Friday, October 29, 2010

D-addicts is down!!!!!

Noooooo. The sky has fallen on our heads! Its the first sign of the apocalypse! This is worse than being forced to watch Bloody Monday over and over again! There's no point in living anymore..... except to visit Japan again. Hopefully its just a case of Ruroshin forgetting to renew the domain.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Iryu 3 ep 1

If you've never watched Iryu, just imagine if John Woo decided to make a medical series with the main character having the opposite powers of Kenshiro from Hokuto no Ken. Now stop reading this and go watch the first two seasons. For the Iryu fans, season 3 starts off with the gathering of the team, which is expected. Its a new season and they need to reintroduce the characters to the public. Meishin is in trouble again this time Kitou sensei, the former head of ER is given authority to run the hospital.

 To spice things up a bit, they had to concoct this lame story about Arase feeling guilty about this kid who died, through no fault of Arase's just because he promised the kid he would come out of the operation alive.
Lame. They should have continued his anesthetic addiction and just say he had a relapse or better yet, bring back the bar chick from season 1. That was one of my favourite episodes of the series and Arase was more interesting when he was an alcoholic and drug abuser.

Yes, Baraku is in Iryu 3.

Still, the lame Arase guilt trip is sort of a necessary evil and every episode is entitled to one unexplainable premise which is necessary to tell the story. So we have the gathering of Team Dragon and something is wrong. Miki is somewhere in Germany??? Couldn't she have like quit her job. Did she finally get over Asada? Mizukawa Asami doesn't seem to be doing any shows this season so I really hope she joins the show quickly. Team Dragon doesn't feel the same without her.

In fact I would say, the three essential members are Asada, Miki and Arase. Everyone else is chopped liver. Ijyuuin was the audience's viewpoint in season 1 but anyone can take his place because he's character is stuck in the he's good enough to keep up with Asada but there's nothing else to do with him. Easily replaceable by any character with 'potential'. Katou sensei is just to play second fiddle to Asada but her story arc is over. Fujiyoshi is boring and useless character and he shouldn't be receiving an ovation with the team after an operation. Miki is the heart and soul of the team. She's the one character who connects the non speaking Asada with the other characters. Imagine if they brought Kirima and Miki back into Team Dragon. The tension in the operating room would be awesome.

Can't believe she hasn't been any doramas this year.

I know this sounds bad but Miki's absence just makes it feel strange. Thank goodness for Sakuraba Nanami! She plays the first patient for Team Dragon and there's this relationship between her and Ijyuuin that would have been too sentimental and lame in another series but Iryu's awesome soundtrack just makes it heartwarming. Hhm, I guess Ijyuuin is still necessary as the idealistic and youngest member of the team.

Hope the writers give her further complications from surgery so she can come back. :)

Of course, Team Dragon encounters unforeseen difficulties during the surgery but succeeds and then we get to the really exciting part of the show which I won't spoil here. Suffice to say Noguchi comes back, one member of team Dragon gets in trouble and we sort of get a WTF very high tension sequence where I couldn't the writers were going with a certain outcome. I love it when characters have to make difficult decisions.

Ijyuuin runs like a girl. Its comical how the scene cuts from him to Asada running.

The certainty of this outcome is predicated on certain assumptions about Asada's surgical prowess but suffice to say, they found a way to push the envelope and make season 3 very, very interesting.  The last 15 minutes of episode 1 is fucking awesome and shows why disregarding the slow mo walking in lab coats and superb music, Iryu is fun to watch because there is a story to tell. I like how they avoided getting into the same problem with episode 1 of season 2 of doing way too much and instead set up the storyline of series and got me really pumped for ep 2.

The directors of Iryu should do a badass yakuza dorama.

