Friday, December 30, 2011

Doctors Saikyou no Meii ep 4

I love Moriyama's expression going from wtf are they all greeting me to this is bloody troublesome.

Writing about bad doramas is easy, just make fun of how bad it is but there's always that strong feeling of anger and frustration that lingers cause you sort of have to experience it twice. Writing about pedestrian doramas is hard because you can never be sure what's missing, only what you had hoped to see. Writing about well written doramas is a joy because the thoughts come to you when you're watching. Its just a matter of organising it.

After the events of ep 3, we can see the effects of the operation on Moriyama-sensei. People think him a great doctor and the nurses all greet him and he begrudgingly greets them back. A great change from ep 1 when the doctors would not greet the nurses. The theme for this episode is pride, specifically Moriyama's pride. He may be a childish but he has skills and pride and for once Moriyama has actually done something to be proud of. Manipulation of Moriyama's pride is the key to motivate him or use him like the sales rep.

Moriyama and gang reveling in their 'victory'.

I love the scene where Sagara gets into an argument with Moriyama and lets him win. His rational is that winning an argument will not change people's minds. His method is to make people change their own minds not be winning them to his side but by letting them experience what they could be. Moriyama is becoming a better doctor after episode 3. He takes his young patient seriously and even does some reading the night before the operation.

Success and praise has made Moriyama feel more responsible. Its gives him a feeling that he can make a difference. We also get another funny scene with Minagawa sensei appealing to his pride to help him connect with the patient. The whole team thing in episode 3 was also a message to Minagawa to trust that the other doctors would respond to the trust. I hope Moriyama never goes to the 'good side'. His character of being childish and vindictive towards Sagara should not change. He can become a good doctor while still being himself.

This episode really shows the purpose of Moriyama sensei and that he is a cartoon character not because jdoramas always like their villains to be non-threatening, overacting caricatures but because it makes Sagara sensei's manipulations more fun and makes Moriyama sensei great comedy relief. I can't believe he has turned into an enjoyable character! I dare say that Moriyama probably knows he is being manipulated but his pride will never let him admit it.

The other element of episode 4 is the story of the two patients, a middle school student from an elite school and a homeless man and how they are connected. I like how the story addresses two things that we don't see often in jdoramas; firstly that no one wants to be homeless and the pressure of living life as a Todai graduate/elite. Episode 4 doesn't go into the issues great detail but I thought the script deals with it very succinctly and beautifully.

Looks like episode 5 is going to be about the nurses vs doctors and there's a bit of foreshadowing with one of the doctors saying that the nurses are complaining their workload has increased since the hospital started taking emergency patients. I for one cannot wait for Nutcase's subs for the next episode.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Jmovie review: Hana no Ato/After the Flowers

Hana no Ato is a film in the same vein as the three movies in the Yamada Yoji trilogy; a study of the lives and customs in feudal Japan with a slow build up to a fight in the end. The only difference is that the main protagonist this time is a female, Ito played by Kitagawa Keiko. Ito is the daughter of someone of high rank and has been trained in swordplay by her father. Ito is so good that she managed to beat the best fighters from Hagai dojo.

While sakura-watching, Ito meets a samurai from Hagai dojo, Eguchi who recognises her as a swordfighter and proposes a practice match. After the match, the movie is basically about the situations that Ito and Eguchi  finds themselves in and the clan politics that influence their lives. Its an examination of feudal life and how everyday behaviour is regulated from closing and opening shoji doors to how people speak and never say anything directly.

The story is enlivened by Ito's fiancee, Katagiri a glutton who is not as carefree and ignorant as he seems. Komoto Masahiro always plays sad characters who experience tragedies in doramas so this smiling fiancee who is a lot smarter than he looks fits him perfectly. Eguchi has a fiancee as well, played by Ito Ayumi and the two loverbirds can only look at each other from afar knowing that life decisions had already been made for them.

Being the female version of Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade, Hana no Ato is not as gritty. The two fight scenes are more fanciful and not as desperate. There's a more sanitised feel with less blood. Enjoyment of the movie will depend on how much the viewer buys into Ito's motivation for the final fight.

