Sunday, June 29, 2014
OMFG. Fark me. WTF did I just watch??!!! My mind is completely blown. How can this be by the same writer who wrote SP? This season is turning out to be better than expected. Mozu was the great hope and it turned out meh. Season 2 might save it but I'm betting on it. The Long Goodbye was pretty good and I only saw Border as another gimmick police show but it has turned out to be such an incredible show. Stop reading and watch it if you haven't.
WHAT I LIKED
+ Oguri Shun's best acting job I have ever seen. Straight up contender for best actor in 2014. He is good. You can feel the emotional weight in his eyes and his sense of desperation. Hopefully he no longer has to do stupid romantic comedies that make no sense.
+ My main concern was how many ways the writer, Kaneshiro Kazuki could use the gimmick to tell stories before it became repetitive, sort of like River Edge but the writer has managed to exploit the gimmick to tell stories in many interesting ways that I did not forsee.
+ The emotional toll that Oguri Shun's character takes throughout the series. Best way to build empathy.
+ During the car bomb scene in episode 4, I was thinking they can't possibly have the budget to blow that car up? lol
+ I love episode 5 aka memory loss episode. Funny as hell.
+ Oguri Shun's monologue in episode 6 and the fact that the villain's argument in that episode made twisted sense. Good villains are the ones who believe in what they are doing.
+ Instead of writing about incompetent colleagues, we have great villains like the political fixer in episode 7. Holy shit, what a badass bad guy that I want to see Oguri Shun defeat. The hero is only as good as the villain and what a villain. Cause Oguri Shun's power can be considered cheating but when you put him against a villain where his powers are of little use? He better come back in season 2!
+ The final villain of the season played brilliantly by Omori Nao. He is the Joker to Oguri Shun's Batman and what a discourse those two have. Very reminiscent of The Dark Knight. Oguri Shun's power allows him to cheat but but its useless against the master criminal with the perfect crime.
+ Oguri Shun smashing his head against the brick wall.
+ The ending. What an ending. Can't believe someone had the balls to do that ending. Kaneshiro Kazuki has been building that up during the series with all the if you become as powerful as the bad guy, you will turn bad talk as well as all the mental pain and anguish that Oguri Shun goes through. I want season 2 now!!!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Haru being way too young and the exy costumes during the bloodless autopsies.
- Oguri Shun did not need the hackers for simple things like accessing victim's email.
- No announcement of season 2? Someone please give them Hero's huge budget.
Absolutely must watch jdorama. Strong contender for jdorama of the year. Oguri Shun has always been to me the boy who got abused in GTO. Now he is Ishikawa, the police officer tortured by his gift. Bring on season 2!!!!!
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The Long Goodbye is a detective noir series set in post WWII Japan about a private detective called Banji (Asano Tadanobu) who becomes friends with Ayano Gou who is married to a famous actress. Something happens to Ayano Gou and Banji unwittingly becomes involved in something bigger.
WHAT I LIKED
+ Pure detective noir at its finest except for voiceover by the main character, from femme fetales to moody lighting/music to world weary protagonist who must do what he thinks is right. Noir at its finest.
+ Cigarette smoking is not overused like Mozu and there is no unnecessary posturing.
+ Beautifully crafted and shot. They really maximised their budget to recreate 1950s Japan. You can tell a lot of times they couldn't afford to use wide shots but that makes me like it even more.
+ I couldn't help comparing this with Mozu when watching but pacing is so much better and I was eager to find out the truth instead of fearing they would stuff it up.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Ending kind of left me with a meh. I was hoping for the show to outsmart me at the end but like HBO's True Detective, its more much a character story about the protagonist standing up against those in power. I would have liked to have seen more of the killer's past, especially considering the killer's condition.