Tanimura Mitsuki plays Magara Fuyumi, an intern who doesn't care about her job. She's way too young to be playing a surgeon, I mean it takes years to specialise in surgery but we'll see where the story goes. Of course everyone's favourite villain, Noguchi is back with his fish. I dare say he's the greatest jdorama villain ever. I love to hate him and he's fun to watch. I'm sensing someone from the team will hop over the other side and my money is on Fujiyoshi. Maybe I'm just sick of him getting the spotlight after a difficult operation where he contributes absolutely nothing.


 You can watch subbed Iryu 3 here but I hope they will release softsubs for the series. They haven't finished subbing ep 1 yet but it was so exciting I had to watch the rest of it raw. I think the series should be pretty watchable raw. You know the formula of the stories and there are always graphics explaining the surgery. At the very least, it gives you a reason to rewatch the episodes again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

5 reasons to watch Hammer Session ep 4

Reason no 1

Reason no 2

Reason no 3

Reason no 4

Reason no 5

Her name is Aizawa Rina and she was Yellow Ranger in Engine Sentai go-onger, which I am going to watch right after this post. If Yellow Ranger is this hot, I can't imagine what Pink Ranger must look like. This is of course assuming that there is a rule which says that Pink Ranger in sentai shows is usually the cutest one. As I've said in my previous post about Hammer Session. This show is so mediocre and by the numbers. GTO and Dragon Zakura showed that you need a main actor with tons of charisma to make it work and Hayami Mokomichi is not that actor.

The eye candy in this show however surpasses even the mighty GTO. Sadly it is completely devoid of homour and the Hammer Sessions are just a fancy name for teacher teaches student a lesson in a boring way. ZZZzzzz. I basically drooled all over episode 4 and just fast forwarded the hammer session. Look, Hammer Session is not unwatchable, its just a tick-the-boxes, dorama by committee show without a soul. However that doesn't mean it not pretty to look at. Sigh, I am so shallow.

EDIT: Unfortunately, Aizawa Rina is the only chick in Engine Sentai Go-onger. How dare they break the rules of sentai shows by having 4 guys and 1 girl! If anything, sentai shows should increase the chick ratio to 3:2 in order to attract older fans. If mahou shoujo anime can tap into this demographic, so should sentai shows.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Keizoku 2: Spec ep 1

 Keizoku 2 starts off with Kase Ryo playing the leader of this police squad, Sebumi Takeru who is storming this warehouse in a firefight with unknown assailants. On a side note, someone needs to do a parody skit/episode about how 99% of action scenes in jdoramas happen in abandoned warehouses. Anyway, they storm the warehouse and Sebumi comes face to face with his colleague who fires his gun at Sebumi in matrix bullet time and somehow the colleague gets killed by the bullets that he just fired.

This scene made me so hungry.

As punishment, Sebumi is transferred to the keizoku department or unsolved cases section where he meets Toma Saya (Toda Erika) this very weird acting but genius girl. I can really see Toda Erika channeling Nakatani Miki in her acting while Kase Ryo's character is way more uptight and more military like compared to Watabe Atsuro's character in the first series. Joining them is the old chief and there still is the subplot of him promising his very young lover that he would leave his wife for her.

Hhm, kind of reminds me of the Akimoto Sayaka scandal.

The spec part refers to humans who are able to use more than 10% of their brain or in other words mutants/people with powers or whatever you want to call it. There seems to be big conspiracy in place with this spec organisation being responsible for getting Sebumi transferred to keizoku. When the kid turned up at the end, alarm bells were going on in my head. Not another smirking, pretending to have a plan brat! If I want to see cartoonish villains I'd rather watch sentai shows. Whoever wrote this show better have a damn good explanation on why this spec organisation puts so much importance on Sebumi and Toma as to force the transfer and sacrifice one of their own.

The final revelation got me excited for episode 2. Either Sebumi or Toma have to be a spec. The first series of Keizoku was a variation of the Trick formula with two dysfunctional main characters and dry humour with lots of weirdness and oddball characters. Keizoku 2 is more of the same and the super powers part something different but can actually break the show. Certain powers like fortune telling certainly belong to the weird and wonderful world of Trick and Keizoku but time stopping, telekinesis, and super human speed gives a much more serious vibe. I'm expecting episode 2 to start off with Sebumi testing whether he has powers by having things thrown at him or something.

