Friday, June 27, 2008

Jmovie review: Sundome

Let's get one thing clear, Sundome is bad, very bad. Its not even B movie level bad. Its C movie bad. And I think most home videos have much better lighting than Sundome. It has acting that makes crap Zettai Kareshi look decent. Yes, it is really that bad. I would be impressed though if they actually had a budget of like US$10k and 5 days to shoot it which they probably had.

I want to study at a Japanese high school when I grow up.

Kurumi taking off her pantsu and giving it to Hideo.

Nothing IMO can excuse the lack of proper lighting and shoddy camera work. If you don't have the budget to hire proper staff, why bother making a movie in the first place? Because this movie would still sell. Suzuki Akane + Tsugihara Kana + fan service = must watch. Its just a crying shame they didn't hire a decent director and staff. I'm sure any gravure director would do a decent job.

Why did I not have high school experiences like this? :(

Based on a manga, Sundome is about your generic Japanese dude, Aiba Hideo why likes to spend his time onani. Things change for him when this mysterious girl, Kurumi (Akane) transfers to his class. She teases him (sexually) and makes him promise not to onani. Can Hideo control himself for Kurumi's sake? What does she actually want from him? Things don't get easier when he starts getting involved with the busty Kyoko (Kana). Of course, during the course of movie he goes through things thatmost of us can only dream of.

Goddamn lucky bastard.

I praise God everyday for making these puppies...

I've got to say, Suzuki Akane isn't that hot. She's got the kawaii look and the short skirt and top does help a lot. The highlight of the movie are the ways she tortures poor Hideo by letting him pull the strings of her g-string or taking off her underwear in front of him. This are the things sukebes like me dream of.

What are two fine ladies like you doing in the wild?

Its just that Tsugihara Kana is so much better looking. She has a much better figure and if her uniform were as short as Akane's I would die from nosebleeds. Sundome 2 just came out so obviously there are plenty of people who saw the first movie. Hopefully they'll have enough money to hire actual professionals. I have to stress again that if you want to watch this, be prepared for the worst movie that you have ever scene but the fanservice is worth it. :)

Need a hand?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Muri na Renai eps 1-5

When I wrote my review of Hatachi no Koibo ep 1, I sorta outlined what I thought an older man, younger woman dorama needed to suceed. Sadly that dorama quickly became boring and was a complete waste of Sanma and Masami's talents. If there's one dorama I want too done well, its the older man dorama. I'm bloody sick and tired of boring younger men shows because it'll all be about the older lady and the guy(s) are basically plot devices.

They don't look compatible, do they? The fact that the script and acting make it work is testament to this show's greatness.

I wanted to watch Muri na Renai for Natsukawa Yui. The only other show I have ever seen her on besides KDO was Aoi Tori and was desperate to see how good she really was. I was perplexed at the casting of Sakai Masaki as the main character. There are plenty of cool looking old men in jdoramas who could easily convince the viewer that they can attract younger women. I had skimmed through the first episode and was kinda disappointed at the total lack of chemistry between Natsukawa Yui (Kaede) amd Sakai Masaaki (Shogo) and immediately put it into my to watch when bored list. I thought lack of on screen chemistry meant disaster. I am so happy to be wrong.

I want KDO 2!!!!!!! What's that girl group in the background?

KDO really opened my eyes because it was the one dorama where the characters were so fucking well written that they were real. Well, Muri na Renai is basically the spiritual successor to KDO. The first step to making and older man dorama is making the characters real. To give them quirks and personality. Shogo is a former big time musician he is now a successful music executive. However, he was divorced because he chose a life of freedom rather than a life of familial responsibility.

They could have done so much funny stuff with Shogo and Kaede's mom! This is one show I wished they would pad it out cause I enjoy the characters so much.

He is always faced with the repercussions of his decision as his ex wife is happily married and his daughter grown up. Shogo runs into Kaede, a struggling actress with an irresponsible boyfriend who everyday questions the decisions she made in life because of her lack of success. Shogo continues to help her while all the while unable to express his feelings to her.

Seeing Natsuki Mari and Kaede's mom go nuts over Shogo's songs are hilarious!

