Thursday, February 26, 2015

Utsukushiki Wana Eps 1-5

Tanaka Rena plays the mistress of her boss in Utsukushiki Wana who is old enough to be her dad. I can't remember the last time I saw a good Tanaka Rena show. Maybe Ganbatte Ikkimashoi? Anyway, wifey knows about Tanaka Rena and so she sets Tanaka Rena up with her lover who has a thing for older women in a 'I know what's going on and I want you to stop' act without actually saying she knows.

Husband of course gets the hint and pulls out and Tanaka Rena responds to wifey's challenge by going along with the set up instead of choosing to back away. Lover boy who can't get the wife to leave the boss decides to play along and we have a good girl mistress vs scheming wife story.

Bframe recommended Utsukushiki Wana to me with saying that the show is so bad it might be good and it is pretty bad in the afternoon soap opera kind of way. While Hirugao was a tacky drama that tried to be something serious, Utsukushiki Wana revels in its tackiness. The acting is unbashfully bad that its kind of fun, at least for the first two episodes.

The problem is that the main character Tanaka Rena is playing is too nice. I want more backstabbing and manipulation but that character never really dips her toes into that area. First two episodes were interesting but I ended up skimming 3 to 5 waiting for her to do something. Watchable if you like Tanaka Rena and/or you want something soapie. For me the heroine is too nice which is standard for these type of shows and none of the characters are that interesting.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sambomaster is now Obasan Daite Kudasai!

EDIT: Ooops false alarm. Someone pointed out to me that its a limited time name change. Its just a gimmick thing for the 15th anniversary. They are now 'Sensei! Sokontoko yoroshiku!'

This always happens when I don't read things in Japanese properly. Nothing to see here. Sambomaster is still Sambomaster.

Had a big shock when I went to the sambomaster website and saw that they had changed their name! First of all, happy 15 year anniversary to my absolute favourite band. I've been listening to their music ever since Densha, been to two of their live events and I still don't know their names.

One think I dislike is about the band formerly known as Sambomaster is that their t-shirts suck. I like the new logo. Not sure about the name but all I need is a black shirt with the logo and the list of venues at the back in regular fonts.

Their website says they are going to have two more announcements. One will be a tour. Maybe the third one is that Minmi will join the band. :) I love the two Minmi songs Sekai wo Kaesasete wo Kure yo and Kono yo ga yami dato iwanaidekure. Sambomaster is dead! Long live Obasan Daite Kudasai!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Doctors Saikyou no Meii Season 3 Eps 3-5

Antspace is pretty much right about season 3. As much as I hate Doctors for rehashing the same story again, I must admit that watching Moriyama is still pretty entertaining. There are still a lot of laugh out loud moments in season 3 from Moriyama's origami to to trying to use public transport.

The writer took what I wanted to see happen in season 2 and turned it around. Ie, instead of Sagara getting his way and realising he took it too far, its Moriyama who finally gets what he wants and realising that with great power comes great responsibility.

Its just a shame that the for a series that had a must watch first season has become a merely enjoyable series that has refused to evolve. Frustratingly stale but surprisingly still enjoyable.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Gakkou no Kaidan Eps 1-3

Super normal everyday girl goes to prestigious school because her former school closed down and is forced to become the president of the student council. This is all a plan to make her a scapegoat and together with mysterious speechwriter Kamiki Ryunosuke, she will start a revolution against the school and the Platinum 8.

I should have not watched this crap when I saw the cast cause the plot had potential. Alas, the speech part is super cheesy and not smart at all. Gakkou no Kaidan has got all the shoujo manga cliches but does none of them well. I can't believe I gave it 3 episodes hoping to see something clever. The stupid basketball game was the last draw for me.

Kamiki Ryunosuke is so wasted here and they should have cast someone a lot better for the main girl but I don't think any talent can save the boring script. Avoid, unless you are a 9 year old girl and/or like guys with trimmed eyebrows and lots of makeup.

I don't think I can ever rewatch 101 Proposals without the image of her plastic face in my head.

If you want to watch a good high school bullying/power struggle show, watch Fukuda Saki's Life.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Maru Maru Tsuma Eps 1-5

From the writer that brought us the super lame dialogue filled Kaseifu no Mita comes another jdorama about the perfect housekeeper. Kubota Masazumi is a newscaster which means he is someone who does more than read out the news and he has a contracted housekeeper played by Shibasaki Kou who does everything perfectly for him.


- The concept of the story is interesting with two people with problems in an unusual and symbiotic relationship.

