As I’ve mentioned in my other blog, “Yowakutemo Katemasu~Aoshi-sensei to Heppoko Koukou Kyuuji no Yabou~” is one of the Spring dramas that I’m really looking forward to. The cast had me sold and Yowakutemo Katemasu is a refreshing change from the slew of deka and medical dramas.
Yowakutemo Katemasu started strong with 13.4% in ratings and its easy to see why, the cast members compliments one another and the plot is well-written to balance humor and drama.
Here is a quick recap of Yowakutemo Katemasu: Episode 1
12 years ago…
Tamo Aoshi (Ninomiya Kazunari) is the type of baseball catcher who catches balls with his eyes closed, which makes him miss almost every pitch. Aside from being a bad catcher, he’s also bad at saving bases and even clashes with rival school’s ace player during that game. It was during that game when Aoshi realized that the weak will always lose while the strong will always win.
12 years later, Aoshi is standing in a laboratory inside ToDai (Tokyo University) together with his peers and their professor who is under investigation for falsifying documents. The professor told them that until his name is cleared, the laboratory funds will be put on hold.
This put Aoshi in bind since no funds means no research, which means no work. Their professor begs them to give him a year to clear his name and until then, they are on their own.
This leads Aoshi to accept a temporary teaching position at his high school alma mater, Jotoko. On his first day, he sees the school’s baseball club with mere four members practicing on the field, coincidentally, a ball was thrown over at Aoshi’s direction, he picks it up to throw but stops himself.
Baseball team captain Ebato Mitsuteru (Yamazaki Kento) and Ushimaru Natsuhiko (Yanagi Shuntaro) gives Aoshi a questioning look as he approaches them to return the ball, they were like, “why can’t he just throw it?”. Nonetheless, the two decided to meet Aoshi halfway the field so it’ll be faster.
Aoshi asks if they are the only members of the baseball club; Ebato says that they are expecting new members to join, and Aoshi wished them good luck. Baseball manager, Tarumi Yuzuko (Arimura Kasumi) looks on knowingly at Aoshi and even calls him “senpai”.
Jotoku’s Principal, Sanjo Mitsushige (Sasano Takashi) welcomes Aoshi with open arms and can’t help but tease Aoshi on coaching the baseball club. Aoshi says that the baseball club’s problem is not really the lack of coach but rather getting enough members.
Afterwards, Aoshi is introduced during the school’s assembly where he got emotional after telling the students that his laboratory has shut down. He also gave a meaningful message that entering Toudai, or rather graduating from Toudai, is not a guarantee because they might end-up like him, unemployed. So, he is just being bitter.
At class, Ebato and Shirao Tsuyoshi (Nakajima Yuto) are asking Akaiwa Kimiyasu (Fukushi Sota) to return to the baseball club especially that they have an upcoming practice game with Dou-Gaku (Douto Gakuen). Akaiwa thinks that it ridiculous that they must play against Dou-Gaku since Jotoku’s don’t even practice one-tenth of the time that Dou-Gaku’s does. Ebato and Shirao doesn’t know how to retaliate Akaiwa’s words and they eventually return to their seats when they notice Aoshi standing by the door.
Aoshi comes-in, introduces himself, and says that he doesn’t want to be bothered by unnecessary things so he wants problems to be solved before it gets serious. Aoshi then points at Akaiwa, saying that he’s one of those causing problems at class and pointedly asks Akaiwa why he won’t return to baseball club.
Akaiwa answered that it’s none of Aoshi’s concern and Aoshi, being so good at wisecracks, said that it is indeed none of his concern but if Akaiwa’s problems gets big, Aoshi will eventually get distracted. Akaiwa then passes the blame to the baseball club, namely Ebato, Shirao, and Tarumi, who said that Akaiwa is merely dodging responsibility. Aoshi tells them to solve the problem as soon as possible for their sake and his.
Back at the field, the baseball club manages to recruit two freshmen’s, Aoshi looks-on at the team’s terrible bat and catch practice (sorry, I don’t know what to call it). Masumoto Nobuki sensei (Arakawa Yoshiyoshi) arrives and introduces himself as the not-really baseball coach.
Masumoto then prods Aoshi to give the members some encouraging words, being a former baseball member of Jotoku. You can see that Aoshi instantly earns the respect of the team, being a former baseball member sand all. Aoshi is really clueless of what to say to the members, so Aoshi casually mentions how the team is really quiet during practice and they should be saying things like “don’t mind” to the other party so they won’t feel bad for making a mistake.
It’s cute how the members takes Aoshi’s words to heart that when the practice resumes, they just keep on shouting “don’t mind” even when it’s not really needed. Akaiwa can see the club practice from the rooftop as he memorizes some flash cards, seeing the baseball club with a renewed spirit, he took his things and left the rooftop.
