Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The fourth episode is written as if a child suddenly discovered what a metaphor was and decided to litter a whole episode with it thinking what a genius the writer was. Not only did episode 4 have 101 words of dialogue mentioning wounds and how to heal them, the writer decided it would be a good idea to attack a flashing neon light pointing to the inspired genius of having the peeled paint as a metaphor for the girls' wounds and have them paint over it in the end as a symbolic ceremony of overstatement.
In other words, episode 4 is like beating a dead horse with another dead horse. Someone forgot to tell the writer that metaphors are supposed to be subtle, its existence never declared but felt by the viewer. By non-stop hammering a nail that had already gone in through a whole episode, the metaphor had ceased to be one and every ounce of dialogue became unnatural with the purpose of cramming a single point down the viewer's throat.
I remember reading at Tokyohive that this is a true to life dorama about women. Yet, here we are with a story featuring a poor light technician having difficulty marrying the wealthy daughter of doctor because.... *drum roll* the father wants a son-in-law doctor to take over the clinic and says the daughter can never be happy marrying a non-elite. Hhhhmm, something doesn't smell true to life to me. Did I somehow miss the fact that this dorama is set in the 1980s or perhaps I am ignorant as to the fact that such real life issues plague the poor women of Japan today.
Best character and best storyline of the series. The whole thing makes too much sense and doesn't play out like a soap opera. *cough* Karina *cough* Takumi has been married to this successful woman, Izumi and is dependent on her for his business to survive. They have a living arrangement where for her, job is no.1. Basically they are not in a relationship of need or rather he needs her for to get more work.
Suddenly Izumi turns around and decides by herself that she suddenly wants to take on a huge mortgage and the financial millstone which are kids. So Takumi, who has been living his life perfectly fine is like 'wtf do you want from me??!!!. I've lived my life according to your whims and suddenly you change them at the drop of a hat.'
So Takumi meets Saki (Yoshitaka Yuriko), a lovely angel who tempts the stoutest of hearts but more importantly there is a relationship of need. He is able to counsel and encourage Saki and that makes Takumi feel more alive than his drab life with Izumi. They somehow connect on their similar desires to escape their current life.
Now that Takumi has found out that he's shooting blanks, he cleverly uses it as a sob story on Saki and he has got the perfect reason to break up with Izumi. For the love of all that is holy, please do not let this end in the everyone goes their separate ways and proclaim that they have become stronger ending.
OSHIMA YUKO'S STORY
She feels less like a character and more like random plot stories that the writer wants to use. Sister sleeps with colleague that Yuko likes and then she gets involved with this possessive guy that she tries too hard to please. Yuko complains that she doesn't feel anything but pain during sex and the only counsel Karina and Saki have is 'have you told him?'. I was waiting for 'maybe you should try using lubricants' or 'you sure he's going in the right hole?'.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I was going to skip this because a fugitive dorama with the tag 'aisuru kimi no tame ni' fills me with dread that it would be a dorama with excessive effort trying to manufacture warm and fuzzy fillings. Off the top of my head I can only recall two fugitive type doramas; Tobosha which was good except for Abe Hiroshi's character's constant posturing and Tobo Bengoshi which was so ineptly written. Jung said that Runaway was fun so what have I got to lose?
Runaway is a fugitive dorama and the tag line refers to Katsuragi (Ichihara Hayato) who escapes prison with 3 of his mates because his daughter is dying and needs lots of money to get an organ transplant. After watching the first episode, the final twist of the dorama is very obvious to me. Anyone with decent eyesight can see that his daughter is clearly Eurasian and with the mom being Fukuda Saki and Ichihara does not look like a gaijin, its obvious that he ending will be him finding out after running for 10 or so episodes that he is not the dad.
On a more serious note, Runaway is indeed fun. Considering the lack of qualities among action jdoramas, Runaway is impressive with lots of chase sequences including probably the first decent car chase scene I can remember watching. I'm impressed that they managed to do car chase despite the obvious lack of time and budget. However, there are a few warning signs that tell me this dorama could easily fall apart.
First is that this group of fugitives get spotted way too often by the cops and somehow the next scene they manage to evade them. I would imagine running away from a bunch of policemen is very, very difficult unless all of them look like they eat 20 doughnuts everday. With like 5 or 6 close encounter scenes in two episodes, Runaway is really stretching the boundaries of believability here. Chalk it up to the fallings of the fugitive genre in that the writer has to find time for the characters to do. In Tobosha, it was Abe as the chasing cop posturing a lot. In Runaway, its lots of infighting, crying and being able to magical lose cops on their tail.
