Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu ep 2

I would seriously drop this show if not for Shinobu. Having watched so many jdoramas, there are certain cliches that one has to accept such as the touching moment when friends come to help and the character being saved says their names one by one. This is usually done at the beginning of a series to help the audience learn the characters names better. You always see in the beginning of shows characters would refer to each other by their names. Of course the other technique to familiarise the audience with the names would be a roll call.

Acchan from AKB48! Now where's Haruna?

So Shinobu finds herself about to get raped. While I would like to get very excited by it, I also know they're not going to show anything. If Kitano Kii can't even take her top off, what chance of seing some Shinobu fan service? Anyway, Shinobu is going to get raped while her friends endlessly pound on the door of the hotel. The purpose of the scene is to show that they care about her blah blah blah and for her to realise that their friendship is priceless.

Is Shinobu smiling? hhmmm

Instead the audience, or at least I come to the conclusion that her friends are fucking idiots. Friend getting raped? Call the police! Even calling the fire brigade is a good idea. Friend getting raped in hotel? Press the fire alarm ffs! That way, its easy to get the attention of other people or even get the hotel staff to open the door. Tell the hotel manager that their friend is in danger? I
I'm pretty sure high school students can think of that. Stopped by a door? Break it down instead of just banging needlessly. Kick it down. Grab a fire extinguisher and smash it against the door.!

Only reason to watch this show.

I mean seriously, if Oda Yuji weren't there, they'd still be screaming and banging while Shinobu gets violated. Yes, they're suppose to be kids blah blah but the way they stretch the scene just makes them look like complete douchbags. Not to mention the whole apoligising to would be rapist bull crap. If it were true, I'd go to Japan and do some uuuh unwanted ravishing.....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Gonzo: Densetsu no Keiji eps 1-4

My, Motokariya Yuika has grown since Sekachu. :)

I've always harped about jdoramas can't do proper action. This ties with their inability to do interesting storylines. Most of the detective shows have been downright mediocre (Odorou Daisasousen) or pathetic (SP). Police shows are very similar to mystery shows and there are some pretty good ones like One Million Stars and Trick but they are not really cop shows. I think cop shows either suffer from too family orientated (Kochi Hon Ikegami Sho) or too much about bumbling cops and their jurisdictional conflicts instead of the actual crimes themselves. Jdorama cop shows lack in the essential ingredient of suspence.

If I were a Japanese cop, I'd want to question all the hot Japanese teachers too.

Gonzo is the cop show to change that. Gonzo is the name of the main character played by Uchino Masaaki. Most jdorama viewers would know him as KimuTaku's brother from Love Generation or Ueto Aya's coach in Ace wo Nerae. There seems to be a huge gap in his jdorama acting between both shows. I didn't even recognise him in Ace and he deserves credit for making what could have been a horrible show very watchable.

Gonzo somehow not too excited with Otsuka Nene.

This show really reminds me of Bengoshi no Kuzu in that Kuzu became a career defining series for Toyokawa Etsushi and I certainly see it becoming so for Masaaki. Of course, their characters share similar traits of being very flawed but entertaining. After all, who the hell wants to watch a story about a goody-two-shoes. Its more fun to watch a story about a great detective who has fallen from grace. Masaaki infuses Gonzo with the right amount of humour and empathy to make him the perfect underdog. He doesn't stray into the realm of overacting and basically gives Gonzo the aura of a likeable rogue.

Gonzo with another hot chick. Waitaminit, for a supposed 'loser' he's got it going pretty good!

Joining Masaaki is Tsutui Michitaka, who most people will remember from Asunaro Hakusho (Hmm, another Kimutaku dorama.) who Gonzo once mentored who has ulterior motives in trying to resurrect Gonzo's career. I'm not going to go through all the characters. Suffice to say, basically all the characters are in the show for a storyline purpose and its just fun to watch dialogue and scenes not written to waste time but rather build up the suspense. Unlike Kuzu though, Gonzo so far is pretty good in terms of storyline. Gone are the stupid characters often used for humour but only serve to make cop shows look like a sitcom. Gonzo is that dark; there are still your usual jdorama elements but it has believability of character.

