I will admit I am late to the party, but yes Majisuka Gakuen 4 has come to a close after 10 episodes. In the past we’ve seen Maeda Atsuko, Watanabe Mayu and Shimazaki Haruka fight their way to the top, now, it looks like Miyawaki Sakura wants a piece of the action. Just what is Majisuka Gakuen 4 and why is it one of AKB48’s staple shows? Well, let’s take a look.
Please keep this in mind that this review is through the lens of someone who submerged himself in AKB48 only a year ago, which means he hasn’t seen the first three with Acchan, Mayuyu and Paruru as the leads.
Also, major spoiler alert.
Rappapa, the wind Instrument Club, has taken over Majisuka High School solely through the strength of their fists. However, new transfer student Sakura, played by Miyawaki Sakura, aims to take the top spot of Majisuka High and is willing to fight in order to do so. To this end, she aims to defeat the head of Rappapa, Salt, played by Shimazaki Haruka. Before Sakura is able to get her match with Salt, she has to defeat the 4 Queens protecting Salt at all costs. Will Sakura make it to the top?
Well, the answer for you is no. Yes, Sakura goes through every episode with a simple formula: fight opponent, struggle for a bit, then defeat said opponent. There are times where she needs help to achieve this, but overall I had this feeling that Sakura was near invincible, no matter how much punishment she took during some of the fights. However, by the time we reach the end of the series, and the big Sakura vs. Salt fight, Salt defeats Sakura and the series ends. The near invincible protagonist simply doesn’t struggle enough.
There’s also a sub plot that ties in with Sakura’s aspirations for the top. A rival school, Gekioko High School, has a nursing department that has aspirations to take over Majisuka High. Led by Antonio, played by Yamamoto Sayaka. This sub plot involves Gekioko High’s plan of action and yet another fight against Salt. However, the entirety of the Gekioko High School plan gets scrapped by a not-so climactic final act when Antonio and Sakura face off with Sakura ending up the victor. If Antonio lost to Sakura, the Antonio vs. Salt match up that was somewhat hyped throughout the season would have ended in one or two punches.
In all honesty the plot is not that important: what is important is seeing your favorite senbatsu-caliber members of the 48G family in fight scenes.
I hope you don’t expect any of your favorite 48G members to be the next Jackie Chan, Tony Jaa or Ronda Rousey. But in all honesty the fight scenes are pretty decent. Yes, I had little expectation to see how idols such as Miyawaki Sakura, Kizaki Yuria, and my oshi Shiroma Miru, would do in a fight scene. The action scenes won’t stimulate you like kung fu action scenes would, but they do their part to make the series flow.
There are several characters in the story but obviously the two most important ones are Sakura and Salt. Sakura is…lacking. Her back story does not necessarily warrant the need to just beat up fellow students to get her way to the top. It goes like this: her father walked out on Sakura and her mother and left them with debts. Because of that, she will not give up her quest to make it to the top of Majisuka High. That’s really all I can say about Sakura. She does hit hard though, evidenced by her numerous fight scenes and by the fact that Sakura ends up besting everybody except Salt.
In terms of acting ability, Sakura is not exactly the best actress the 48 family has to offer, but she’s still young and there’s time for her to improve. The deepened voice that Miyawaki Sakura uses to portray her titular character is something that you may need to get used to. Imagine Christian Bale’s Batman in the form of a 17-year-old idol from Kagoshima. That’s the best example I can give you.
As for Salt, played by Shimazaki Haruka, she is a mysterious, eerie, intimidating head of Majisuka High. Shimazaki Haruka does a good job portraying Salt, but there are times where she does overact her role. Despite this, she makes for the best antagonist the show has to offer.
As for the Four Queens, only two of them have real rhyme or reason to be there while the other two were just there for the management push. Otabe, played by Yokoyama Yui, is the hardworking right hand to Salt and will protect her at all costs, while Bakamono, played by Kawaei Rina, has superhuman strength yet acts like an idiot most of the time. The other two of the Four Queens seem to be there just for the sake of being there. Yoga, played by Iriyama Anna, does not speak to anything Annin has done involving yoga. Magic, played by Kizaki Yuria, does not relate to Yuria’s “Peace” nickname, which was something she had in Majisuka Gakuen 3. It would have been better to make the Four Queens distinctive of what they are known for in AKB48.
Can the Four Queens fight? Yes, but again they are just there for Sakura to beat one by one without much of a real struggle. Perhaps if a fight lasted for more than one episode, we can actually take into account Sakura’s struggles. The sad truth is that at the end of the day, the Four Queens are not that memorable. I will give Bakamono some credit however, since she had the most hilarious antics throughout the season. Hopefully we’ll see something different on the next Majisuka Gakuen show.
A key fault to this season is the fact that there are far too many characters. It isn’t just Sakura, Salt, the Four Queens and Antonio. You have Kamisori (Kojima Mako), Zombie (Owada Nana), the five Team Hinabe girls, the rest of the girls at Gekioko High school and the numerous cameos you catch throughout. Put simply: Too many characters. Yes, I understand that this show is meant to push certain 48G members, but let’s be honest: the only characters you might care about are the ones you like or selected as an oshi. For example: the characters I paid the most attention to in the series were KY and Shirogaku. Why? They are played by Tani Marika and Shiroma Miru, respectively. I really like Tani Marika and Shiroma Miru is my NMB48 oshi now that Yamagishi Natsumi is gone. Yes, I should care for Sakura as much as a normal person would, being that she is the lead, but I was more excited to see how Shirogaku would whoop Sakura. Needless to say, Shirogaku was the one who got whooped. Whooped against a blind Sakura…
Let’s be honest here, this is a show for the wotas. If you want to see 14-22 year old idols beat the living hell out of each other, then by all means this may be the show for you, but to the casual viewer, this may not be your cup of tea. The show itself as a whole isn’t god awful, but there are many things hat Majisuka Gakuen 5 should fix once that season comes out. If you’re a Sakura oshi or a Paruru oshi, it’s a must watch. But if you’re, say, a Sayanee, Milky, Kojimako, Yuihan, Peace, Annin or Mirurun oshi, you probably don’t want to see your oshi get their ass kicked by HKT48’s finest. Do you?
I will say that these past 10 episodes were somewhat enjoyable, and I am already curious about the past three seasons (especially Majisuka Gakuen 2 since it has Watanabe Mayu as the lead). But again, there are other ways to catch your favorite idols, whether through variety shows, concerts, photobooks, and radio shows. Majisuka Gakuen 4 may not be one of them.
◆ Rin Rigoni