Secondly is the little girl who talks and thinks so much like an adult that she's scary. If not for the fact that her character was abused by her mother and her boyfriend, I would find her to be an opinionated and annoying brat. Contrasting the ultra smart adult in a child's body character, one of the fugitives was so fucking stupid as to post updates of their whereabouts on the web. I was bloody hoping that the ex-yakuza Kawashima (Tsukamoto Takashi) would kill that idiot. Speaking of Kawashima, he is my favourite cause he actually has a brain and is not trapped in a child's body though he has the melodrama story of having a hot blind girl as an ex-girlfriend who broke her promise to wait for him.
Third is that Ichihara Hayato's overacting is just horrible. Its ok for comedy like Saru Lock but I can't believe he won best supporting actor for that stupid cryfest Rookies. Maybe straining yourself looking like you're constipating anytime you're crying is regarded as good acting by the Japanese. Maybe I'm just not judging acting by Japanese standards and Ichihara Hayato's two facial expressions are actually good. But then again, Japanese give out random awards for shit like best jeanist which means best looking talento in jeans. He's not as bad as no expression Kame but its obvious that he can't or does not use his eyes to act and overcompensates with his face.
So two things I enjoyed are the effort that the director put into doing the action stuff Fukuda Saki is always fun to watch. Can't believe she's playing a mom, sniff. The bad news is this is going to be a melodrama heavy story and in every episode I've got to put up with Ichihara Hayato who looks like he wants to cry all the time.
JAPANESE IS WEIRD
If you've watched fighting anime, you've certainly heard the words 'name janeiyo' which is usually translated as 'don't underestimate/look down on me'. Was talking with a friend yesterday and found name 舐め actually means to lick. Yes, for reason the kanji for lick also means to make fun of or to put down.
On an unrelated note, subs for eps 4+5 of Renai dekinai are up at jdramas@livejournal.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Japanese is hard
Just realised that nigate 苦手 which means not good at something also means dislike. I can understand why kurishii 苦しい (painful) + hand 手 means inept but dislike? At least I've realised there is a softer version of kirai 嫌い. Query how to avoid confusion when saying Nihongo wa nigate.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
There have been a spate of old doramas getting subbed and one of them is Mama wa idol starring Nakayama Miho as the herself as she gets married to her old primary school school teacher who has three kids.(Suzuki sensei, take note) Normally I pretty much hate jdoramas as idol vehicles. That's why most of the big name ones are crap. Stunt casting and fitting the story around the idols they want to promote. But Nakayama has credibility in my book with Oishii Kankei, Sleeping Forest, Home & Away, Love Story and Love Letter.
Maybe I'm biased towards old jdoramas. Maybe its just the case that only the best of the old jdoramas get subbed so my perception of the standard of oldies is skewed. Surely the ratio of good and bad doramas can't that much different between the 80s and this 2k10 era. One the other hand, my favourite shows from the past few years have mostly been the not so famous ones.
Anyways, Mama wa idol is an idol vehicle but it is a fun one. The youngest one is stoked because he is a huge fan. The oldest son is, well which guy wouldn't be happy living with Nakayama Miho. The only daughter, Akira though objects vehemently. Its not clearly stated what her reasons are but its obvious that she has taken over her mother's role since her death and does not appreciate a stranger walking into the family and trying to take away her role, much less an idol.
One interesting observation is a storyline where the father, a primary teacher is mistaken for a lolicon when Nakayama Miho's collection of underwear drop from a box. The whole lolicon thing is used as a joke when in a lot of countries, The father would have been branded for life and kids would have looked at him in fear. Also interesting to note that the housekey was placed under a flower pot. Not exactly in plain sight but not exactly as safe as well.
Its only been two episodes so far but I've enjoyed them very much. Too early to judge whether it is a must watch show but I am glad that this is not another in-law jdorama. I'm happy to watch to watch cute daughter fights hot mom with generic dad in middle. Not much chemistry between Miho and the dad but we'll see when the story gets to revealing details of their relationship. The raws can be gotten from rare doramas, an awesome site with lots of golden oldies.
addendum: Just noticed rare doramas has dvdrips of Love Complex. Now that was a good dorama with a weird ending.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
If Renai dekinai riyuu is sort of a mirror of present day young women, then Hitorigurashi is a look at not just women in the 90s but also society's views and prejudices. Tokiwa Takako is Miho, a 26 year old department store salesperson who is planning to move out of her parents', hence the title hitorigurashi. Kyoko (Nagasaku Hiromi) is her best friend and colleague and unlike most supporting characters, she is more central to the story. Kyoko is then yin to Miho's yang as Kyoko sleeps around a lot while Miho is, in Kyoko's words more in love with the concept of love.
