Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Futatsu no Spica

Why I should have gone to Japan for high school!

If there's one genre that the Japanese have no problems with, its the high school dorama. This ties into the fact that Hatsukoi is the basis of a lot of jdoramas and that the Japanese seem to have similar experiences in high school. Their high schools all look the same and they have the same extra curricular activities. The premise of Futatsu no Spica though is slightly different. Its not your typical high school but rather a school to train future astronauts of Japan. Yes, in this alternate future, Japan has the technology to send their people to space. At least they are not sending a tourist into space and claim that he is a certified astronaut.

The only way for Japan to keep public interest in their space program is to make sure all their astronauts are hot.

The other premise that you'll have to accept in order to enjoy this show is that one man can be blamed for the failure of a launch just because it had a 0.1% chance of happening. The amount of people and preparation needed to design and execute a space launch is too massive to put the blame on a mere designer. I'm pretty sure an accident of such magnitude would mean a public inquiry. If you can put up with the above two premises and some illogical plotlines, you will find that Futatsu no Spica is a decently paced high school dorama about dreams and one's choices in life.

Alas, there are not accidental pantsu shots. :(

Sakuraba Nanami does an excellent job as the main character Asumi. She didn't stand out in Akai Ito (except for her goth loli cosplay) but her acting in Futatsu no Spica shows that she has the potential to be the next Nagasawa Masami. Actually the acting is all-round decent. The two guys, one of whom is of course the osana najimi are pretty good. As long as they keep casting non-Johnny's, its all good. Rounding up we have a stuck up ojousan girl and third girl who's sole purpose is to entice viewers with her very short skirt.

Kabe onna vs Yama onna.

At seven episodes, the pacing is brisk and it doesn't have time to get too melodramatic, especially compared to Akai Ito which just went too long. Futatsu no Spica has a decent story to tell and it does it efficiently. Very watchable shows. Just try to not think too much about the Nasa and rocket design storylines.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hatachi no Koibito eps 4-8

I can't believe that its been nearly two years since my first review of Hatachi no Koibito. Its not the most delayed jdorama though. I think that honour belongs to Tobosha/Runaway. Unfortunately. Hatachi no Koibito was dropped after 3 episodes. I remember watching the rest of it raw but I can't really remember anything, only the feeling that it wasn't a very good show.

Hottest mother-daughter combo ever!

Some kind souls have decided to continue subbing this show and I'm glad they did. It is so great to see Nagasawa Masami in a decent show and to remind myself why I was very high on her potential in the first place. She did a trio of very bland shows after Dragon Zakura (that I watched anyway): Sailor Fuku, Proposal Daisakusen and Last Friends. It goes to show that she's not on the Abe Hiroshi level of elevating crap shows to decent level and her potential is seriously being wasted. She really needs a role that will define her. Her best movie is Nada Sou Sou but she's not what was so good about it.

Gamo Mayu's legs need to be in more jdoramas.

Its interesting reading my review of the first episode and looking my expectations of the show. I had different expectations of the dynamic of Sanma and Masami's relationship. How naive was I to expect the show to take a more serious tone. Hatachi no Koibito is a pure comedy show made for mainstream consumption and I have altered my expectations so. As long as it is funny and there's no bad acting, I'm happy.

Masami's evil stare didn't really come through in this shot.

Its now ep 8 and there's hardly any chemistry between Sanma and Masami. Actually the best 'couple' of the show are Kei-chan (Sanma) and his old friend Fuu-chan. They have walked different paths in life and their friendship is rekindled because of Masami. They have the relationship dynamic that is absent from Sanma and Masami's. One could even say that the Sanma and Masami relationship is a mcguffin; a plot device created to advance the story. The story of two old men nearing their twilight years. The writer gaining fortune through writing about the salaryman's love life and the salaryman finding love again.

You can't go wrong with this show. I am enjoying it so far despite it not matching my initial expectations. (Could be a sign I am mellowing with old age) There's two more episodes to go and I'm kinda grateful that I can't remember the ending. That's probably a bad sign as it means nothing really happened at the end that was worth remembering. As long as the last two episodes make me laugh, it'll be a good series.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Boss 9-11and Aishiteru 3-10


Big waste of acting talent.