I really enjoy the dialogue in this show, particularly between Shogo and Kaede. It is as well thought out as the dialogue in KDO. There's always a theme and gives us little insights into their characters as well. For example, Kaede's line about wanting to believe that luck plays nothing in success because it means that all her hard work so far has been futile. This also shows her pride and is reinforced by her not wanting to give in and return to her hometown. Even Shogo's line about dreams makes more sense than that tripe from the coach in Rookies.

Asako's dad: since I'm not her actual father, it wouldn't technically be incest. :)

I was surprised that the show wasn't written by the KDO writer. Okada Yoshikazu has an impressive resume and makes me want to watch MOther & Lover and Last Present even more, two jdoramas with unfinished subs. Its as if he saw KDO and Hatachi no Koibito and realised that instead of writing characters for sake of story, he should instead write characters and let them tell the story.

I love this mug shot of Kojima Haruna. Moe~~~~~

What can I say about Natsukawa Yui? She is definitely in my list of greatest jdorama actresses ever. While Kaede is still a variation of Hayasaka in KDO, the incredible acting has imbued the character of Kaede with depth no other actress can. The way she so easily does a laugh to mask Kaede's sadness or her icy look of wanting to kill her useless boyfriend Shoji. You feel her frustration and tiredness from her seemingly endless struggle and cheer when she is happy. You can see the deperation in her smiles as she tries to get Shoji to change. You will fall in love with Kaede, just like Shogo because she is not superficial.

Ini, mini, minie moe.....

The second key to making the relationship work is to let it build naturally. Shogo's acts of kindess make us root for him. We get to see how happy he is when Kaede is happy. We get to see his anxiety and fear in not wanting to get hurt. I like his line about how youth of today is the same as during Shogo's time. Its basically the youth wanting to forge their own identity and the adults shaking their heads because it is different. We can take is remark and turn it around and say that falling in love is the same whether one is 20 or in Shogo's case 60. Except his fortune and mansion balance against his age.

My, what nice legs you have....

And lets not forget Kojima Haruna from AKB48 as Shogo's daughter. OMFG, she is like the younger version of Tomosaka Rie, with less talent. At least I finally know one of the names of the members of AKB48, lol. Its a shame her acting is crap. There is one scene that would have been so fucking great in 6. Its still good but the build up was so great nothing short of heart wrenching is inexcusable. Oh well, I guess they have to protect Haruna-chan.

Sick of Haruna yet? I'm not! :)

Or maybe not. Another similarity between this and KDO is the self-restraint in not making the show too melodramatic. After the Korean explosion and renai movies like Sekachu, there has been too much crying and stretching of storylines. Where the whole purpose of an episode is to show one scene and everything else is just filler. Like KDO, you can tell that scenes and dialogue have a purpose. So far, this has been a brilliantly paced show.

Luckiest old fart in the world.

Yes, this show so far has proven that a show starring a diminutive 60 year old man and great actress can work. Seriously this show is so fucking brilliant. I can't believe the ratings were crap. Can't Japanese watch anything without bishounen who can't act? And I can't not mention the theme song. I think Sakai Masaaki's real life parallel's Shogo's and helps bring believability to his character.

Go watch this show now and restore your faith that Jdoramas can be about great acting and writing! Shows like this make wading through crap like Last Christmas and Kimi wa nanin ja nai worth it. Now to watch my AKB48 PVs. :)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Home Drama 1-5

Talk about all star casting! Domoto Tsuyoshi (Summer Snow), Yusuke Santamaria (too many to mention), Inoue Mao (HYD) and Sakai Wakana (too many to mention as well). OK, Sakai Wakana may not be that big a name but she's been in a lot of shows and she's always intrigued me. Like Ogura Yuko, I want to see what's behind that high pitched, squeaky anime voice of hers. Can she do more than her usual stereotypical anime like supporting characters? Actually we already found out the answer in Enka no Joou but when I think of her, I still think of her role in Churasan. I guess she was overshadowed by Amami Yuki in Enka.

I would be happy too living under the same roof with these 3 beauties!

In Home Drama, a group of Japanese tourists in Thailand are involved in a horrific accident. The survivors return to Japan to pick up the pieces. Shogo (Domoto Tsuyoshi) then suggests that they live together. These group of strangers bound together by tragedy somehow end up living under the same roof.

