Mars: Zero’s Revolution – J-drama Episode 1 Recap, Review & First Impression

Students Unite to Take Over the World – Or At least Expose It


Plot Summary:

With an expected 10 episodes running about 45-50 minutes each, Mars: Zero’s Revolution (Mars: Zero no Kakumei) is a Japanese drama about a rabble-rousing transfer student who gathers vulnerable schoolmates to help fight injustice and ultimately change the world. He starts with the bullied and defeated Konichi who he immediately renames ‘ICON,’ taking on his problems in the form of a bet. If he can solve those three items, ICON must do as Zero says.

Episode 1 Recap:

Konichi watches a video of his idol MARS passionately protesting. With a goodbye to his phone he prepares to step into oncoming traffic. But a passerby picks it up to video Konichi’s suicide attempt, taunting him. Konichi jumps away from danger to find the other has disappeared.

At school Konichi finds the usual bullies. New student Mishima Zero follows Konichi around filming him and continuing to remark on suicide – yes, it’s that guy. On the school rooftop, Konichi explains his feelings, noting his idol MARS has abandoned him and everyone. To make a point, Zero pushes him off the roof and into a waiting dumpster – then joins him.

They make a deal that if Zero can solve his problems, he must do whatever he requests. If he fails, Zero will follow ICON’s order. Christening Konichi ICON, they shake on it. At the video club, where ICON is the sole member, he uses the equipment to glorify his idol MARS.

Zero explains to Karen, ICON’s childhood friend, that he’ll get rid of the bullies, recruit enough members to maintain ICON’s video club and figure out who sent him a threatening message. Zero begins by collecting members in exchange for a promise of a college recommendation. He approaches the requisite four people seemingly randomly chosen from the class list.

Karen comes running, spouting that the bullies have taken ICON. To expose them, Zero lets the guys attack him while live streaming then quickly shows them who’s boss. Off-camera, he hands the bat to ICON to finish them and ensure they won’t bully anyone again.

ICON and Zero are scolded by the school administration for the livestream which has sullied the school’s reputation. However, they’re pleased to hear the bully ringleader has dropped out of their school. On that high note, the guys head to the club room to find enough new members waiting. But will they join?

Zero convinces them to become video club members and as a team they work on a plan to identify the person who’s sent ICON threatening messages. After sneaking into the staff office, Zero has a clue who may have been intimidating ICON. In anticipation, he gets the drop-out bully to confirm it.

The team sets up a trap to catch the threatening teacher, live streaming the sting. It’s a drug he’s distributing to students at school. The teacher tries to play it off but Zero has more evidence and it culminates in a fight with masked students entering to defend the teacher. Before they get far, MARS steps in, taking over the stream and live uncovering a drug lab on campus, sending the ring into a panic.

MARS sets fire to the lab and fights everyone, finishing the stream with his team of video club students, vowing to continue to uncover injustice. When the camera stops, he reveals himself to be Zero and they quickly send for the police so they can make an escape.

Now just the two, there’s one threat left for Zero to clear. He accuses ICON of luring the other students to the drug leader/teacher then selfishly saving only himself. Did he then attempt suicide over the guilt? He blames MARS for abandoning him but Zero encourages him to stand up for others instead – to change his pain to strength. Having solved everything, Zero makes his request – for them to change the world together.

A businessman watches the news of MARS’ declaration, noting the club members. Back to Zero’s view, among the people he’s chosen for the club, one was surely involved in his friend’s death.

The Episode Review

In Episode 1 we can see that none of these characters, with the exception of perhaps Karen, are exactly as they appear. While the other students seem to be hiding things – such as how it plays out with ICON – there’s also an indication that Zero himself may neither be a student nor in it to change the world. He seems to be secretly investigating the death of his friend.

The appearance of a businessman at the very end gives us a clue that it may be bigger than an accident. But what do all these students have to do with it? Zero has a clue and it looks likes he’ll be using his Robin Hood Junior guise to suss everything out.


Mars: Zero’s Revolution stars Michieda Shunsuke of Naniwa Danshi (My Second Aoharu, Kindaichi Case Files and My Love Mix-Up! with Ren Meguro). As Zero/MARS he plays a more questionable character than his typical white-hat or romantic roles.

Of the drama Shunsuke notes, “This is my first lead role in a primetime serialized drama, so every day on set I felt a great sense of responsibility and pressure to do it well. But on the other hand, I haven’t seen the final cuts for most of the episodes, so I’m really looking forward to enjoying them with all of you.” He continues, “This sort of acting opportunity – being so different from my real self and most of what I’ve done before – has always been a dream of mine. So I really hope that having new episodes of Mars will be something you look forward to each week just as much as I do!”

Rihito Itagaki (silent, And Yet You Are So Sweet with Kyohei Takahashi) is the double lead as Konichi/ICON. Having acted since the age of two, he’s known for roles in Kamen Rider Zi-O and The Promised Neverland.

Will It Do Well?

It’s off to a good start adding enough breadcrumbs to indicate a bigger story within a story as well as a consistent format of uncovering a misdeed over the course of an episode. With two experienced leads, there’s an opportunity to emotionally delve into backstories to uncover greater motivations and human frailties.

It’s available as a weekly drop in Japan on TV Asahi as well as through international streaming sites Viki and Bilibili. Both weekly streams provide subtitles, so there’s a way to watch it wherever you reside. To date, viewers have been quite positive, with lots of love for both actors.

Should You Continue Watching?

The drama is set up like a typical Western action-mystery with an overarching issue and items to solve each episode. The leads as well as many of the other characters have at least a few skeletons in the closet each. So there should be a enough drama revealed per episode to get keep things snappy as well as move us progressively toward a bigger resolution.

As it’s 5-episodes in with a 10-drama expectation, you’ll quickly zip through the fast-paced reveals. While there are dramatic plotlines it doesn’t go too far down the ‘anime’ route with over-acting, instead taking it’s call for justice a bit more stoically while allowing the students to be students too. Watch two and you’ll quickly decide if it’s for you. For Naniwa Danshi fans, even though it’s not billed as a romance, this is a no-brainer. Either way, as a quick series, it should be worth the weekly wait.



This is a first impression of the 2024 J-drama Mars: Zero’s Revolution. If you’d like to see episode by episode reviews, let us know in the comments below. We’ll need a few positive responses to get us going, so don’t hesitate if you’re keen.

What do you think of Mars: Zero’s Revolution? Click for more stories about Japanese content or for interviews with other Naniwa Danshi members.

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