Hana no Ato has all the elements that made me love Twilight Samurai and The Hidden Blade but I just didn't enjoy as much. I think it has much to do with the lack of chemistry between Ito and Eguchi, especially with their relationship being based on one fight. Still, the script has gives the viewers more reason why he is important to her. I wouldn't call Hana no Ato must watch but its definitely a pretty decent movie and is definitely better than Love and Honour.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Kmovie review: Blind

Haven't done a kmovie review in a long while, not that I haven't been watching Kmovies but that they have been pretty meh. No one does black comedy like Koreans especially Park Chang Wook but what I have been watching usually has a lot of gore (usually involving serial killers and violence against women), slick production but ultimately not emotionally engaging. I avoid Korean rom-coms like the plague.

Blind is about this former police cadet Min Soo-Ah who gets involved in an accident with her foster brother where he dies and she loses her sight. Soo-Ah is expelled from the police academy and in the beginning of the show we have her wallowing in her guilt and we find out that she and her brother were actually from an orphanage.

One night, Soo-Ah gets in a taxi which gets involved in a hit and run. Soo-Ah makes a police report but the police are reluctant to entertain her. They assign Detective Jo to interview Soo-Ah and she shows him that although she is blind, she is able to discern clues about the hit and run taxi driver through her other senses. What follows is the best part of the show, cop and blind former cadet trying to chase leads and find the taxi driver. Someone should make a tv series out of this concept because it is an interesting hook. How does one locate a person when all the clues are non visual?

We  are then introduced to the third main character, a young kid who claims to have seen the hit and run. I won't spoil any more but suffice to say, there is a very awesome chase sequence in the middle of the movie involving mobile phones that is so gripping. The writer really used the blindness of the main character to create great suspense like the villain being able to get close to Soo-Ah without her realising it.

What I don't like about Blind is that it is very uneven. There is the sentimental sob story about Soo-Ah, her brother and the kid. There is the fun investigation part leading up to serial killer suspense. Guess which part doesn't really fit? I'm not against the story of Soo-Ah's tragedy and the kid. My complaint is that its done in such a way that its like a completely different movie to the point of marginalising the character of Detective Jo.

The climax has this sort of flashback that tries so hard to tie it back to Soo-Ah's tragedy that it completely destroys the suspense. I understand that it is the give Soo-Ah a character arch but there are more subtle ways to go about it. Its like I'm watching two movies view for screen time; a suspense movie and a movie about grief. Problem is both get equal time and the script doesn't feel as tight as it should be.

Blind is not must watch but is certainly watchable. I mostly recommend Blind for the subway chase sequence which had such a awesome ending that it was obvious the final ending would never match it. Whoever thought the Koreans would do a movie about a blind girl that is not an overly sentimental love drama.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Doctors saikyou no meii ep 2+3

This dorama bloody kicks ass. Ep 2 has two components. First is Sagara trying to teach this stock trading obsessed doctor how to take pride in his work. Sagara does this by making the stock doctor participate in a diagnosis discussion although Sagara already knew the disease and getting the doctor to participate in the operation. Its bloody brilliant, someone trying to make a point without resorting to preaching/shouting/crying like in most doramas.

Sagara makes his point by manipulating the subject to do what Sagara wants them to do and its up to them whether they want to take something out of it. Brilliant. The best part is the stock trader doctor doesn't magically turn over a new leaf. People don't change so easily but for one episode he was able to have pride in his work and forget about stock watching.

The second component of ep 3 is Sagara trying to convince Minagawa-sensei not to leave. He reveals his plan to her in the hope that she would decide to be his comrade in arms and after she rejects it, he has to resort to some underhanded tactics. A protagonist making hard decisions, questioning himself and ultimately deciding that the ends justifies the means. Stuff like this just brings a smile to my face.

Haven't seen her since the Attention Please special.

