Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tonbi eps 1+2

Tonbi is a much better version of the try too hard Beautiful Rain. Its got half the number of tears and since half of it is by Uchino Masaaki so it never feels too cheesy. Not that Tonbi is not a cheesy feel good dorama but it works because the main story is set in the 70s. It has this more innocent age impression so its easier to buy into all the super nice people.

What I also like is that there is a hook to the dorama with Kenshin playing Uchino Masaaki's son in the present being in a similar situation to his dad, or is it? Something to keep me watching. I think its watchable but don't think it will be must watch for me because its still crying porn.

However, if you want to make a watchable crying porn, you put Uchino Masaaki in it. His portrayal of the simple minded Yasuo just carries this movie and makes the crying tolerable. He is just a hoot to watch. Watchable.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Osozaki no Himawari eps 1-6

Osozaki no Himawari is Ushi ni Negai without cows dealing with early life crisis problems of 30 year olds with love triangles that overlap and two affairs.Its got your Japanese rural problems that we're all familiar with and 30 year olds trying to find their place in life.

Its got lots of issues to cover, a decent ensemble cast and I will never tire of Maki Yoko's tsundere act. The producers have really put a lot of effort into this and the countryside just looks absolute breathtaking. The ey candy is pretty good though and I would certainly move out there for those ladies.

However, this feels like a ticking the box dorama. The feeling of I've seen all this before and the characters have all sorts of backstories to be revealed but I don't feel the urge to know. I feel indifferent to the characters. I like Ikuta Toma's triangle with the yandere Maki Yoko and Kuudere Kashii Yuu though and its produced a lot of fun stuff in between lots of boring bits.

There's just something missing for me, like the character never become more than their problems. I think the youthful trendy dorama with 7 characters with problems meets country issues is too much to pack into this show that non of the stories get the attention they deserve and often feel derivative.

Its not a bad dorama and I even gave it 6 episodes waiting for it to turn the corner but I'm just so indifferent about it. There are a lot better doramas to spend your time on.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Makete, Katsu

Subbing of Makete, Katsu was announced in October but sadly no news plus the fact that there are no Japanese subs. Went to local Asian DVD shop and their copy didn't say that it had subs. I had to try to watch it anyway and its pretty hard trying to understand the political stuff. The good news is there's plenty of English in this one so I always sort of knew what what was going.

Makete, Katsu is about Yoshida Shigeru, Japan's PM after WW2 and Douglas MacArthur the guy in charge of Japan. I really enjoyed the history lesson. Japan being an occupied country after the surrender. Issues in regards to the Emperor and his status. Threats to divide the country. Drafting of the constitution and adisarmement. MacArthur's reforms. The threat of communism. Fun and riveting stuff.

The English for once in a jdorama, is pretty good. Watanabe Ken needed English subtitles in Inception but he does a much better job here. Some conversations he just goes a tad too fast but overall no what the hell did he just say moments. Even Tanihara Sosuke does pretty well with his English lines.Whoever the English consultant has in this did a great job. The English speaking actors are not as amateurish this time around. It helps that they got David Morse to play MacArthur.

I like my history doramas as long as the characters aren't presented like they're out of a fairytale. Wish there were more MacArthur but I can't complain. Can't really label it a must watch cause quite a chunk of the dialogue was lost on me. Generally I knew what was going on but I couldn't enjoy the details. Hopefully some kind soul will pick this one for subbing or the Japanese subs will surface.Even if you know no Japanese, you can skip to the English parts anyway and a lot of the important scenes are in English.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dinner eps 1+2

Dinner is GTO in an Italian restaurant. Famous Italian Chef Tatsumi goes into a coma and his restaurant is in trouble. The restaurant keeps losing customers and the daughter/manager Saori (Kurashina Kana) seeks out Esaki (Eguchi Yusuke) to be the new head chef. Of course Esaki turns out to be a maverick and is hated by everyone.


