Monday, March 31, 2008

Ashita no Kita Yoshio eps 9-11

The main reason it took me so long to write about Kita Yoshio (besides gaming and NHK yokoso) was how underwhelming the ending was. I guess one could see it coming. They revealed the secret plot 3/4 way through the show and Kita Yoshio finally Manami in episode 10 and won against Negative. The only thing left for the show to pull the audience in with was whether Kita Yoshio would die in the end?

My, why lovely eyes you have.....

I think the biggest blunder of this whole show was the demise of Negative in ep 10. Negative is the final boss, the main villain. The ultimate obstacle. The cause of Kita Yoshio's problems. How can he just be so easily dismissed? Especially after building him up so quickly. There has to be an epic struggle between Kita Yoshio and Negative at the end.

Nakanaide Shinobu-chan!

Negative is unpredictable. His existence is to end Kita Yoshio's life thereby ending his which is an interesting conundrum not explored in the show. What better twist than Negative realising at the end that he doesn't want to die? Another thing the writer could have done at the ending was for Kita Yoshio to realise that negative had taken over him for long periods and set the whole thing up including killing Mizuho's husband and Daisuke only took advantage of the situation.

Just because my bro was in Liar Game doesn't make me a liar!

Actually, I'm not disappointed that the show didn't go for either of the endings I propose above. Its just after 10 episodes of excitement, coincidences and red herrings, the writer had exhausted all climaxes leaving nothing for the end. I was so hoping that Negative would come back at the rooftop scene but alas we just had a simple scene of Heita convincing Kita not to do it.

In a show about unrelated people who just happen to get swept into the main storyline, spreading the individual story climaxes over 2 episodes is a huge mistake. So much better to end everything in the final episode. Put the fates of all the characters in the hands of Kita Yoshio.

You can almost see Shinobu's pantsu......

Still, after recovering from the ending, I still have to say I had fun with the 10 episodes and would not hesitate to recommend the show. I also appreciate that the writer managed to weave Shinobu into the story for the last few episodes despite her character arc basically being over. Writing this post got me thinking, what if the last episode was not about Kita Yoshio but rather Heita. Kita had faced his demon at ep 10 and ep 11 was about Heita facing the ghost of his father. Hhhmm... If I could read Japanese I would have loved to see how the book handled the ending.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bara no nai hanaya eps 7 & 8

I'd love to see Takeuchi Yuko in sailor fukuu.....

In case you haven't heard, Hirosue Ryoko just divorced. In other words, my chances of getting with her just increased from 0% to 0.000000000000000001%. I shall refrain from enjoying other's misery (yes, she's single again!) and wish her best of luck as a single mom. On a side note, two of my favourite actress, her and Takeuchi Yuko are both single moms. Maybe I've got a single mom fetish from working at the Family Court. :)

If there's one unrealistic thing in the show, its that the nurse uniform is too long. I mean, it always short in JAVs.

Anyways, on to Bara no nai hanaya. As I said, this show has gaps in logic, like how there's no difficulty for Mio 'adjusting' to seeing again. She need to do a better job at faking it. Still the show is less about Mio pretending to be blind and more about her deceiving Eiji and the repercussions. Its like the writer is saying 'I don't have time to explain every thing cause there's an interesting story to tell here'.

Someone is obviously a fan of Space Channel 5. As long as Space Michael doesn't show up...

And what a great story. Eiji's decision to give up Shizuku gave me flashbacks to 'The Champ', one of the most heart rendering movies ever. The whole class wearing paper bags thing is weird but its purpose was to show the depth of Eiji and Shizuku's relationship in light of the huge revelation in ep 7.

As good as Rick Shroder's performance in 'The Champ.

And what a whopper of a twist it is. It really shifts the story into high gear and completely changes what the audience's perception of events. Should have seen it coming but I just love how they leave it to the audience to figure out what the reveal itself meant instead of spelling it out in big bold letters. This enhances the WTF factor and Takeuchi Yuko's acting just makes it even better.

Shaku Yumiko about to unleash a bitch slap.