Ep 3 surprisingly deals with Sagara-sensei's past. Usually in doramas, they leave the character confronting their past near the end but there's a very good reason why it occurs so early in this show. Suguru-chan finds out about Sagara and delights in tormenting him because he realises that Sagara cannot perform the operation. Sagara knows that Suguru only consented to be head of the team to spite Sagara and he devices a way to ensure that Suguru goes through with it.

This scene is just stupid funny, especially when he closes his eyes.

One thought that popped into my head is that Sagara is like an adult trying to deal with a bunch of spoiled kids by manipulating them. Its like a kindergarten teacher trying to teach kids about life lessons by getting them to do stuff and not merely preaching. Perhaps that's why the villains overact and act like kids.

And there is a nice reveal/twist about why Sagara didn't do the operation himself and instead wanted Suguru. The revelation is done matter of factly but it is just bloody brilliant. The fact that Sagara's past has been turned into a mere plot device shows that the writer has bigger fish to fry which is slowly turn the hospital and the staff around. The fact that stock trader doctor has not turned good means that this is not a formulaic one character gets an epiphany per episode dorama.

Guess what else the writer Fukuda Yasushi wrote? Suspect X., Midnight Rain and Wonderful Life. Not impressed with Hero, Galileo and 20th Century Boys Movies but Doctors clearly show he is very good. He is able to take a genre that has been done so many times and put an new and intelligent spin on it. There seems to be a drop off of nearly 300 sub downloads from episode 1 to 2. Either people are unable to recognise how smart the writing is or they realised that there are no johnnys in this show.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kare, Otto, Otoko Tomodachi eps 1+2

With a title like that, you can bet your savings that Kare, Otto, Otoko Tomodachi is a female ensemble dorama about relationships. Normally I would avoid such doramas after getting sick of Renai Dekinai but finding rare gems is what makes putting up with crappy shows worthwhile. In a nutshell, this dorama is about 3 sisters. Older sister is married to Santamaria Yusuke and they have a very weird and non-genuine relationship which reminds me of Sono Sion's Guilty of Romance. Eg, husband doesn't like tv so wife doesn't watch tv.

The second sister is independent and in a relationship with a reporter who goes off to the middle east. Second sister is probably the most 'real' and interesting character. She's a sexual being who knows what she wants and has more personality than all three women in Renai Dekinai combined. The running gag about her junior seeing her getting sexually harassed and hearing her phone call about sex is funny.

The writer is not afraid to put in a female character who likes sex for sex. Contrast with the fairy-tale approach of Renai Dekinai with Yoshitaka Yuriko character having all that sex but is void of emotion. Whatever happened to lust and the physical pleasure part of it? Needless to say, second sister is my favourite and I love her response to getting proposed.

The third sister played by Kaho is the weird one of the bunch. She's sort of detached in that she sees things and people from afar and has a grudge against her father. The youngest sister sees relationships as a necessary evil in order to fulfill her function of procreation. There's a character you don't see every dorama. There's also a mystery about her and a homeless dude. I don't know where her story is going except for her father issues but I want to see what the writer can do with her.

The one thing that really got me was the whole unreality of the first sister's marriage in contrast to the other two sisters who are interesting and seem like genuine people. The whole housewife who has no life apart from her husband and is dutiful despite the lack of care shtick has been played out so many times in jdoramas that it belongs in the same jdorama world as Renai Dekinai while the two sisters seem to come from our world. However, it does pay off at the end of ep 1.

In ensemble doramas, characters have to start as as their easily defined or cliched roles. This is byproduct of the fact that there is not enough time to delve into each character. The audience has to be able to watch a scene and get the character. The important thing is whether the characters grow outside their cliches and whether the dorama tries to bring them on an interesting journey.

Story wise, the first two episodes have good cliffhangers and I am excited about the fourth episode which is titled dad's secret. I watched two episodes without skipping any scenes so its certainly good but I am hesitant to say its must watch until I can be sure its not headed into mediocrity. It certainly shows promise and has the foundation to rise above the usual boring jdoramas.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fall jdorama 2011 pt 2

There were a lot of comments on the previous post so I thought better to do my reply as a post than in the comments section since there's so much to say.

