We have all seen the Romeo and Juliet tale before or at least know of it. It’s one of the most common plays taught in many high schools around the world. It is deeply ingrained into the public conscience, even to those who have never read or seen the play. Its famous for being arguably the easiest of Shakespeare’s plays to understand. It's a romantic tragedy, and that certainly adds to the appeal. Teenagers definitely like to use it to point out what happens when parents, families or affiliations don't support their little love affairs. What’s interesting about it is that, despite being one of the oldest and world-renowned stories of all time, it still manages to draw people in with interest.
Based on Yousuke Kaneda’s manga of the same name, Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet (Boarding School Juliet) is another rendition of the classic Romeo and Juliet love affair with a more modern take. I was surprised to find that this turned out to be a good romantic, school comedy-shounen than what I initially thought. I don’t think this would have worked as well as it has if it leaned more towards shoujo. When you look at the premise and setting, it has all the markings of a generic show, but how does it make this all work here? Well, there are two key facets to making a Romeo and Juliet story work. First, the two main characters need to be likeable, relatable, and interesting. Second, the hatred between the two groups needs to be both arbitrary and equal between the two sides. Some stories make the mistake of nailing the drama aspects but fail to make the characters interesting. Others tend to make one faction more detestable while making the other seem to be in the right. Boarding School Juliet was able to execute both facets successfully while leaning more to the comedy side of things.
The prestigious Dahlia Academy which educates only the elite students from the Nation of Touwa to the East and the Principality of the West. Meet Romio Inuzuka, the first-year leader of the Black Dog Dorm that represents Touwa whose members are frequently clashing with the members of the White Cats’ House led by Juliet Persia, who is also a first year, that represents the West. What’s the catch? Inuzuka has fallen in love with his rival and sworn enemy, Persia. The story depicts his struggle to keep up the pretence of hating her—along with the rest of her House—when every time he sees her. He usually goes into panic mode at the mere sight of her that it makes his heart race. He is constantly worrying if anyone else shows up he has to pretend to fight her. The show is also good at comically portraying the excruciating range of emotions the smitten hero experiences as he tries to conceal his all-consuming love for Persia with predictably disastrous results. When the two finally get the opportunity to meet alone—and without fighting each other—Persia admits that she too likes Inuzuka. No silly games of “Ifs or maybes,” but rather, more of a “How on earth can they?” Especially given all the obstacles and challenges placed before them.
Our main protagonist goal is that one day, at the right time, that their love for each could bridge peace between the two factions, although, there is a lot of groundwork to do before that could be achieved. The shows antics is mainly based around Inuzuka and Persia trying to have alone time in secrecy for the touching moments to bond. Unfortunately for them, they are constantly interrupted in one way or another by the rivalry and ongoing war between the two Houses. The supporting cast tends to be the culprits of interrupting the sweet moments between the couple, they also serve to show their dynamics with both main characters respectively. Hasuki Komai is a childhood friend of Inuzuka who has a crush on him, a loyal friend and always looking for a fight with the White Cats’. Scott Fold is a hopeless suitor of Persia who is always trying to impress her while trying to one-up on the Black Dogs. Lastly, a snobby princess and a close friend of Persia in Chartreux Westia. She’s a royal pain in the ass to Inuzuka, she acts as a bit of an antagonist for him but later becomes a supporter of sorts since she can see that he makes Persia happy.
These characters help provide many of the laughs and a lot of physical and visual gags. The show is equally at its best when they are all interacting as well as the alone time with our main couple. Everything just clicks, and it goes to show that the characters are enjoyable and that makes for a more interesting comedy. Admittedly, not all the jokes land but this is definitely one of the better romantic comedies. Studio LIDENFILMS did a fine job with the backgrounds as it depicts a more old-school, fairy-tale, quasi-European look with its architecture and designs. It seems very much like a hodgepodge of styles, to the likes of Nisekoi, in its character designs and layouts. The fanservice does feel out of place, it feels more like a quota to have it in there. OP and ED are serviceable. The soundtrack is complementary to many of the well animated visual gags as well as the light-hearted atmosphere.
Boarding School Juliet is a very simple romantic comedy that has good execution, in saying that, there are areas where its lacking, for example, the backstory to the characters could have been expanded upon more, and there are moments where it feels like certain arcs are dragging. But it makes up for it by having Inuzuka and Persia being very interesting and their behaviour is both very human and very heart-warming. On top of that, the minor characters are also nuanced and incredibly critical to the story and are evenly divided between both sides of the conflict, so there's a good balance of both personal vendettas and character development. The message of the show is that love triumphs over hate.