So I'm guessing for every episode, Sebumi and Toma are going to investigate a crime that cannot be explained unless the criminal has some super power and the villains are going to mouth off some random clue about the spec organisation at the end. Hopefully it will be an entertaining show but it ultimately hinges on the spec organisation and whether the writer can explain their actions. Their motives are of course going to be we are the next evolution of humans, we are better and deserve to rule the Japan blah blah blah. I just hope that the kid isn't the boss.

 On a side note, sadly no news on Iryu 3 subbing. I just did a season 1 and 2 marathon this weekend and the music is just too awesome. The only Iryu 3 torrent on d-addicts is a 4 gig file but there is a 1.4 torrent at nyaa. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learning Japanese

I never really had the desire to put effort into learning Japanese despite the fact that most of my entertainment is in Japanese. Even when I was playing all those Japanese RPGS on my Saturn, the thought of learning the language so I can understand the storylines better never really crossed my mind. I was happy to be able to fumble my way through RPGs and guess the storyline from limited voice overs and facial expressions. Actually I had two Japanese language books back in high school but aside from learning some basic phrases, I never took it seriously.

One thing that I did do was to listen to conversations when watching anime/jdoramas/jmovies and not just read the subtitles. During my tip to Japan, I was surprised that I knew more words than I thought I did. The problem was I couldn't pull them out straight away and I had no idea how to construct more complex sentences. I was impressed by Hellcar's and Rei's ability to read some Japanese and was determined to really study Japanese when I got back.

First thing I did was to start memorising hiragana and katakana. Studykana was a pretty good website and soon I could do the practice thing easily. However, I realised that I couldn't read quickly enough and being able to recognise does not equate to being able to write. I felt like a kid starting to learn to read after learning the alphabet. Not mention being able to read hiragana and katakana doesn't mean one can understand the words.

I put off playing this game called Ryu ga gotoku 4 until I was reasonable confident in my hiragana and katakana. I started playing and then ran into 2 big problems. First was that it was a fucking headache to try to understand the conversations in the game and try to freaking read at the same time. I thought that listening to the dialogue and reading the subtitles would allow me to learn but it took too much concentration to do both. I needed a game with simple Dragonball Z type dialogue, not a game about yakuzas and conspiracies.

The second problem was of course, kanji. The backbone of Japanese is not hiragana, its kanji. Hiragana are just the letters that give kanji different meanings. Did a bit of research and found out that Japanese kids basically start with hiragana and slowly work kanji into it. Actually they start with talking first and I don't even have the conversation proficiency of a kindergarten kid. So, what I basically need is a kindergarten Japanese book filled with sentences made up of hiragana. Luckily I managed to get my brother who just started Japanese in uni to get me his book while was all hiragana though I've hardly touched it yet.

At the same time, I'm been listening to pimsleur's Japanese audio cds. I like how they don't really bother to teach you grammar and stuff but rather hope that you learn through osmosis. I just don't find the things that they teach that useful. Its more for business people going there but the important stuff would be going to 7/11 or detailed stuff about food.

For example, when you go to some ramen places, they'll ask you how much oil or how you want the soup done. When I go to 7/11, I wait for the words 'point card' and just say 'point card arimasen'. When I go buy food, I listen for 'koko ni taberu' or 'mochi kaeri'. Problem is when they saw non of those words and they speak too fast for me to catch anything. Why don't Japanese speak slowly like in doramas?

Anyway, I decided the best way for me to learn was through gaming and I got this strategy RPG called Jeanne D'Arc. Simple dialogue, great gameplay and I've been slowly learning kanji by using online dictionaries when I play. I don't look up every single kanji I come across but my aim was to learn the more common kanji instead of just going through all level 4 kanji 1 by 1 because kanji isn't straightforward like Chinese is.