I would describe this show as Summer Snow with a large family. Not because of Domoto Tsuyoshi but because of its slow, melancholic nature. It is the perfect show to unwind to. Home Drama moves at its own pace and is a feel good show without being overtly sentimental. I'm not clamoring to watch the next episode but I know it will definitely put a smile on my face.

Home Drama is less about people grieving over their loved ones and more about strangers playing family. Every character has a story to tell and I await to see how their tenuous family ties can survive. Everyone is nice and cordial but underneath it all, there is a feeling that a lot of things are not being said. The 8 strangers coming together is all a facade. A way of them to cope with grief by ignoring it. By cutting ties with the past and establishing a new role.

I really hope that grief over the accident will resurface. While the formulaic solve a person's problem every episode would still work, it is their flimsy foundation of a family that will provide the best entertainment. And I never thought I would say this but this show need more Inoue Mao. I'm pretty sure her time to shine will come. Only watch it if you are in the mood for some laid back, feel good drama.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hachi-One Diver ep 3


OMG, this is probably the most hilarious episode I've seen this year. Even if you have no interest in this series, I recommend just watching ep 3 for laughs. Akiba no ukeshi/Soyo brings Hachi-One to fight niko-gami in an old, rundown shack. Hachi-one then asks Niko-gami to bet something which is as important as life itself.

After some consideration, Niko-gami decides if he wins he would grobe Soyo's oppai! Hachi-one luckily does not pull a Shinji and quickly agrees to bet on Soyo's oppai! If you're still reading this and looking at the screencaps with a smile on your face, stop reading and get the damn episode! I watched this with zero expectations and was laughing all the way to the end!

The humour is not really in the fact that two men are playing Shogi to see who could grope Soyo's oppai. The humour is in Niko-gami throwing away what little is left of his pride to sate his inner most desire. The humour is in Hachi-one quickly agreeing whereas he would normally pull a Shinji and start whining. The humour is in their total disregard for Soyo's presence knowing that she would not stop their Shogi game.

And the ending is all about Niko-gami punchline with totally left me ROFL. What this episode has shown is that the best comedy is when serious characters are placed in absurd situations. Not slapstick, wink at the audience style. Sigh, if only Yama Onna Kabe Onna were half as funny as this episode. And I will forever remember Niko-gami's line which will go down in jdorama history as one of the most memorable lines in Jdorama history along with 101 Proposal's 'Boku wa shinimasen!'.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Osen eps 1-3

Shows about nice people are hard to do. Most of the time they come out as too nice, overstepping the boundary into the realm of stupidity. Either that or they end up being real bland, generic characters. Thus, they are usually not the heart of the show. Take for example, your typical shounen harem story. Its all about the chicks cause the main generic nice guy can never be interesting. Or your typical shoujo story where its the nice girl who has to face unsurmountable odds, ie having difficulty plus the kitchen sink thrown at her. Of course shoujo stories rely on love or an irritating villain to keep things interesting. In order words, nice characters are usually faceless boring characters so that it is easier for the viewer to imagine themselves in the character's place. Anti heroes are so much easier to write and cool villains are always in danger or turning the audience against the protagonist.

So what happens when a show like Osen comes along where there's no villains, no romance and no harem? Where the show basically relies on food and a nice protagonist to keep the audience glued to the screen. First step is to give your nice character a few idiosyncrasies to help define the character. In Osen's case, its her penchant for drinking and buying expensive antiques. Mostly, it relies on the actress' ability to actually make a nice character compelling. And Aoi Yu is such as actress.

I love a woman who loves to drink. :)

The only show I've seen Aoi Yu in is Tiger and Dragon. She didn't impress but neither did she stink up her role. I saw her in Hana and Alice long time ago but can't remember anything about the movie. I have the applaud her performance in Osen as the main character, who is the okami of an old fashioned restaurant. Everything about Osen screams furui yori jidai no onna. (woman from last century)

If she said that to me, I would die of happiness.

The way she nods, the way she speaks and moves are traits which are no longer present in Japanese girls today, or so I have surmised from Japanese tv. It fits in very well with the theme of the show, which is mainly that people living in the fast world today have left behind the old traditions of cooking. Like in ep 1 where she does a cooking battle against a cook who only uses microwaves.

