Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kita no Kuni Kara eps 1-10

When xploring first started subbing Kita no Kuni Kara, I was interested but the source files were edonkey links which I can't be bothered with and it was 24 episodes for a family dorama that was aired in 81. How good could it possibly be? All I can say is, I've learned this lesson: if someone decides to sub an old dorama that does not have a johnny, there is a huge likelihood that it is a classic.

The old man from Golden Bowl.

Kita no kuni kara is a story about single dad Kuroita Goro (Tanaka Kunie) who was born in a rural area near Furano in Hokkaido. He moves to Tokyo, gets married to a hairdresser Reiko (Ishida Ayumi) and they have two kids, Jun and Hotaru. One day, Reiko leaves the house to leave with the man she was having an affair with and Goro decides to take Jun and Hotaru to back to his old home for certain reasons.

Goro brings his Tokyo bred and born kids with him and suddenly they are faced with living in a wooden shed in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity and a nearby stream as the only source of water. Jun, the lazy and irresponsible son goes nuts. How does one survive with no freaking tv? I don't watch tv anymore but back in the day, television was the equivalent of internet. It was the time when the hot topic of discussion was whether tv was good or bad for kids. I'm pretty sure parents today would be happy if the only thing they had to worry about was whether their kids were watching too much tv.

That's Ishida Ayumi, the old lady from Wedding Planner and Home Drama back in her prime.

So the basic premise is single and recently divorced dad brings city kids to live in harsh climate of Hokkaido. The son is always whining and pouting which is understandable but the daughter Hotaru, is a daddy's girl who is always thinking about her dad. But what holds Kita no kuni kara together is Goro. After all these years, I now finally know who the old man Ogawa Makoto from Momusu was spoofing in all those skits.

Nakajima Tomoko, I think she was the vet in Ushi ni Negai.

Goro is the ultimate underdog. He is uneducated in the ways of the modern world but is an expert in living in the wild, which is part of the reason that he wants to raise his kids in Hokkaido. He never did anything for them through all their years in Tokyo and he wants to raise them using the only way he knows how. His stubbornness in his single minded attempt to provide for his kids by himself is admirable and you can feel how strongly Goro believes in what he is doing when he refuses help from the water and electricity department and insists on providing for his family through his own means.

Matsuda Miyuki, mom to Matsuda Shota and Ryuhei. They've probably been told how hot their mom was by countless fans.

Goro has that said stoic face that says a thousand words. I just love how everything is so understated. His reasons for coming back to Hokkaido and his relationship with Jun and Hotaru. Its all reading between the lines. The emotional scenes are really awesome with how raw they are. One of my favourite scenes is the Christmas lecture in episode 7. Its just a simple lecture by an uncle with the quiet hum of the car in the background, the camera mostly on the uncle with great reaction shots of the kids as they realised what he is telling him.
 Iwaki Koichi, the veteran pilot in Good Luck!

That scene reminded me of the climax of the jmovie Poppoya. Simple and raw and letting the build up and the actors carry the scene without sad music and neon lights camerawork pointing to the audience that it is suppose to be a moving scene. If this scene were done today, the uncle would be overacting thinking it would translate to passion. It is the normalcy of the delivery that makes it impactful. Plus, I'm pretty sure the uncle was in Battles without Honour and Humanity so the kids knew to listen attentively.

Nothing says 80s like indoor smoking and not caring about the kid.

The other star of the show is definitely the Hokkaido scenery. Makes me want to go there but on the other hand, I've seen the cows and rolling hills in so many movies and doramas that I'm too lazy. To me, Oyaji and Hitotsu Yane no Shita has always been the standard for family jdoramas but the first 10 episodes of Kita no Kuni Kara makes a strong point to be no.1. If you are a jdorama fan, this is a must watch because it is a classic. Big thanks to xploring for subbing 1-8 and to Chuks for continuing the series. You can easily grab the series from here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pro Golfer Hana ep 4

The coach is so hilarious. The rest of the show sucks especially the overacting villainess but I just want to fast forward to coach's story every episode. This is probably funnier if you've read/watched Ace wo Nerae which is a so bad its good dorama. I was laughing so hard I had to rewatch this scene straight away. Certainly made my day.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Storing Jdoramas 2

After about 2 weeks plus of constant copying dvds and cds to HDD, I think I've managed to transfer most of what I have. Most of my ~10 year old cds actually still work, which is surprising. The most problems I've had would be from dvds burnt 3-5 years ago when I was using some cheap blank dvds. So the lesson here is never go for cheap media. The minor savings will not save you from heartache down the line.