Nankyoku Tairiku

Haven't watched it because of KimuTaku. Karei naru Ichizoku showed clearly what a fraud he is or how stupid the powers that be were. His character in Karei naru wasn't the main character and was obviously an idealistic idiot but was portrayed as this cool hero because he was Kimutaku. He somehow is unable or is not allowed to play an everyman. If you watch Love and Honour/Bushi no Ichibun, its clear that the only character Kimutaku can play is Kimutaku. Its as if there is an edict whereby he must have wind blowing in his face and rising orchestral music when he's giving a lame speech. 

Change, Mr Brain and Tsuki no Koibito turned out to be horrible. I think I had exorcised Tsuki no Koibito from my memory until I looked up KimuTaku's wiki for this post. All three built around his superstar status. It works for cheesy stuff like Pride where its all about macho, cool and hot girls. If you want to do a story about normal people against the elements, I would get a good actor who the producers felt they didn't need to overpush. Jt and jadefrost's comments have convinced me to never watch it.

Boku no Star no 99 Nichi

What I meant by idol pushing is basically a blatant dorama to promote foreign stars, see Rondo, Tsuki no Koibito and Uso Koi. I'm guessing the girl is an accomplished actress is crying melodrama and the guy is some dancer/singer dude. Fact is, the concept of Boku no star probably come up like this (translated in English):

Producer 1: Hey, we've got an offer to do a Kim Tae Hee dorama. She wants to jump on the Korean wave bandwagon in Japan and get a piece of the pie.

Producer 2: Sugoi! I've got the perfect idea. She'll be a Korean star acting in a jdorama playing a Korean star acting in a jdorama! We'll make her a tsundere because all Korean girls in rom coms post My Sassy Girl are tsundere and Japanese guys love Asuka Langley Soryu.

Producer 1: Good idea! Who do we get as the male lead? How about Nishijima Hidetoshi? He's been in so many doramas and movies, can act and we don't have to pay him much because he's not on variety shows. Gwahahahaha. That's what I love about Japan! Fame and salary is dictated by tv time and commercials, not by acting ability. Even better news, we have to push this other Korean singer as well.

Producer 2: No problem. We'll just make him the long lost brother and give him a lot of blatant dance scenes to promote him. We'll need to make the sister of our bumbling hero a dancer as well to justify the dance scenes.

I think Jadefrost summed up why Boku no Star doesn't work in her comments. Any chance of Pandora 3 subs? Jung, let's not crucify JC. I'm more interested in what he likes about Boku no Star.

11 Nin mo iru!

No interest in another family dorama, especially with 11 people (WTF?) unless someone tells me the writing is pretty good like Aikurushii. Wait, its by the writer of Tiger & Dragon and Manhattan Love Story? Thanks for the heads up Yuzu!

Maiku: Permanent Nobara has been sitting in my HD for a while. Just need to find the time.

Sonaaaaaa~: When I was unemployed many years ago, I ended up rewatching all my jdoramas. Good luck job hunting!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fall 2011 jdorama round up

Only two shows worth watching this season; Shinya Shokudo 2 and Doctors. So what about the rest of the fall lineup?


Another female ensemble mid life crisis dorama ala Yottsu no Uso. Gave it 3 episodes but its so generic I feel like I've seen it many times before.


This show makes me want to rewatch Staa no Koi because Boku no Star is so bad that it makes Staa no Koi seem so good. Staa no Koi had charm and Boku no Star is just a souless beast. Its not even remotely funny and the forced brother storyline with the dancing scene in ep 3 just killed it for me. How much more blatant can idol pushing doramas get? Do it with a majisuka low budget midnight dorama, not waste a prime time slot and tons of money.


Its gone from a niece vs wife dorama to secret operation story to psychotic ex boyfriend story. Kanno Miho is still the main villain but I enjoy watching evil Hachi-one Diver. I'll like to see him become more evil than Kanno Miho. There's nothing really bad about this but I do skim the series more than watching it.