When ep 10 came around, it finally seemed like suffering through all the bad episodes was finally worth it. The music for this series is pretty good but it never matched what was on screen. You have exciting music playing but nothing exciting was actually happening. Ep 11 was actually very serious and pulse pounding. You have terrorists, guns, police corruption and betrayal done really well. I thought we were finally going to have two episodes of really good police action in a jdorama and all the deficiencies in previous episodes would be forgiven. The cliffhanger at the end of ep 10 was excellent.

His comedic scenes just fall flat for me....

Ep 11 was good. I loved the shoot out. I love how dark the show went and how actions had real serious implications. I was ready to sing Boss' praises and declare although it only 3 of 11 episodes were great, it was worth watching. Unfortunately, they had to do another twist at the end. The twist makes sense. Its somewhat plausible but it required a lot of explanations. I couldn't be fucked examining the details of the twist because it just left me with a feeling of not caring.

Another waste of talent. Sigh.

It just felt tagged on, returning the show to its cartoonish like feel and completely destroying the strong emotional ending of the shootout. I think the final twist was too smart for its own good. The ending before the twist was great because it was a raw and emotionally charged ending involving the only well developed character in the show. It was a strong end for her character arch and that was ultimately nulified returning the show to its status quo. Its almost as bad as Marvel destroying years of stories about Peter Parker and MJ's married life because they can't afford to move the characters forward.

Is that something that GTO would say?


Aishiteru went the path that I feared but expected it to take. It became a show about the mothers rather than delving into the issues and emotions regarding underage crime. When the truth was finally revealed, one has to feel bad for Tomoya. Kiyotaka was basically this bratty kid who was asking for it. Kiyotaka was like this asshole kid in every class that no one wants to be friends with and Kiyotaka's mom realised that this was a unfortunate accident.

Hot MILF #1.

Problem is, as the audience, this revelation was taking me emotionally nowhere. There's no one to support. No one to hate. I was in a complete emotional limbo. As Kiyotaka's father was trying to hold onto hate to move on and keep his family together, I was trying to find an emotional angle to keep me watching this show. The closest Aishiteru came to dealing with hate was Kiyotaka's father drinking in a bar and Mihoko confronting Tomoya's mom.

Hot MILF #2.

Aishiteru became a show about showing how hard it is for mothers and showing three mothers dealing with three different kinds of hardships centred around an unfortunate incident. The aim of the show was to make you feel for Tomoya and Kiyotaka's mothers' hardship and build up to their meeting. The last two episodes became some long boring epilogue about moving on that bored me to death. When Tomoya was released after one year, I was eagerly anticipating something exciting happening the end but no, they had to do a bright and cheerful ending.

Potentially very hot actress in a few years time. :)

At the end, I just got sick of the all crying and the 'bright' storyline too much at the end. Its a show where everyone is a victim and everyone's just way too freaking nice. Despite the subject matter, Aishiteru played it too safe. Well, I can't fault Aishiteru for what it is. I was entertained for most of the series and would say it a watchable show.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Orthros no Inu eps 1-3

After Maou, it was only a matter of time before there was another dorama pitting two Johnnys against each other in another dark dorama with a supernatural theme. If Maou proved anything, its that dark and interesting concepts paired with a cute chick makes a pretty watchable dorama. In Orthros no Inu, we got Takizawa Hideaki as the 'evil' dude with powers of healing and Nishikido Ryo as the good guy with the power to kill by touch. The chick in the middle is a cop Nagisa, played by Mizukawa Asami aka the nurse from Iryu.

Didn't know she was an M. Always thought she was more S. :)

Ryuzaki is a murderer on death row with the potential to save the lives of millions. He tricks the really stupid Aoi sensei to free him and manages to escape from prison. I can understand the Aoi freeing Ryuzaki part. It feels like a fated meeting and Ryuzaki is the yin to his yang. Bottom line, it is a necessary part of the plot. Its gives Aoi motivation because his guilt in freeing Ryuzaki and starting this whole mess. What I cannot accept is how easily Ryuzaki manages to escape from the prison.

Hottest forensics specialist in Japan.

He's on death row ffs! Where are the security cameras and guards close to his holding cell? One can explain away by saying that the prison boss didn't want people knowing about his frequent visits to Ryuzaki but the dorama did not make that effort. Details matter. I can accept some things happening without explanation as necessary but insulting my intelligence more than once per episode is too much. Killing prison boss and putting on guard uniform does not equal escape from prison. Prison is not a house with two guards outside.