I can't give it a must watch cause it didn't blow me away just like True Detective but its a very well made piece of Japanese dorama. The Long Goodbye did a much better job playing to the strengths of its genre compared to Mozu. Very watchable and high recommended. Great job NHK!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
How could a movie starring Abe Hiroshi, Mimura, Sakuraba Nanami and written by Masaya Ozaki sit in my HDD for 1 1/2 year before I got around to watching it? The answer to that is that my backlog is super long. Anyway, Cheers from Heaven is a story about a bentoya living in a small town in Okinawa who one day decides to build a studio because young people have no place to practice their music.
Cheers from Heaven is a super tearjerker gets very melodramatic but the fact that its based on a true story and has my favourite actors in it made it enjoyable. My biggest complaint is how Sakuraba Nanami's band can do all the public performances with only one song.
Monday, June 23, 2014
Ozaki Masaya notches another must watch dorama on his list of great jdorama scripts. Black President was the first jdorama I caught up with after my trip. I'm happy to see that Coffee-ya no Hitobito has been subbed into English but I'm surprised such a great show as Black President hasn't been subbed. Long story short, Black President is the spiritual sequel to KDO with even the same story beats but its oh so smart and funny. Not at the classic level of KDO but still very good and must watch. If you've got basic Japanese, its highly recommended you try.
THINGS I LIKED ABOUT BLACK PRESIDENT.....
Dan Mitsu used only for fan service. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have her try to act in Hanzawa Naoki must have had a great bj from her. Lol at Sawamura Ikki's bulging eyeballs. Pretty sure no acting was needed.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
River's Edge is your small town detective helping people with their problems with two differences. The hook is that Odagiri Joe gets a dream about his client before he meets them so you see part of the ending but you have to figure out how it fits.
WHAT I LIKED
+ The episodes are only half an hour but it always feels very lean and impactful. Take for example the very funny idol episode. It says all that needs to be said about the idol industry and the twist is a great analogy to the illusion that idols are.
+ Its very, very funny and quirky. From the love hotel stuff to the manzai episode.
+ The simplicity of the deliheru episode.
+ The receptionist Megumi always provides some fanservice and her side jobs are entertaining.
+ Love the music.
+ The direction by Hitoshi One (Moteki) is very energetic.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Watching episode 1 on an empty stomach. Not that I can't get wan tan here but I was dreaming of getting extra ramen wan tan topping at tokotsu ramen ogi.
- Eps 7 to 9 were kind of meh compared to the first 6. There are only so many times they can go with the find someone from my past who has turned into someone else story.
Very watchable for me. I originally gave it a must watch for eps 1-6 but later episodes got a bit repetitive.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Can't believe I watched two seasons of Ushijima-kun in two days! I started watching Sunday night and overslept because it became a case of just watch one episode over and over. Yamikin Ushijima-kun is a story about this loan shark Ushijima played by Yamada Takayuki in his easiest acting role yet. All he has to do is just recite his lines with an expressionless face.
What I like about this loan shark dorama is that its not a fairytale story and has a touch of dark comedy. Its a show that delves into the lives of the desperate. People who are addicted on gambling or want to get rich quickly or work in the water business. You'd have to be pretty desperate to borrow money at 50% interest payable in 10 days.
I really liked Katase Nana as the newbie in the first season. Newbies are often used just to explain things to the audience and be their point of view but I find that making her someone who is smart and not so idealistic really brings a lot to the series. Plus, she has an interesting back story that should have been explored more and provides a lot of humour.
The stories are about Ushijima-kun's clients and are very interesting and things somehow get connected together in the end. Season 1 has pretty good pacing while season 2 just drags its feet because the multiple stories take all 9 episodes to resolve themselves. Season 1 for me was a very watchable show while season 2 just dragged especially with the fashion character's story that just dragged. The lack of Katase Nana's character also hurt season 2 IMO.
If you're after a darker, cynical dorama, I recommend the first season of Yamikin Ushijima-kun. It was a fun, breezy 9 episodes for me while I only finished the second season to see how things would end. Did I mention that there are a couple of JAV actresses in this series? :)
On an unrelated note, No Con Kid is being subbed into English by Akhora. I highly recommend it if you love retro gaming. It was one of my favourite shows from last year but it was such a good year that No Con Kid couldn't make it into my top 5.