- In the beginning you see the kitchen in action and the head chef doesn't even cook, just stands around and gives directions which makes me think why should it matter that the chef is in a coma. I like that they got the conductor character to explain that it is similar to the conductor's role.

Though everyone is a pro and they can follow the music sheet/recipe you still need an overseer of the music/food will seem hollow. Great writing there. Sell the audience the premise. Doesn't have to be convincing but it makes it easier to buy into it.

- Kurashina Kana's smile. :)

- A lot of actors I like including Kodoku Gurume and Santamaria Yusuke although his role seems redundant. I guess the high number of recognisable faces just means the GTO formula of solving one staff member's problem per episode and leaving our GTO, Esaki's secret for last.

- I love the directing and choreography of the cooking 'action' scenes. There's only so much you can do with spectators commentating on someone is so skilled at peeling apples. Showing is always better than telling even when the showing is just to look cool.

- Italian is easier for Japanese to speak. I don't know Italian but it doesn't sound like the cast were struggling with pronunciation.

- Kurashina Kana in a decent dorama for once.


- Too many whinging staff even after the sudden down in customers and the new chef proving that he knows what he is talking about. Yes, it is a necessary evil of the GTO formula but having ALL of them protest makes them look like idiots. If everyone on a team is an idiot, then they are going to be hard to root for.

- Do they really need that many staff? I've never been to expensive Italian restaurants but they've got as many staff as customers. My problem is not really the number of staff but the number of characters with major supporting roles that feel redundant. 


- Dinner is a very familiar dorama with a fresh and dazzling new coat of paint. Whether it can reach the heights of Oishii Kankei or Lunch no Joou remains to be seen but its a possibility. Its pretty much going to depend on the one supporting character's secret is revealed per episode formula. Let's see how the next few episodes go before proclaiming this a must watch. Very watchable first two episodes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Saikou no Rikon eps 1+2

Saikou no Rikon is one scary dorama. Scary because its so far met my expectations and gotten my hopes so high that I'm scared it will go the way of Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi where it just drags in the middle. It definitely looks like Sakamoto Yuji may have done it again. This dude writes dialogue as good as Nojima Shinji as is versatile enough to write great doramas of various genres.

Eita is Hamasaki, whiny, animal loving husband to Yuka (Ono Machiko). They seemed trapped in a loveless marriage and their characteristics are incompatible. Hamasaki one day runs into his old flame Uehara Akari (Maki Yoko) who is now married to Uehara Ryo (Ayano Go) and Hamasaki suspects Ryo of cheating on Akari.

First of all, this is a very funny and witty dorama. The character writing is just brilliant. I like how flawed and petty the characters can be, especially Hamasaki. The producers of Renai Dekinai should watch this and see how real characters with depth are suppose to be written.

Eita is impressive. His acting in Soredemo Ikite Yuku was good but he is doing an excellent job carrying the load in this. Almost Abe Hiroshi like level of being able to portray this flawed, self-centered person and yet able to make him entertaining and multi-dimensional. My favourite part so far is in episode 2 where Hamasaki is so absorbed in his speech and there's this rousing track playing the background but you know that he is so deluded and then Maki Yoko snaps him out of it and the music stops.

This is certainly the type of dorama where you don't really care what happens because the characters are engaging enough. Episode 2 is about the Uehara's situation which is interesting to say the least. Ayano Go's character hasn't got his POV scenes yet but I can't wait to see what Sakamoto Yuji has in store.

I don't like the raw that has Chinese subs as well as Japanese because the Chinese can be distracting and is a lot bigger than the Japanese but beggers can't be choosers. If anyone knows where to find clean raws, please let me know. Absolute must watch and hopefully it will help me find an answer to Ono Machiko or Maki Yoko.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ryu ga Gotoku 5 / Yakuza 5 review

Finally, after 130+ hours I finally finished Ryu ga Gotoku 5, the 7th game to feature main character Kazuma Kiryu and Haruka counting 2 spin offs. There's also the two Kurohyou games which I have not gotten around to but I've seen the first season of the dorama.