This sentence belongs with a nonsensical show like Karei Naru Spy which I urge everyone to avoid.

Episode 2 gets better when we get to see what 'evil deeds' Ryuzaki can do with his powers of healing and it is fun. Episode two poses questions about morality and value of human life. Exploring ideas of right and wrong is what makes Orthros no Inu stand out. It can be said that Ryuzaki does nothing wrong. He is not playing God. He is giving others the option of playing God. He wants to see what value people attach to their own lives and to others'. Ryuzaki is conducting an experiment on the value of human life. However, Orthros no Inu may run into the same problem as Maou whereby you can't hold the 'villain' as the main cause of the crimes.

Stupid blogger giving me problems uploading large pictures. Ggrrr.

Episode 3 is where this show comes back down the earth. First we have that lol stupid statement by Giragira about having access to information on American secret weapons. It sounds like something out of a bad kids show. Then we have the idiocy of Aoi sensei. I can understand that he has to make the decisions he made in order for the audience to see the effects of his decisions. However, the stabbing scene really makes the stabbing scene in Shiroi Haru look good.

Nope, its a great view! :)

Aoi sensei is in room with girl when killer attacks. He struggles, contemplates using power but decides not to. This brings us to the same problem as his first kill in ep 1. It is/was not necessary for him to use his powers to kill. Did it never occur to Aoi sensei to try to disarm the attacker? Disable him? Keep him preoccupied so the girl can escape? Or even get himself stabbed and hold on to the knife?

Where are all the alarms that kids carry in Shiroi Haru?

No, the girl runs of and knife guy runs by Aoi sensei while he does nothing!!!!! He could have at least grabbed onto the knife guy. I'm not asking him to shoulder tackle him against the door/wall. Whoever planned/shot that fight sequence made Aoi sensei look incompetent. Same problem as last episode of Shiroi Haru, Japanese do not know how to shoot 'action scenes' properly. The easiest way to fix that is to plan the whole sequence in one take and see whether it flows/is logical instead of splitting it up and making it look incoherent when cut together.

Shiori wannabes seem to be coming out of the woodwork.

I can't believe that I'm going to continue watching for Takuzawa Hideaki or rather for his character. I've seen many of his shows and he has never shown acting chops. At least he's outgrown his whiny brat roles. I look forward to seeing what moral dilemmas Ryuzaki can cook up next. However, based on the first 3 episodes, there will be lots of stupid dialogue, things happening without explanation and Aoi sensei acting like an idiot.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saru Lock eps 1 + 2

Saru Lock is about a midnight dorama about Sarumaru, a locksmith and his antics. Actually, who gives a crap about the story. Saru Lock is midnight dorama at its best! Lots of echi jokes and lots of hot and beautiful women! Lots of guest starring gravure idols. I can't remember the last time I was smiling and laughing throughout two episodes.

Pantsu mieta!!!!!

I swear it wasn't me, though I wish it were!

Its sort of like Stand Up! with the main character being a locksmith with a sidekick, Kenji who looks like a good friend of mine from my uni days. Ashina Sei from Giragira and the horrible Bloody Monday walks around in shorts and catches Saru and Kenji in their acts of depravity. Her character Ritsuko is basically the Narusegawa Naru of the show. She exists to get pissed off at Saru and Kenji and kicks their asses.

So this is what angels look like...

Sample of guest eye candies.

Ashina Sei doesn't get to do anything much in Saru Lock but that's ok cause its all about the jokes and guest stars. Episode 1 + 2 features Nakamura Yuri a lot and man, she is so freaking easy on the eyes. Its such a waste that she is in only 2 episodes. I couldn't find info on her in English but according to her Japanese wikipedia she was in Boss (wtf??? how did I not notice her) and some movie called Lalapipo which seems to be an ero comedy and I will do my best to find it. She's also in ep 3 of Love Game. Only episode one is subbed and there's been no update in ages but I hope they at least sub to ep 3. Hhmm, maybe I should just get the raw.

My, why big eyes you have!


A lot of the echi jokes are a product of Saru's overactive imagination but its all cool. Saru is like the old generic shounen romance full blooded hero which was the norm until Love Hina and Eva turned them all into wimps. With a running time of half an hour per episode, there's no time for them to get stale. If the pictures are not enough to convince you to watch this show, the fact that the first two episodes deal with the stolen pantsu and prostitution rackets should seal the deal.

There is only one right answer!