Tarumi then approaches Aoshi after the practice and tells him he is more preferable in coaching the baseball club. She even calls him “Aoshi-kun” afterwards.
After class, Aoshi heads to a dining joint frequented by baseball club during his time. Tarumi Kaede (Yakushimaru Hiroko) happily welcomes him and even keeps on staring at him as he finishes his curry. Akaiwa’s father looks-on, obviously jealous of the attention that Aoshi is getting from his “landlady”.
Jotoku baseball club arrives and they were surprised to see Aoshi; Tarumi Kaede can’t help but notice two freshmen in the baseball club and she’s just glad that the team have managed to get members. The team then ordered curry, a staple dish every time the club visits. One of the members even gets to have nothing but pumpkin in his curry just because Tarumi-mama’s intuition said that the player needs it.
While the team eats their curry, it was revealed that Akaiwa run away from home. True enough, Akaiwa finds himself without a roof for the night as a classmate of his refuse to let him sleepover. LOL, Akaiwa even has a sleeping bag and all.
Tarumi sees the exchanged and teases Akaiwa that he can stay for the night at her house, which is literally heard by every passer-by. As Tarumi follows Akaiwa, a “shadow” emerges.
That night, Tarumi visits Aoshi’s apartment with a food from her mother, she does a thank you gesture that Aoshi recognizes her as Yuzuko; the little girl he used to play “catch” with, and looks at him likes he sucks in catching ball, which is true.
Tarumi again encourages Aoshi to coach the club and even receives prodding from Tarumi-mama who thinks that Aoshi is suited to be the coach based from her intuition. Aoshi says that the club’s main problem is getting enough members and Tarumi says that they only need two more members since she’s confident that Akaiwa will return.
When asks what happened to Akaiwa, Tarumi said that during their practice game with Dou-Gaku last year, Akaiwa becomes the target of Dou-Gaku. The school concentrated their attacks to the right field, which was Akaiwa’s position. By the time the game ended, Akaiwa is the only one with a dirty uniform.
Tarumi-mama said that when she saw Akaiwa during the game, she remembered Aoshi because she knows that Aoshi will surely knows how Akaiwa felt. Aoshi finds Akaiwa in one Jotoku’s baseball play area where they practice catch and pitching. Aoshi shares his most humiliating match in his short-lived baseball career wherein as a catcher, he didn’t manage catch any balls for the team. After that, he bid baseball goodbye during his sophomore year in high school.
Akaiwa asks him if he regrets it, Aoshi said yes since he could have done something back then. For Akaiwa, he knows that he’s not particularly good at baseball, but he also don’t consider himself weak, in fact, he thinks that baseball is his strong point. Aoshi says that if it is his strong point, then he must develop it.
Aoshi offers Akaiwa a place to stay; Akaiwa excitedly accepts but was obviously dejected when Aoshi gives him keys to a room at school. Akaiwa thought that he’ll be staying in Aoshi’s place and Aoshi was like, “you’re too presumptous, didn’t we just met?”. Geez, are you guys dating?As if Akaiwa will jump on Aoshi during his sleep.
Aoshi then takes his time to visit the baseball team club room and rests his head on the locker that he used. He recalled the game that made him give-up baseball, the final moment when he clashes with the Dou-Gaku’s ace player. After the game, the ace player approaches Aoshi and say something like, “what are you even thinking wearing that uniform? This place is not for you.”
The next day, the baseball team is having warm-up exercises at the school’s rooftop when Ushimaru spotted a journalist. The journalist is Tone Riko (Aso Kumiko) who writes for a magazine called “Trophy”.
Shirao excitedly tells Tone his plans of going Pro despite being enrolled at a school that didn’t really mentor baseball players. Tarumi and Ebato arrives, pulling Aoshi with them.
Tone wants to have a chat with Aoshi but he doesn’t want to be interviewed. Tone tries to pry details on how Jotoku, one of best preparatory schools in Japan, will shaped a baseball team who only gets to practice once a week. Maybe there’s a catch, like using batting equations to win. You can actually see Shirao doing computations upon hearing this. XD.
Aoshi says that Tone is thinking too much, Jotoku is a school for intelligent people, nothing more, nothing less. She won’t be able to write a good article with his team so she better off go some powerful school aiming for Koshien like Dou-Gaku.
Tone is obviously pissed with Aoshi’s high-handed attitude so she was surprised when Aoshi went with her as she meets Dou-Gaku coach, Toge Naosuke (Kawahara Kazuhisa). Toge extends his hand for a handshake, which Aoshi ignores. Toge was like, “we have met last year, right?” and Aoshi can’t believe that Jotoku is so forgettable that Toge didn’t even recognize Masumoto’s face.
Aoshi learned that Jotoku’s principal have cancelled the traditional practice game between Jotoku and Dou-Gaku, for obvious reasons, Toge then added that he doesn’t really see the point why they should practice with the underdogs, it’s such a waste of time.