OMG, he gets to play games at work and have Motokariya Yuika watching! My empathy for Gonzo maybe turning into envy!

So far every episode has been very exciting especially towards the end while continuing the main overall story. If there's one huge criticism of the show is how the writers have split every episode so far as one element of the main investigation. This sorta makes the cops look stupid as some important elements should have been dealt with straight away such as the weapon which will be covered in ep 5. But hey, I'm happy to turn a blind eye as its probably a better way to structure the series.

Can't believe Sekachu was only 4 years ago!

Best show of the season so far? Most definitely. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tobosha eps 1-3

Jdorama fansubbing is very far off from anime. Back in the day, most the English subbed jdoramas were captures from Kiku TV or HK subbed ones. I think the first time I saw GTO, it had English, Chinese and Malay subs. Basically, everyone knew the Englished subbed shows like the back of their hand. Nowadays about half of the shows get fansubbed though there are always those shows that get dropped or stalled along the way like Mop Girl. :( Its unfortunately that only shows with Johnnys are pretty much guaranteed to be subbed but beggers can't be choosers. Not to mention nowadays HK jdorama dvds all have poor english subs so basically it possible to get most current jdoramas in English. Of course, there are those older shows which are very unlikely to see English subbing.

Tobosha ep 1 was first subbed by Studio Oto in 2004. Unfortunately that was all SO released from the series. I was very dissappointed. The first episode was really good but the casting meant that most girls wouldn't even want to watch it. Last year, HaroRangers released the first two episodes but nothing after that. I still kept them in my HD in the faint hope that miracles would happen and hallelujah, SOS and HaroRangers have teamed up to do ep 3!

Tobosha is basically a Japanese remake of The Fugitive. Eguchi Yosuke plays Nagai Tetsuo, a probation officer falsely accused of murdering his family. I think he's a really good actor. His role as Kinpachi's brother in 101 Proposals was hillarious and so was his turn as the oldest brother in Lunch no Joou. Sad to say, I've not seen much of his stuff but what little I've watched is good.

Joining Yosuke is my favourite actor Abe Hiroshi playing the officer who wants to catch him. Unlike Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive however, Abe's character is not likeable. He seems aloof, pretentious and makes questionable decisions. He seems to claim some sort of higher moral ground yet enjoys the hunt a bit too much. Sad to say, Abe's character is bewilderment. I don't particularly like the character not do I hate him which is not a good thing for the audience to feel.

Mizuno Miki is the good cop of the show. The one who questions Nagai's guilt but is determined to capture him. There is a feeling that she is way overmatched in this show which gives her the underdog status as well. Still her performance has yet to catch me attention. Yosuke is good as the man on the run. I just hope that the writing for Abe and Miki's characters gets better. There is of course empathy for Yosuke but I'm not really concerned with the other two main characters. Maybe I just don't like how Tommy Lee Jones's character has been split into two.

I've ranted a few times about how stupid it is the Japanese can't even do basic simple action doramas. Well, Tobosha might be the first. While like many shows there is a slight tendency to stretch/milk the action scenes for what its worth, it doesn't reach the stupidity of shows like SP. After all jdorama budgets must be small compared to American shows. So basically we have Yosuke running around episode getting involved with some random person while trying to evade police and clear his name. Sounds like a recepie for a fine dorama, my nitpicking notwithstanding.

Thanks to SOS and HaroRangers for continuing to sub this show and hope to see the remaining 8 episodes subbed!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Tomorrow eps 2-4

Kanno Miho looking a tad too happy....

Someone said that this season is pretty bad. While nothing has really impressed me, Tomorrow is one show that I look forward to every week. After all there's no stupid idol stunt casting. Just veteran actors and an interesting script. I'm surprised that I feel no loathing Kanno Miho's character, Aiko. Usually idealistic characters who turn a blind eye to reality just piss me off. Yet somehow, her portrayal of Aiko does not make her seem like an idiot but rather someone who stubbornly wants to continue doing her job the way her mother did despite overwhelming odds.