Aoi Yu reminds me of Suzuki Anne, not really idol looks but absolutely shines onscreen.

It is such a funny yet symbolic scene. It really spoke to me how we don't have time for cooking anymore. Although most of us would choose speed and convenience over effort and taste, deep down inside we wish we were able to spare a couple of hours in the kitchen. While I'd rather spend any extra time on gaming and doramas, Osen allows us to dream or a simpler life.

And probably the second most important trait Osen has is that while she is too nice, she is far from stupid, thereby saving her from the usual downfall of the audience getting sick of too much idiotic niceness. She is so innocent yet, not without guile, though always in consideration of others. The best compliement I can give this show so far is that it makes me happy. Not in the Hachi-one Diver sukebe happy but rather happy to see Osen happy.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Jmovie review: The Machine Girl

Probably my most anticipated movie this year. Japan makes horrible action movies/jdoramas with some yakuza and samurai movies being the exception. I'm not asking for Bourne but something simple, coherent and doesn't look like a sentai show. However, they make excellent B movie gore cum action movies. If you've never seen Ichi the Killer or Versus, look them up now! While these movies lack in decent script and adrenaline factor, they make up for it by being so bad, they're actually good.

Don't be fooled her cleavage! She's a ninja yakuza mom of a high schooler!

If you've never seen these types of movies, I'd be hesitant to recommend Machine Girl. Watching movies like these is like watching a midnight dorama. You know its going to be bad so you have to turn off your brain and have fun watching it. You could say they're more akin to exploitation movies. Films that rely on content that you don't see in mainstream films.

Yashiro Minase looking cool and sexy. :)

Here she's looking kawaii, Hhhmm, doesn't she look like Matsu Takako?

So what's Machine Girl about? Its about a schoolgirl with a machine gun attached to her left arm. If the idea of schoolgirl + machine gun doesn't excite you, how about yakuza ninjas and lots and lots of blood? Did I mention the gore? Don't watch this movie when you are eating. Alcohol will probably improve your enjoyment though.

Somehow, I don't think those men holding her hands are teachers. :)

The main actress is Yashiro Minase, a gravure idol who I will definitely fill my HD with pictures of. I think I fell in love while taking all the screencaps. She plays Ami Hyuga, the title character who's brother is killed by the heir of a ninja yakuza clan. She tries to seek revenge but her left arms gets chopped off and later is fitted with a machine gun. IMO she's pretty good in the role. She's got screen presence and plays her role seriously (unlike Horitaki Maki in Teppan Shoujo). The important thing is no matter how stupid the scene or line was, she said it with conviction.

I wouldn't want to mess with these two...

The action scenes are pretty decent. Usually when you have chicks in action movies *cough* Azumi *cough*, the action usually gets pretty lame cause its hard for girls to look convincing punching, kicking or slashing a sword. Directors will try to overcome that by trying to get the actress to do a lot of cool poses and use a lot of stunt doubles, ie lots of cutting which in my book is a no-no.

Ouch, that's an expensive price to pay to be in a room with two hot chicks.

On a side note, I can't believe how much editing there are in Jet Li's American movies. The longer the shot, the more impact an action scene is. After all, action scenes are a story onto themselves and the audience's ability to follow the 'story' of a fight or car chase in integral to the enjoyment of the scene. End rant.

Ami + Miki = hot!

Basically what I am saying is that Minase Yashiro looks good. It helps that Asami, who plays Miki, Ami's partner in vengeance actually looks tough. I can't believe that she that she is actually a JAV actress!!!! Take a look at her picture here. She looks so sweet and innocent and yet in the movie she's so kick-ass. Their fight scenes are so hilarious yet cool though Ami fighting bare handed with one arm can look a bit weird. She's punching without a left hand to defend. It would probably make more sense (and more upskirt shots) if she used more kicks. Hhhmm. Idea for sequel? :)

Pantsu mita!!!!!!

Another barely seen pantsu shot!

There's no need for me to pull this movie apart and attempt to deconstruct it. Bottom line is, I had a hell of a time watching it. Its an exploitation movie. Its a movie for people with acquired taste. And if my screencaps don't make you salivate, nothing will.

I wish she were waiting for me like that at home, minus the kodachi of course.