Friday, October 30, 2009

Mano Erina 2010 Calender

I could stare at this all day.

My Mano Erina calender just arrived from yesasia. The Toda Erika calender is not out yet. Its sad that there's probably never going to be another Abe Natsumi or Matsuura Aya calender again. I really like the Nacchi 2009 calender. I never heard of Mano Erina until I started looking up calenders to buy for next year. Hers was the only one besides Toda Erika that caught my attention.

Sorry about bad focus but anything with Mano Erina and piano is good.

Looked her up and was surprised to see that she was from HP! Looked up some of her videos on youtube and I was instantly hooked. Look up her concert, Prologue Otome no Inori on youtube. Tsunku has always been searching for the next Goto Maki. Kusumi Koharu is not the miracle member but I haven't been excited about a HP! singer in a long time.

Don't like her look in this one.

First thing is that she plays the piano. Instant credibility. Not to mention that she went with an indy label when she debuted. This gives her the ability to appeal beyond the otaku fanbase which is what HP! and AKB48 are stuck with. Down the line, she really needs to do a real live concert. No backing tracks. Just her piano and two guitars or something.

This one makes her look younger than her 18 years which kind of makes me feel dirty...

Her songs are pretty good except the latest one which just sounds like a generic HP! song. I like that most of her songs are mid tempo. Her voice is probably not good enough yet for ballads and there's no point doing fast songs on piano. I think Sekai wa Summer Party could have been a sakuranbo if it had a huge promotion behind it.

You can never go wrong with seifuku.

Mano Erina is just so different from the other cookie cutter HP! girls. Maybe its just that I've stopped listening to HP! stuff for so long that it all seems fresh again. Watching her facial expressions when she sings Nakimushi Yowamushi during her concert just makes me.... happy. She's got the Sakai Noriko frown! Gaaaaahhh!!!! She's already got facial expressions than Fukada Kyoko.

Seen too many HP! girls with this look. ZZzzzz.

J.P Room should issue a directive for Mano Erina never to tie her hair up.

Proof that Mano Erina looks best with her hair down.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jin eps 1+2

A new jdorama season brings new promises of good jdoramas and of course bad shows that defy expectations. After last season's lackluster offerings, I'm hoping that this season will have a good show and Jin seems to be the best candidate. Jin tells the story of a brain surgeon, Manakata Jin (Osawa Takao) who has an accident and mysteriously transported back to the Edo era. Its good to see Osawa Takao back to doing jdoramas. I'm more of a fan of his movie works, especially Gege and just recently watched him in Goemon.

Kono sekai, ai wa aru no?

Yes, Jin is basically fish out of water dorama, in this case a surgeon in the Edo era. It doesn't even take 10 minutes before Jin faces his first medical problem in Edo, brain hemorrhage! Luckily he has some surgical tools and medicine with him. Its a bit like watching McGuyver with Jin having to make do with carpentry tools. The other fun part is watching Jin perform surgery in an era and country where such things are unheard of. Watching him trying to crack open his patient's head while the mother is crying in horror is both funny and sickening at the same time. This is one show that knows it has a good concept and knows how to milk it for all its worth. If only they had Iryu's music.

Pen light vs katana!

Ayase Haruka is Saki, the sister of his first patient. She sees something in his skills and sort of unofficially becomes his nurse/assistant. She's your strong willed, go against her family for her beliefs type girl. Its improbably such a girl exists in Edo who can easily pick up medical terms but lets not let it get in the way of a good story. I think this time, Haruka should forgive her agent for wasting her time and placing her in that piece of crap show, Mr Brain.

Sooner or later Jin will run out of latex gloves...

Uchino Masaaki aka Gonzo is also in this show and I won't spoil his identity. Fans of Shinsengumi, Kenshin and other pre Meiji stories are in for a trteat. I would expect Shinsengumi to show up later and would Jin cure Okita Soji? The casting in this show is great. No freaking Johnny's in sight. We've got Nakatani Miki as the oiran and Kinpachi sensei as the western medicine expert in Edo. This show is like the freaking all stars of jdorama wih a fun concept to boot.

As gross as it was, I was laughing all the way through this surgery.

Like all time travel shows, Jin does ponder about how he would affect the future and has to make some very hard decisions. Usually with time travel, its about killing people while in Jin its about saving lives. Saving people who are not suppose to live. Bringing the knowledge of modern medicine to the past. Should a doctor who has sworn the Hippocratic oath disregard the needs of a patient in front of him for the sake of the time space continuum? Has pandora's box truly been opened?

Makes me to replay Ryuga gotoku kenzan and visit an oiran and play games with her.