The big reveal also leads to an interesting ending in ep 8 where once again the rug is pulled off the audience's feet. This show is turning out to be a very fun and well written ride. I love how Anzai sensei seems to be the one who is losing everything instead of Eiji. The Eiji/Mio tension is still there and I was so wanting him to ask Mio 'WTF did you do with my money?!!!!' Now that they both know that each of other know they know the truth, isn't it time for them to have a proper sit down? I just want to see them shouting and accusing each other. This show has loads of despair, we just need more anger. :)


After having more time to digest the last two episodes, I realised what impresses me the most about this show is the thoughtfulness that goes into the script. For example, look at Eiji's childhood as a namonaki senshi. It is something that has so much influence on his behaviour. The writer allows the audience to infer what being a namonaki senshi means to Eiji through his present behaviour. Through him helping an abused kid and through his conversation with Master after Shizuku ran away. Eiji is more than just your typical nice guy with a dark past. He is someone who has gone through something horrible in the past, developed mechanisms for coping and now lives by those defensive mechanisms. And the ending for ep 8 brings the whole namonaki senshi theme full circle.

Another example of the planning that goes into the script is that every character has a theme. Eiji's is obvious. Mio's is despair. Naoya is looking for a place to belong. Shizuku is about acceptance. Maybe deep down, she actually knows the truth. The whole paper bag mask signifies blending in, becoming just another average girl. And Anzai sensei's is most definitely about how revenge can blind someone figuratively. Wow, this show has turned from being a decent soapie melodrama into well written deconstruction of the genre.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bara no nai hanaya eps 1-6

Its interesting how while I'm busy playing Ryuga Gotoku Kenzan, two actors who appear in the game are also in this show, especially Matsuda Shota who plays the antagonist, Sasaki Kojiro in the game. When I see him with Terajima Susume on screen together in Barai no nai Hanaya, I half expect them to draw swords instead of providing comic relief. Not to mention that Shaku Yumiko and Terajima Susume were in Himitsu no Hanazono only last year.

Straight to the point!

Bara no nai Hanaya has an interesting premise. Katagori Shingo plays Eiji, a single father with a dark past and Takeuchi Yuko pretends to be a blind girl in order to get close to him and cause him grief. Sounds kinda cheesy? Yes, it is. The good thing is the writer does not try to lean solely on the main plot to make the show interesting. The first episode is a good example. Its more about how Eiji's daughter, Shizuku always has this yellow paper bag over her head.

Kids today, so money minded....

Its so freaking weird how no one is really freaking out by the yellow bag. At the same time, it grabs the audience's attention because we want to see Shizuku's face and know the reason behind her strange behaviour. The writer masterfully uses the paper bag/mask to introduce us to the characters and a bit of their history while keeping the audience interested.

.... and violent. I wouldn't want to mess with Sasaki Kojiro though.

The rest of the episodes are decent with ep 5 being the stand out episode so far. Anytime a writer can write sentai poses into a serious scene and make it moving, its worth watching. If there is one weakness to this show, its the revenge motive. Its lame and oh so soap opera-ish. Anzai is so much like those soap villains. However, I'm willing accept that sometimes people enjoy making weird and overly elaborate plans for revenge as it is necessary to tell the story.

So, who's a better, me or KimuTaku?

Acting wise, Takeuchi Yuko is doing an excellent job. All the various emotions that Mio goes through are so evident in her face. When she goes through despair and joy. The conflict between her mission and her feelings. Seriously, I can only think of probably 3 other actresses who could pull this role off. She certainly proves that she belongs at the top. Now if only Hirosue Ryoko can get attached to a decent jdorama...

OMG! The martians from Space Channel 5! Up, down, left, left chu, chu, chu!

I love the status of the Eiji/Mio relationship after ep 6. Eiji knows the truth about Mio but can't confront Mio with it for fear of driving her away. Mio has to continue living her lie in order to stay with Eiji and can never tell him the truth. I just love the awkwardness of it, the tension. The fact that both of them have actually been caught in this idiotic plot of revenge and become unwitting pawns.

I wish Shaku Yumiko was talking about mine...

I only hope that when the grandfather comes to his senses, they make it short and to the point. There's no way to explain his hatred of Eiji to justify his elaborate revenge, or is there?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

HamsapSukebe Jdorama awards 2007

There are plenty of shows I haven't watched, some shows I dropped quickly and some shows have not yet finished being subbed.


Come to think of it, Aibu Saki has been in 3 shows last year. Her management must be doing a good job.

Easiest decision ever. To me, he upstaged KimuTaku with his portrayal of the stoic and tragic Manpyo Daisuke. To me, he was the main and most interesting character of Karei-naru Ichizoku.


