Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Iryu season 2 eps 5-7

Fujiyoshi Sensei: I see yama!

The mark of a truly great jdorama is one where it makes you watch the next episode without subs. If only it were not a medical dorama and understanding the medical stuff truly important to enjoyment of the series I would watch the raws all the way. The last time I watched the raws as soon as they came out as KDO. That's how fucking good Iryu 2 is.

Uchida Yuki, please bear my children!

Ep 5 marks the climax of the diet member storyline and what a fucking climax it is. Doing an operation without enough blood. You know Asada is going to work his miracles but its just so gripping how they constantly come up with new challenges and how well they present it. Its freaking edge of your seat stuff. Not even the early years of ER is as exciting.

Super doctor? WTF? What does he do for little girls I can't do?

Ep 6 takes a look at Toyoma, the irritating, stuck up doctor. I thought they episode was heading for trouble when they too easily gave an excuse for his behaviour. Nothing pisses me off then when everything is too simplified. Somehow, they've managed to show him as a messed up character with his phone call to his dad and make the audience cut him some slack when he took responsibility for his mistake.

Hellooooooo doc!

Still, I hope that he keeps that cocky attitude of his. Its not fun when a character becomes a completely good guy like Arase. What ever happened to the bar chick from the 1st season? Its was one of the most memorable episodes because it just made Arase such an intriguing character. I guess the writers decided his character has run its course and he's reduced to plot device.

What's up doc? Nothing, only a kabe!

And the ending for ep 6. OMFG. That is superb writing. I love how the conversations slowly led up to the fucking awesome 'super doctor' cliffhanger. I just had to watch ep 7 straight after and ep 7 has an even better cliffhanger! Its like watching Angel when they somehow always managed a mini cliffhanger for every commercial break. You must fucking marvel at how the writers did it.

warning: EP 7 SPOILERS

I loved the confrontation between the Hikuyou director, Zenda sensei and Noguchi sensei. There's a sense that he might raise the white flag and sell out but the moment he declared war was so fucking cool. I truly have to give special props to the director/cinematographer. The way the camera pans round to behind the fish tank was too fucking cool. And the scene where Arase confronts Kodaka. Love how there's no clear shot of her face. As if all Arase's words don't reach her. Its like her umbrella shielding her from the rain.

Can't wait to see an episode about Kitou sensei's decision to sleep with the devil for the greater good. Its an interesting concept to explore and sounds damn good in theory except when the sacrifices become too great. Looking forward to cheering Uchida Yuki's character. IMO, she's doing a superb job as the enigmatic Kataoka Kazumi. I'm going to marathon both seasons when this series finishes. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nagasawa Masami 2008 calender

Yataa! Two calenders I ordered from jlist arrived today! After deciding for some time, I decided to get Nagasawa Masami's and Matsuura Aya's. Unfortunately, jlist didn't have Nacchi's or Isoyama Sayaka's. The calenders came in really sturdy cardboard boxes but unfortunately they didn't fit in my bag so I had to drag it around the city while buying dinner. The Nagasawa Masami calender is beautifully shot and I couldn't be happier with it as can be seen from the following pics.

Unfortunately, the Matsuura Aya is crap. Only two shots are pretty good, which are below. The rest are boring. I guess they deviated too much from the typical Ayaya look that it doesn't really look like her. Ayaya + black + trying to look retro sophisticated = not a good thing. Avoid it even if you are a hardcore Ayaya fan. They should have done a GAM calender with lots of yuri innuendo. :)

Shoulda gone for the Toda Erika/Nacchi calenders from yesasia. Oh well, at least I've still got my old Ayaya poster from Weekly Comic many years ago. Maybe I should try to get an old school momusu poster after this. :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Galileo eps 1-7

In the tradition of the Trick series, comes a new jdorama starring Fukuyama Masaharu and Shibasaki Kou. My brother has been pushing me to watch this show but I just never got around to it. I'm not really a big fan of Shibasaki Kou and her one dimensional ice queen act so I wasn't really expecting much from this show.

Shibasaki Kou plays Utsumi Kaoru, a rookie who enlists the aid of Galileo, a physics professor played by Fukuyama Masaharu to solve mysterious crimes. Its not dissimilar to Trick where there's always a trick to a crime except in Galileo its more from a scientific perspective. Of course, Galileo is the cold, logically driven person while Kaoru is more hot headed. The fun is watching the bickering that occurs between them.

Hirosue Ryoko!!!!!!!

Its not as good as the chemistry between Abe Hiroshi and Nakama Yukie in Trick but its still pretty damn entertaining. The quality of the stories vary from episode so it is important that the characters be enough to draw the audience in. So far its been entertaining and I like how Kaoru is aware of Galileo's catchphrases.