Devil v Angel/Realist v Idealist

And I have to agree with everything that Endo sensei says. After all, her job is to try to save the hospital from its huge deficit caused by mismanagement. It almost makes me want to see a show where the 'cold hearted' Endo sensei is the hero while the idealistic characters are the villains who misguidedly want to prevent the saving of the hospital. After all, good intentions do not a good outcome make.

Kohei is the man caught in the middle, except its not really a tug of war between Aiko and Endo. Kohei's got his own demons to deal with. He just happens to be an important tool for the saving of the hospital. Looks like they finally revealed the twist that everyone and their dog saw coming in ep 4. Of course, what matters is not how good a twist is but how it contributes to the storyline. The revelation certainly created some interesting scenarios and tension.

Why isn't she wearing her nurse uniform???!!!! Naze???!!!!!

I just love the look on Kanno Miho's face when she finally found out the truth. The feeling of complete bewilderment and shock. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry. I just love it when there's actually good acting in jdoramas. Yes, I know I keep harping about it like a broken records but when you watch doramas, you at least expect people with a certain amount of acting skills. I think Kanno Miho is so underratedly brilliant. She looks and acts nothing like Hatarakiman in Tomorrow. She is Tanaka Aiko, idealist who has been through much hardship and stubborn in her beliefs because they are what sustained her.

It begs the question how much hatred do Aiko and Nanami have and how much was the hatred fuel for their survival? While the dorama still suffers from your usual jdorama cliches and melodorama, there is quite a lot of depth in the script like how the medical cases from each episode runs parallel to the issues the characters themselves face. I can't wait for ep 5! :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu ep 1

Oda Yuji in Evil Dead remake?

The greatness and influence of GTO dorama cannot be underestimated. It is one of the few jdoramas I would not hesitate to call perfect. Superb casting, acting, music, supporting characters, jokes and the right amount of cool. It is so good that it is the template upon which to base teacher jdoramas. It basically 'updated' the Kinpachi sensei formula to the cool teacher. The only show I've seen to veer from the formula is Jyoou no Kyoushitsu and probably the closest succesful replication would be Dragon Zakura.

I still haven't finished watching the Sailor Moon dorama yet....

Along comes Oda Yuji's attempt at the GTO formula. I always found him to be an overrated acting. Never could really understand the success of Odoru Daisousasen, not that I didn't enjoy it and Last Christmas. That said, this marks the first time I've seen him play something more than just your typical nice guy. In Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu, Oda Yuji is Sakurai sensei and for once, he doesn't seem like a former biker/yakuza etc. Sakurai is seems to have some screws loose which may be caused be his excessive tan. He is forever smiling but he definitely isn't stupid. In fact he seems pretty smart, its just that he's on a different wavelength from everyone. I like that Sakurai is different from other GTO clones as it takes more than one sentence to summarise his character.

Shinobu with the guy who's too old to be in high school shows.

Of course, like all GTO clones, everyone in the school is against him with the exception of the hot teacher who happens to be Mop Girl/Sailor Venus Kitagawa Keiko! While she most definitely is of the age to be a 1st year teacher, she doesn't look like one. Not as bad as Aragaki Yui in Code Blue though. That's the thing about acting in the shadow of GTO, who can compare with Matsushima Nanako's Fuyutsuki sensei. The fact I can remember her character's name speaks volumes about her acting.

At least strip to your pantsu ffs!

Quickly, Sakurai sensei gets involves with the two main students. You know how it goes. He gets them to his side and the rest of the series is about him helping out everyone else and getting them on his side. The ending is almost a copycat of GTO's hammer through the wall scene but nowhere as cool. If there is one thing this show desperately needs, it is humour and having high school guys who look like girls is not funny. Kita Yoshio plays the evil President who is boring and just wants the school to concentrate on studies.

