Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Otousan wa Nido Shinu

How funny is it that Minamisawa Nao is doing two doramas in a row where her father dies at the beginning at the series and both series are about discovering the circumstances surrounding her father's death? Outousan wa Nido Shinu is a story whereby the father (Endo Kenichi) dies under strange circumstances and all sorts of information that the family does not know about him comes out at the funeral to the shock of his family.

It starts out kind of funny but it ends up like Shinzanmono which becomes very repetitive. There are some weird things for the sake of plot like the family not being concerned with the circumstances of dad's death until the middle of the series. If you've seen doramas about workaholic fathers, you know what to expect. Why can't Japanese kids in doramas just be grateful someone is working their ass off so they can enjoy life? Very pedestrian but not bad enough to warrant a do not watch label.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Further thoughts on Woman ep 4

Someone wrote a very thorough piece on Woman Ep 4 in the comments section. I was writing a response that became longer and longer and I though, screw it, I'll just write my response as a follow up post as there's so much to say about episode 4.

To me, the kids had their great crying scene at the end of episode one. Sakamoto Yuji blew his  crying kids wad on that one. Not saying the kids can't cry for the rest of the series but not to set it up in a premeditated and too obvious way like the story with the dog. It feel like redundant crying. Still better than Beatiful Rain, the Transformers of crying porn.

I have to give Shiori some doubt with her acting cause maybe she was following the director's vision plus the shaky cam thing. One could think Natalie Portman was a bad actress just based on Star Wars. As Antspace pointed it was Shiori slowly collapsing and it was only in the end that she took of her mask. My gut feeling is Nikaido Fumi is not up to the task but I hope she blows me away in the remaining series.

I don't really feel anything for Shiori's character. I feel for her mother though. Mother torn between loyalties to two daughters. Ok, she's not really torn but it at least gives an interesting conflict after the Oguri Shun is a chikan got put down. Ep 4 killed my vision of a powerful scene where Shiori shouts at Koharu, "Your husband molested me!" It might still happen and if it did, Shiori will be the biggest villain ever in jdoramas and I will personally go to Japan and do unspeakable things to her.

I still don't know what she is. Anon1 thinks she's a failure at being a pitiful villain.She's not exactly Futaba's brother in Soredemo Ikite Yuku. I love that character. It was such a powerful depiction of an irredeemable character and it made me pity him without changing what he is or making excuses. I just don't pity nor care about Shiori which is a bad sign.

Antspace, wrong diagnosis would be awesome although I doubt this would turn into a medical malpractice dorama. Speaking of of masks, let's see where the doctor's wooden and slightly creepy persona takes us.

Where does Woman go from here? Assuming its 10 episodes, we got another 6 of Koharu is dying and someone needs to take care of her kids. Not a fan of that but I hope Sakamoto Yuji can make it interesting. Koharu is probably going to end up in hospital in episode 9 so before that she has to find out her step-sister is a chikan entrapment specialist.

Is the conundrum of this dorama going to be 'I hate my mom and my step-sister who killed my husband but someone's got to take care of my kids'? Not exactly filling me with as much excitement as 'my husband molested my sister, got beat up and pushed to his death by a mob and now I need to ask her and my mom to take care of my kids'.

Anon2, going from Oguri Shun is a chikan to him commiting suicide for a person who's happily married with two kids is kind of a hard sell. If he were depressed and had been unemployed for a long time and knows that he won't be able to get a job with a chikan records then it would make more sense. I just want this to be a classic jdorama so bad.

Wait, I just realised something. This father of 2 who loves the dangerous sport of mountain climbing never thought to buy life insurance for his family?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Woman ep 4

Gah, D-addicts is down! Anyway spoilers ahead for those who haven't watched ep 4 of Woman yet. Just want to ask how come the kids are not bullied in school because their dad's a chikan? What happened to Japan hating on people who are related to alleged criminals? Episode 4 was a mixed bag of an episode for me.

