Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mother eps 7-11

I was ready to call Mother the best dorama of last season. Ep 7 sees Nao turn to her actual mother for help and has an awesome cliffhanger.Ep 8 deals with Tsumugi's mom's past and the beginning of the end that everyone was dreading. Ep 9 has the authorities finally catching up with Nao and Tsumugi and features a very strong ending to the episode. I really like the scene where Nao realises she is cornered and breaks down screaming Tsumugi's name in despair.

Then we get to ep 10 where there is are hardly any scenes of a trial. Nao is interviewed by the prosecutor without the presence of a lawyer (wtf is up with that) and is given a suspended sentence. There is some mention of the social implications of her case with her sister losing her job but otherwise there is no evidence of a public debate. One of his allies is a freaking writer and he doesn't even write an article defending Nao. All the freaking tension is gone, with just the writer saying that Nao's crime was making herself Tsumugi's mother.

I would have loved to have seen one episode for the court case and to see the public prosecutor and child services interview Tsugumi as she tries to persuade them from charging Nao. I would have liked to see the prosecution debating on whether and how to charge Nao instead of it being reduced to a one liner by the writer. I would have loved to see the public change their minds when they hear about Tsugumi's abuse.

I can understand the writer wanting to concentrate on the characters but frankly I was bored with the last two episodes except for the end of ep 10 which had another awesome cliffhanger which got my hopes up. The writer does know how to get the audience excited for the next episode. Alas, the lack of tension in the final episodes really did kill my enthusiasm for the series. The absense of the court case and media shitstorm was too obvious.

I think that's when the writing become overly sentimental, trying too hard to touch the audience and giving us way too many happy endings. I didn't care for the twist about Nao's mother's crime. It wasn't a main plot line of the series and it was just there to do a 'mother'-like twist that was completely unnecessary. The same for the ending for Nao's pregnant sister. I just did not care at all. If they had ended Mother at ep 9 and put the epilogue of ep 11 in the end, I would have called it a must watch series.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Rinjo Season 2

I'm too sexy for my shirt...

Everytime I'm watching a mediocre police show like Zettai Reido, I keep thinking about Rinjo. It was the one cop show that did procedures really well and didn't go to far with melodrama. It didn't have an oversized team of useless characters but rather concentrated on a small team of 3. Rinjo does so many things right that I must have underrated the series last year because of my expectations from Gonzo. Rinjo can never be Gonzo because every episode stands alone and there is no big mystery in the background.

Kuraishi wondering whether Tachihara only has one facial expression.

Sadly, Rinjo 2 is has not been fansubbed so I had to fall back on horrible HK subs. Good news is that the subs are not as bad as the ones in Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka. I didn't have much trouble understanding the cases. Uchino Masaaki is back Kuraishi, the super police coroner who always solves murder cases for the investigation team but gets no credit. He has a slightly cocky air about him but that's because he is the best at what he does. Kuraishi also has the tendency to not let his colleagues and thus the viewers know who he actually suspects as we see him go around collecting clues.This makes the dorama more fun because you can try to determine the criminal based on what Kuraishi does.

I want the ex sister-in-law story next season dammit!

Takashima Masanobu is Tachihara, the leader of the investigation teams who always gets angry with Kuraishi's antics despite Kuraishi's track record. I think its a case of professional jealousy as he always acts upon Kuraishi's discoveries. I just accept it as a plot necessity. Kuraishi needs some sort of antagonist in the police though Tachihara now shares that job with the new police chief who just wants results.

Masaka? Kuraishi doing the enjo kousai?

Kosaka and Ichinose are back and they get their own personal episodes. So is Kuraishi's ex sister in law though she only serves no other purpose than time filler and serving drinks. The first two episodes is a really good two-parter murder mystery to get thing going. The overall quality of the stories is pretty strong except there's too much of a tendency to have Kuraishi deliver long lectures at the end, especially in the first half of the series. There's one lecture he gives to the mother of a dead son that just gets way too repetitive. Otherwise, I have no complaints.

Why ep 9 is a must watch.

My favourite episode is ep 9 which is about a homeless guy. The story is sort of similar to Suspect X but it doesn't feel like a copycat and gives a human face to the seemingly result orientated police chief. Another thing of note about Rinjo 2 is that it has an incredible array of guest actors. Note actors and not guest stars. Usually they are hot MILFs but wow, what a difference good guest actors make to a series as apposed to most idol based doramas where its more about getting famous faces to rather than making the story believable and real.

Japan is truly the land of MILFs.

Really awesome series and if you enjoyed Rinjo, this is a must watch though I'd recommend not watching the whole thing in one go like I did which sort of diminished the impact of the individual episodes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jmovie review: Ballad

I never had an osananajimi who was 14 years younger...