This video just sums up the awesomeness of Ryu ga Gotoku 5! Just watch it. Best video ever. Trust me.

This is the first Ryu go Gotoku which I've tried to read most of it. I remember playing 5 and Of the End and thinking how can I read and listen at the same time? Now my reading has slightly improved from watching doramas and listening to to help me look up words on my kanji dictionary.

There's apparently a chain in Japan called Izakaya Hanako where the girls dress like this. :)

The game is not without flaws but man did Sega go all out on this game. First single player game I can remember spending over 100 hours and a month on just to finish. 5 characters and 5 cities 4 of which I've been to though I don't remember much about Sakae. Need to do back there and see if its the same as the game. After being though so many games with these characters, the ending was satisfying. I thought the Haruka becoming an idoru story would be tacky but it ended up being very fun and interesting with all the entertainment industry stories.

The memorable little match girl sub story.

Badass yakuza who just escaped from prison helping little girl to threaten sell 100 yen match boxes...

so she can buy hand cream for her mum. Awwwwww. Some stories you can get away with in games.

Is she a manipulative cute little thing or what? Was looking for a way to give her all my money from hunting deer and fighting bears with my fist. Yes, there is hunting in this game along with drift racing, street dance battles, baseball etc.

I don't feel like beating people up now...

Random thoughts on the game I posted on gamefaqs:

- I shed a tear when Haruka said 'I am Kiryuu Kazuma's family'. Can't believe its been 7 games with those two. Nagoshi can do whatever convoluted conspiracy story but as long as those two are in it, I'll keep buying.

- The ending song Diamond Dust is awesome.

- Didn't really care about the last boss but the fight was still epic.

- Why isn't Akiyama's bakamitai song about Hana-chan? I love him becoming this new legend of Kamarucho.

- I just didn't really care about Shinada. I really got lazy reading during his chapter. The Shinada - Baba fight is just zzzzz.

- When are we going to be able to play as Majima? Of the end doesn't count.

- At least Majima didn't 'lose' again this time.

- Don't like some heat/red heat moves overlap. Holding L2 prevents both.

- Game 6 needs to be more 'intimate' about the fallout of Haruka's announcement. The core of the story is Kiryuu, Haruka and Akiyama. Saejima's just another Kiryuu. 5 characters is too many to weave a plot around.

- Best sub stories are the match girl and Haruka's stalkers.

- Akiyama should be able to do his red heat move against enemies that he can't knock down. I find him the hardest to use against many enemies. His moves that too long to start up and I always have to back of first.

- I was expecting the four guys cheering Haruka at the final concert like in the OST.

- How stupid is it that when Haruka goes karaoke she only cheers Kiryuu but not the other way? No cheering karaoke is boring. You have to switch to Kiryuu to have him cheer Haruka.

- What happened to the give letter to Majima story? I really wanted to see Haruka giving him the letter. This is like another side of Majima we've never seen before. Shouldn't he be one of the five characters? They could have made him the first character and gotten rid of Shinada.

Someone else can go save Japan...

Heat actions/move I hate:

- Akiyama's press Triangle when enemy near wall. You want to juggle someone and oops, here's a long cinematic.

- Any climax heat that involves R1 and Triangle. Always comes out accidentally.

- Shinada's when enemy getting up heat action. Use to be a cool button pressing finishing move for Kiryuu and now its just a way too long cinematic. I try to go punch a downed opponent and they start getting up and Shinada raises his hands and I go get a smoke.

- Trying to do Saejima's bounce into leg swing when surrounded by multiple enemies. Always ends up grabbing the person next to me.

- Bicycle tyre special move. I've got to whack people with the bicycle until the tyre is left and by that time they're all down? There's a beer case special move? I'm pretty sure there's plenty of them around...