In Chinese, there is only one way to pronounce a word. In kanji, there are several depending on other kanji or hiragana next to it. Take the word 来 which can be pronounced many ways. We have:

来 by itself which is pronounced rai which means next
来る is kuru which means to come
来た is kita which if you've watched Densha Otoko means its arrived.
出来る is dekiru which means able. I have no idea how exit+next becomes able.

Its not just learning kanji. Its kanji and the main words that the kanji can 'transform' into. Too makes matters worse, a lot of times they are pronounced different and have meaning different from the kanji meaning. You look at a kanji and you're not sure how to pronounce it until you look at the kanji/hiragana beside it.

This is what happens when you have a language that didn't have a good writing system that basically used Chinese to patch it up. That's why Nihonjin no shiranai nihongo is interesting for me because its basically about how messed up the language is. I think playing Jeanne D'arc has at least made learning kanji fun instead of your usual boring Japanese academic books. I should have done this way back in uni when I had the time. Sigh.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Winter 2010 jdoramas

Its time for a look at the new shows and what I'm excited for.


My most anticipated and also the dorama that I'm more apprehensive about. The second season was even better than the first one and yet there's this feeling that they've pushed the envelope as far as they could. It was basically a repeat of the first season with cooler characters and more outrageous surgeries. The key here would be to have members of the team contribute in a meaningful way and not to let the side stories get too over sentimental. The awesome music will take care of the rest. Unfortunately, not subbing group has booked the third season yet. I'm concerned that Asada looks like he's trying to do the hadouken instead of surgery in the trailer below.


Aquarium employee meets suicidal prostitute in a contract marriage? Sounds awesome except Ueto Aya is in it so I don't think its gonna be dark and I suspect its more of a contact marriage story rather than dysfunctional people. Will definitely try out since Kitano Kii is in it.


Kanno Miho in a revenge dorama with Tamaki Hiroshi, Kichise Michiko and Karasawa Toshiaki? I'm hoping something similar to Sympathy for Lady Vengeance but there's no way Fuji TV would do something so dark and beautiful.


Who in their right mind would want to watch a dorama with a poster like that? Not to mention its based on Dr Dolittle!!??? Oguri Shun's attempt to look older with curly hair is as laughable as Ueto Aya's. I hope no wastes their time subbing it.


A WOWOW murder mystery? Never seen the movie before but I'd rather take my chances with WOWOW than mainstream idoru crap. No subber so far most likely will have to put up with HK English.


Based on one of my favourite Japanese movies ever. Sasaki Kuranosuke and Shida Mirai have no hope of matching Kobayashi Kaoru and Hirosue Ryoko. If you've never seen the movie, be sure to hunt it down! Hhm, I wonder if they'll do that pantsu pulling scene from the movie?


Maede Atsuko of AKB48 as a robot who is found in the garbage? Sounds like the dorama version of Chobits? I wonder where the plug in point for recharging her would be located?


I remember the first series with Nakatani Miki and Watabe Atsuro as being pretty decent. Will Todo Erika and Kase Ryo have good chemistry as a smart but socially awkward woman and former star cop? And its got Fukuda Saki!!!! Why isn't this being subbed??!!!


Nino and Karina in a dorama in which Nino plays a freeter who says he want to buy a house? I say he needs to be checked into a mental hospital. Nino's one of the few Johnnys who can act and there are only 4 confirmed English subbed shows so I'll definitely check this out but the idea behind this show sounds lame and the bright and cheerful poster doesn't help.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Joker Yurusarezaru Sosakan eps 4-10 + SP

 Sigh.In the end, Joker runs into the same problems that all other jdorama cop shows inflict on themselves: no attention to detail. The fresh concept and willingness to go into grey area morality kept me watching to the bitter end but how could the scriptwriter or producers not even see the plot holes the size of the moon? Basically for every dorama/movie there is some unexplained occurrence which must be taken as fact for the show to move on. If a story has to spend more time explaining things to the finest detail then there is no story to tell.