Kaoru giving Galileo a verbal low blow...

Galileo is based on a series of novels but I particularly like some of the visual trademarks of the show such as Galileo's hand on face thinking pose and the whole writing on anything when he gets his final clue, as stupid as it may be. WTF would be need to write F=MA for some of the 'mysteries'? Oh well, just shut off your brain and enjoy the coolness of Galileo vandalising private property.

Sexy Voice & Galileo! Is this the beginning of a spin off show? And twisted joshi kousei sounds appealing....

Another big appeal of this show is the guest stars. I was so fucking happy when I saw Hirosue Ryoko in ep 3. Though she had probably 15 minutes of screen time, it was great to see her on the small screen again. Ep 4 sees Sora Aoi in a 10 second cameo, ep 5 has Ohgo Suzuka (Sexy Voice) and ep 7 Fukada Kyoko. While I think that Fukada Kyoko has the acting ability of a broom, it was interesting to see her act as a villain. I spent the episode just watching her sometimes dropping her uber fake 'kawaii' persona. Seriously she should either completely drop her irritating facade or get lessons from Ogura Yuko. Its just so nice to see her speaking in a more 'real' tone of voice at the end of ep 7.

Finally Fukada Kyoko shows her true colours...

So far, Galileo has been a fun ride. Mystery doramas are hard to judge because they isn't really a main story to follow. Its more a collection of mysteries and how good a show is, is based on how well one remembers the stories after watching.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Iryu season 2 Eps 1-4

Iryu is definitely in my top 10 best doramas ever. I rewatched the 1st season some weeks ago and its still damn fun to watch. Its like a fantasy type story where heroes come together to defeat a great evil except its about medical professionals who join forces to perform a difficult surgery. The show had it all, excellent casting, story and most of all best jdorama soundtrack ever next to Long Vacation. In fact I would say that its the music that propels it from good dorama to classic.

Japanese must think all who use the inverted comma sign are evil! Oops, did I just spoil the surprise?

It was with great anticipation and trepidation that I waited for season 2. After all, the only dorama that was better than its first season is probably Salaryman Kintaro. Most sequels are just a retread of the 1st season. Not to mention the fact that the first season of Iryu had set the bar so freaking high. The first episode is a reintroduction to the members of Team Medical Dragon as they gather to do another super complicated surgery that defies logic. First thing I noticed was that they've kept the same music and added 2 new tunes to the soundtrack. 1st rule of sequels: don't fix what's not broken.

Best jdrama villain ever, besides Sakurai-san from Densha.

Ep 1 also serves to introduce Uchida Yuki as a journalist with a hidden agenda and bring back Noguchi sensei, the villain from the 1st season. Its so fucking good to see Uchida Yuki back on the screen and Noguchi is one of the true villains of jdoramas. None of the 'I've got a bad childhood/used to be good guy/system has corrupted me crap'. No freaking debating with the heroes on who's got better morales. Noguchi is a villain because he believes in his goal and he will do anything to achieve it except engage with a stupid debate with our heroes. I'm kinda disappointed he didn't bring back his 'entlassen' catchphrase though.

Unfortunately Arase and Miki are relegated to minor supporting characters, for the time being..

Ep 2 is where we finally see where this series is going. Basically Asada, Ijyuiin and Fujiyoshi get kicked out of Meishin to Hokuyou, a hospital that Noguchi plans to use to dump the undesirables from Meishin. Instead of retreading the 1st episode what we have now is a bigger challenge where Asada has to assemble a new team and try to save a doomed hospital. Immediately, this makes Asada & gang the super underdogs and gives the viewer more reason to cheer them on.

Hhhmm, Otsuka Nene....

I mentioned Salaryman Kintaro and its similar to season 2 where they get kicked out of their company and decide to set up their own to fight back. The writers for Hana Yori Dango 2 and Hotman 2 should take note. Move the story forward, not rehash the same stuff. Looks like there is hope for jdorama writing after all. Plus, there are 4 new characters who may join Team Medical Dragon so there's the underdog with hidden past and unrealised potential stories to do.

I'm glad Kitou sensei is back. Natsuki Mari is always entertaining to watch.

I'm so stoked that finally there's a freaking dorama for me to get real excited about. If you only watch one show this season, make it Iryu!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dream Again eps 4-6

Kabe Onna is young but Yama onna is sooooo irresistable......

I thought this show was full proof. Then I was told that the writer of Dream Again also wrote the Taiyo no Uta drama and Rondo. Watanabe Mutsuki's not bad looking so one can guess how she got her writing jobs. How can a show with so many storylines be barely watchable? Its when the story and dialogue looks like it was written by an amateur writer.

Sadly Kato Ai has been reduced to super boring and useless girlfriend character...

