Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Madonna Verde eps 1-3

Madonna Verde has a very interesting premise. Rie (Kuninaka Ryoko) had her uterus removed because of cancer. However, she had her eggs frozen so that they could be joined with her husband's seed in a petri dish and implanted into a surrogate mother. However, surrogacy is still very new to Japan and the laws do not recognise it. In other words, Japanese law view the surrogate mother as the true mother.

Rie is an emotionally detached person but she has this strong desire to have a child. Desperate, she convinces her mother, Midori played by Matsuzaka Keiko to carry the child for her. Yup, this is a story about a grandmother who is going to give birth to her grandchild or one could look at it as a story where a woman is going to legally get a sibling who is actually her child. Its interesting stuff and what makes it fun is that Rie is this obsessive in her single mindedness to have her mother be the surrogate and her emotional detachment prevents audience empathy and sort of casts her as a sort of antagonistic character.

For Matsuzaka Keiko, this has to be a dream role for her, playing this mother who would risk pregnancy at 55 in order to grant her daughter's desire. Nagatsuka Kyozo plays this haiku dude, Toshi who's infatuated with Midori, finds out about the plan and has to stand in as the child's father. He is in the other dorama that I really want to watch from this season, Kazoku Hotei. I wonder which dorama was shot first cause he appears frequently in Madonna Verde. Speaking of Kazoku Hotei, no one has uploaded it to d-addicts. The last episode is airing today so hopefully it'll show up at my local dvd shop HK translated.

Hello hot mom to be..

Minami Akira has a supporting role as a 20 year old pregnant gyaru who's boyfriend has left her and she has an admirer who wants to be the father. She's got no future, blah blah blah and is unsure whether to keep the baby. Yawn. Its probably an uplifting story for a country with low birthrate but raising a child costs a lot of $$$ or in this case yen. In the end, its filler plotline and as long as the main story is good, I can't complain.

Katagiri Jin from Quiz Show plays Rei's husband but there's little room for him in the story so far.

With Rie's personality and the illegality of the act, you know its not going to be long before things go crazy. Its got two fun characters in the center of it with Midori and Toshi and I'll be interested to see when a rift forms between Rie and her mom. Come to think about it, what makes Madonna Verde fun is how unlikable Kuninaka Ryoko's character is. If this had your typical idol in the main role, her character would be nice, there would be lots of pop songs and the story would be boring. With nothing else really worth watching right now and the upcoming season being barren of any potentially interesting shows, Madonna Verde is an oasis in the jdorama desert. I leave you with a Matsuzaka Keiko singing Ai no sui chu hana.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Moteki the movie???!!!

 Thanks to Maiku for the heads up on this one. All I have to say is thank the jdorama gods they did not recast Densha as Yukiyo. If you read DarkMirage's review of the manga here, it seems like the dorama is pretty similar to its source which is a bad thing as according to DarkMirage's review, the pacing in the manga goes off because it was only intended to be a one volume story and not to mention that the ending is inconclusive. This is one of those rare instances which I think it would be ok for an adaptation to not follow the source material.

If you have a read of Tokyohive's article which is also where I stole the picture from, Nagasawa Masami plays a magazine editor who meets the Yukiyo through twitter. Sounds different from the dorama. Maybe someone saw the dorama and decided that if they could tighten the script so that Yukiyo fucking up doesn't get repetitive and give it a more definite ending then it might turn out pretty good.

One paragraph from DarkMirage's review of the manga struck me;

Over the course of four volumes, Fujimoto learns that he is not the undesirable loser that he thought he was and that romance is about more than just finding the courage to say, “I love you.” He matures as a person and eventually finds the self confidence to help the girls around him and himself to become (slightly) more well adjusted individuals.

Hhmm. The only thing I got from the dorama besides him fucking him the chance to bed three beautiful women is the going to be someone else's moteki line at the end which says to me that he was going to seek happiness by making someone else happy and not expect it to somehow drop on his lap.Let's see how the movie goes. I really like the dorama cast and the girls for the movie don't seem right. But then I'm guessing the characters will be slightly different. At least there is one thing everyone can agree on, with the Moteki dorama and movie, Moriyama Mirai is one lucky dude.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Moteki eps 4-12

Kind of forgot about this show because the subbing stalled and it got a bit monotonous in the middle. When you start of a story with a loser character, you usually expect the main character to go through a character arc, ie learn to face his fears/problems, grow a set, clear his first hurdle by the middle and near the end fail his final objective once before ultimately achieve his goal. Its cliched but its the basic template for doing a character arc.

