HiGH&LOW Season 2

HiGH&LOW Season 2 takes us back in time: to the origin of the show’s title, the opening of Itokan, the glory days of Mugen, the fight against the Amamiya Brothers, and the rise of the Mighty Warriors.

If Rude Boys have Yagami Light, Mugen has Great Teacher Onizuka. EXILE Akira plays Kohaku. Versatile actor Arata Iura plays his bestfriend, Tatsuya.

While Season 1’s Cobra, Yamato, and Noboru share nostalgic moments over onigiris, Season 2’s Kohaku and Tatsuya share memories over omurice. They soon meet fellow motorcycle enthusiasts – real life MMA fighters, Ohta & Konishi, and later on, Tsukumo (played by Sho Aoyagi from Gekidan EXILE). The youngest members are Naomi’s friends and Tatsuya’s “little brothers”, Cobra (Iwata Takanori) and Yamato (Nobuyuki Suzuki).

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They support each other, ride motorbikes together, no leader whatsoever. Kohaku and Tatsuya wish they could all stay that way forever. “Eien” would have been nice but Tatsuya says, “No. It’s Mugen.” The words mean the same but the latter has a certain ring to it. This small group of strong bikers eventually become a threat to the Kuryu group, a large organization with several affiliated gangs. Kuryu plots to extinguish Mugen by pitting them against Hyuga’s gang. Mugen wins and the tale of their victory spread around town. Soon, more and more people decide to ride with them. And Mugen welcomes its golden age.

As the number of members continue to grow, Mugen begins to collapse internally. Its founder and peacemaker, Tatsuya, decides to open his own diner to lead a more peaceful life. Ohta and Konishi accept an offer to become professional fighters abroad. For Kohaku who grew up with no one, Mugen is his everything. He struggles to accept these changes. With a friendship on the brink of falling apart, what used to be a leaderless group has become a huge, powerful organization led by Kohaku. However, a lot of unidentified people who claim as Mugen members go around town doing shady stuff. They destroy the group’s good reputation and coincidentally run into some trouble with the Amamiya Brothers.

Two of the most swoon-worthy members of EXILE Tribe, EXILE’s Takahiro and Sandaime J Soul Brothers’ Hiroomi Tosaka, play Masaki and Hiroto Amamiya. The former wrestlers face the entire Mugen group together and succeed in what the Hyuga gang failed to do. Cobra just can’t move on from the fact that they were beaten by two guys.

Song: SIN- Ace of Spades feat. Hiroomi Tosaka

More than knowing what really occurred between Mugen and the Amamiya Brothers, what I like most about these flashbacks is that I get to see a cute and talkative Cobra which is totally different from his cool and taciturn personality as Sannoh Rengokai’s leader.

Losing Tatsuya, Tsukumo in a coma, Mugen’s downfall, Kohaku and Amamiya Brothers’ disappearance: even though this season has less humor and has been more on the dramatic side, the action sequences are still on par with the first.

Featuring Sandaime J Soul Brother’s song “Mugen Road”, Trailer #10 shows Mugen in fierce battles. And they don’t call ’em legends for nothing.

Just like Season 1, Cobra gets the most impressive and memorable individual moves in a fight scene. Takanori Iwata is a freakin’ bias ruiner. He isn’t a great actor which is understandable since he’s a performer but he had me at German Suplex. (´▽`ʃƪ)♡ Why so sexy, Gun chan??

As current Sannoh Rengokai leader, things certainly haven’t been easy for Cobra. Aside from his friends getting involved with other S.W.O.R.D. matters, he has to deal with getting Tsukumo and Noboru back to good health. He also has to help Miho (Noboru’s gilfriend) who escaped from the wicked scouts called Doubt.