Ah, the good old 90s, when strict fathers were the staples of jdoramas and no one blinks an eye when the father admonishes his daughter for not thinking about marriage at age 26 and living life without a purpose. Yes, the era of young women working as OLs or in department stores engaging in a race to get married before 30 and somehow attain this mythical thing called happiness.
Takahashi Katsunori is the male lead Shintani and its weird seeing him not doing his overly serious low voice stuff that he has been doing recently or the overacting antics of Kintaro and Tadano Hitoshi. Shintani is a beer salesman who lives for work and dreams about mountain climbing. He also is popular with the ladies but doesn't really do anything about except give advise to his colleague.
When Miho meets Shintani, she suspects that there is something behind his jovial and playful face. This for some reason drives her mad and we have 4 episodes of declaring that she hates him but at the same time always thinking about Shintani. Its been slowly cooking over four episodes but the romance part is nothing special. Actually by today's standards its pretty decent but by 90s doramas its run of the mill.
The interesting thing for me is the relationship between Miho and Kyoko. No, I'm not talking about the implied yuri scenes as can be seen from the screencaps. Its the love hate relationship that Kyoko has with Miho. Kyoko is in all these relationships but she declares that Miho is all she has. She views Miho as a coward who is after a hit, ie getting a guy to declare his love for her and discloses this to Shintani.
I think Kyoko doesn't want Miho to hook up with Shintani because she'll lose her one source of comfort. I think that Kyoko looks down on Miho and as long as Miho is perceived to be more miserable her, Kyoko is happy. I guess you could say the supporting character is the most interesting one because she's the most rounded character.
Yada Akiko is in this dorama as well playing Miho's younger sister. For fans of 90s doramas like me this is a must watch just for the casting. Best bits are Nagasaku Hiromi portrayal of Kyoko. There's nothing really interesting about the Miho-Shintani relationship Its not the best of the 90s but its solid viewing.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I've got a few jdorama reviews swimming in my head but have just been too lazy to take screencaps and start typing. Then I watched episode 5 of Suzuki sensei and I just had to write about it. Episode 5 starts of with more of Suzuki sensei and his wild fantasies about Ogawa. The revelation at the end of episode 4 casts doubt on whether the fantasies are his imagination going wild or a product of some mental projection from Ogawa.
I love the possibility and I love the tease that it could be true. More importantly, it doesn't have to be for the storyline to work. It is the possibility that makes it fun to watch as it enables the viewer to see things in two different ways. It also gives the viewer impetus to watch closely and look for clues whether it is one or the other. Is Ogawa sharing in his fantasies or is Suzuki sensei letting his infatuation with her get out of hand?
Episode 5 deals with friendship, jealousy and changing oneself to better get along with others. But first, a new sports teacher Tsuzuki sensei arrives threatening Suzuki sensei's throne of most admired teacher. Worse, Tsuzuki sensei seems to be acquainted with Ogawa which ignites Suzuki sensei's infatuation with Ogawa even more. The scene with Suzuki sensei typing angrily was overacted too much IMO and went too much into camp which does not fit in the dorama world. Have to admit it was funny though.
Ogawa and Honoka have become the best of friends and this provokes Saki to start spreading rumours about Ogawa and Tsuzuki sensei. One thing leads to another and suddenly the rumour takes a life of its own and gets connected with the identity of the person Ogawa really likes, which is the main mystery for Suzuki sensei and the viewers.
I have to say, I am still a bit unclear on the whole class experiment thing. Suzuki sensei has said that normal students usually have issues that are buried and Ogawa was central to his plan because she is the model student. The show has been pretty much the Ogawa fascination, whether she can project her thoughts and what is Asami's role in the story going to be. I'm starting to think its just Suzuki sensei's way to justify spending so much time thinking about Ogawa.
I liked how ep 5 incorporated more Ogawa teasing the audience and Suzuki with a look at Saki feeling betrayed by Honoka and turning her ill feelings towards Ogawa. Like episode 4, you have another student seeking an outlet for negative emotions and not realising the harm the student is doing. Once again, I can't hate Saki because you can see her point of view, however misguided. Its kind of like the intro of the song where the students put on Suzuki sensei's glasses and pass it on. Its like seeing the world through each of the characters' eyes and the quality of the writing and acting makes them more than 2D cut out problem students.
I felt that there had to be a big reveal at the end of the episode and boy, it was an interesting one. It also made me think about Suzuki sensei's rationalisation to refer to Ogawa as god. We know that Ogawa is self conscious of other's perception of her and wants to be liked and get along with everyone. We know that Suzuki and Tsuzuki worship her. We know that at least 5 guys in the class do.
We know that there is a possibility she has the ability to project her thoughts onto others. What if she had been actually doing it to the 5 classmates and the two teachers? Subconsciously making them fall in love with her? I am sorely tempted to watch the rest of the series raw to find out....