Nakamura Yuri > Ashina Sei

The safe unlocking part was really lame but I look at it as a necessary evil to give the show a semblance of a plot. The main dude from Rookies, Ichihara Hayato at least proves that he can do more than just sulk and cry all the time. Saru Lock is a show that knows what its target audience is and makes use of the late timeslot to deliver. Unfortunately, no nudity.. yet. Highly recommended for the eye candy factor or for anyone who wants some fun and dumb entertainment.

Hai! Yorokonde!

They're turning my dreams into a jdorama!

Can't you see she's kneeling on the floor?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Boss eps 7 and 8

Unfortunately, the only character who is remotely funny in this show.

Episode 7 follows the same formula as 6. Reveal the criminal and emphasise the relationship between the suspect and the boss, Osawa Eriko. If Shida Mirai was like a younger version of Eriko, the suspect in ep 7 is her same counterpart, just in a different field and who has succumbed to weakness. This show needs to be about the human element like Rinjo tried to do because the police procedure in Boss sucks. Too many things oversimplified and explanations coming out of nowhere. The only thing Boss does better than other Jdorama cop shows is that there are not 100 cops investigating one murder investigation scene.... yet.

Just had to take this screencap for obvious reasons.

In the beginning of ep 7, when Boss and her team are discussing stuff at work, something weird happens. The director/cinematographer of ep 7 discovers that he/she could zoom and thus proceeds to zoom in and out with no rhyme or reason. According to the d-addicts wiki the director is Narita Takeshi and he should be banned from director for pproducing 2 minutes of vomit inducing, constant (un)zooming poor excuse for cinematography. Maybe the cameraman was high and just rocked the zoom back and forth.

Bijou to yajuu....

Ep 8 was decent. The back story for the brooding, boring dude was lame but I'm happy to play along. Until the sniper scene at the end. Sniper camped at high area and the freaking kid who shouldn't be a cop aka Hachi one, runs across in front of the sniper and screaming like a kid only to get his gun shot away. Anyone with a brain would know that no one runs in front of a sniper's crosshair. Actually anyone with half a brain would know that. The members of Boss' team are suppose to be losers of the force but this is beyond. The curly haired copper wannabe is an imbecile. Moron. Danger to himself and society. Further proof of my idea that cop shows in Japan are just an excuse to make fun of the police.

I've never wanted a villain to kill everyone (except for Boss & Toda Erika) like I did in ep 8.

That one freaking sniper scene completely destroyed the episode. There are other illogical things that happened but I'm not going to go into them cause it'll only increase my blood pressure. I'm just gonna finally drop this show, save myself from running my head through the wall and wait patiently for the last two episodes of Rinjo.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Boss ep 6

Amami Yuki should have done a scene where she's dressed more like Maya from Jyoou no Kyoushitsu or at least use her favourite phrase 'ikagen mezamenasai!'.

Boss has one of the most in appropriate intros for a police show. And that's not the worst part of it. I was ready to drop it but someone said that the show stars to get better after ep 6. One of my favourite shows that gets better in the middle is Shikaotoko. Actually it was because the first half of the series was about building up the characters and setting up the second half. The greatness of the sixth episode of Boss has nothing to do with the main story which still remains in the background but rather the guest starring of Shida Mirai!

Why Japanese policemen like investigating schools.

Yes! Its a Jyoou no Kyoushitsu reunion! If only Fukuda Mayuko would make a guest appearance as well. Seeing Amami Yuki and Shida Mirai together is great. Unfortunately it also highlights one of the things missing from Boss: character chemistry. Watching their characters verbally spar is pure delight. The concept of a too smart for her own good schoolgirl suspect matching wits with an equally smart policewoman should be made into a movie. They just have to add 45 minutes of background filler and the great acting will take care of itself.

Toda Erika is pissed off that she has nothing to do in this show.

The one negative thing about this episode is the locker stakeout scene which is just way too comical that it is completely incompatible with the serious nature of the show. Its like an elephant hiding behind a small plant. Are we suppose to accept that a girl as smart as Shida Mirai's character did not notice the suspicious people hanging around her? Worse, the members of the squad really look like incompetent police officers.

Ep 6 is a fun episode to watch. I don't know whether it because the script suddenly got better or great acting and chemistry elevated the dialogue. If you've given up on the show, do give ep 6 a try. Now it remains to be seen how whether they can keep the standard up for the rest of the series.