An example would be in X-men, mutants are people with the mutant gene which allows them to shoot lasers out of their eyes or command the weather. We do not question this because it is the necessary premise for the story to exist. In Joker, the leap of faith is that Date is able to pull off all the mysterious disappearances without leaving any clues, having any witnesses or everyone suspecting him since he was involved in all the cases. Everything else, however is subject to scrutiny.

Like how three women, one a cop, one an ex-cop and one a pregnant woman can be so stupid as to meet the bad guy at an abandoned warehouse on three separate occasions during the series. Which part of 'I have killed people and I want you to meet me at an old warehouse' does not scream 'I am going to kill you because no one can hear you scream in abandoned warehouses'? Is there something about warehouse rendezvous that excite Japanese women and make them take leave of their senses? Note to self, something to try when next in Japan.

This is one unnecessary that should have been edited out.

Let's not forget the I just got stabbed and didn't bother calling the ambulance and when my friend came, I neglected to tell him who stabbed me scene. Makes me want to bash the writer over the head repeated for subjecting me to something as stupid as that scene. I have a feeling the reporter was supposed to be dead and she lobbied for a dying scene regardless of it making her character look like an idiot.

Date, I think she wants you to handcuff her...

I think I need to stop watching Japanese cop doramas and rely on word of mouth before watching them. Joker has so much potential. It asks a lot of interesting question yet never explores it well and the SP hints at the future direction of the series. Questions such as are the sacrifice of innocent lives worth it for the continued existence of Joker? What gives Date the moral superiority over other vigilantes? Just because he doesn't kill doesn't mean that he did not actively participate in locking up innocent people away for life. Alas all the potential is zapped by pitfalls of logic. I would suggest you don't waste your time and watch Gaiji Ketsatsu, Rinjo or Gonzo.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Indon movie review: Menculik Miyabi

Kamu harus datang ke rumah gua!

 You might have heard this news last year where the religious right wingers in Indonesia were making a lot of noise about JAV star Maria Ozawa, also known as Miyabi shooting a movie there. What better way to advertise a movie than having religious loons telling people not to watch it? If you've not heard of Maria Ozawa, don't fret because you're not missing much. She is this half Japanese, half French-Canadian JAV actress who is hot enough to be one of those models in the magazines or a really successful gravure idol.

 She's obviously comfortable in this pose.

Unfortunately, she cannot freaking act. Despite her popularity, IMHO her JAVs are boring and I just cannot understand her fame. Granted JAV acting is not real acting but she can't even fucking fake it well. She's good for titillation cameos in Tadano Hitoshi but her acting is probably worse than Fukada Kyoko which is about as low as you can get. As a friend of mine astutely observed, thank the powers that be that she is not a jdorama actress! Even the waking up scene in the beginning of Menculik Miyabi is horribly fake beyond human comprehension. Did the director not have the balls to tell her to redo the scene until she can a half realistic waking up from sleep scene?

The name of the movie translates to kidnapping Miyabi which sounds very exciting except this bunch of dudes end up kidnapping this Chinese girl who they mistook for Miyabi and who's name is Mie Yao Bi. Yes, ladies and gentlemen the plot of the movie is lamer than it sounds. Add in some cliched teen girlfriend plot and there you have it. Maria Ozawa just has a few minor scenes of her talking on the phone and the final scene at the end where she meets the main characters.

Its like someone wrote this lame teen romance script that no one in their right mind would shoot and then somehow managed to rope in a B level celebrity with a recognisable name and named the movie after her despite her hardly being in the movie at all. This is going to be the last Indonesian movie I ever watch, except for maybe Merantau which I heard decent things about but is not high on my priority list. Avoid this movie unless you want to know what Maria Ozawa looks like with her clothes on.