Aoshi retaliates that it’s also a waste of valuable studying time for them. In fact, playing baseball itself is a waste since it won’t be trouble for them if no one plays it.
Toge gets angry and orders Aoshi to leave the ground and any ground for that matter. But Aoshi argued that he won’t since he wants to win. So,what’s all that big talk, Aoshi sensei?
After uttering some big words, the practice match is back and Aoshi pressures the team to look for additional members to complete the nine members. Tarumi suggests that they can ask other club to lend their best players but Aoshi argues that no club will do that. Aoshi said that they don’t have to be best, he just need those hot-blooded/uber passionate ones and they can come from anywhere.
At rooftop the next day, the baseball team snoops on other clubs using their binoculars until Ushimaru spots someone who fits the “hot-blooded” description. The hot-blooded guy turns-out to be Kamezawa Junichi (Hongo Kanata), a member of Jotoku’s orchestra who is wildly swinging a baton as he pretends to be an orchestra conductor.
The team approaches Kamezawa who instantly refuse because he can’t play baseball and the guys were like, “in our team, it’s okay even if you can’t play baseball”. HAHA, no wonder the team sucks.
Aoshi decided to stroke Kamezawa’s ego and tells him that the conductor’s podium is like being in the batter box. You stand alone on the box, all eyes will be on you, and you will surely get your turn. This is opposed to the orchestra wherein Kamezawa resigns himself to playing cymbals because he never gets his turn to conduct. As Kamezawa loves to be the center of attention, he decided to join the team.
Afterwards, the team is off to the beach where Shirao and track and field member Okatome Kei (Mamiya Shotaro) raced up to Ebato’s position. Okatome losts and Shirao said that he must join the baseball club. Aoshi reasons-out that Okatome starts to falter at 43m mark; however, he is at best before that and they can use his sprint at baseball since the distance between bases is at 27m.
Aoshi, like what he did to Kamezawa, stroke Okatome’s ego by saying that during that 27m run between bases, he is just invincible. Okatome then agrees to join the team. Guys is so easy to please.
As they went home, Ebato argues that its still impossible for them to play against Dou-Gaku because it’s still impossible that Akaiwa will return. So, Tarumi made a deal that if Akaiwa doesn’t return, they still have a spare. When asks who it is, Tarumi calls on her stalker. The said stalker is Shikara Eisuke (Sakurada Dori) who smiles shyly at Tarumi and co. despite admitting being the stalker.
Tarumi tells him that she’s going to let him stay by her side provided that he joins the team. Shirao and Ebato freaks-out from having a stalker on the team but Tarumi said that its her deal.
With 9 members completed, the baseball team goes to practice the next day. It’s funny how the new members are such an odd bunch. Kamezawa holds the baseball bat as if he’s modelling it just to have another minute on the batter box, Okatome practices to steal bases but always fail; and Shikara is just behind Tarumi. Masumoto says that by the looks of it, the team is even worst than last year. XD
Aoshi asks who is the team’s pitcher and Tarumi says that there’s none. LOL, is this really a club? Shirao usually decides the position depending on their condition on the day of the game and Aoshi was just speechless on the team’s state.
He then sees Akaiwa taking a peek and ran towards him, which eventually made Akaiwa ran away. When Aoshi catches-up, he asks Akaiwa to pitch the ball back to him, if Aoshi fails to catch the ball then he’ll let Akaiwa go.
Akaiwa pitches and Aoshi manages to manuever his gloves and catches the ball. Akaiwa was like, “nice catch” and Aoshi returns the compliment with “nice ball”. The entire team compliments Akaiwa with “nice ball” and tells Akaiwa that they will be waiting for him with Akaiwa as Jotoku’s pitcher.
It’s the day of the practice match and Masumoto hides behind Tarumi because Toge has been glaring at his direction. Unknown to him, Toge is actually looking for Aoshi and not him. The game starts with Kamezawa as the pitcher just because he wants to and not because he has the skill.
The game starts and Kamezawa is a such a huge flop to the point that it’s laughable. Aoshi has enough and walks in the field asking for a different pitcher among the present members. When no one answers, Aoshi calls on Akaiwa and the rest of the members starts calling for him as well.
Akaiwa can hear them, he’s just in one of the Jotoku’s rooms and he closes his ears as the calling continues. Kamezawa continues to pitch as Akaiwa hasn’t arrived yet. Dou-Gaku have scored 18 runs so far, Kamezawa wants out because he’s tired, and the rest of outfielders/infielders are just sitting on the ground because there’s nothing for them to catch. Well, you gotta hand it to Kamezawa because he managed to pitch 18 times for a starter.
Akaiwa arrives at the game wearing his last year’s uniform, meaning it’s still unwashed and just as dirty. He starts pitching and though it started good, his weakness eventually shows, soon everything he throws are either hit or ball.