Ballad is yet another time-slip story. Primary school kid Shinichi one day discovers a letter buried under an oak tree and is transported to the past. Specifically during the warring states period in a country Kasuga. He convinces the leader that he is from the future by showing his camera and is placed under the care of Ijiri. (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi) Ijiri of course happens to be Kasuga's greatest warrior and the osananajimi of princess Ren played by Aragaki Yui.

So basically you have kid from future mixed with forbidden love between Ren hime-sama and Ijiri. Usually with this type of time-slip shows, the person from the future starts changing the past by introducing technologies and ideas but since the time traveler is a kid. All Shinichi does is just this stupid scene with him riding his bicycle.

What do you mean I'm not in the Sengoku Musou games?

Jin sensei plays the evil warlord who wants to marry Ren and thus place Kasuga under his protection. Up to this point, the show is ok. Then, Shinichi's parents appear by driving their 4WD to the oak tree where he had disappeared from. This is where I'm wondering what's the point of having the parents' show up? Is the father going to be the one to teach the Kasuga people how to build grenades or machine guns?

Jin sensei decides that to go evil by growing a moustache.

Nope, all we get are two scenes with the 4WD and Shinichi's dad taking pictures of the soldiers. Shinichi's dad told the leader that he had never heard of Kasuga in the future and the leader decided to cancel Ren's engagement to Jin sensei because it the country would be swallowed up by Jin-sensei. Ijiri and Ren can't really express their feelings to each other blah blah blah and then we have the castle siege. I was thinking they could have had Shinichi bring along an instant camera and since he was a history buff, he could have told the leader the same thing. Must every family movie have to have parents in it?

Someone please lob that kid's head off.

Now the castle siege part is pretty fun. I was impressed with the mix of real actors and CG to make things look believable unlike many movies that just use CG *cough*Red Cliff*cough*. The whole parents thing just really bothered me. Kasuga manages to survive a day and they decide to do a surprise attack the next day. This is when the true purpose of Shinichi's parents is revealed. To drive through the troops into Jin sensei's base WITH THE WINDOWS DOWN AND SHINICHI STICKING HIS HEAD OUT.

I think I'm going to buy some shares in Toyota.

I know this is a kids movie because of the lack of blood and parents bit but does that mean it should be devoid of logic? Firstly Shinichi's dad should not have brought his wife and kid. Cars are not immune to guns and arrows. Secondly, leaving your windows open? Yeah soldiers are scared of the 4WD but what makes he think they won't hurl a spear or shoot an arrow especially with Shinichi sticking his head out? I think both Shinichi's parents should be banned from ever having children again for having no common sense. Actually I think the writer should be banned from writing ever again.

Ooo, I can see into the female onsen in the next town! And so the first tousatsu picture in the world is taken.

Its just ridiculous how quickly the movie falls apart at the second half. Aragaki Yui is ok and Kusanagi Tsuyoshi is serviceable but not a convincing warrior. His battle set up speech was an abomination. The effort is there for Ballad but it just felt like a soulless movie by a committee trying to please the general public. Avoid Ballad. Its not worth watching.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer 2010 doramas

The spring season has finished and the summer jdoramas have begun. I'm not too excited since I'm still waiting for many of last season's doramas to finish subbing and I've got a huge backlog of jmovies to watch. Nevertheless, lets have a run through the new jdoramas starting with those that are going to be English subbed.

Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku 

Not another fucking Matsumoto Jun dorama! Seriously, if I had the choice between killing Osama and Jun, I'd be very tempted to rid the jdorama world of this horrible acting. The casting people being very aware of this have cast Takeuchi Yuko and Sawamura Ikki in it. Gaaaaaahhh.

If they had just cast another talentless 'talento' I could have easily ignored this show. However, the subject matter is interesting since Jun is a second generation actor who only appears in variety shows due to his father's fame. I hope some director tells him in the dorama that he can't act. The behind the scenes of the idoru world should be interesting though the story will be cringe worthy when Jun's character starts to become a 'real' actor.

I just don't see any chemistry between the two leads. Jun looks like a whiny brat despite being only 3 years younger than Takeuchi Yuko.Will check out first episode but its going to be torture.

Hotaru no Hikari 2

Can't remember anything about the first season. Looking back at my past reviews it seems like the acting and chemistry was pretty flat. Too bad Kuninaka Ryoko is no longer in this one.

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo

Naka Riisa plays a Japanese teacher to foreign students in one of the most brilliant concepts ever. We're going to get cringe worthy stereotypical gaijins but even if this turns out to be a mess, it'll be like watching a car accident. My most anticipated dorama.

