Also known as SA.
Synopsis: Hanazono Hikari has always been second to Takishima Kei. When they were six years old, their pro-wrestling loving fathers introduced them to each other. Assuming that she was the best in wrestling, young Hikari challenged Kei to a wrestling match only to be thoroughly defeated by him. Ever since that fateful incident, Hikari swore to beat Kei in school grades, a sporting event – anything. To do this, she has enrolled in the same school as Kei since elementary. Now she attends Hakusenkan, an ultra elite school, that costs her carpenter father a lot of money. Hikari and Kei are the top two students in the school, with Kei holding firmly to that number one position. While Hikari considers Kei to be a rival and important friend, she is completely unaware that Kei loves her. The story primarily focuses on Hikari and her constant attempts to defeat her one and only rival, Kei, and how she finds love in their rivalry. (from: Wikipedia)
Genre: Romantic comedy, drama
Status: Anime – Completed, 24 episodes (April to September 2008.)
Manga – Ongoing (14 volumes as of 09/27/2008.)
Thoughts / Review: This series had two OP and ED themes throughout. OP#1 “Special Days” (ep 1-12) and ED#2 “Special Gyutto Good Luck!” (ep 13-23) were both performed by the seiyus of the SA girls, while ED #1 “Hidamari no Gate” (ep 1-12, ep 24) and OP#2 “Gorgeous 4U” (ep 13-24) were both performed by the seiyus of the SA guys.
AND THE CHARACTERS ARE… Takishima Kei – Ranked #1 in school (Hakusenkan). He is the heir part of the prominent Takishima family. He is childhood friends with Akira and Yahiro as well as Hikari. He is good at everything he does and beats Hikari in all sorts of competitions. He has been in love with Hikari since they were kids. Hanazono Hikari – Ranked #2 in school. He considers Kei her greatest rival and strives to outrank him or win against him in any competition. She is a cheerful and kind girl, but as dense as a brick when it comes to love. Yamamoto Jun – Megumi’s twin brother and is ranked #3 in school. He is the son of a music producer and a famous singer. He is a nice guy with a secret… he has a split personality which makes him irresistible to girls. Yamamoto Megumi – Jun’s twin sister and ranked #4 in school. She communicates through writing on a sketchbook because she treasures her voice. She likes to sing, but whenever she does, it’s so powerful that it has a devastating effect on the listeners. Karino Tadashi – Ranked #5 in school. He is the son of the school headmistress. He travels a lot, loves nature and the outdoors. His careless behavior usually earns him an attack from Akira. He also provides the most comic relief in the series. Tudou Akira – Ranked #6 in school. Her family owns an airline company. She is very fond and protective of Hikari. She is very good at cooking and likes throwing tea parties. Tsuji Ryuu – Ranked #7 in school. His family owns a sports company. He is very close to Jun and Megumi because they have known each other since they were kids. He is very fond of animals (and vice versa). Saiga Yahiro – A childhood friend of Akira and Kei. He attends a different school (Kokusen). His family owns the prominent Saiga Financial Group. He comes off as a bad guy and a jerk, but has a good and kind side too.
MY IMPRESSION… “Special A” is an elite group of students in their school, only the Top 7 in the entire school make it. Since Hikari met Kei when they were kids, she has always been second place to him in all things, so she considers him his rival and does everything she can to be first place. On watching the first episode, it reminded me of a few other series: It somehow reminded me of Ouran High School Host Club, HanaKimi‘s hawt guys, and Shugo Chara’s “guardians” group, where everyone else in school thinks so highly of them and has their own fanbase on campus xD.
With regard to the characters: Megumi reminds me of Shion from Shion no Ou since she also uses a notepad/sketchbook to communicate. Kei reminded me of Irie from Itazura na Kiss since Kei came across as obnoxious to me as well (but Kei looks so much prettier than Irie, character design-wise ;P), and since I’m always oddly attracted to tsundere and indifferent guys, I like Kei. Tadashi reminds me of Morita from Honey and Clover, he’s so funny! Tadashi and Akira remind me of Otani and Koizumi’s antics in Lovely Complex. Akira + Tadashi = hilarity! I think those two’s antics are the ones that made me laugh the most in the series. As the episodes went on, Yahiro slowly climbed up on my list of favorite characters (I think he may have even outranked Kei in my list… xD) Kei & Yahiro = tsundere dudes (love ’em both!). Ryuu = responsible and levelheaded guy (he somewhat reminded me of good ol’ reliable Tsuchiura from La Corda d’Oro). Tadashi = fun. Akira = sometimes annoying. Hikari = although a very nice and kind girl, is so freakin’ slow and dense. Don’t get me wrong, I like Kei x Hikari too, I just hope that Hikari would improve somewhat and at least be less dense about love and her relationship with Kei as the manga goes on.
I also like Megumi as she was so funny in ep 19, the ep that sealed the deal for me in liking Yahiro despite his “hate me!” chara because although he seems to be a jerk, he’s a jerk with good intentions and sweet moments too (even though he has quite an odd way of showing his affections). Yahiro also reminds me of Yamada from Honey and Clover, although he’s considerably less emo. By the end of the series, everyone seems to have a partner except Ryuu… but fear not for I’ve heard that he will meet someone in the manga, it’s just far off from the London arc that was adapted in the anime so it didn’t get included. I don’t exactly read the manga, but with the help of Hinano and Sorasan, I shall pick out which chapters to read and skip because I am so reading the parts with Megumi and Yahiro (and maybe even Ryuu’s parts too). Oh, and Megumi x Yahiro, FTW!!! (with that, I suppose you can conclude which couple I’m very much rooting for xD).
With regard to the story: I don’t really follow the manga, so I didn’t have any idea where the series was going or if it’s straying from the manga’s storyline. Hmm, maybe that’s part of the reason why I had fun watching this series, because I was clueless whether or not Gonzo screwed up in adapting the manga. xD In addition, I like Kei’s seiyu, Fukuyama Jun (who voiced Watanuki in xxxHolic), and Yahiro’s seiyu, Taniyama Kisho (who voiced my dear Tsukimori in La Corda d’oro). Ahem, anyway, I totally had lots and lots of lolz while watching SA. Although, I do kinda feel sorry for Kei because Hikari is sooooo slow to realize her feelings for him. ^^;;
Although I enjoyed watching most of the episodes, I do have some complaints about some of it too. There are some episodes and events that I think they could’ve done without or could’ve done better. But anyway, some of the episodes that I liked are episode 6 (“Shoutaijou * Saiga Yakushi”), episode 11 (“Kanojo * Kareshi”), and of course *drumroll* episode 19 (“Utagoe * Warumono”).
Mind you, if you’ve read the manga, I’m not sure if you’d enjoy it as much as I did since I think they cut out a bunch of other stuff from the manga or they might have tinkered with it quite a bit. The manga is ongoing at this time too, so the the final episode was an anime original ending (which totally looked similar to the Ouran ending).
So overall, I basically enjoyed this series because of all the fun and LOL moments I had while watching it. It most definitely doesn’t require one to use your brain cells much at all, so I got to relax and just laugh my stress away after a long day at work. If you’re looking for more depth in character or story, I don’t think this one’s for you. But if you don’t mind the silliness and Hikari being real slow to realize her feelings for Kei, then you might just enjoy watching this one.