Ep 6 finally picks up when Sorimachi goes to jail and we have our corporate takeover shades of Koi ni Ochitara. It even has the same actor as the bad guy. It was then that I realised the number one thing this show is missing. An exciting challenge. Yes, Sorimachi is training Asahina's body to be an athlete and he has to run the company but the writer just makes everything so simple. As they say, the devil is in the details.

Dear gods of jdorama, please make Aota Noriko not wear a jacket for rest of series and turn up the air conditioning in the office. I can imagine the cameraman hoping she'd fuck up her lines during this take of her oppai jiggling down the corridor in the beginning of ep 5. :)

Its as if all that is required to be a baseball player is simple conditioning training. What about playing in an amateur league? Sure Sorimachi has he memory and knowledge from his previous body but what about building up muscle memory and stuff like that. Participation in games would allow Sorimachi to better show his struggles with Asahina's body.

WTF Kumada is angry at someone who just did his job? As I've said before, nothing kills empathy than idiotic good guys.

And the way that Sorimachi forgave Kumada and believe his dodgy explanation makes him look like a fucking idiot. Selling out your boss and providing forging documents just so his boss is acting out of sorts? And what's with that Asahina's stupid crap about doing evil things like simply firing people on the spot so they can do good deeds? I like the twist that he wasn't a bad guy but fark, his explanation sounds like a fucking primary school essay with lotsa plot holes. He wants to be fucking rich by screwing everyone over so that he can finally do charitable deeds when he's a trillionaire or something.

I wish I were Kumada here. Why can't I remember Aota Noriko from Salaryman Kintaro?

Not to mention Kato Ai so quickly becoming Sorimachi's ally. Where the fuck was the promising ending of ep 1? When she will try to dig out Asahina's past misdeeds and send his ass to jail? Can we actually have Kato Ai doing some actual lawyer stuff and Sorimachi actually trying to be a fund manager/stock trader. Even the way Sorimachi got out of jail. We need to see Kato Ai actually do some lawyer stuff besides just hitting the books. Hello, go to court and try to get him out on bail ffs. Try to get the evidence declared as illegal or something. FFS, have the characters do something exciting!

Seriously, Rondo was proof already that Watanabe Mitsuki has no talent for dialogue and themes. Its like she's putting multiple elements into the story as it goes along. After playing Assassin's Creed for past few days, someone needs to make sure she no longer spoils doramas with her shoddy writing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

KDO getting married!

Abe Hiroshi is finally getting hitched! No doubt due to the greatness that is KDO, Abe has graduated from comedy foil to super chick magnet. Apparently, the future Mrs Abe is not in showbiz and Abe did a press conference with a sketch of her face which is just too freaking weird. And wtf is it with the flowers? The fiance didn't want to show her face so what's the point of the sketch? To show that she's hot without the press ever seeing her face? Or maybe its just that Mrs Abe can't be photographed....

Anyways, kekkon omedetou to Abe Hiroshi! Now if only Nakazawa Yuko can get married. Since Abe did not offer much info on how they met, we can only speculate:

1) She's a doctor who did a proctology exam on him.

2) She's his next door neighbour who complained about him playing his Mahler symphony no 5 too loudly.

3) Aijin of his brother in law.

4) She's a poor magician and they solve mysteries together.

5) Teacher of tokubetsu class for gettingi into Todai.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hotaru no Hikari ep 10

Further proof that Ayase Haruka and Kuninaka Ryoko should have switched roles. Zen zen kawaiikunai!

I would never have thought I would enjoy the final ep. Maybe its because the story finally came to an end but looks like they managed to salvage the show in the end. I think the key was that Hotaru finally moved out and she could finally realise that Makoto is just a cardboard character who gets his fix from looking at Ikea catalog books. The lack of chemistry is apparent to everyone but Hotaru. As Bucho's friend said, she was just in love with the idea of falling in love.

Finally Bucho goes from plot device to interesting character but its a little too late..

Somehow I found Bucho and Hotaru's exchanges in the elavator funnier in the final episode. He's kinda become Kuwano from KDO; the only way he can communicate with her is by trading insults. Notice also that previously, they managed to keep their conversations at work professional, or rather when Hotaru was not wearing jerseys.

Stupid cardboard gets to sit next to Kuninaka Ryoko. :(

Actually I realise now, why this show has suddenly become watchable. Cause they finally got rid of the stupid jersey plotline. I mean 9 freaking episodes of stuff about jersey and the real story is Hotaru's infatuation with love. The writers could have easily put the jersey stuff in the background and perhaps used Hotaru's love of manga to illustrate her desire to fall in love with love. Its like the writers got too engrossed with the jersey thing that they forgot to build up to the actual climax.