Toge looks-on disappointed, saying that Akaiwa have just changed positions but he’s still the same. Noticing that it’s impossible for them to score even one run, Aoshi heads to Toge and begs to let them bat even once.
Toge was aghast, what Aoshi is requesting is like asking him to fix the game. They will their turn to bat if they manage 3-outs, something that Aoshi thinks is impossible with his team’s current state.
As anger and frustrations run high, Aoshi is pulled-out from the field and Jotoku’s baseball team decided to get serious…or not really serious. Jotoku did manage give Dou-Gaku three outs and they rejoiced that they can finally bat. However, the sun has set and the game is called in favor of Dou-Gaku, 53 to none.
The team is obviously crushed, they asked Aoshi if they can get stronger, Aoshi says no, they can just stay weak. However, they are smart kids and they will surely find a way to get stronger. Because of that, Aoshi announces that he will be Jotoku’s coach from hereon, much to Masumoto’s surprise, and tells the team that they will prove that one can win even if they are weak.
As the team disperses after the night run, Aoshi sees his old baseball cap and wears it just for fun.
I loved this drama already, they stayed true with their tagline, “will win even if we’re weak” by giving us the most pathetic baseball team ever. It’ll be a miraculous feat if Aoshi can really make Jotoku win. Though they didn’t really specify if the team will win matches up to Koshien or if they’ll just have to win their next practice match with Dou-Gaku.
Jotoku’s baseball team is the perfect underdog where everyone just sucks, really. However, you can’t really call them pathetic because the guys are book-smart that even if they lose baseball, they have a pretty good back-up. As Aoshi loves to say, its a good thing they are smart, which seems like every other baseball players are blockheads.
Aoshi-sensei is probably someone whom I loved to be a teacher because he doesn’t mince words and is very direct that he usually appears rude. However, his character is just what the baseball team needed, someone who’ll tell them where and what they are bad at.
Since this drama is adapted from a book, the writing is concise and solid. I like that they focus more on the team and avoided inserting some unnecessary characters like typical school villains ie. a nosy vice-principal, some faculty member, and bully classmate.
I guess what makes Jotoku different from other school dramas is that the school is pretty laidback for a preparatory school. I was expecting some straight-laced school but the school’s atmosphere is very relaxed. Just take a look at the baseball team, they have 3rd year students yet they are still allowed to do club activities. Or maybe because once a week practice isn’t really taking too much of their time. XD
Nino as Aoshi can pass as one of the students. LOL. It’s hard to believe that he spent his past years in a lab when it doesn’t look like he aged. Nino may not be the best in acting but the role suits him well like a second skin where he sometimes show moments of weakness and being such a smart-ass.
The rest of the characters that makes up Jotoku baseball team makes me giddy with tons of bromances. Their roles is not that demanding and they don’t have to act like a bunch of yankee’s but typical prep students so their acting is pretty satisfactory. I’m gonna be biased and say how happy I am that Yuto gets to have lots of screentime and dialogues. XD. It’s quite weird that he is not the captain and speaking of captain Ebato (Yamazaki), he seems pretty shy for a captain and leaves almost everything to Shirao (Nakajima).
I have ambivalent feelings toward Akaiwa (Fukushi), I’m not sure what he really wants from baseball, he said that baseball is his strong point so I don’t why he is acting such a wuss, maybe we’ll be seeing his path toward self-discovery in next episodes. And please, make him freeload in Aoshi’s house or other members houses already. It’s not shown in the correlation chart but I’m guessing Akaiwa has a crush on Tarumi, the same way that his father has feelings for Tarumi’s mother. XD
Tarumi is fine and I like her “tsk” expression everytime she doesn’t like something, which she usually uses toward Masumoto. She can act pretty cheeky sometimes and quite assertive. It’s also cute how she approaches her stakler Shikara like its pretty normal to confront the one stalking you. Shikara seems pretty harmless and its good to see how he’ll develop his non-existent baseball skills with Tarumi’s prodding.
I like the humor that Kamazawa (Hongo) and Okatome (Mamiya) provides, especially the time when Kamazawa was practicing his baton swinging, I laughed so hard, and also during his first throw during the practice match. He acts and poses like a true pitcher and ends-up pitching a ball.
Lastly, I’m itching to see Aoshi faced-off with Yachida Kentaro (Ichikawa Ebizo), the guy who gave him his biggest humiliation in his baseball career.
All in all, Yowakutemo Katemasu is a youthful drama where it captures playing baseball in its purest form- simply for enjoyment. But as competitions are hard to avoid and pressure will eventually sinks you in, as Aoshi tells the boys, they’re smart, they will think of something.
Usual disclaimer applies. This will be cross-posted in JE Fandom for first impressions since the lead actor is from Johnny’s.