Supporting actresses are mainly to look good and be plot devices. Unfortunately there was no memorable actress in a supporting role except for Suzuki Kyoka in Karei-naru Ichizoku. Her role as Manpyo's mistress was so memorable.


This is the hardest one for me to choose. One one hand you had Santamaria Yusuke and his as Dodoh Hajime in Konshu Tsuma ga Uwaki Shimasu. He really showed once again that he has the acting chops and screen presence to carry a jdorama.

If Aragaki Yui were my daughter.....

On the other hand there's Tachi Hiroshi who became the only reason to watch Papa to Musume Nanokakan. Albeit he had tons of fun doing his role and he made up for Aragaki Yui's bad acting.

Thirdly, there's Takahashi Katsunori in Tokumei Kakarichou Tadano Hitoshi 3. It is so rare for an actor to have two career defining roles. Though Tadano Hitoshi and Kintaro are sorta similar, ultimately, they are very different series. While his acting will not win awards, no other actor could have pulled off his tough guy role.

I can't decide or rationalise something out so I'll be lazy and call it a tie.

BEST ACTRESS - KANNO MIHO (Watashitachi no Kyokasho)

To me every actress has the one role which is a perfect fit for them. As bad as Itoh Misaki is, Densha was the perfect show for her crap acting skills. Kanno Miho to me has always been a decent actress just waiting for a right role to shine and her role as Tsukimi Tamako in Watashitachi no Kyokasho clearly demonstrates that she has learned something after more than 10 years of acting. Too bad the same cannot be said of Fukada Kyoko.

Contrast her acting in Watashitachi no Kyokasho to Ito Atsushi's lame attempt at being serious. Her brilliant acting as a lawyer torn between seeking redemption and working for her future allowed me to ignore Ito's crap acting and lifted the show to pretty good status despite the lame final episode.

Really special mention to Aibu Saki for her excellent portrayal of Suzu in Utahime. She proved that she's more than just a very pretty face and I'm sure she has many more chances to win a hamsapsukebe award. Ohga Suzuka (Sexy Voice & Robo) deserves kudos as well.


She came in when the show was really slowing down and really genkied it up with her riveting role as Dodoh's former flame, Mizusawa. Its a shame she didn't have a bigger role but what she did in one episode speaks volumes. I always enjoy performances where what is not said is what matters.



If only KimuTaku wasn't the main actor. Teppei in the end turned out to be an idealistic idiot and I didn't give a fuck about him. Everything else about the show is top notch. So close to being a classic.

5. IRYU 2

Almost as good as the 1st season. Its a miracle that they've managed to capture the magic again. Please don't do a third season.....


I had so much fun watching this show. Yamashita Tomohisa should watch this show to see how to actually play a character who puts on disguises all the time. cough. Kurosagi. cough. Perfect cure for all the johnnys in jdoramas. Did I mention all the chicks and nudity?


OMG, we won a HamsapSukebe award????

Probably the most memorable show of the year. Like Tadano Hitoshi, it won't win awards but its so much fun watching it.


They don't make shows like this anymore. I love how they made Tohko seems like the 'villain' but halfway through, you can't help but feel sorry for her.


Not my personal favourite due to the ending. Putting aside my personal feelings though, this is one hell of a jdorama and the best made one this year. Everything about this show is excellent, from acting to sets to music to pacing. Its very rare to have a big budget dorama with a tight script and no stunt casting. I'm pretty sure when I finally get over the ending and rewatch it, I'll appreciate it more.

Actually, with 6 must watch shows in 2007, not counting Wonderful Life which came out a few years earlier, it was a pretty good year. Better than 2006 definitely except that 2006 had the classic KDO. Maybe it was the really crap shows that gave me the impression that it wasn't that good of a year.


5) Ushi ni Negai wo: Love & Farm - so much talent couldn't save the pathetic script. It was my guilty pleasure of the year though.

4) Proposal Daisakusen - Yamashita Tomohisa was way out of his league in this show. They needed someone who could actually act, like Tsumabuki Satoshi.

3) Papa to Musume Nanokakan - Script 'protected' Aragaki Yui too much making her role super boring. Really wanted to see whether she could act.