Unubore Deka

Nagase Tomoya as a cop who always falls in love with the female criminal and gets rejected in the end. Would be quite funny if he can tone down his overacting. IMHO, for this type of show to work he would have to play it pretty serious but after watching so many of his shows, there's no freaking way its gonna happen.


Yoshitaka Yuriko in another fatal disease dorama. Gah, I miss disability doramas. Why does it always have to be some stupid rare and uncurable disease? Why not a dorama about STDs? At least its got Tanihara Sousuke Sousuke and some nice girls in it. Best case scenario the first half could be as fun as Sekachu but most probably it'll be another Ichi Litre no Namida.

Gakeppuchi no Eri 

Yamada Yu as a struggling manga artist. No expectations for this one. Don't think she's goo enough to be a main actress but we'll see.


Joker Yurusarezaru Sosakan 

 Sakai Masato as a two faced cop who normally acts like a nice guy but takes his anger out on criminals at night? A dorama about moral grey areas? WTF is Nishikido Ryo in this? Gaaaaaahhhhhh. Has Anne shown that she can act or is she just cast in this because of her father? If its not subbed then no way I'm getting the HK dvd as there is a  very high chance of it being a bad show though Sakai Masato can carry the series by himself as long as the story is not retarded.


Normally a dorama with GTO, Amami Yuki and Nagasawa Masami would be must watch. But a single mom raising her kids to be Olympians? I can't even think of any interesting potential storylines in this one. If they want to do a dorama about creating atheletes, I've got a better idea; what if the Japanese government created an organisation where women are sent all over the world to bed world class atheletes, get pregnant and raise the children in Japan? If Japan wants to win the world cup, they should just invite Pele, Maradona, Becks, Zidane, Ronaldinho etc for an orgy in Japan.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka

Was really looking forward to this. Sawamura Ikki has more than paid his dues to the jdorama gods and deserves a chance to be lead actor. Plus he has Kita Yoshio backing him up. On the flip side, its a cop show and jdoramas have a really horrible track record with cop shows. Its got a pretty good intro which can be seen here though too many characters turning their heads trying to look cool does diminish the effect.

You know how many doramas I had to do before I finally got my first main role in Kita Yoshio?

The good news is, Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka doesn't reach the boring depths of Hancho. The bad news is, its probably on par with what I've seen of Zettai Reido. Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka is about this police unit that deals with missing people. Takashiro Kengo (Sawamura Ikki) joins them at the start but seems to have some history with the main investigation unit and a traumatic event that happened 7 years ago.

In dire need of her name. She looks awfully familiar though....

There's not much personality to the characters. Kengo and the young chick are the only ones who get stories that personally affect them but otherwise they are just blank slates. Sort of like Law and Order which isn't a bad thing as long as the storylines hold up. Unfortunately, the quality between episodes varies too much. Episode one has a forced nice ending that just baffles the brain. I don't know whether the put this twist in there just for the sake of a twist or some idiot mandated a sentimental ending.

Maybe I should look up the Japanese dorama wiki..

Episode 4 is a horrible episode about a hikkikomori who was once part of a two piece band that was utterly predictable with another overly sentimental ending that could have easily been part of Hancho. Episode 5 and 6 are the best of the series and episode 9 has a mini cliffhanger that only teases a possible resolution to Kengo's past though it doesn't give us specifics. Yes, its basically an incomplete ending to get us to watch season 2.

I think this is Hoshino Mari.

I think Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka suffers from lack of empathy. Law and Order is about wading through the legal process and seeing justice done. Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka is more about a solving mysteries involving people who sometimes have disappeared for less than 24 hours. Its less about seeing how the cops trace people and more about sentimental twist to the story. Hhhm, shades of Shinzanmono.

 The show also suffers from way too many freaking characters. You've got Kengo and Kita Yoshio. You've got a boring token chick and faceless dude who acts like an idiot, the head of the division who doesn't really act like the head and the mom from mother who does nothing but make coffee. Oh yeah, forgot the computer dude who's only job is too look up whether people have used credit cards or their phones. At least its not one of those cop shows where the use 100 police officers to for 6 months to solve a murder case. Big teams only work in shows like Iryu where every person has a specific role.

Don't really care about the token female character.

Not all the episodes are bad but overall its very meh. I don't really regret watching it but while watching I kept thinking about Rinjo and how well acted and written it was. Rinjo didn't hit a home run every episode but I could always appreciate what the writer was aiming for and it was never overly sentimental. The twists never felt forced.

If Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka were available for download, I'd say it was a sort of watchable series but spending aud $30 for me is too much for a run of the mill series. Its not even on dramawiki. Though the cliffhanger at the end might entice me to get season 2. Forgot the mention that the HK English subs as always are horrible and I had a hard time understanding some of the episodes. IMO, you'd probably be better off spending your money on Rinjo 2 which I will get to watching when I have time.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Yankee-kun to Magane-chan eps 1-3

 Truer words have never been spoken.

