You’ll have to forgive me for thinking that Suugaku Joshi Gakuen, the winter 2012 J-drama starring the girls of Hello! Project, had anything to do with Majisuka Gakuen, the TV vehicle that was part of AKB48′s rise to fame. After all, Hello! Pro had been dragging their feet for years, and if you do anything that has a similar title to something AKB did, you’re going to get compared to AKB (end of story), and even fans with basic “I took Japanese class for a semester until I gave up” knowledge can see that both shows had something to do with an all-girls school. In Majisuka, a student named Atsuko Maeda (played, cryptically enough, by the real Atsuko Maeda) battles her way past the growling, snarling yanki ranks of Majisuka Girls’ High until she becomes queen of the school. On the surface, Suugaku looks to follow the same premise, as Nina Machida (played by Reina Tanaka, where at least they try to do a little wordplay with her name) challenges her way to the top by battling other girls … at math.
So at about 10 minutes in, I nicknamed it “Mathjisuka Gakuen” … not knowing what I was really getting myself into.