Kita Yoshio playing Liar Game? Imagine negative Yoshio manipulating everyone. :)

ZZzzzzz. I hope the writer is well aware that it is the villain that makes the hero. It would be ok if Kita Yoshio's posse didn't overact so much. At least that secretary from Liar Game is in it. I hope she gets more lines than she got in Hatarakiman. She seems to be getting jobs since Liar Game and yet they just want her to stand/sit around and look very pretty. Can't complain I suppose but ffs someone give her some actual dialogue and a real character to play. Interesting teacher/hero vs boring/super stereotypical villains does not make good show though.

Shinobu chan!!!!!

We've got the main girl from Life which is good. I'm very excited Shinobu from Kita Yoshio is here. Unfortunately, she's a supporting character which means that most of her lines will be expository and she'll just be plot device. I really hope the makers of Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu took a good hard look at GTO. Make the students stand out and lots of humor.

She's probably surprised that the mop girls subs are still stuck at ep 5.

Talking about 1st episodes is hard. I always look at other shows of the same genre, see what they've done different and hope that I'd have a good time watching the rest of the series. Flawed as Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu maybe, I still enjoyed it. Maybe its after watching 6 eps of crying wussies in Rookies any teacher dorama looks good. The worst thing is that after typing all this, I really feel like watching GTO......

Monday, August 04, 2008

Little DJ:Chiisana koi no monogatari

This kinda reminds me of the PV of the M-Flo's Lotta Love.

There were two reasons why I wanted to watch this movie. First of all is of course, Hirosue Ryoko. I'd watch anything with her in it. Second is Fukuda Mayuko. Of the 3 alumni from Jyoou no Kyoushitsu, I think she has the most potential. Sure Shida Mirai seems to be getting more jobs but Fukuda Mayuko has much more potential. She's got the ability to act and convey emotions with just her eyes. In other words, she doesn't need to overact to get her character's emotions across to the audience. Little did I suspect that Kamiki Ryunosuke would end up stealing the show.

Hirosue Ryoko in (sadly) a very minor role.

There are two parts in this movie. The first is the DJ story. Taro (Kamiki Ryunosuke) is a kid who likes commentating on baseball games and listening to radio broadcasts. He is struck with an illness and has to live in the hospital. The hospital plays music through the PA system and the head of the hospital comes acroos Taro's talent and proposes that Taro be the DJ of the hospital. This short lived part is the most fun to watch as we see not only how Taro connects to people with his DJing but also how people respond outside to him.

Its been 3 years since Jyoou and she looks the same...

The second part is the sekachu part. If you've seen, you'll know ilness Taro has. Like sekachu, this part of the movie is too long. Maybe its just that it took too much time from the DJ part. Maybe its just that I didn't like how Fukuda Mayuko was grinning like an idiot most of the time. Can't her acting skills though. The short scene with her an Taro's mom outside the hospital entrance is gold. The biggest fault lies with the script. Too much sekachu and not enough DJing.

The innocence of youth! :)

Like the dorama, Little DJ was great when it was about other characters and their relationships/past. There's no point spending so much time on the main characters and the inevitability of the ending. Its like this writer has a cool idea for the DJ kid in hospital story but the producers said that they wanted it more like Sekachu to attract the chicks. A bit too much effort into tear jerking IMO but its not as bad as it sounds. My gripe has to do with what the movie could be instead of what it actually is.

Hot nurse alert!!!!!

Kamiki Ryunosuke really stole the show. He's been in so many shows but I remember him the most from Wedding Planner. His potrayal of Taro is masterful. From his convincing DJing to his internalisation of emotions to his akwardness with Tamaki. Its a shame the script doesn't allow the rest of the great cast to show their acting skills much.

I'd like to live in a Japanese hospital when I grow up.

In summary, I'd still have to recommend this show. Its not that memorable but still highly watchable. And lets not forget the excellent music. Thanks to 8thsin for once again subbing another Japanese movie!