How the hell is this POS show getting 20%? Does Matsushima Nanako possess so much star power or are Japanese audiences enjoying this? I stuck around cause the writer has written so many good shows and I was hoping it would get better but the build up to the supposedly emotional scene at the end of ep 7 is so freaking bad that Hasegawa Hiroki performance looked like it belonged on a 2pm soap opera.

The writer was trying to build up to the father breaking down but all this dorama is are people doing stupid things. The definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The bloody kids and dad know asking Mita for favours always ends in disaster but the characters ignore the simple fact completely and never get into a fix where there is no other choice but to play with fire and get Mita to help.


There is a limit to things I can turn my brain off to. Runaway is an affront to all that is logical.


How quickly it went from tolerable show with lots of eye candy to I can't believe how contrived everything is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

DOCTORS Saikyou no Meii ep 1

Looks like we won't be seeing the next subs for Suzuki sensei from Chuks until end of Jan next year and I'm waiting for ep 6 subs of Shinya Shokudo from earthcolors. It seemed a bad time for jdoramas at the moment until Nutcase released ep 1 subs for Doctors. On the surface. Doctors seems like another GTO style medical show. Corrupt hospital with with totally inept doctors and of course the usual useless directors. Where nurses down before the almighty doctors, where patient care is non-existent and doctors and staff only care about getting paid extravagantly from the budget.

Along comes this smiling surgeon Sagara-sensei (Sawamura Ikki) who had worked 12 years at Tokyo Medical University but is unknown because he had not written any papers. Sagara sensei drives a simple car and gives ningyo yaki to the staff on his first day. My first thoughts were not another Mr Nice Guy idealistic protagonist! However, there are moments when Sagara sensei lets his smiling face down and its obvious that not only there's a serious person behind the face but also that he is thinking.

Sounds stupid doesn't it. Praising a dorama for having a thinking character but what did Asada Ryutaro think about besides perform his miracle operations? GTO basically acted cool and just lucked his way into solving his problems, not that it wasn't entertaining. The best scene was when the nurse Higa Manami told Sagara that he needed the director's approval for an operation and he looked at her with a serious smile and said, "that's a load of crap".

Its funny how watching this smiling doctor who is not afraid to speak his mind and knows what he is doing politically just makes me happy. We don't get characters like this too often. Most of the time, if a character likes to speak his/her mind, the person is depicted as brash and does not know behavioural protocol. I guess this has to do with Japanese as a language where politeness is important and telling people no without saying it outright is the norm.

Back to the thinking point, yes Sagara sensei has a plan or rather knows what he is doing by pissing the other doctors off. At the end of ep 1, its clear that not only is he a super surgeon, he knows how to manipulate people. Doctors wastes no time in revealing Sagara's past and his reasons for acting the way he does and I think its pretty cool.

Come to think of it, the main protoganists in jdoramas are usually simple people who do not scheme. Scheming and manipulating people is usually for the antagonist and bad characters. The hero beats the schemes but being good at what they do and somehow turns everyone into good guys.

I am obviously the bad guy cause I hate Hitler hair!

Right now I have nothing bad to say about Doctors. Usually I hate the everyone else in an organisation is useless bit but I want to see what Sagara-sensei will do about it. The only danger is overacting evil doctors but so far the overacting has not yet offended my senses.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Matsui Jurina 2011 calender

Got this shipped from yesasia and they did not put in in a cylinder! Thanks for putting it in a long box that was obviously crushed on the way here. Don't think there's any way to remove those folds.

Zzzzz, boring. The only way ping pong and yutaka can work is with cleavage. Since Jurina is jailbait so they shouldn't have attempted this shot in the first place. On the other hand, that didn't stop Irie Sayaa.

I like this one. Akimoto sensei should pair Jurina up with Itano Tomomi can call them ahiru guchi. The best pic in the calender.

Boring. Don't see the point of doing a collage.

So much better.

First time I've ever had a calender where the idoru wears the same clothes twice. Shows that they made it for cheap. Most of the pictures are bland and boring. They have mute colours, no depth and look very amateurish. Compare this crap with the awesome Mano Erina 2011 calender. Kinda makes me wish I had taken a punt on the Kurashina Kana calender.