyone in his school) because of his fearless fighting ability. I dont know if he fought because he was challenged or he was just bored and uninterested in the mundane life.
However, his school life took a turn when his new form teacher (let's call him braidy sensei) timidly informed him that Wataru had to join a club activity to make up for the lack of points in his second year. Wataru, supported by his sidekicks Keiji and Ryosuke, tried all possible "manly" ball games but unfortunately his bad temper and inability for others to "tackle" him in sports game made it impossible for him to last through. Additionally all the other students seemed to fear his presence. Just when both Wataru and Braidy sensei was left helpless, Wataru spotted his crush Mari joining the female rhythmic gym club. Wanting to impress her and be closer to her, Wataru decided to join the male rhythmic club in the spur of the moment, though he was mildly impressed by the individual performance by Hino, considered a star athlete in this field in the school.
However, the male club was depressingly unpopular with only 3 members including the captain Yuta. The group is often mocked by the female team as well as looked down upon by the female team's coach, and hardly get to use the gym and the gears. When Wataru wanted to join the team, Yuta as skeptical but the sensei pleaded with Yuta that it will only be for a month. Yuta relented and everything else was history.
Initially Wataru was impatient and had little regard and respect for the sports itself. He was keen to do everything Hino was doing but Yuta told him it was impossible. Fed up with just stretching and doing exercises, Wataru exploded and "ill treated" Yuta's equipment. Yuta told Wataru to leave since Wataru disregard was like trampling over Yuta's dream.
While Wataru had decided to quit initially, he decided to give it another go but Yuta rejected him. Undeterred, Wataru continued with running and practicing his upside down stunts and eventually convinced the rest of the teammate to help him. Evetually Yuta relented. At the same time, Wataru was getting more and more involved with the sports as he started to feel the sense of achievement which had always eluded him in the past. He suddenly found a purpose in life.
Unfortunately, one of his best friend Ryosuku started to feel neglected and got roped into some nasty business which involved illegal business. When Ryosuke wanted out, the gang denied him and wanted to bash him but Wataru came to the rescue and the episode ended with the real big boss appearing to get Wataru and Ryosuke off the hook. From there the two made up and Ryosuke with his natural athletic ability joined the club and impressed the original members with his agility. Keiji also eventually also join the club.
However, Reiji was angry and pissed and vowed to create more trouble for Wataru from wreaking his club's equipment to stirring up more fights. However that did not steer Wataru from his goal in aiding Yuta to fulfil his childhood dream of participating in the competition with a 6 man team. Despite having failed in their first attempt miserably and being the joke of everyone...yet their persistence eventually paid off with the female team applauding their efforts and converting the female coach's disdain to encouragement and support for the male team (indirectly).
Shunsuke starred as Ryuichiro, who is a loner in school and refused to get involved in any one else business. However, he seemed to be on good terms with Wataru, often watching out for him and his best frends, tipping Wataru off discreetly in possible moments of danger. It was not known why till later the reason for Ryuichio's aloofness to everyone. Reiji had tried to pull Ryu to his side to join his gang so that they can rule the school (and overtake Wataru notoriety) . Howver Ryu declined. In revenge, Reiji spread the rumour that Ryu had killed someone previously in Jr High. Wataru was shocked and tried to comfort Ryu that no matter what, he is his friend. The real truth wasnt that Ryu had killed someone, but rather his best fren had died in his place trying to protect him from a gang who bashed him in the head with a steel rod. Ryu felt responsible and because he was the one who stirred up the fight, he felt he had indeed cause the death of his best friend, and hence explained his unwillingness to associate with anyone else.
Reiji realising that he could not win Ryu to betray Wataru decided to hatch a ploy to trick the two into a remote spot, letting them think each other was in danger. Just when Reiji was about to "kill" Ryu with the steel rod, Ryu froze in the middle of the fight but Wataru protected Ryu from the rod swing and was hit in the head instead and went unconscious. Reiji laughed crazily that he had finally beat Wataru and ran off while Ryu went hysterical thinking history was repeating itself!!
In the hospital, Ryu nearly had an emotional breakdown but Wataru with his steel head turned up alrite with only stitches required. Ryu was relieved. Wataru told Ryu that he need not feel responsible because he would have done the same if Watru had faced the same danger. Which is exactly what Ryu's best fren had done, to protect a fren. Hence Ryu need not be laden with guilt all these years. Wataru asked Ryu he had never visited his best fren tomb and encourage him to go. At the tomb, Ryu met the sister and cried and apologised. Yet the sister said she never once blamed him because she knew how much her brother had adored Ryu who was the only person to befren her brother. With that, Ryu finally made peace with his past and moved on. As such, Ryu also joined the male club with Wataru!
On the other hand Hino was also a loner but for a different reason. He was always behaving and thought negatively about the male rhythmic club because of their lack of performance. However, Wataru through chanced incident of saving Hino from some bad seeds robbing Hino, came to understand that Hino's dad opposed Hino's interest thinking Hino was just escaping from reality after his brother was chosen for Olympic team but he was not. Wataru accidentally witness the cold fight between Hino and his dad, got involved by telling Hino's dad off and encourage him to come witness Hino's hard work and his real passion in the sport for at least once before jumping to conclusion or misjudging Hino. His pleas worked and Hino was grateful to Wataru for helping him resolve the knot between him and his dad, gaining his support and trust.
In each episode, the story focused on the each individual 8 team members, their past and present, their failings and their secrets. It is a rather well constructed and scripted drama with a good healthy dose of "teachings" about handling friendship that is applicable in real life.
Overall, I would recommend this drama. Shunsuke's image is completely different and more "wild" here. I think Yusuke also pulled off Wataru's role very well here, being the rough but loyal fren with a secret soft spot. In fact I actually think this role gave Yusuke more room and chance to deliver his acting skills than in Ouran high which was more restrictive due to the character scripted.
On another note, the other actor Shohei who caught my eye was the actor playing Ryosuke. For some reason, I thought he was rather cute with his blond wavy hair and fringe tied up. Upon further digging, I realise he was the same guy starring in the Hanakimi 2011 ed as Nakatsu! However, i still like him better here...lol!
This drama was so well received in drama that it actually carried on to the stage play last Sept- Oct playing from Tokyo to Osaka.
The show continues off 5 years later after the drama concluded. Ryoichiro Kiyama is now working in another school as a Japanese History teacher and formed a new club with all the boys which are rejected from other clubs. he brought them back to his old school to watch the team performance under the coaching from Kaneko. Meanwhile Wataru was off travelling to spread the good word about his mum's omelette and Ryosuke gave up his skirt chasing ways and ended up with 5 kids! LOL!!!