Sunday, June 30, 2013
Kaibutsu is a very interesting thriller. Sato Koichi is a police detective dealing with two cases. First is a murder case where Mukai Osamu who works at a high-tech garbage disposal research facility is suspected of murder. The waste disposal tech is able to reduce rubbish and bodies into pure liquid, making it the perfect tool for getting rid of dead people.
The second case is a 15 year old case where Kaname Jun who a political prince, is suspected to have murdered a 15 year old girl. Tabe Mikako was also a victim of Kaneme Jun turns up wanting to confront him. Needless to say the two cases somehow get connected and interesting things happen.
This is a show about monsters/kaibutsu and I'm happy that it doesn't take the black and white route. Its sad that all jdorama villains have to laugh like a maniac but I'll take that since the story is good. There a lot of twists and turns that I wish they could have done it in 5 episodes instead of a 2 hours special but I'll take grey area morality any way I can.
The one thing I was worried over was the ending and I was so glad when the karmic ending turned out to be a hallucination. The ending is really exciting, ends on a cliffhanger and I really want to see what happens next. I really want to give this a must watch but by the jdorama gods, the lighting in this is horrible. Lots of random light scources from who knows where litter this dorama SP and light glares. The lighting guy on this dorama uses glares like JJ Abrams uses lens flare. Overall, really fake mood lighting.
Highly recommended. They don't have enough time to sell some twists and turns and you'll probably be wishing someone from WOWOW directed this but any serious thriller dorama that manages to go to interesting places is not to be missed. If Sono Sion or Kurosawa Kiyoshi had directed this, it would have been a classic. I want to know whether the novel stops here or whether it has a sequel because the possibilities for part 2 are endless.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Shota and Kaho are the bright spot of the series.
Monday, June 24, 2013
Sawamura Ikki is back as Sagara. I really love the first season because it takes your generic jdorama hospital stories and adds some brains to it. Good things don't happen just because Sagara is good and naive. Things happen because Sagara knows how to push people's buttons for his own interests. Things happen because our main character makes it happen, not because good things happen to good people.
Of course the magic of DOCTORS is not complete without the character defective Moriyama sensei. What started out as just another useless colleague who is angry at our hero is the perfect foil and partner for Sagara. Sometimes overacting can be a great performance.
Its not we haven't seen people manipulation doramas before. Shows like Hammer Session are stunt based and rely on people realising the 'goodness' in their hearts. In DOCTORS, Saga uses Moriyama's pride and other people's insecurities to get the desired results. I doubt Sagara will ever go full Machiavellian but to me, its such a breath of fresh air.
Anyways, the same characters return for the dorama SP with Moriyama sensei coming back from a 3 month stint in Texas. The villain for this SP is Sengoku sensei, the leader of the group that Moriyama left in episode one. Sengoku who is up for re-election at his University Hospital wants to destroy Dougami hospital. I really wanted to see this type of story in Iryu. Sengoku actually does the same type of 'relocations' that Noguchi sensei did in Iryu.
The other story is a patient from Sengoku's hospital who has lost hope of living and is depressed. Nothing much to see here. Its your typical sweet hospital story. Interesting to note everyone tells her to live for her son but say nothing about the invisible husband. Lol. Can't blame the writer since being a widower with a kid is probably a great pick up story.
Its fun watching Sagara appeal to Moriyama's pride and the running joke of the SP is Moriyama being too proud to kneel before Sengoku. A character who sticks to his guns whether for good or bad is always interesting.
Another thing I liked abour the script was inferring that Sagara's plan was not contingent on Sengoku losing the election. Sagara did not do much to plausibly claim he had a strong chance of effect the elections and part of his persuasive reasoning was that Sengoku would have a hard time if the operation is successful. The only part of his plan Sagara was counting on was the operation succeeding.