Doubt is White Rascals’ biggest competitor in the scouting business. While Doubt is exploiting women, the latter aims to protect them. Rocky’s philosophy of not hurting women convinced strongest members, Kaito and Kizzy, to leave Doubt and join the Rascals instead. In a male dominated show such as this one, it’s usually the women who liven up the mood. There’s Naomi, Lala, Ichigo Milk, and all the girls at Club Heaven but I think Kizzy is the fairest of them all. I’m fond of his character and Yu Inaba with eyeliner on looks like a mix of Nichkhun and Shotaro Mamiya.

Another versatile young actor Goki Maeda goes from friendly task force member in 2015’s Death Note to HiGH& LOW‘s troublemaking transferee. He plays Todoroki, the new kid on the block who’s eyeing Murayama’s spot at Oya Kou.

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Fortunately, Todoroki appears at a time when Murayama has grown to be a Cobra-like kind of leader. Had he provoked Oya Kou’s rep one season ago, he simply would’ve been beaten to a pulp and would’ve continued living his life thinking that strong men are just bullies. Murayama earns his respect. This coming-of-age moment complete with a little school romance on the side is my favorite thing in this flashback-filled season.

The biggest introduction goes to The Mighty Warriors who briefly appeared in the final episode of the first season. This time, we get to see more of their backstory. Led by J Soul Brothers’ Elly, The Mighty Warriors gained their strength from music and fashion.

I personally don’t like The Mighty Warriors that much since their arrival doesn’t sound like good news to the balance of S.W.O.R.D that’s already hanging by a thread. I also think they’re the most lacking in the acting department and compared to Iemura, Kohaku and even to the first season’s Daruma Ikka; they are the least intimidating. I look at them and I see singers, not warriors.

Song: Mighty Warriors / PKCZ(R) feat. Afrojack, Crazyboy, Anarchy, Sway, Mighty Crown (Masta Simon & Sami-T)

As Ice and his gang continues to consolidate their power in the coastal region, the final episode opens with another addition to the growing list of SWORD antagonists: Mr. Lee. He is the son of a Korean mob boss, played by BIGBANG’s Seungri whose real name is actually Lee Seung Hyun. He uses the stage name,V.I.,when performing in Japan.

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Mr. Lee claims to have an important piece of information that can make Kohaku join “the other side”  but the HiGH&LOW trailers tend to give too much away that V.I’s appearance did not create that much of an impact since I feel like I’ve already seen it all on Youtube.

The Iemura Group literally starts to disturb the peace in all SWORD districts and that’s the biggest mistake they could ever make in their lives. You DO NOT want to infuriate the leaders of SWORD! Especially now that Noboru is back and Cobra is more passionate than ever, Murayama has finally understood the kind of leader that he wants to be, Kizzy and Kaito have returned to Club Heaven and… well, Masataka Kubota and Hayashi Kento did not appear this season but we can only expect great things once these awesome actors x formidable leaders show up again.

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HiGH&LOW may have a lot of main characters but it does NOT have a confusing plot. (Does it even have one?)  It actually gets a bit tiring at times, the way they reiterate the show’s theme. This is an entertainment project with a very simple story that’s stretched out to make two seasons and two films when the episodes can fit into one season. There is an ubiquitous plot device but the show is still definitely an upgrade in all aspects compared to LDH’s previous yankii series, Wild Heroes. I’d rather see another car accident than a scene of them saying “Who Are You?!” while pointing at the camera. *cringe*

My only gripe about HiGH&LOW Season 2 is that it ends with a movie, ergo I don’t know when I’ll get to see it since I live outside Japan. I haven’t even seen its prequel, The Road to HiGH&LOW yet.

I saw a few clips from the recent HiGH&LOW The Movie stage greeting and those fans had the chance to see the entire male cast, I’m dying of envy.

I laughed out loud at Masataka Kubota’s cute awkwardness. Yamada Yuki is totes adorbs, too. Now it’s even more fun to rewatch the show and marvel at their acting skills after seeing these badass SWORD leaders being their dorky selves in real life.

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