That leukemia tease in the beginning of the episode had me thinking, please don't make this a fatal disease dorama.Still, the tease made me confident Woman wasn't going down that route although there have been lots of hints. It'll probably be something non-fatal.

Then we get to the obligatory crying porn part of the series with the story about Riku and the dog. Its expected padding when doing a 10 episode or so series. Its cool though since its about the teacher wanting Riku to do an intelligence test and us finding out he can memorise a whole lost dog advertisement. The crying part just felt unnecessary.

Then we get to the very pivotal Shiori and her mom in the karaoke scene. I've got to say, what the fuck is up with the floaty shaky camera in this scene??!! This is such an important scene and the camera's just swaying left and right distracting me the performance. To be fair, I don't think Nikaido Fumi (Shiori) is good enough to blow us away but I'd rather see her fail rather than get distracted by the camera.

What I feared true was revealed; Oguri Shun was not a chikan. Cue one million Oguri Shun fangirls sighing in relief.What was revealed though is equally exciting; that Shiori used to extort poor salaryman by crying chikan and she did it to poor Oguri Shun out of jealousy and insecurity. Oguri Shun got beat up by drunks and pushed to his death all because of Shiori.

For the revelation to come this early means that Shiori's guilt and her mom's desire to protect her will be the main story for the series. Maybe they should have called this series 'Mother 2'. Mother of two step-sister, one of which caused the death of the other sister's husband.

Having the revelation this early also asks the question how is Koharu going to find out? Are we going to have another confession scene by Shiori? Are we going to get more shaky camera work that will take me out of the moment? All I know is I'm staying far away from schoolgirls on trains next time I go Japan.

Then finally comes the awesome storybook scene about the monster Ugikuku who eats children's souls. That scene was awesome. The storybook voice over and selling of the news. Not a fan of fatal disease storylines though. We still don't know what the disease is anyway. Is the dorama going the way of a Shiori redemption storyline? I just want to see Koharu bitch-slap her step-sister when she finds out.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Saitou-san 2 ep 1

I absolutely adore Saitou-san. Its the suburban housewife dorama to end all suburban housewife doramas because at the heart of it, its about Mano-san, played wonderfully by Mimura. Season 2 seems to be basically a rehash of season one and if one dorama this season got its casting wrong besides Hanzawa Naoki, Saitou-san 2 with Kiritani Mirei (Arakawa Under the Bridge) as Saitou-san's future friend.

What's with Kiritani Mirei besides the fact that she looks like she is just skin and bones? She's a 23 year old actress who looks like a high schooler and plays the mother of a 10 year old. As bframe said, absolutely ridiculous. The husband must be guilty of statutory rape unless she's the stepmom. Its worse than casting Ueto Aya as a housewife who's been popping too many happy pills. Right from the get go, Saitou-san 2 has lost me. They tried to cover it up with many characters and herself proclaiming how young she is but is she playing a 30 year old who looks 18 at most?

Skipped towards the end and I was so happy when Mano-san showed up that I watched the scene twice. Those two have a magical chemistry between them and that's something Kiritani Mirei will not have with Mizuki Arisa. You're better of rewatching the first season. Why rehash the same story with a actress who is much worse?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hanzawa Naoki eps 1+2

Banking/financial jdoramas are a rarity. That's why I even found Tokkan fun to watch. Financial jdoramas are also very difficult to watch for the non-fluent people like me without English subs. I started watching before the English subs came out and I was reaching for my dictionary and pausing every 3 lines till I had two pages of financial terms and jargon which I will only remember the meaning but don't remember the words.  The English subs came out just after I finished watching ep1 but there's no point rewatching it.

Hanzawa Naoki is the loan manager of a bank and he was forced to do a 500 million yen loan by his boss. The thing is the company that he loaned the money to, Nishi Osaka Steel goes bankrupt straight away and Hanzawa is blamed for the loan and must now recover the money.