- I loath to say it but Shibasaki Kou does a pretty good job. She pulls off the fake smile well. Hhmm. Maybe its more she's right for this role. I like her monologue at the end of episode 5. I guess her roles should be limited to disturbed characters like her role in One Million Stars.

- Kuroki Hitomi is hilarious as Shibasaki Kou's mom.

- Renbutsu Misako!!! (Once again playing a thankless supporting role but supporting role Renbutsu Misako is better than no Renbutsu Misako.


- The writer Yukawa Kazuhiko (GTO, Oyaji etc) chose the wrong job for the husband Masazumi and/or the portrayal of it. The husband character serves two purpose. He is one half of the flawed couple making each other's lives work and he is the shining light for Shibasaki Kou's character.

However, as a newscaster, all he see him do is anything but read the news. The writer tries to sell that Masazumi is greatly respected by his colleagues and an inspiration for Renbutso Misako but Masazumi's only concern is spouting empty words and the dorama treats it like its a great thing. Its not like he is the one doing the investigative reporting. Take for example the abused children speech. Am I supposed to feel moved with that phony speech? When Masazumi is at his best, he is supposed to be this shining light but he comes across as self serving spouting his kireigoto nonsense.

- All the episodes run for 51 minutes which is 5 minutes more than usual and that's way too long in terms of pacing.


The only reason to watch is Shibasaki Kou's character. Besides that, I basically forwarded half the four episodes. If you enjoyed Kaseifu no Mita, Maru Maru Tsuma is the show for you. For me, its got an interesting story but execution is all over the place. Give the script to Sakamoto Yuji and it would be a much better show.  Frustratingly interesting in places.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Light Shines Only There

The Light Shines Only There was Japan's entry for the Academy Awards. No idea why they chose this over Snow White Murder Case. Anyway, its a dark movie about three people who live in a small town in Hokkaido; Ayano Gou playing a unemployed bum and chanelling his inner Eita, Ikewaki Chizuru playing a prostitue and her former felon brother who Ayano Gou runs into at a pachinko parlour.

I like depressing movies and the story here is great. However there are a few problems. Firstly, its 20 minutes too long. I spent most of the first hour thinking about whether I should stop watching. Ayano Gou does his usual walk around in daze acting which fits his character but he cannot hold my attention the way someone like Ikewaki Chizuru can. The second problem is that there is barely any chemistry between Ayano Gou and Ikewaki Chizuru. This is not a romantic movie but there is no sexual tension between the two leads besides the numerous sex scenes.

So are there any reasons to watch this besides those who enjoy depressing shows? Ikewaki Chizuru is awesome. No, I'm not saying that because there is a lot of nudity in this movie. She is an awesome actress ever since I saw her in Summer Snow and Josee, the Tiger and the Fish so many years ago and she knows how to portray the desperation and despair of a person who is stuck in a no hope life. Why the hell isn't she in more doramas. The last thing I remember seeing her in was Shokuzai. Her character is the most complicated and interesting one in this movie and without her, it would completely fall apart.

I think The Light Shines Only There is an ok movie with a great performance from Ikewaki Chizuru but if you want something similar ie dark and raw, The Ravine of Goodbye is a much better movie.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ryuusei Wagon Eps 1-3

Once upon a time, someone saw Nishijima Hidetoshi and Kagawa Teruyuki together in Double Face or Mozu and decided they would make a good father-son time travel duo. If I were to describe Ryuusei Wagon in one sentence, it would be an inferior version of Tonbi mashed with an weaker version of Suteki na Sen Taxi.

Hidetoshi's father is dying, he has been jobless for a year, his wife has left him for another man and he lets himself get beat up by his son. One day, another father son duo who passed away 5 years ago appear in a time travelling wagon appear and take Hidetoshi back in time to important stages of his life leading to his current predicament along with his dad from the past.

Ryuusei Wagon is not working for me. Hidetoshi's acting is just off, the script explains everything too much all the resentment that Hidetoshi feels for his dad turns out to be sappy misunderstand. Plus, the only person who's having fun with the time travel bits it the dad. I just don't have empathy for the Hidetoshi character.

The time travelling also has very limit effect, ie Hidestoshi's actions have very little effect so it looks like its more about Hidetoshi learning about his mistakes than seeing where different decisions in life leads Hidetoshi. The only fun thing for me is watching Teruyuki play the dad out of time who is the same age as his son. Besides that, I basically skimmed half the show. I find Ryuusei Wagon to be a meh show.