I am kind of surprised they wasted this villain and story for the dorama SP. They could have easily stretched it to one whole season. I was looking for whether its the same writer but no confirmation from Fukuda Yasushi's Japanese wiki. So the evil big hospital trying to destroy our heroes is out for the second season. What other ways can Sagara improve Dougami hospital by manipulating people? I await the second season with cautious optimism as long as its the same writer. Must watch SP and I highly recommend the first season.
Saturday, June 22, 2013
While bullying movies/dorama are a dime a dozen, I've don't remember seeing one that approaches it quite like Fourteen. If I have to compare it with another movie, I'd say its a darker version of Kirishima, Bukatsu Yamerutteyo and explores issues of bullying and being 14 years old through the eyes of teacher and students without giving a simple answer.
The first half of the movie is very disorganised. We see bits and pieces about the 5 main characters but the narrative is quite weak. Compounding the problem was some very questionable cinematography. For example, there is an important scene where the teacher finds something written on the blackboard but the camera is just floating around aimlessly and distractingly in the middle of the classroom and its not even representing a student's viewpoint.
The movie starts to make sense in the middle when the connection is made with the stabbing scene in the beginning and we realise who the characters are and what actually is going on. Its hard to talk about the movie without spoilers but let's say it covers a lot of dark and interesting subject matter well. Like all dark/realistic movies, everyone's got issues not just the students and nothing gets resolved easily.
Interesting to note that the director, Hirosue Hiromasa also plays on the of the main characters Sugino, a piano teacher and a very young Sometani Shota (Minna! Esper Dayo!) plays his student. The acting is really good but I feel slightly let down by the directing/cinematography. Its not just the above mentioned classroom scene. Instead of feeling like a fly on the wall, sometimes I feel like I'm peering at the characters from outside. I'm not saying the camera work is atrocious, just that it could have been a lot better and less distant.
I'd like to give it a must watch but I can't. The first half could have been tighter and the camera work much better but the script and acting more than make up for it. Despite its slight flaws, its a dark movie with a soul and its guaranteed to stay with you after watching. If you're looking for a serious jmovie about youth and bullying, you can't go wrong with Fourteen.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Took a look at Mierino Kashiwagi cause Jung recommended it. Its about 3 people who work at a cafe and help people to break up. First of, I really like the look of this dorama. Its more realistic, people talk normally and its got a subdued sense of humour. The good thing about 30 minute doramas is that there is usually no fat. It has to introduce characters and tell a story efficiently.
Just when things where looking up, Kashiwagi gets a phone call and meets up with Kyabakura 48 producer Akimoto for some boring fourth-wall breaking talk. All of a sudden Mierino Kashiwagi is pointing out that its existence is to pimp this kyabajo, I mean idoru. Everything else about the dorama is interesting.
The Akimoto hogging the screen part I cannot stand. His talks with Kashiwagi are sort of related to the story but I hate how they try to relate the relationship stories to this 'junsui' idoru. This is a dorama that's stuck between telling interesting stories and serving an idoru. Only for fans.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Now that Tsumi to Batsu has been subbed and I've tried everything I want to watch, its time to look back at the best and worst doramas that came out in 2012. Not really a memorable year because nothing that was an absolute classic came out and it was more a year of doramas that could have been. Actually 2012 is the year many great 1st episodes which are followed by crap.
I CAN'T BELIEVE AWARDS 2012
I can't believe Hancho has been around for 7 seasons and averages 11% rating.
I can't believe Fuji TV expected Going My Home to get good ratings.
I can't believe all the I.T. and business bullcrap in Rich Man, Poor Woman. Now I understand characters in the old trendy doramas always worked in advertising.
I can't believe someone tried to remake perfection. (GTO)
I can't believe the producer of Renai Dekinai still has a job.
I can't believe Ishihara Satomi's lips won best actress for pouting through 10 episodes.
I can't believe the scripts for Suitei Yuuzai and Magma were so bad after great episodes. Surely someone with common sense must have read the scripts first?
I can't believe I never really called out Nagasawa Masami's lack of acting ability until Bunshin.
I can't believe there's a second season of Legal High.