There's also the mystery of the bandaged man in the hospital and the fetus. How does the fetus induce time travel and is the bandaged man from the past or the future? I've got my own theory on who the man is but I'm just going to enjoy the ride and not think too much. So many angles to the main story that 10 to 12 episodes might not be enough. I'm just so glad that for once, they didn't fuck up a concept that is foolproof. Too many times you see a rare and interesting concept and the dorama is ruined because the makers cannot think outside their cliched and unimaginative ideas.

Yup, Kita Yoshio has to show up in 5% of all jdoramas.

Jin is the first must watch jdorama I've seen in a long time and I'm already excited for the third episode. Its great to see a show about medicine and politics that is not set in a hospital. Hope the ratings get better. Jin deserves to be getting 20+%.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jmovie review: Yatterman

I came to this movie with completely no knowledge of it. I just know that it was an old anime and its a pretty big budget show directed by Takashi Miike. Despite the fact that I have previously sworn not to watch anymore Fukada Kyoko doramas, anything by Miike is worth taking a chance on. Yatterman are a pair of crime fighters aptly named Yatterman 1 (Sakurai Sho) and Yatterman 2 (Fukuda Saki). They've got this robot dog who's more like a dog statue on wheels and has powers to create units after eating a bone. The villain Doronjo (Fukada Kyoko) and her two lackeys are forced to create money making schemes after their robot is destroyed to build another one.

If you're still trying to wrap your head around the premise of Yatterman, don't bother. This show is so absurd and wacky that any attempt to understand the story and ask logical questions will snuff out any enjoyment. Trying to understand Yatterwan and his powers is like trying to understand why Yonekura Ryoko and Itoh Misaki continue to headline doramas when they clearly cannot act.

Yes, that is a robot pinching its/her nipples.

Yes, Yatterman is a comedy movie but it is comedy that is utterly bizzare and definitely not for kids. For example, there's this sex scene between two robots in the middle of the movie that just.... No words can describe how bizzare it was. I looked up youtube for clips of the old anime and yes, there clearly is some adult humour in the old show. Fist of the north star has exploding heads so I guess sexual humour in kids show is not breaching standards.

You'll never guess what this scene is about.

The only interesting part of the movie for me is when Doronjo gets infatuated with Yatterman 1. I would say that's the only coherent part of the movie for me. Not to mention Boyacky's adoration of Doronjo. I thought making the villains more rounded than the heroes was interesting. Actually, why should I root for the Yatterman they just don't make sense? Boyacky is probably the most developed character in the whole movie. We know absolutely nothing about Yatterman 1 and 2's relationship.

Lucky bastard.

There are many parts in the movie that made me question my reality. Am I really watching a movie Yatterman travel halfway around the world grabbing onto the sides of a giant robot dog that floats on water? Did I just watch a battle between robotic fishes? I guess the absurdity is part of the humour but the only way I could have enjoyed Yatterman was if I were smoking some weed.

I had a dream like this once, except for the foot fetish part.

If you've seen the original anime, then its easier to accept the absurd humour. This movie is not for anyone but the adventurous. I enjoy watching B movies without a coherent story like Wild Zero but Yatterman is on a level I've not seen before. Keep the children away from this movie or they will be scarred for life!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jmovie review: The Triumphant Return of General Rouge

The Diet should pass a law that these two must do at least two jdoramas a year.

I waited two weeks to watch this movie. Two weeks because I found a torrent but everyone was at 80%. No matter, I had assumed that the person was super seeding. One week later and its up to 85%. Obviously someone had created the torrent and left it unseeded. Either that or the initial leechers who had completed the file did not stay on. So I had to waste another day to get the movie through the FSC ftp, replace the torrent file and seed the rest of the 15%. Good thing the movie is worth all the hassle.

Who do you think you are? L?

General Rouge is the sequel to The Glorious Team Batista and my review can be found here. First, there is no misspelling in the name of the movie. Its Rouge not rogue and I won't spoil why that is. Takeuchi Yuko returns as Taguchi, the psych doctor/counsellor who has been elevated to chairperson of the ethics committee because of her success in the batista case. She receives an anonymous letter accusing Dr Hayami aka General Rouge (Sakai Masato) of accepting kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company and is entrusted to investigate the matter. Luckily for her, Shiratori Keisuki (Abe Hiroshi), her partner in crime in the first movie is admitted to the hospital and the two of them begin their investigation.

I can never watch Ima Ai ni Yukimasu again....

General Rouge reminds me of another good jmovie, Suspect X whereby the supporting character ends up being the main character. Luckily, unlike Suspect X, the great performance by the supporting character does not expose the main actors. Takeuchi Yuko and Abe Hiroshi are already two of the finest Japanese actors. I've never been impressed with Sakai Masato in the few jdoramas I've seen him in but he does a great job as Dr Hayami, a workhorse doctor who is hated by everyone in the hospital. Actually he did a great job in Shinsengumi but was overshadowed by Yamamoto Koji. To speak more of his performance would be to spoil the movie but I'll just say he stole the movie from Takeuchi and Abe which is no mean feat.

