Sprout (スプラウト) is a half-hour teen love story based on a popular manga by Nanba Atsuko starring Chinen Yuri and Morikawa Aoi.

Morikawa AoiChinen Yuri

This . . . is honestly not my sort of drama. So why am I reviewing this episode? Pure curiosity. In particular, with Chinen-kun, Hashimoto Ryosuke, Lewis Jesse, Yasui Kentaro, Jinguji Yuta, and Tanaka Juri in it, it’s practically an extension of Shounen Club, isn’t it? It’s sort of like a group project. I’m simply wondering whether any of them can act, and I don’t think half an hour will test my patience too much.

Cast on the Beach

There’s a slim chance that this drama, despite being a love story, might retain my interest. For that, it need some of the following: comedy, quirky characters, and real nail-biting conflicts. Oh, and the male characters have to have depth. The target audience is definitely female, so I think the writer is certain to give the female protagonist Ikenouchi Miku (Morikawa Aoi) depth, but there’s no such guarantee about the guys.

Is there any depth here?

The story begins with Miku thinking back three months about how she felt ill on her first day at school, and an unknown boy, who she was too queasy to see the face of, helped her to the infirmary.

Miku 3 Months Ago 1Miku 3 Months Ago 2Miku 3 Months Ago 3

From then on, she’s dreamed of this shining knight at her destined man (I’m way too cynical and jaded for this, but I’ll try to keep the snide comments out). Walking around school in the present, she oversees a young couple kissing:

Couple Kissing 1Couple Kissing 2Jesse Looks at HerOops

Does the boy remind her of her savior? Next, she hears from a fellow classmate (Yasui Kentaro) that a fellow named Souhei is looking for her. And just as she’s pondering what the mysterious Souhei could want, she bumps into him:

Souhei Introduces HimselfEh?

Then we get a sequence of expressions that proves to me that Morikawa-chan can definitely act:

Miku 1Miku 2Miku 3

As expected, no problem with the female lead here. Souhei (Chinen Yuri) then says that he’s in her care (yoroshiku onegaishimasu) because he’ll be staying with her family.

Yoroshiku 1Yoroshiku 2

And so it begins:

Opening Sequence

We get the first bit of conflict when Miku returns home and objects to her father allowing anyone to lodge with them, mainly because she doesn’t want to share the bath:

Miku Objects 1Miku Objects 2

When he reveals that there’ll be a total of three guests, she’s even more peeved.

Miku Objects 3Miku Objects 4

Aside from Souhei, the guests include Taneo Kiyoka (I haven’t gotten the actress’ name down yet) and Takigawa Naoharu (Hashimoto Ryosuke), both university students. At dinner, Taneo asks Miku quietly which of the boys she prefers, calling Souhei “the cute type”, Katagiri Hayato (Lewis Jesse) “the cool type”, and Takigawa “the otaku type.”

DinnerThe Cool Type

Now, this is exactly what I was afraid of – the guys being turned into two dimensional stereotypes. And, so far, those depth-less characters are exactly what we have. The only character that was sufficiently developed in this episode was Miku, and Morikawa-chan’s acting did a lot to keep me from getting bored.

Morikawa's Not Boring 1Morikawa's Not Boring 2Morikawa's Not Boring 3Morikawa's Not Boring 4Morikawa's Not Boring 5

Otherwise, the question of whether any of the boys can act is left unanswered. Chinen-kun, who gets top-billing in this, ranges from complete lack of expression to a mild-mannered and winning smile . . .

Chinen 1Chinen 3

. . . which is exactly his normal range of expression. Jesse-kun’s face was completely impassive, with the viewing having no idea what’s going on with him. None of the characters except for Miku was at all dynamic, and she’s not really quirky.

More Miku 1More Miku 2

So, was there comedy? No, not really. I think I might have cracked a smile, but I definitely didn’t laugh.

The question I’m left with is, do I continue reviewing this show? Despite the fact that very little happened, and what did was entirely superficial, Morikawa-chan’s acting did a lot to hold my interest, and I think she’ll manage to keep me from getting bored if I give it one more try. It’s only half an hour, after all. All I’m asking for in episode two is that we get some development of the conflict that was introduced at the end of this episode, and that the male characters are given some depth. If I get it, I won’t mind keeping this on my watchlist. Heck, I gave Kodomo Keisatsu seven episodes, didn’t I?