Being a drama, this series didn’t get any mention in the Summer 2010 Preview, but is actually airing in the top noitaminA time slot this season. The 11-episode anime adaptation aired in the noitaminA time slot back in fall 2007, and most of its episodes were covered here. Those familiar with it will already know about the premise involving an agricultural university student named Sawaki Tadayasu (Nakamura Yuuichi), who possesses the unique ability to see microbes with the naked eye and interact with them. The story starts off much the same way with Tadayasu attending his new school due to a professor there named Itsuki Keizou (Kurosawa Toshio), who knows about his ability from his grandfather. Hilarity ensues when he gets picked up by second-year students Misato Kaoru (Nishida Kouji) and Kawahama Takuma (Kimura Akihiro) in an attempt to recruit him into their Brewing Club where they’re illegally distilling sake, after which Itsuki’s graduate research assistant Hasegawa Haruka (Katou Natsuki) tests Tadayasu’s ability for herself and refuses to believe it even when he picks up on her athlete’s foot.
That’s the short introduction of this series, which those familiar with the anime or manga will already know about the humor that comes from the scientific side of things. I generally have reservations about any live-action series that’s adapted from a manga or anime, but must say I’m impressed by how nicely this one turned out. The microbes are clearly a challenge, but the CG used to animate them don’t look terribly out of place at all. In fact, the scene with Itsuki walking out of his microbe cloud looked really good, as was the one with Tadayasu flailing his arms like crazy trying to fight his way through the ones pouring out from the huge vat of sake. The comedy didn’t lose its touch one bit and I found myself amused just as much as I was impressed when the camera started panning around and alternating between Kaoru and Takuma’s perspective of Tadayasu’s frantic behavior. In addition to the microbes, the CG is also subtly used in various other scenes such as the cow manure and mutant vegetables on the cart in the beginning, and even the aforementioned vat of alcohol tipping over. As for the microbes themselves, they still had their goofy voices just like the anime, with Touma Yumi making a return voicing Oryzae for example.
In some ways, the humor works surprisingly well in a live-action drama, as the kiviak scene where Itsuki’s sucking the fermented seagull’s intestinal fluids was ridiculously more disgusting in 3D. I was pretty appalled by their depiction of it yet found myself laughing my ass off at everyone’s reactions. Of course, another improvement in 3D is Katou Natsuki starring as Haruka, who is all about the revealing, bondage-type, latex outfits. The only other series I’ve seen Natsuki in is Hana Yori Dango 2, so I never saw her bringing out Haruka’s violent and somewhat sadistic personality as well as she did. I could get a sense of Oohara Sayaka‘s portrayal of Haruka in the anime from her acting, so that was a plus in my books. I’m curious to see what Muto Aoi and Oikawa Hazuki will be like played by Chisun and Haneyuri respectively, but what throws in me for a whirl is that Yuuki Kei is played by a girl — Okamoto Azusa. Kei’s sexuality was always questionable, but I always thought he was still a guy first and foremost and not a gothic lolita. Saying that it’s an interesting change would be an understatement, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see how it all plays out.
So far, I really like how this drama is shaping out already since it has a similar feel to the Nodame Cantabile one (…one of the few good live-action adaptations), so I’m going to continue watching it. Much like the anime, it’s only 11 episodes long. I won’t be covering any more episodes on the site, but really wanted to get an introduction post out to share some quick thoughts.