Hello nurse...

There is the mystery of who wrote the letter and is Dr Hayami guilty but unlike Team Batista, the success of the movie is not dependent on how interesting the twist is. There is a larger theme of workplace politics and patient care which explored quite thoroughly in the movie and the final chapter is equally exciting although the truth has already been revealed. In the end, the movie the movie is about the character study of Dr Hayami with Taguchi and Shiratori leading the story. There are even cameos from characters from the first movie.

I plead guily for appearing in crap like Triangle and Himitsu no Hanazono.

This is jmovie at its best and I cannot praise it enough. At the end of the movie, I was just wishing that they could come up with another sequel. Takeuchi Yuko and Abe Hiroshi can just do their thing and they just need one or two good actors and make it another hospital mystery. Definitely in my list of must watch jmovies.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saru Lock eps 6-8

Chicken or egg problem?

Eps 3-5 were nothing to write about. Saru and gang goes to the beach, gets involved with some chicks and and saves Ritsuko (Ashina Sei). One would think that the chick factor would be better but alas, quantity always trumps quality. Kurokawa Tomoka and 5 other girls in bikinis cannot match Nakamura Yuri. Not to mention that it was definitely one episode too long. Can't blame the producers though. Gotta stretch that budget.

Unfortunately, we never get to see them. Unless its going to be in the dvd...

Why I want to go Japan and teach girls how to play bball when I grow up.

Eps 6-8 sees Saru go to an all girls high school to change the lock of the basketball team. Someone has been stealing Aya chan's pantsu from the locker room so the lock needs to be changed. Fortunately, her pantsu is stolen again and Saru and Kenji get themselves involved in this mystery. Somehow the lock doesn't look like it was picked and the only two keys were given to Aya and the busty Matsunaga sensei.

The fun factor and fanservice definitely picks up in the third story arc as can evidently seen from the pics. Plus making it a mystery story definitely helps with the 3 episode pacing. You've got the 7 school mysteries, a list of suspects sprinkled with plenty of high school girls. Just go through all the red herrings and keep the audience guessing till the end.

Need name of this gravure idoru...

She can play me like whatever musical instrument she wants...

And speaking of the end, it is set in stone that Saru will never get the girl. There's always a huge chance that the guest chick will have a secret past or turn out to be the villain. This time, something a bit different happens and I like the way they presented it.

Damn funny scene.

I'd hate to break it to Ashina Sei but there's nothing much to see there...

I hope Saru Lock can keep it up for the remaining episodes. The last season was probably the first season since people starting subbing current dramas where there was absolutely no good shows. Ninkyo Helper started good and then descended into mediocrity. The only two shows that have met my expectations are Futatsu no Spica and Saru Lock. Just skip eps 3-5 of Saru Lock. There's still some fanservice in there but those episodes were a chore to get through.

I wish I could go back to high school. :(

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ninkyo Helper eps 10+11

I will never go to the park when drunk.

Ok, Ninkyo Helper has ended and we are no closer to finding out why all the Hayabusa leaders were sent to the aged care facility in order to select the next boss. Was it to see who had the best leadership skills in a non yakuza environment? Was it an excuse to give them training in aged care so as to better defraud the system? Or maybe it was the boss's way of giving back to the old people that the yakuza have defrauded with their ore ore schemes. Does it really matter?

To me it does. You've got the other yakuza guy who has been working there for years and a reason is never given. Why allow an underling to work for a poor lodging home? He's only in his early 20s so that means he must have started working there when he was a teenager? How did he get into the Hayabusa group as a kid and get into a position where the boss allows him to work there? Isn't the whole existence of a yakuza group to make money? Maybe the writer decided that there's no really good answer so lets just leave it up to the audience's imagination. The problem with that is unlike District 9, the possibilities are really lame.

The most interesting relationship of the show relegated to side story...

In the end, we have a very unnecessary fight between Hikoichi and gang and the police. Yeah I know Yakuza shows should have a fight at the end but it didn't make sense. If Hikoichi actually felt guilty about defrauding the aged, he could have easily taken over the mantle of boss and ran his own chain of aged care facilities. Why bother with the protest? Hhmm, come to think of it, he could have possibly planned the whole thing to cause I media storm and get people talking but from the last episode it was more of a token resistance to the shutting down of the facility and removal of its residents. Hikoichi could have easily moved the old people to one of the yakuza warehouses and housed them there for the time being.

So who many people have you killed?

The theme for Ninkyo Helper is that the system is fucked and that there is no right answer. Natsukawa Yui wanted to build an efficient empire that could tackle the problem and not place unnecessary stress on the helpers. As she said, the only way to give the best care possible would be for the workers to be volunteers who can devote all their time to the aged. Ninkyo Helper tries to make it a profit vs proper care argument but I think if the purpose of this show were the examination of Japan's aged care system, they would have to look at government funding.