Hanzawa Naoki is an interesting financial conspiracy dorama. However, its not being done by WOWOW or NHK which means lots of overacting and cartoony villains such as the tax office guy who becomes interested in Nishi Osaka Steel. Not only does Hanzawa Naoki have to deal with recovering the 500 million yen, he has to play cat and mouse with the tax office.

Ueto Aya doing her hitozuma impersonation. Is there anything scarier than Japanese housewives?

I like the story. I want to see how Hanzawa Naoki and his friends survive. I just wish the villains were less scenery chewing/anime-like. An example would be Kagawa Teryuki acting like he's playing a Kenshin villain or when the president of Nishi Osaka Steel distracts Hanzawa Naoki with some stupid line about how banks don't hold an umbrella over your head when its raining. Of course you have to make the villains hateful like the table slapping guy but I would have preferred a more realistic tone like Hagetaka and Chase, two of the best financial jdoramas out there.

I can't hate Hanzawa Naoki for what it is; a banking anime. When I saw the trailer, I thought it looked very generic. The chances of Ueto Aya doing a realistic dorama is practically nil. I'm pretty sure the dude who looks to green to be in finance and is there for exposition is a johnny. Sigh. As long as they can keep the story interesting and keep throwing interesting obstacles at Hanzawa Naoki, I'll keep watching.

On an unrelated note, the second episode of Doctors is up on dailymotion here. I've downloaded it and retimed the subs but I'm not sure I should post it up on furransu's Japanese sub thread.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Woman Ep 3

Faaaaark, ep 3 is so good. One thing that's been bothering me is how come there's always two doctors in the consulting room with Koharu everytime she goes to the hospital? I guess both doctors will figure heavily into Koharu's life in later episodes. I take back all criticisms I had of the pear thing because we finally find out what happened to Oguri Shun! Stop reading if you haven't watched it.

Oguri Shun is a chikan! I think Snoop said it showed up in a newspaper in ep 2. Mountaineering, nice dad touched up some high school girl (pretty obvious who it is), dropped the pears and may have been pushed. I kind of don't want them to disprove the chikan thing. Ties in with the theme of good people do bad things and bad people do good things.

Like the revelation that Koharu's dad physically abused his mom. He was violent towards his wife but he raised Koharu by himself for 10 years after that. Pretty sure he didn't abuse her unless Koharu repressed it that much. She probably repressed any memory that hinted her mom was abused.

Kobayashi Kaoru aka Shinya Shokudo is awesome as the step-father. Great source of humour, especially with the kids and you always need some humour with an ultra-serious dorama like this but earnest in his performance. Watching him act as the buffer between mother and daughter, I couldn't help but pity and laugh at him at the same time.

Speaking of the mother-daughter confrontation. That was some awesome slow building smorgasboard of hidden emotions and outbursts. This is the type of scene that any actor in Japan should sacrifice money and CM deals to do. I can just imagine the actors getting the script and thinking 'this is awesome and I'm going to be an emotional wreck after this'.

Nikaido Fumi who was in Sono Sion's Himizu is not bad but Mitsushima Hikari's facial reaction to what her step-sister said is what acting awards were created for. I was going to write about Hanzawa Naoki but furransu had just uploaded ep 3 and there was no stopping me. Good doramas make me happy. Didn't understand Shinya Shokudo's joke though. The 90s may be the golden age of trendy doramas but did they ever have emotionally gripping doramas like this?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Minna! Esper Dayo! eps 11+12

So it ends not with a bang or a whimper but with a WTF is Sono Sion trying to accomplish here?!

Besides creating the most fun to screencap dorama next to Jyouou, that is. Note to self, maybe its time to watch Jyouou 3.

The worst thing a dorama can do is tease you with its many directions but never really go anyway and that is Minna! Esper Dayo!

Its not a team esper dorama cause he didn't spend enough time on building them up as a team.

