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August 19, 2014

[J-Drama] No Dropping Out: Back to School at 35 Review

Synopsis:
The drama centres around how a 35 year old changes the school and influences her fellow classmates’ lives while dealing with the dark reality of today’s high schools, including bullying and skipping school.

Review:
At first it may seem that this Japanese Drama show is a comedy-driven story about a 35 year old woman going to to high school but as you watch the very first episode, you will come to find that the show isn't all happy-go-lucky or full of comedic laughter and smiles at all. Oh no, don't get me wrong, just thinking about a 35 year old woman in high school is already funny in itself. However, as you progress through the story you find out the dark past of Baba Ayako (the main character of the series) and why she's redoing her final year of high school.

Each episode of the series show a different form of bullying whether it is by parents, friends or even one's own self. And in each episode, Baba Ayako manages to solve her classmate's problems in one form or another. In a sense, the show does exaggerate some forms of bullying to the extreme, but in some cases, the types of bullying shown are definitely reflected from real life experiences that do happen in the schoolyard.

The cinematography and acting wasn't too bad but considering the budget and quality of the show you can expect some lack of expertise compared to AAA titles. You can just learn to accept it and move on without giving it much thought. After all, the main focus here is the more on the social interaction and relationships of the characters rather than the story itself. As a result, you get some sudden impulsive "jumps" in some of the scenes.

The soundtrack was decent and the beginning theme song was pretty catchy. However, it becomes quite evident that a lot of the music and foley is reused throughout the series. It is not a big deal and it doesn't hinder the plot development in anyway, but having a variety of soundtracks would have definitely made the series more engaging to the audience.

Overall, I must say that I did enjoy watching the series a lot and it has affected my attitude towards bullying in school. I was fortunately enough to have attended quite a nice public highschool and rarely did I witness any form of bullying of any sort. This show will come to educate you on the various different type of bullying (whether physical or emotional) whilst managing to entertain you.

Overall Score: 8/10