Shinagawa Daichi is the good hearted son of a doctor who grew up being physically bullied by his sister and father. As a result, he grows up to be strong in fighting. He also happens to have blonde hair and look like a yankee (gangster). One day, he gets into a fight and beats up 7 delinquents. Before he knows it, the rumour has spread and other people want to challenge him. Daichi keeps winning thus attracting even more challengers. Unwittingly, he gets the reputation of being the no.1 yankee in the school and is shunned by all his peers. Because of this, he develops a can't be fucked attitude towards school.

Lamest excuse ever. If an underaged girl rapes a 28 year old pretending to be a high schooler, is it statutory rape?

Adachi Hana meanwhile is this perfect schoolgirl who isn't afraid to talk to Daichi and is the only one to put her hand up to be class head. She's one of those ultra nice people who just gets into your skin because it looks like an act. However, she is also known as Hurricane Ada, a yankee more legendary than Daichi. There was an incident where Hana saved Daichi's friend and Daichi only arrived in the aftermath but was mistaken to be Hurricane Ada thus adding to his reputation. 

I love how Geronimo gives a very serious 'I am so fucked' look.

There really isn't a set formula except for the usual fight scene at the end where the main characters somehow know which warehouse/bridge to go to. Episode 1 deals with the Daichi's backstory and Hana getting him to come to class. Episode 2 deals with a hikkikomori classmate who has a hot mom and ep 3 is about Hana's old friend. Episode 4 will be about Hana's election campaign. I like how every episode is different instead of the usual main characters argue, fight bad guy at the end and make up formula repeated throughout the series.

The awesomeness of Furuta Arata aka Geronimo from Gal Circle.

My friend Rei who has read the manga told me that the Yankee actor sucked so I was expecting a Johnny. To my surprise, it was Narimaya Hiroki aka bad guy from Bloody Monday and he is funny in the role despite being 10 years too old in high school. Well, if Oguri Shun can play a high school student in Crows Zero, so can Hiroki. I can't compare it to the manga but he's got the right amount of overacting but mostly playing it with a straight face. Actually that can be said for the cast in this show.

The humour in this show is fabulous as can be seen from the screencaps from episode 3. Adding Geronimo as Daichi's father is brilliant. Its the type of anime humour that most jdorama can't even do properly. Quick back and forth banter with witty punchlines without the need to make stupid faces and exaggerated motions. The screencaps speak for themselves.

 I was figuratively rofl at this point.

This is turning into one of the best seasons in recent memory. We've got Mother, Yabe Kenzo, Dosoukai and now Yankee to Megane. I'm going to get the HK subbed dvds of Rinjo 2 and the Sawamura Ikki dorama Keishicho Shissonin Sosaka. If both of them end up being watchable doramas then this is truly one of the best seasons ever IMHO. Yankee to Megane is definitely a must watch. If you don't have smile on your face after looking through the screencaps, you are beyond salvation.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Guess who's in Tsuki no Koibito?

I'm ashamed to say it took me 4 episodes to realise that Tsuki no koibito is a big waste of one of the most promising actress in Japan. Maybe it was the fact that the camera never really framed her properly. She only gets one middle of frame face shot in the beginning of the first episode but she looks like crap. The rest of the series she hardly gets any lines its always middle shots of her and chibi guy. Maybe its the short hair and the fact she dresses like a boy but the fact that it took me up to episode 4 to recognise her fills me with shame.

So how does it feel going from an opera singer in Puraido to this thankless role?

I am talking about Mitsushima Hikari. The logo of this blog and the star of one of the greatest jmovies ever, Ai no Mukidashi. (Yes, that's her with the middle finger at the top of this blog) I think it was because I had watched her movie Puraido the day before, that she started looking a tad familiar. I respect her management for taking her from Folder 5 and gravure vids and turning her into a real jmovie actress but why put her in a Kimutaku dorama in a role that any talentless gravure idol can do? Mitsushima Hikari did three movies last year (can't wait for her yuri movie Kakera) and she did 4 movies this year. Is that not enough to establish her as a potential top tier actress?

I can appreciate that putting her in a Kimutaku dorama is potentially good exposure to the general public but it just saddens me to see her in such a minor supporting role. Lin Chi Ling is not even a quarter of the actress that Mitsushima Hikari is. Its as if whatever she has achieved in jmovies is irrelevant in the jdorama world where ratings have no correlation with talent. This is the equivalent of having Kevin Durant on your NBA team and playing him as the 12th man/human victory cigar.