As can be seen from the screenshots, I have a lot of missing episodes here and there. Most doramas can be found on megaupload. I highly recommend am-addiction forums. The main site may not have been updated in ages but the forum is awesome and they've even got some old jdoramas I've not heard of. Currently getting the first season of The Quiz Show which someone mentioned was pretty good. The show was hardsubbed and never released on d-addicts so d-addicts doesn't have everything.

As mentioned in my previous post, the one heartbreak for me is losing half of Oishii Kankei. I managed to find the disc with eps 10 and 11 on it but it was unreadable. The search for eps 4-9 continues though I've probably gone through all my stuff at least twice. Still can't find any direct download link so my only way is to either trade or copy it off streaming sites. I just bought a usb to IDE cable on the off chance that Oishii Kankei might be on one of my old hds. XP can detect the usb device but disk management can't see the hd. Hopefully I can sort that problem out soon.

I've only got 290 gigs free now which doesn't leave much room for future storage. The average size per non HD episode is now 450-550. Lets make it 500. Average episode length is 10 so one series takes about 5gigs. I could fit up to 58 more series. Doesn't sound too bad I guess. Plus I can always trim the shows that I want to keep on HD. Hopefully the remaining 290 gigs should last for at least a year, jdorama-wise.

The 3TB HDD just came out but its currently selling at $309 which is triple the price for 50% extra capacity. Hopefully it can get close to $100 by end of next year. If I'm not mistaken, XP doesn't support more than 2TB and I would have to downgrade to Windows 7's stupid interface. Gaaah. I just bought a 2TB Hitachi for $135 today as my secondary jdorama storage. Its supposed to be the best brand for HDD and its $35 more expensive than every other brand.  I'm willing to pay more to reduce the chances of me having two dead HDDs one day and regretting the day I threw all my dvds out.

I'm not going to get rid of my dvds yet though I'm going to dump all my cds. So jdorama plan is now going to be two HDDs and to 1 copy of any show that I like. I started thinking about Blue Ray burning. You can get an LG burner for $105 and 25 Riteck Blue Rays that can hold 25 gigs for $59. That's $0.094 per gig and then you compare to say a 2TB Samsung HDD at $96, that's $0.048 per gig. Double the cost and not to mention the wait time when burning. Of course, its impossible that all your Blue Rays will go kaput while there's always a fear your HDD will die one day. After I sort out my jdoramas, its time for my jmovies and I'm not looking forward to it. I've got so many movies still on cds and its going to be heartbreaking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Second Virgin 1-8


40ish year old Nakamura Rui (Suzuki Kyoka) who is a successful publisher meets Suzuki Kou, an up and coming hotshot at the Financial Securities Agency who is in his late 20s. There is some attraction between the ice cold, business-like Rui and the hot headed Kou but Rui is married to her job and Kou is married to Marie (Fukada Kyoko) who is desperate to have his babies. Rui and Kou start getting involved professionally and tensions start mounting before the inevitable sparks start flying.


1. Second Virgin takes its time with the build up because you can never get chemistry with older woman-younger man doramas and the story takes place over several years.
2. Kou doesn't look like a girl and Second Virgin doesn't feel like a housewife/OL fantasy. Its a more grounded show.
3. Their respective jobs of publishing and stock trading play an important role in the story and contribute to the tension besides the usual plot devices for affair doramas.
4. Suzuki Kyoka is a MILF.


1. Fukada Kyoko's horrible acting actually suits her character because Marie is basically and yandere. Yandere is the opposite of tsundere, a girl who acts all nice and cute but actually is crazy and spiteful. My hate for Fukada Kyoko's lack of acting ability made it easier to despise Marie.

2. You get a glimpse of the ending at the start of the series and it feels like all that tension from Kou's legal problems and difficulties facing Rui's publishing company are not going to feature much in the ending.


Marie lying upside down against the wall after sex so that the sperm will travel better.


As far as the older woman genre, Second Virgin is probably the best one I've seen, which isn't saying much. I find the pacing really fast and just when you think a plot device is too cliched, it quickly moves on. I like the tension from the professional problems but Second Virgin might fizzle out at the end. Worth checking out.