The much harder way to do a story is for the characters not to change which is rarely done and the one dorama I can think of that did it was Enka no joou. Its hard because the characters don't improve and continue to fail. Instead of being about characters reaching their potential or achieving their destiny, its about characters coming to terms with who they are and why they act the way they do.

While I found Enka no joou difficult to enjoy, I watched it all the way because I could see what the dorama was trying to do. Same with Moteki. It is more than just a harem dorama for adults. It certainly starts of as one but later becomes an examination of Yukiyo and his relationship with his harem and his best friend and all characters realising who they are.

The one good side to limited character development is that we don't get the lame ,"I've gotten stronger/more mature" speech at the end. The downside is that it gets pretty repetitive. Granted, Moteki's 12 episodes is more like 6 episodes since each episode is only half an hour but watching Yukiyo screw everything up again and again stops being funny after the first few episodes.

For this type of story to succeed, you really need a lot of humour and one very interesting supporting character to keep the audience guessing. Humour-wise, the first half of the series was pretty good and then suddenly it just drops off. The second half averages one funny moment per episode only.

My gripes aside, there are many reasons to watch Moteki, first of which is the awesome acting. Talent-wise, the cast for this midnight dorama beats 99% of prime time doramas. Second is directing. This show looks bloody awesome and they really maximised whatever limited budget they got. I mean look at the screencaps. It sure doesn't look like some run of the mill boring studio sets dorama. Everything looks inspired.

The third is of course, the soundtrack. Not sure if someone has uploaded it somewhere but it uses a variety of jpop song to great effect and is worth watching for it alone. I didn't enjoy Moteki as much as a wanted after its strong start, but I can't fault it for the way the story went. I just couldn't get behind a character who after all he has been through threw away two birds in his hand for the one in the bush.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rest of loot from Japan

Tactic Ogre Artbook.

Absolutely stunning artwork.

Great art trumps 5 billion polygons per second IMHO.

20000 yen of PSN points and the bloody Japanese store is still down! I'm in no hurry as I have tons of things to do but I just want to have Saigo no yakusoku monogatari on my PSP.

Tsubomi photobook.

For those who don't know, she is a very famous JAV actress.

If you're interested, you can find her catalog of hundreds of dvds here.

Saw a Takako Kitahara book which in hindsight I should have bought.

SSF4AE book with those two bastards who don't belong in this game on the cover.

Ore no Imouto game for PSP and I believe it not available as a PSN game.

Hatsune Miku Tony version.

I was going to ditch this for the Append figure which I have just preordered but it still looks good.

Nene from Love Plus figure.

Nene standing on my shelf along with my Kirino and Kuroneko figures which I also got on this trip.

Lastly my Manaka bolster cover. Now to find a gigantic bolster.

Not much loot this trip. I was held back by the guilt of spending more than I thought I would be and also lack of space. I could have carried an additional efficiently boxed figure and some more books. The Hatsune Miku figure took more than half a bag and its not that big. Big boxes may attract buyers but its just an illusion that wastes space.

After giving it some thought, I realised I should have stopped worrying about money and just spend. Better to regret spending more than regret not spending/buying while on holiday.

Found the Mano Erina song that non-single song that really liked from her concert, Dare ni mo iwanaide.

Mano Erina's routine during the concert just makes it even better. Unfortunately there's no video online of her performing Dare ni mo iwanaide as she didn't sing it during her last concert dvd and its a B-side.

Didn't realise that the Datenshi Eri skit from the concert was actually from a comedy track in her second album.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My new wardrobe from Japan

Probably my favourite shirt. Got it from Kotobukiya Akiba.

Can't believe I found a Sega Saturn shirt! Too bad black had no LL size. Got it from Cospa in Akiba. The shop is a bit hard to find but it so worth it.

So happy I got a Berserk shirt. Why don't they have a Berserk shirt featuring the main character though?

The back of a Ryu ga gotoku shirt I got from Don Quixote Akiba.