I can't believe I'm still spending so much time watching jdoramas.
Kaho - Hitori Shizuka. She has gone from child actress to showing that she can be the main actor.
Honourable mentions -
Koizumi Kyoko - Shukuzai and Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi.
Kimura Yoshino - Hatsukoi. The first time I can remember being impressed by her acting.
Nakatani Miki - Seinaru no Kaibutsutachi. Its a horrible, unwatchable dorama but she kept me in it for 6 episodes. An actress of her caliber deserves better scripts.
Matsu Takako - Unmei no Hito
Abe Hiroshi - Going My Home. Its always Abe's award to lose.
Honourable mentions -
Nakai Kiichi - Saga Kara Nibanme no Koi
Masahiro Motoki - Unmei no Hito
Kora Kengo - Tsumi to Batsu
Tanihara Sosuke - Tsugunai
BEST DORAMAS OF 2012
5. Nemureru Mori no Jukujo.
4. Unmei no Hito
1. Hotori Shizuka
BEST OF THE REST
1. Double Face (dorama SP)
2. Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi
3. Going My Home
4. Tsumi to Batsu
5. Kodoku no Gurume (1st season)
7. Spec Sho (dorama SP)
Saturday, June 15, 2013
What's happening to this dorama?! Its just no longer funny. Episode 8 is about Tengaman getting bewitched by a fat overweight but it was so boring, even with the team working together. The best bits were of the Yoshiro-Miyuki-Asami triangle with Asami not believing in espers and Yoshiro and Miyuki being able to hear each other's thoughts.
The episode ends with Yoshiro finally responding to Asami's thoughts instead of always running away. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to label it a 'do not watch'. Come on Sono Sion, I believe in you!
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Was looking through the 2012 fansub map when Tightrope no Onna caught my eye. Name sounded familiar and then I realised that I had bought it along with Toranaide Kudasai!! Seeing as the first two episodes have been English subbed, might as well give it a go. Tightrope no Onna is a daughter v former mistress/second wife business dorama. Tokura Yuri (Ikewaki Chizuru) is the naive ojousan of a wire manufacturer and Takaoka Saki is his second wife Tokura Kyoko.
Mr Tokura passes away leaving his company to both his daughter and wife and of course the daughter Yuri hates the 2nd wife, blaming her for the family's breakup and Yuri's mother's death. Kyoko, however needs Yuri's help in order to save Mr Tokura's company which is in dire financial trouble.
First of, I've got two main problems with this dorama. Number 1 is that Yuri is such a slow and naive character that its hard to root for her. Being the focus of the dorama, it takes her too damn long to grow brain cells and even then the master plan to save the company.
Well that brings me to me second dislike, its not an exciting business dorama. It reminds me of Magma, I expected exciting business twists and turns and all I want to shout at the screen is kirei koto iu na! (Stop saying beautiful words). It wants to be a touchy feely dorama but at the expense of business logic. For example, why wasn't the guy who has been cooking the books canned in the first episode? So it can lead to this idealistic, forgiving moment at the end.
This brings me to why I finished the 6 episodes. I like the daughter who hates the 2nd wife story. Lots of complicated stuff amidst some soapy plot lines but it is kept afloat immensely by the acting ability of Ikewaki Chizuru and Takaoka Saki. I like how the 2nd wife manipulates the naive daughter to do certain things and pushes her buttons. Doesn't happen successfully and there are deep emotions involved but it certainly reminds me of Doctors. Smart characters are always a happy thing for me. Speaking of Doctors, why hasn't anyone uploaded the special yet?
You could say the acting from the two actresses has lead me to see it as a half full dorama instead of a half empty one. Good acting does make generic doramas tolerable. Plus when was the last time Japan produced a good business dorama since Hagetaka? Watching jdoramas can certainly mess with your expectations. I certainly do not regret watching it but it may also have to do with the story's simplicity making watching with Japanese subs easier. If you want something to watch, no harm giving it a try, I guess.