At the end, they talk about government regulations and what not but affordable and decent aged care is only possible with government subsidies and fully government funded aged care centers. The other question is where the money is going to come from? How about local councils who spend so much money on useless road construction projects. Maybe an aged care tax? Aged care insurance is not going to affordable for the average joe. Ninkyo Helper doesn't really want to offer an answer. All its gives at the end is some idealistic line about the meaning of kaigo.

As I've said in previews posts, the best part of the show is Natsukawa Yui and Hikoichi's relationship with Ryota. The whole subject about losing one's memories and the burden on others. How does one cope with the inevitability of such a problem? Its should have been the main story because those three are the only really developed characters in this show. Ultimately, I can't really fault the writer for going the direction that he did. The yakuza element was the hook of the show but took time away from the other elements of the story which were the state of the aged care industry and Natsukawa Yui's story.

Just realised that the head of the aged care centre was in Hachi-one as well.

Ninkyo Helper is still a watchable show despite my complaints and it is augmented by a very good soundtrack. At least it doesn't have those lame scenes in Orthros no Inu that just make me cringe. Kusanagi Tsuyoshi makes a good yakuza and Natsukawa Yui is always good to watch.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Buzzer Beater

Now that's a decent looking jumper.

I wasn't going to review this show because I haven't really watched it. What I have done was skimmed through it, suing the forward button a lot and subjecting myself to the cruel and unusual torture that it Buzzer Beater. The most important element of sports doramas/ movies is that it must look real. The actors don't need to be pros but they need to look like pros. For 'sports' like golf and bowling where the type of movement is fixed it much easier for the actors as long as the swing, throw looks decent. For ice hockey they just need to be able to skate competently.

I blame you three for making me watch this!

For basketball, it is much harder to look decent because there's no fixed ranged of motion and looking at someone dribble the ball for 5 seconds you can tell whether they have a good handle. Yamapi cannot dribble the ball. Neither can Hachi one and the long haired Yamapi rival. That would not have been a problem if they had run more catch and shoot offense in the show. Worse is that Yamapi, playing a SG, cannot fucking shoot. Super low release point. Pushes the ball instead of stroking it. Can't even fucking do a decent looking jumper or fadeaway. WTF ever heard of a SG who doesn't even have a decent jumper? WTF is he going to shoot over with his low and slow release?

Denwa bango oshiete kudasai!

The one on one game with Yamapi and long hair dude is atrocious. It is like listening to someone running their nails against a blackboard. That super lame scene with Yamapi and Hachi-one at the last episode was pathetic beyond belief. Yamapi's super slow motion baseline drive in the beginning of ep 1 where the defence parts like the red sea. OMFG. Defenders just disappear everytime he drives to the hoop. Whoever the basketball coordinator was in this show needs to banned from playing ever again. Compare the 'actors' with the extras in the show in terms of dribbling, shooting and passing.

Basically all the guys with talking parts can't even look like they know how to play. Except for Nagai Masaru. Watch him dribble and you can tell he was a confident handle. He drives towards the hoop hard and fast and watching him pass to Yamapi for his slow and weak jumper is just horrible. Nagai Masaru's actually got a nice looking jumper too. Like his dribble to right jumper at the last episode. Seriously, he should have been the main character. Or at least got most of the bball screentime. I don't know whether he actually plays ball but props to him.

The only guy who can talk and ball in this show.

There's no use complaining cause most Japanese can't tell the difference despite Slam Dunk's popularity. The show wasn't aimed at bballers as evident from the bright purple uniforms which no one in their right mind would wear. Speaking of wearing, the wadrobe person should have at least had Yamapi wearing bball type clothes instead of his bright clothes which makes him look like he drives on the other side of the road.

Sailor V!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gaaaaahhh. I knew I should have stayed far away from this show. The holy combination of Kitagawa Keiko, Aibu Saki and Komatsu Ayaka in the same show was too much to resist! Sailor Mars and Sailor V in the same dorama!!!!!! Yes, I did watch the Sailor Moon live action series so my endurance of bad shows is pretty good. Its hard for me to separate the bball stuff from the rest of the show. Its nice to see Aibu Saki playing the bad girl and I think Kitagawa Keiko overacts too much as this show is not a comedy.

Yamapi's sister's fake smile creeps me out.

Buzzer Beater is like a car accident. There's nothing nice to see, I knew it was going to be horrible but I just had to slow down my car and have a look. Writing about this has been thereupon for my anger I guess. I can't really blame jdoramas for placing emphasis on stunt casting instead of getting the best actors but I just wanted to see a basketball show where the actors looked like they can play. Is that too much to ask?