Now to resume playing Bravely Default which I was at 50 hours and probably only 50% complete.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shotenin Michiru no Mi no Uebanashi ep 1

Toda Erika plays Michiru, a bookstore employee in a small town. Her boyfriend is the son of a watch shop who gives her fishing rods for her birthday but Michuru is having an affair with a married publishing company employee from Tokyo, Toyomasu Kazuki.

Michuru fakes a toothache in order to skip work and sett Kazuki off at the bus stop but is given money to buy lottery tickets by three of her colleagues. We know from the beginning of the dorama that one of the tickets will win 200 million yen.

Michuru decides to go with Kazuki to Tokyo and is spotted by her gay childhood friend played by Kora Kengo and the episode ends with Michuru's phone ringing and her realising that she'll need to come up with a good excuse to explain her disappearance.

Way to early to say anything since the first two episodes will be set ups but I really like the whimsical feel of this dorama. The first episode is introducing all the characters surrounding Michuru and I just can't wait to see what happens when everyone finds out she's got a 200 million yen ticket.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nemureru Mori no Jukujo eps 6-9

I kept waiting for this dorama to descend into mediocrity and every episode was a pleasant surprise at transplanting oujisama shoujo manga conventions into a housewife dorama can make things so fun to watch. If you want to make a fun dorama about a 50 year old lady and a 28 year old guy, its harder to imagine it being better than this.

Things move quickly in Nemureru Mori Jukujo and even when you get some prerequisite conventions such as all the obasans becoming friends and the typical ending, it doesn't linger too long as to make me hate them. I also really enjoyed Asakura Aki as the tsundere ojousan. I'm not a tsundere maniac but her tsundereness gets me excited. I think the biggest reason Nemureru Mori no Jukujo works is that it doesn't force the obasan and oujisama to fall in love. You could argue that they don't even actually do that. Its just two character interacting with each other in funny and entertaining ways.

Nemureru Mori no Jukujo has been a most pleasant surprise. It is the cream of the crop as for as housewife fantasy doramas and I can't believe its the same writer who did Kurosagi and Magma, two shows that had bad writing. Must watch for me and it took me a while to realise that the main actress was from Shall We Dansu?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter 2013 jdoramas that should be subbed.

1. Shotenin Michiru no Mi no Uebanashi 

 Toda Erika and Kora Kengo in a dorama set in a small town about what happens when someone has the winning 200 million yen lottery ticket. If this were not made by WOWOW or NHK, I would not be excited. Its also got a few other WOWOW regulars in it as well. Hopefully it'll end up being an interesting dark comedy.

2. Saikou no Rikon

Eita, Ono Machiko and Maki Yoko in a dorama written by Sakamoto Yuji? My expectations for this are sky high.

3. Dinner

Eguchi Yusuke once again playing a chef in an ensemble dorama with Santamaria Yusuke and Kurashina Kana. The writer, Kuroiwa Tsutomu adapted Liar Game and Strawberry Night (ugh). He also wrote Zettai Reido 2 which I will never watch. Gonna watch this more for casting.

4. Tonbi

Uchino Masaaki and Kenshin in a father son dorama. By the writer who brought us Mr Brain, thankfully Tonbi is an adaptation of a novel. The writer Morishita Yoshiko also wrote Ruri no Shima which was pretty good and would be close in tone to Tonbi.

5. Lady Joker

 When I look at the above picture, I'm hoping it will turn out to be Marks no Yama meets Hagetaka. Will definitely need subs to understand this.

6. Onna to Otokot no Nettai

Watabe Atsuro in a dark WOWOW dorama? There's your recipe for excitement! Not crazy about Fujiwara Norika but here's hoping she brings a lot of sexual tension.

7. Made in Japan

Seems to be about a Japanese company facing bankruptcy against the backdrop of the rise of China and Korea as manufacturing powers. Very relevant, definitely going to have lots of politics and I would be very lost without English subs. Someone sub this please.

In summary, I would have to say I shudder to think what the jdorama landscape would be like without WOWOW and NHK.