Netflix has successfully initiated the idea of streaming-based television content to the Japanese market, propelling the society further into an age of web entertainment. Staying true to their promise made during launch, Netflix Japan has been putting out original domestically-made content aside from their standard programs. While their first attempt with Underwear was mediocre at best, Netflix may have struck a home run with the recently concluded Good Morning Call. This 17-episode long web-series centers around run-of-the-mill Yoshikawa Nao, whom due to unfortunate (or fortunate) circumstances ends up living with the school’s hottest guy Uehara Hisashi. Good Morning Call follows the two polarizing personalities as they encounter hormonal issues and progressively fall in love with one another.
Netflix’s Good Morning Call is an adaptation of Yue Takasuka’s shojo manga that goes by the same name. Being an adaptation, the usual tropes found in shojo manga are carried over to the live-action version, making Good Morning Call excessively innocent and bubbly. Such tone may particularly put off audiences who are not well-versed into Japanese pop culture. However, if one could accept and view the show as it is intended, there is a lot to enjoy from this high school romcom.
Characterization is Good Morning Call’s primary strength. The cast started as nothing but a shell of exaggerated character stereotype. Nao is your typical shojo lead, while Hisashi is a jerk blessed with good looks. As the story progresses, our leads are presented with more obstacles, which allows the viewers to traverse more into their inner psyche. Just within a few episodes, most of the characters have elevated their personalities while still maintaining their basic trope for general consistency. Most of Good Morning Call’s enjoyment comes from witnessing the growth of each character. Throw in some quirky dialogues, playful direction, and a generally gratifying group of casts, you got yourself a very solid series.
Good Morning Call solidified itself even further with relatively exceptional pacing – except for a few episodes, which I will get into later. The show is generally divided into different arcs, where each focuses on one or two particular issues revolving around the two leads. The show rarely stretches its conflicts, thus, never once did the show dragged for too long. The show’s transitions between arcs also feel organic and commendable.
As said prior, Good Morning Call at its core is an adaptation of a shojo manga. There are primary problems in adapting anime and manga to a live-action medium. One, the creators fails to understand the true essence of its source material, thus ending up disrespecting said materials; or two, the creators faithfully bind themselves to the source materials, failing to understand that some elements do not work in a live-action environment. Good Morning Call, unfortunately, fell on the latter. Nao’s innocence at times is amplified to a level where it may irritate the viewer. While such tropes may work within the realm of manga, in a series where the characters are constantly growing, the novelty of the aforesaid wears off rather quickly.
While I did praise Good Morning Call’s excellence in pacing, the series fall short around episode 14, thus resulting in a not so favorable ending. The last few episodes showcased the creators’ inability to create a solid closure to the protagonists’ journey. These episodes suggested that the showrunners were confused in selecting which direction to take, resulting in unexplored character arcs and conflicts – and most of all, an uninspired finale.
Despite a few hiccups at the end, Good Morning Call is still a solid Japanese romantic-comedy that excels in establishing lovable characters while constantly being joyous and quirky throughout. On a scale of F to A+, I’d say that Good Morning Call deserves a solid B.