Plot: Makino Tsukushi has enrolled in the very prestigious Eitoku Academy, and she has done everything in her power to stay to the background. She wants nothing more than to make her final years at the school to be peaceful and uneventful. However, when she butts heads with the biggest bullies in school, a four man group called the F4, they declare war on her, making her a target of vicious attacks from not only them but everyone in school.
Breakdown: I have no super-interesting backstory with this one. In fact, I’m pretty unfamiliar with this series. Though, still, I adore these older titles.
The OP has a very 60s/Detective Conan music feel to it, if that makes any sense. It’s pretty catchy, though I will admit that the sudden heel drop sound in the middle kind breaks the rhythm.
Our main character is a fairly poor girl named Makino Tsukushi who is currently enrolled in a prestigious high school, Eitoku Academy, with a lot of rich kids. She has two more years at the school before she graduates and only wants to make those final two years be peaceful and quiet.
One day, she sees a boy being bullied by a gang of four guys, all of which are sons of the richest families in the school, for getting dust on one of their pants while cleaning. They are known as F4.
While many students, especially female ones, find them attractive and cool, they are feared by just as many students. What’s worse? When the F4 is against someone personally, the whole school turns on them, making them a target for schoolwide bullying.
They start kicking around a garbage can, and Tsukushi wonders why the boys are the way that they are, especially considering they’re getting so bent over something as minor as dust. One of the boys, Rui Hanazawa, picks up the garbage can and returns it to its proper position to the chagrin of his friends who want to leave the mess behind. Tsukushi gets flustered when Rui gives her a glance before leaving with his friends.
After standing up for her friend, Makiko, when she accidentally falls on the leader of the F4, Tsukasa, Tsukushi ends up as the next target of the F4’s bullying. They officially declare war on Tsukushi and, as a result, the entire school starts bullying her as well.
What’s even worse than their terrible bullying is the fact that Makiko keeps avoiding her and refusing to talk to her in order to avoid getting bullied herself, something that she expressed concern for earlier. Makiko wanted to solidify her friendship with Tsukushi to ensure that she would never abandon her if she was bullied like a lot of other people would, yet she has become the very type of person she had worried about.
Tsukushi refuses to cry in front of her classmates and has an outburst outside of the school when she again meets up with Rui who just laughs at her anger towards him. Despite her attempts to actually speak with him civilly, he just suggests that she leave the school.
Tsukushi goes on the offensive stating that the F4 has bullied several people out of school in the same manner, but she didn’t even want to go to the school to begin with. She only went because her family wanted her to. Before she can even finish speaking, Rui leaves stating that he doesn’t care as he has no interest in other people.
Makiko meets with her in the bathroom. She sneaked out of class to find Tsukushi’s desk that went missing from the classroom earlier. While she is visibly remorseful, Makiko can’t bring herself to stick with her in public. Tsukushi understands and tells her that she should leave before she ends up getting in trouble. Before she rushes out the door, she hands Tsukushi a voice recorder in the shape of a frog that bears a recording of Makiko apologizing to Tsukushi.
Despite gaining a newfound resolve and a better respect for herself, she is still the victim of harsh and even violent bullying. As she’s being assaulted (and nearly raped?) by a group of boys from the school, Rui appears again telling them to let her go, even though the boys are directly under Tsukasa’s orders.
Tsukushi is very grateful to Rui for what he did, but he merely says he doesn’t like stuff like that (violence, sexual assault or possibly both? I mean, I have to assume it’s sexual assault because the F4 has to have been violent with plenty of people) before leaving. Again, Tsukushi gains a second wind and becomes determined to carry on through this.
The next day at school, Tsukushi comes prepared to battle against the bullying. When the F4 shows up, she kicks Tsukasa in the face, plasters a red slip on his face and responds to his war declaration with one of her own. Now excited to face the school year, Tsukushi prepares for war.
There are a bunch of things that I liked about this first episode. For starters, Tsukushi is a great character. While the bullying does affect her, she also comes back with a vengeance. She won’t stand for this behavior whether it’s to her or others, and I really respect that. She’s also notably hurt by Makiko’s somewhat betrayal, but she has enough maturity and understanding to forgive her for it.
While I am a bit miffed at Makiko for not standing up with Tsukushi when the only reason Tsukushi’s even in this mess is because of Makiko, I also understand her position. It takes a lot to stand up to others and stand with your friends, especially when the bullying is this bad. Does this make her a coward? Maybe, but then again we all have to look within ourselves and ask if we’d honestly do the same thing.
Plus, she kinda made up to her a little, and she’s clearly beating herself up over her decision.
The F4 (which stands for Flower Four, by the way. It’s supposed to highlight how pretty the guys are, but what a dumb nickname to allow to stick when you’re trying to be intimidating) are realistic bullies. They’re entitled little shits who act like they run the school because their daddies are the richest in the land and most people follow them either to be cool/popular or because they’re afraid of them. They are a bit over the top, but it’s not anything terrible. They’re not like supervillains or anything, they’re just assholes.
Rui…..*sigh* I don’t know what to do here. The worst part of this episode, in my opinion, was Rui. Tsukushi is obviously falling for him even now yet, despite the fact that he saved her once, there’s no denying that he’s partaking in the bullying merely for staying loyal to the F4, and he even seems like he mocks Tsukushi about the egg in her hair from the bullying. He states that he doesn’t care about her story or problems, he has no interest in other people at all, is never going to give any secrets or info on the F4 and wants her to leave the school.
The three main points of Tsukushi’s interest in him are the fact that he’s cute, he picked up a garbage can and he saved her from those boys. That’s it. That’s what separates him from the other jackasses and makes him so cool.
And really, when you think about, Rui had to have known that Tsukasa called for that attack. They stick together so much that he was probably even there when he did it. If he really was a good guy who secretly cared about her, he’d stop the attack before it started not after it was already happening. For all we know, it was a fluke he arrived at the right place at the right time considering how far she ran away. If he were just a few minutes later, she could’ve been raped or at least seriously injured.
He’s not as much of a douchenozzle as his friends. That’s it. Yet Tsukushi is putting him on a pedestal. Until he actually steps up a bit and shows that he has a true caring bone in his body and not just a ‘I don’t like sexual assault’ attitude, I can’t see much that isn’t dumb about this crush.
Then again, I also developed a crush on someone who bullied me simply because they opened my stuck locker to help me get my lunch money out when I was really hungry one day……Hey, cut me some slack. I was 11. She’s like 15. And the situation is different. And shut up.
The art is actually pretty bad for early/mid ’90s. I would’ve guessed it was mid ’80s. The animation is also just okay.
The music also seems stuck in the ’80s, most notably the OP. The BG music is fine, but spots of silence seem awkward. The ED is decent, but not very catchy or memorable.
The sound effects, though, ech. I don’t know what went on in the sound booth, but there are scenes where a lot of action is going on yet there are so few sound effects and those that are there seem weird or aren’t making enough noise. This is especially prominent in the attack sequence that starts with no music. The silence mixed with the weird sound effects makes for a very odd sounding scene.
All in all, I expect this series to become something pretty good and I did enjoy this first episode just fine, but the Rui thing will definitely keep bothering me until he gets some development in him.
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