J-Drama Special – Atakku No. 1 (Attack No. 1)

Something a little different for you all today, a little experiment if you like.  I found this transcript of a meeting between two TV Asahi executives, which sheds some light on this delightful little drama.

“Well, ‘Ace Wo Nerae!’ was awfully successful for us, what have Attackno1 you got planned next for us?”

“I am glad you asked.  I have found another Manga/Anime that I though we can adapt – ‘Atakku No. 1’!!”

“Excellent, we don’t have to work too hard in the story then.  SO what is it about?”

“A young girl, who becomes great at her chosen sport after being plucked from obscurity by a very focussed coach”

“Hmmm, sounds rather familiar, just like ‘Ace Wo Nerae!’…”

“Well as they say in the West, if it ain’t broke…”

“Fair enough.  OK which sport?”

“Volleyball”

“Excuse me?”

“Volleyball.  I know it is kind of obscure, but as it is a team sport we can have many more characters on screen at the same time.”

“Aha – I like that – so we can fill you show with lots of young Japanese television actors.  So who do you have in mind for the star?”

“Aya Ueto”

“Excuse me?”

“Aya Ueto.  Yes I know she was in ’Ace Wo Nerae!’ but let’s face it – she is popular with our demographic, and she can fall over and sweat really well”.”

“OK, so tell me more.”

“Well Aya Ueto will play Kozue Ayuhara.  She is a High School volleyball player, picked from obscurity to join the National Junior Woman’s Volleyball team training camp.  Obviously she will not be great to start with, but a mix of hard work, dedication, death of someone close to her and that **** of a coach, she will eventually grow to be a great player.”

“You know this still sounds very familiar…”

“Don’t worry about that.  The best thing is that we can contrast her against the stories of the other girls in both her High School team, and those picked for the national squad.  These conflicts enable her to grow”

“Sounds like a lot to fit in.”

“Yes, there is a lot to fit into nine 45 minute episodes I agree”.  But I guess we will just suddenly force the pace in the last two episodes and rush some things.  The kids will lap it up I promise.”

“OK.  Tell me about the coach.”

“Well he is a moody, arrogant, railing against authority man.  Dressed all in black of course.  Everyone hates him, but he gets results.”

“I know I keep saying this, but he sounds just like…”

“…Jin in ‘Ace Wo Nerae!’, I know, I know.  But this guy is different.”

“How so?”

“A beard.  A really bizarre scene stealing beard.  Oh and he throws tables around, and throws girls out of the training camp for random reasons.  Sometime by their ponytails.”

“He not seem a little extreme?”

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  And of course there is a an unfolding back-story of a previous male player he may have driven to his death.  This plays into a conflict with Ueto’s High School Coach who was on that previous team as a player.  I promise you, it is all delicious”

“OK tell me more”

“Well the coach calls up all these players.  He subjects them to mental and physical torture.  Sends a lot home.  Then we have an inter-school national competition so we see the girls compete against each other.  Then they all get invited back, now stronger characters, and a better team.  All ready for an international competition.”

“Which of course they win”

“No idea”

“What?”

“Oh we will end the show 2 points into the very first game of that tournament.”

“What?”

“Worked for ‘Ace Wo Nerae!’”

“So what you are telling me, is that we are going to make a pretty similar show, albeit about a team sport, with the same basic plot, the same actress…”

“..actually I thought of another actress we can put in it from “Ace Wo Nerae!’ as well…”

“…with the same actress, plus at least one other, put the audience through the same sort of wringer, and leave the whole story somewhat unfinished?”

“Pretty much yes.  But this time we will have more money, better production values, and I have a kicking J-Rock/Pop theme tune in mind”

“OK, I guess I am sold.  One last thing – isn’t Aya Ueto a little short for a volleyball player?”

“Let’s not bring it up, and no one will notice, I promise”

OK, so maybe some of the above is a little tongue in cheek.  I actually found Attack No. 1 to be a very addictive little drama.  Yes it is very derivative, but I suspect that is the nature of the source material.  It maybe over-reached in terms of the various stories it was trying to tell, and found the 9 episodes probably 2 episodes too short.  It really did feel very rushed once things started to unfold around episode 7.  Maybe it could have dropped the storyline about the Coach’s unwanted daughter to enable a better storytelling flow.

However, if you enjoyed ‘Ace Wo Nerae!’ you will certainly like this.  Some find it superior, although personally I missed the touches that made the previous drama so enjoyable.

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