On a side note, I'm nearly finished copying my doramas to my HD, with lots of doramas being casualties due to dvd errors but the worst thing is finding out that I'm missing the last five episodes of Oishii Kankei. How could I have forgotten to burn such a good show??!!!! Gaaaaaahh.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Storing Jdoramas

The good old days of multiple language vcd subs. Actually the English in the vcd shows were better than the current HK/China DVDs.

Back in the old days when most jdoramas were videotapes captures of subtitled shows from Hawaiian and Singaporean TV, it was rare to get 350mb avi files, usually from JTV and ADClan. Why was 350mb so awesome? So one could fit 2 episodes into 1cd. Most of the tv captures were at least 500mb so it was 1 cd per episode. Some episodes were slightly more than 700mb so that required overburning. Thank the jdorama gods I don't have to do it anymore. Always a huge chance the cd would have some defect or would only be able to be read by certain cdroms.

The only show where I ever liked her in.

On the flipside, there weren't that many doramas out there so it was easier to double burn cds, ie have two copies of everything. Cause if there is one certainty in life besides death and taxes, its that cds/dvds/HDD will die. HDD were about $1 per mb and I remember being happy buying a 250mb.

The best jdorama superhero ever.

Then along came the mighty DVD burner and broadband. Finally, file sizes didn't matter and the ability to have 1 whole series in 1~3 dvds was a godsend. More and more jdoramas were being subbed and keeping the dvds in spindles made it difficult to search through them. My room became littered with dvd pouches as I began the slow process of reburning all my doramas on cds to dvds, a mission I have yet to complete till this day.

I kinda miss the 'Kiku telebi!' jingle from the beginning of each episode.

However, problem of temporary media continued to rear its ugly head. There was nothing like the despair of popping in a dvd after a few years and getting 'cyclic redundancy error'. Double burning was no safeguard against the ravages of time. It was essential to triple burn my favourite series. I bought the more expensive blank DVD brands because I wanted to increase all likelihood, no matter how little that my jdoramas would survive.

With around 1/3 of new jdoramas being subbed every season, burning jdoramas has become a chore. The possibility of a dead HDD always loomed in the background so it was a necessary chore. As my dvd collection got bigger, it was essential to store them in dvd boxes for easy access as it is easier to put them in alphabetical order.

Now, something has happened to change the way we store jdoramas. HDD prices have come crashing down while size has gone up. It might be actually cheaper to just store them in HDD instead of burning them. Recently, I just got a 2TB for $AUD96 and have begun the slow arduous process of copying all my doramas into the HDD.

Goto Maki, before she sang Te wo nigite and ruined everything.

This process has been painful and terrifying. The fear after finding out I am unable to copy a certain episode and the frantic search for a second copy of the series. Even worse, I have discovered that there are some jdoramas that I have not fully burnt. I popped in my only copy of Flowers of Algernon only to discover that it only contained half of the series! Oh, the despair!! I thought I was missing the last two episodes of Amai Seikatsu only to find them burned into the dvd of another series! I'm missing the first half of Shibatora and I hold the faint hope that it will turn up somewhere in my room. Not that I like Shibatora but Ohgo Suzuka is good. Sadly she hasn't really been in anything recently. The past week has been a slow process of looking and relooking through hundreds of dvds trying to find old shows, cursing myself for being slack and disorganised in my burning duties.

I think the best answer to storage is to have two mirror HDDs and to get a new one every few years. Burn a copy for shows that I like but this will prevent my room from being overrun by DVD pouches. Soon, 10 years of being a jdorama addict will be able to fit into one HDD. All the DVD pouches, spindles and boxes minimised into one. Of course, I've still got my J and Kmovies, manga, anime and Jpop but this is a start. In a few years when we can get 10TB for $100, I'll be able to fit my whole life's entertainment into one HDD.

I think this could have been from an LD rip?

All I want to say is, its never too soon to organise your jdoramas. Recent shows can be redownloaded through megaupload but old and unsubbed shows are hard to find except through trading. While DVDs and HDDs don't last forever, its much easier to store 2TB of doramas than 2 DVDs worth.

 I should have kept a copy of the vcd version with English, Malay and Chinese subs.