2) SP - How can you have 'filler' episodes in an 11 episode series where nothing happens? Where cool classical music is playing the characters are just posturing? Someone should have had the balls to cut it down to 9 episodes. And the action scenes at the end are so lame and defy logic. Just to have the shot of the killer standing among the bodies of the SP.

1) Dream Again - Anyone who can fuck up such a fail-safe premise has no right to call herself a scriptwriter. Poor Sorimachi Takashi. This and the horrible Blue Wolf probably killed what's left of his acting career.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Ashita no Kita Yoshio eps 1-8

I always look forward to seeing supporting actors get a chance to play the main character. They've paid their dues, done their time and honed their craft so they deserve a chance unlike those johnnys who can't act. In Kohinata Fumiyo's case, he has more than paid his dues. Name doesn't ring a bell? He's the dude holding the bag in the above picture. He's been in so many freaking doramas and he's acted beside so many actresses and idols. He's always the invisible character, created just to advance the plot except for his role in Ruri no Shima.

Stupid cameraman go left!!!!!

In Ashita no Kita Yoshio, he finally gets his chance to show his acting skills. Fumiyo plays Kita Yoshio, an unlucky man who decides to end his life in 11 days. Why he has decided so is part of the fun of the show. He bumps into Heita, played by Matsuda Ryuhei and thus begins the tale. I'll try to refrain from the plot though there will be some minor spoilers in regards to performances.

Will Yoshio actually die in the end?

Fumiyo does a decent job as Yoshio. Its the same typical role we've always seen from him. The invisible character with a heart of gold and dark past. Nothing impressive but its the twist in his character that allows him to show a different side to his acting and I think he certainly revels in it. I hope to see more of negative in the remaining episodes. Still, he definitely lacks the x factor in screen presence. Perhaps it just that we've seen him play too many similar characters before and it may be better for him to play a character that's totally opposite from his usual ones.

For some reason I feel like jumping the bed......

Good thing that Ashita no Kita Yoshio is primarily a mystery dorama. Its basically a show where seemingly random people revolve around a mystery and how they interact against each other. The writer for Koshonin should take note, mystery is about building suspense, asking questions, red herrings and having developments every episode, not characters posturing while the plot is at a standstill.

Would you commit suicide in 11 days just to spend it with Shinobu?

I really enjoy Yoshio's interaction with people around him. Heita feels compassion for him yet at the same time is using Yoshio for his own goals. Rika at first is reluctant and later gets more desperate. And best of all, Yoshitaka Yuriko as Yoimachi Shinobu! OMFG, how fucking good is she? I wish I could edit this dorama and call it Hatachi no Koibito. This is how you fucking do show about a 20 year old girl and an old man and make it work! I finally finished watching Hatachi no Koibito last week and it was so disappointing. I knew chances were it was going to fail as the set up just doesn't lay the groundwork to make the relationship work.

Go Yoshio! You can do it! Dry hump Shinobu!

Yoshitaka Yuriko just shines everytime she's on screen. The interplay between her and Yoshio just kept me glued on my screen. OK, I was glued to my screen everytime she was on but words cannot describe how good she is. Actually she's sorta like less bitchy Fujimoto Miki with more empathy. And the scenes when she finally meets Mizuho in ep 8!!!!! Just brilliant!

What I wouldn't do to be alone with these two....

Oh yes, I forget to mention Konishi Manami as Mizuho. When I think of her, I just think of staring at the deep pools of her eyes. I'm still waiting to see her actually try to act instead of standing around looking pretty. Actually she was pretty good in Hotman but I realised that after comparing her acting to Itoh Misaki. Anyone is better than Itoh Misaki except for Fukada Kyoko. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that despite lack of evidence of acting ability Konishi Manami actually does well as a supporting actress and since Mizuho is all mysterious, the stoic act works. Never understood why Kuriyama Chiaki gets so much work and Namase Katsuhisa just imports his cop from Trick to an insurance investigator in this show.

Yes, I have an unheathy obsession with Shinobu. I'm sure you appreciate why.

This show won't become a classic, largely due to pedestrian camera work and sets but so far all 8 episodes have been fun for me to watch. Its just very disappointing that the ratings have been declining. Goes to prove that Japanese viewers care about idols rather than tight scripting. If anything, just watch it for Yoshitaka Yuriko. Maybe the audience lost empathy for Yoshio because he got to spend so much time with Shinobu? Just a word of warning, you might develop a foot fetish watching this show. :)

Hello legs!!!!!!!