Title: Delicious Gakuin [Delicious Academy]
Starring: Nishijima Takahiro, Aiba Hiroki, Miura Ryosuke
I guess I have a thing for pretty boys in school dramas, but I must admit that it has to have an interesting plot for me to check it out. Shounen ai (boy love) isn't required either. Purely optional. I think fans should be more like that.
Kitasaka Rouma, Takasugi Rin, and Matthew Perrier have been kidnapped from their surroundings to an isolated, prestigious cooking academy. Each boy has their own specialty and cooking tool. Rin's specialty is beauty and uses his sparkling chopsticks, Twin Rainbow, to add beauty to his dishes. Matthew expertly mixes flavors by using his sparkling spoon Amour. Rouma is great at choosing the best ingredients and enhancing their flavors with his frying pan Tekkamaru passed down by his mother. These three boys plot together to escape the school. Ultimately, they band together with two other students in an epic cooking showdown with the teachers and the mysterious principal.
At the time when I began this series, it was refreshing and different than anything I've seen. I don't know if there's a series like this, but I haven't heard or seen any as of yet and I hope that there isn't any in the future. I've described this series as a cross between Iron Chef and a little bit of Dragon Ball Z. It is a cooking academy drama that focuses on the main characters' bond with each other.
The only familiar face from the main cast I could pick out was Aiba Hiroki. There is also a brief appearance in one battle episode with Saitoh Takumi. Most times I come into watching dramas, and even movies, I don't base my watching plans on known actors, but it's nice to see familiar actors and their range in different scenarios. Anyway, the characters made this comical drama very enjoyable and the chemistry was believable. Even though certain actions or scenes could be considered a bit cartoonish, it didn't pull me out of the story. As for the story, I thought it was very original and after each episode, I wanted to watch more. Even if at some points were cliche and predictable, there were points that I couldn't predict completely. Most importantly, the ending reveal of the principal and gradually learning the backgrounds of both the students and teachers were very effective.
Delicious Gakuin could easily be in my top ten favorite Japanese dramas. I had so much fun watching these characters develop, grow, connect, and react in this insane situation. It does a great job of balancing a little bit of drama and comedy throughout each episode. The eye candy is also a plus. If you're interested in a comically intense cooking battle and a bond between a diverse set of boys with a common goal, I highly recommend you to check out this series.