Nice shirt with tiger and dragon print.

The kanji says hi asobi meaning playing with fire.

The kanji is shugou which means heavy drinker.

Kiryu Kazuma shirt but unfortunately there's no XL size.

Its so fucking small for an L shirt that its so tight around the t-shirt sleeves and I don't have any biceps.

I kinda regret not getting the Kuroneko shirt to go with this. I probably wanted this more cause of the 'she likes, anime game and meruru' line. Hope I can still find a Kuroneko short when next I go.

Front of my K-on windbreaker.

I had a choice between this or a Yui hoodie. I already have a nice Sega hoodie so decided to get this instead. Not included in this post are two gundam, Scandal and Mano Erina shirts I already showed in previous posts. Next post will be the rest of the goodies from Japan.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Japan day 17 part 2 and days 18+19

Two days of being stuck in airplanes and airports and I nearly missed my connecting flight from Brisbane to Melbourne cause I feel asleep next to the gate entrance with my earphones on. Luckily some dude woke me up cause they had started calling people for another flight. I was ran to the gate thinking 'am I in some sort of dark comedy where everything goes wrong?'. The Qantas lady at the gate knew my name cause she's probably been announcing it for the last 5 minutes said that I was the last person. Lesson learned; do not use earphones while waiting for flight. Managed to get back and my brother turns up looking for presents after I told him I would be very tired. After he left, had 12 hours of sleep and I'm probably going to go back to sleep after this. Time to continue the recap of my Japan trip.

DAY 17 PT 2

After the Mano Erina concert, it was time to go watch X-Men First Class. Went to Osaka Central City which is this huge building just on top of Osaka Station.

Another view of Osaka Central City. The ticket was 1500 yen which is like Melbourne price. Pretty good movie, not flawless but its the first X-Men movie that really captured the X-Men as a group feel. The actress for Emma Frost though is really bad.

Had ramen at Yodobashi after the movie for dinner and it was off to Gift.

Me and regular customer Suguru-san who was always eager to join in my looking things up on the phone. Went to Fukushima station and ran into Megumi and Chihiro who were outside passing out flyers. I was thinking I don't want any more customers! I like the snack being pretty quiet with 6 girls! Chihiro looks at me excitedly and said that Yukiko was working tonight! Woot! For those who don't know, Yukiko is the English speaking girl who works at Gift. Went back to backpackers to check for e-mail from Inno and then to Gift!

With Yukiko in the middle. Regular Take (I think) was there and he bought donuts for everyone. I sang Ohyama Yurika's Sayonara and joined Take for Ozaki Yutaka's I Love You. Got Suguru-san to join me for Subaru and Kokoro mou yo. The girls were looking at me like wtf is this gaijin who knows old Japanese songs. Stayed only 3 hours and should have gone on. So many Japanese oldies I want to sing. And I completely forgot about Scandal's Hello Goodbye. Need to find Japanese karaoke in Melbourne.

DAY 18

They had replace Ryu ga gotoku with.... pokemon??!!! You can see the top of the giant pikachu in the middle.

On Sunday, pedestrians can walk the streets.

Not many cosplayers though.

Maid chick running with Miku to take a picture with Len and Rin. Should have asked Len to take a picture of me with Miku, Rin and maid. Gaaaahh.

Meet up with Iino at around four and we went to Club Taito in Shinjuku. Completely destroyed by his Yang. Then we went for tsukemen. Unfortunate, I was really sick and couldn't finish my tsukemen. :( I think I got sick cause my body knew that the end was near.

Then we went out for some beer and sushi.

DAY 19

Basically spent the afternoon arguing in my head over whether to go for another maid cafe. In the end decided not to because I had spent a lot more than I had planned for already.

And I bloody realised that I had not bought my Shining Wind Maxima figure yet! Spent the afternoon running all over Akiba and couldn't find it! The only one I found was on display at K-books and it was not for sale! Gah, no time to take the train to Nakano and back. Maybe leaving shopping for last isn't a good thing.

Bought some stuff at Yellow submarine which is two floors above Kotobukiya. Not much selection but really cheap prices!

This building opposite Maidreaming had just opened.

Gonna miss this view outside the backpackers.

Taking the train to Narita airport. Next post will have lots and lots of t-shirts.