Nor is it a sankaku kankei dorama cause that story just comes and goes without going anywhere interesting. The Sae is an esper revelation should have been a big deal.

Try mapping out Kamogawa's journey that doesn't go anywhere.

This dorama can't possibly be about powers as an analogy for social outcast?

Minna! Esper Dayo does a bit of everything of the above but doesn't have a backbone unless you consider panchira.

I didn't really care about what was happening and didn't have a reason to with the non ending.

I was looking back at my reviews trying to figure out how many bad episodes out of 12 and the common thing I was writing was that I was waiting for it to go somewhere interesting.

By my count, eps 1-5 and 10 are good and the rest are crap.
I wish I knew what Sono Sion saw in the manga that made him want to adapt it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Doctors: Saikyou no Meii 2 Ep 1

I really liked the dorama special but it raised the question of what's left for the series? Season 2 starts of teasing in going in the direction of Moriyama becoming the director of Dougami General hospital. Dougami is going to get a huge amount of money from a bank and Moriyama's aunt wants to retire, go on a cruise and leave Moriyama in charge.

Of course the nurses are in uproar and threatening to quit. Sagara of course has a plan. Looks like the Moriyama gang have gotten ahead of themselves and are not treating their patients properly. One of Moriyama's patients requests that Sagara become her doctor instead and he uses this chance to deal with the Moriyama becoming director problem. (Or is it the other way around)

So in the end everything is back to where it was in season 1. I would prefer episode 1 to set up the direction of season 2 but could we possibly be looking at a rehash of season 1 ala Yuusha Yoshihiko? Episode 1 really does feel like its going through the same motions. Does the writer have new and inventive ways for Sagara to trick Moriyama? Guess we'll find out in the next episode. Doubt Doctors will get subbed so hopefully someone will upload it to d-addicts or I'll just have to download from dailymotion.

Whoever cast her in this episode must have gotten a lot of under the table action in return. Her acting is just so bad.

On an unrelated note, someone's subbing Double Tone which I recommend. So far the 3 episodes are very solid. Could be the sleeper dorama of the season.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Woman ep 2

Why is no one hating on Oguri Shun dying over pears? It is pretty hard to not notice a train is incoming in Japan. There are:

1. Electronic signs telling you when the next train is coming.
2. Voice saying train approaching soon.
3. People lining up.

One could possibly have excused 1 and 2 if Oguri Shun were wearing earphones but yeah, its a bit of a sell. I'm happy to accept the premise because it lead to the awesome scene in ep 1 where Koharu finally found out why her husband had pears with him but showing it a bit too many times makes my mind start wondering about how he died. Unless of course there is something to be revealed about his death later.

Hottest MILFS in the world.

I love the flashbacks to ep 1. It was such an awesome episode that  I started wandering about how they could keep the momentum going. My biggest fear is that it would become Beautiful Rain aka Crying Porn.

While episode 2 is about the awwwww promise between Koharu and Nozomi, the execution is pretty good. I like that Nozomi is able to sell the feeling of guilt without saying stuff and crying. Hated/loved the way Koharu asked Nozomi whether she was lonely. I was screaming in my head, "Don't fucking do this guilt thing on your kids! Let them enjoy themselves ffs".

However character flaws are what makes characters interesting and real. Plus it ties in with what the welfare people told Koharu. Just happy that Nozomi's performance is not from the Ashida 'Look at me I'm so cute' Man school of acting. Love the above scene where the kids are stuck between wanting to have fun and guilt.

Got a bit excited with the above screencap cause it looks like Usuda Asami is wearing just a t-shirt. 

Episode 2 advances all the other plots a little bit. Big surprise welfare dude has problems at home. It ends nicely with Nikaido Fumi introducing herself which makes me more excited for ep 3. You hear that Koreeda? End your episodes with something exciting! Que Koreeda fans screaming blasphemy.