The fact that the last episode was good doesn't change the fact that the previous 9 were crap. The supporting characters hardly get anything to do and the non-existent side-stories get wrapped up too easily. Kuninaka Ryoko is so misused, its a crime. If only Hotaru had moved out around ep 6 or 7 the show would have been so much better. Chalk it up to bad pacing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hatachi no Koibito ep 1

Yes, they first meet when Sanma decides to flash the cleaning girl.....

My most anticipated show this season. I hope this show will turn out to be what Jodan ja nai! did not become a good older guy, younger girl show. The younger man, older woman show is one of the most used and weakest genres in jdorama. Out of so many shows I've watched the only one that did it well was the classic Long Vacation and Suekko Chounan Ane Sannin. Everything pales in comparison because of lack of chemistry and scripts usually pays way too much attention to the older woman.

No. 1 reason why I will finish this show...

I was really stoked to have Sanma and Nagasawa Masami in the same show. Then the realisation hit me in the first episode. The 30 year age gap is one freaking huge hurdle. Pairing her with a 40 year old would be hard enough but someone who is nearly old enough to be a grandfather? It almost feels dirty. Casting someone 25 would really help a lot, eg Takeuchi Yuko or Hirosue Ryoko. Its less for the age gap and more for the fact Nagasawa Masami just feels too freaking young.

We need a camera angle from the side! Goddamn furniture. Someone get a JAV cameraman!

Still I really want to see whether they can pull it off. There's an explanation to help Sanma and Masami get together. Long time ago, Sanma was in love but Masami's mum, played by the ageless Koizumi Kyoko who of course looks like her daughter. Then there's the mistaken identity part of Masami thinking that Sanma is this great author.

Hhhmm, her booty is better than her mom's...

The first episode is slow, which is not a bad thing. We're introduced to the main characters, shown what makes them tick and how they meet. Even then, nothing much happens which is smart. The audience has to want Masami to be Sanma's koibito. All these tell me that the writer has a plan. Its gonna be a slow burn but I would love to see them pull it off.

I've got too many ideas for a caption for this pic and all of them are dirty...

Plus, there's always Sanma for the humour. However, I must say his monologue in the first episode was kinda testing my patience. Right now as I'm writing this, I'm thinking of various storylines which will make it easier to justify the Sanma - Masami pairing. Eg, make Masami the damsel in distress/delinquent youth etc. and Sanma the good samaritan who keeps helping her out.

Ahhhh, Koizumi Kyoko. Makes me feel like digging out my copy of Mada Koi wa Hajimaranai...

Right now, its Sanma your happily married OL and Masami who's just entered the workforce. There needs to be something to be the basis of their relationship and the fact Masami is the daughter of Sanma's former gf just seems a tad incestuous. Ok, it worked in Aoi Tori but that show was a completely different animal. Dark and tragic shows have different rules from comedies. And if I were Sanma's character, I'd rather go for Koizumi Kyoko. On second thought ... :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dream Again eps 2-3

Stop coming between me and my secretary!

The show's kinda slowed down for me a lot. I'm not sure whether Shida Mirai is miscast as the daughter or they should not have given so much time to her story. Maybe Fukuda Mayuko would have done a better job portraying Hina's contempt for her father and yet at the same time seeking his approval. Is Shida Mirai incapable of playing anything other than the good natured girl?

Satsuki just comes across as a unsympathetic brat to me..

Or perhaps the father daughter story is the least interesting and urgent of the stories in the show. Should the writers have taken their time and allowed Sorimachi and Shida Mirai to develop more chemistry? Ultimately I think the answer is that Satsuki is a mere plot device to bring Sorimachi and Kato Ai together. Its just a shame that a plot device gets center stage.

Unfortunately Kato Ai has been relegated to supporting actress for eps 2+3 :(

They could have easily used the whole Kato Ai investigating his company plot with Sorimachi slowly discovering all the evil deeds that his host body has done with the conflict between righting wrongs and his responsibility to his company. I think Satsuki just does not come across as a sympathetic character and I wanted to see the further adventures of Sorimachi, not Shida Mirai.

Maybe the writers thought it was the weakest story and wanted to be done with it before concentrating on the baseball and business stories. I don't really buy that cause they could have put the father daughter story in the background and used it as comedy fodder. I guess they had to strengthen Kato Ai and Shida Mirai's relationship so that she can be a bridge between Kato Ai and Sorimachi.

I just hope they didn't write the series as concentrating on each story over a few episodes. What I mean is eps 2-3 on Satsuki, maybe 4-7 on funds and business and 8-11 on baseball and Kato Ai. Such a method would spoil the pacing as evident from eps 2+3. Better to juggle all stories simultaneously while spreading the climaxes over the last episodes. Fingers crossed that the pace of ep 4 picks up.