Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ie Naki Ko Ep 1

Ie Naki Ko or Child without a Home is the 1994 jdorama that made Adachi Yumi's career and got a 37% rating for the final episode. I got interested in Ie Naki Ko by accident. I came across Nakamura Ataru doing a cover of the theme song of this show and it ended up with me watching it.

In Ie Naki Ko, Adachi Yumi is Suzu, a little girl who pretends to be sick during physical education so that she could steal her classmate's tuition money. Her classmates accuse her of being the thief and we find out Suzu is poor.

Suzu's mother is in hospital because of heart problems and her stepfather is a drunk who beats her and takes her money. He tells her people will always betray each other. Suzu's mom is a stupid woman who blinds herself to her husband's uselessness and tells Suzu that people have good and bad sides. To complete the Suzu is oh cute and pitiful picture, she even has a dog following her around.

So this is a little girl who has to grow up because she's live a harsh life show. The interesting character for me is her teacher played by Hosaka Naoki who at first seems naive but catches on to Suzu's act.

He still covers for her because he doesn't want to ruin her life and says that he is the same. I haven't seen this actor for so long and he's in a bunch of 90s jdoramas including Salaryman Kintaro. He will always be Takatsukasa from Kintaro to me.

Probably the most memorable scene from episode 1 is Suzu's line to her teacher, "If you feel sorry for me then give me the money! (for my mother's operation)"

One interesting thing to note is how often Suzu gets hit and slapped by adults. If this show were shown now, there would be an uproar about the amount of 'physical violence' inflicted on a child when back in those days, it was considered disciplining.

Not a bad first episode. The raws are available here. There are no English subtitles but the Japanese requiremen is pretty basic. Finally, for the love of all jdoramas I do not want to see an Ashida Mana remake.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Juhan Shuttai! 8-10

The Iokibe episode is so good and I am glad that the right person got the glory of the last episode.

I love the look everyone gives Iokibe after his proclaimation. Juhan Shuttai!went on a roll since episode 3. I've already written my post on why this show works so well despite having a super overacting asadora main character.

Allow me to add point no .6 and 7. to that list of reasons why Juhan Shuttai! works in that sub stories are sprinkled throughout the series and make appearances even when their stories have finished. No. 7 is that as the characters take turns being the main protagonist in each episode, the seeds of their story such as Iokibe's have been planted earlier and when it come to their turn, I was already invested.

More than Kiseki no Hito, Juhan Shuttai! has become the feel good show for me this season. What Juhan Shuttai has done is the evolution of the GTO style formula. The eccentric main character does not magically solve people's problems for them and gives them a lecture but watches and maybe gives them to nudge to solve their own problems.

 As an audience, it feels good to watch people succeed when we see the blood, sweat and tears (which is why the Bakuman movie didn't work for me) and Juhan Shuttai! is filled with such characters.

Like Kiseki no Hito, I'm very much on the fence of very watchable and must watch but what nudges Juhan Shuttai! over to must watch is that it subverted my all expectations and the episodes got better and better after a meh first two episodes. Must watch.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Uzumasa Limelight

I effing love Uzumasa Limelight. It ticks all the right boxes of a feel good movie for me. I know every beat of the movie that is coming but its just oh, so enjoyable. Its as if the movie were made for me or something.

Uzumasa Limelight is the story of Kamiyama, an old man who specialises in being killed in old samurai movies and tv shows.

Unfortunately for him, times are changing. Chanbara shows are no longer popular and in order to appeal to the younger audience, talentos who are not concerned with authenticity are cast in the shows and cg swords are used.

Kamiyama finds work drying up. Being killed in chanbaras is a skill that is no longer valued while being an extra in other shows requires no acting at all and is unfulfilling.

This young girl Satsuki appears and wants to be an extra.

She seeks Kamiyama's help in sword fight training and becomes his pupil.

Satsuki finds success because of her skills and becomes famous. You can guess what the ending is going to be and its one hell of an exciting fight scene.

I love the casting of Uzumasa Limelight. Kamiyama is a real life kirareyaku in his wrinkled face emotes to an audience more than those old actors with plastic faces we see all the time.

I was surprised to find out Satsuki is a newcomer who is also a wushu champion! Hats of to the casting manager for going for the most important thing which is believably and she can act better than anyone from AKB48.

Cinematography is exquisitely beautiful.

Ultimately what makes Uzumasa Limelight work so well is not just that its a wonderfully executed feel good movie but that you can feel the love for chanbara throughout the movie. Must absolutely watch movie.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Kiseki no Hito Eps 4-8

Kiseki no Hito is just a visual delight to look at.

Jdoramas are a visual and audio medium and often times, the camera seems more concerned with capturing and idoru's face rather than the beauty of the moment.

The way the camera is positioned is almost as much part of the storytelling is the script and the acting.

I watched Kiseki no Hito just thinking about screencapping every scene.

Looking for beautiful screenshots in Kiseki no Hito is so easy that it should be illegal.

The show definitely would not have worked without Aso Kumiko's acting.

I am glad her character is not extreme anime level tsundere.

My big problem with Kiseki no Hito is whether it deserves the 'must watch' label.

The acting, music and visuals are all great.

In the feel good disability genre which used to be popular but has been usurped by the crying porn fatal illness genre, Kiseki no Hito is near the top.

However, I have this feeling that there is something missing in the storyline to push it to must watch level for me.

Kiseki no Hito just stands on the border of 'must watch' for me and is highly recommended.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Kamogawa Shokudo Eps 1-3

It seems like the jdorama trend now is to add food to any genre and in Kamogawa Shokudo's case, its the detective genre or more specifically investigating the past of people seeking to taste a dish they once had.

The good things about Kamogawa Shokudo are that its a laid back food show to make you very hungry and that it looks good unlike Saigo no Restaurant, which is coincidentally another NHK show.

The bad thing is that the concept of investigating someone's past and recreating food with a touching ending does not leave much wiggle room for the stories.

Its always going to be some contrived situation where some sort of misunderstanding/ignorance which gets revealed after the investigation so we can get a food + waterworks scene at the end.

The three episodes have been very bland and I do not foresee the episodes getting any better. I have been wrong before (see Juuhan Shuttai!) but I give Kamogawa Shokudo a meh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Saigo no Restaurant Eps 1-6

When bframe told me that Fukuda Mayuko was in Saigo no Restaurant, I knew I had to check it out. I can't even remember the last time I saw her and now she is in a dorama with pigtails and a maid outfit!!!!! If you have no idea who she is, watch the Byakuyakou dorama

Anyway, Saigo no Restaurant set in this restaurant where business is not doing well and the chef likes to run away from problems. One by one, famous people start being transported to restaurant right before their death and the chef has to fulfill their request and give them their last meal.

Saigo no Restaurant wasn't that entertaining as its more like a light historical lesson with food thrown into it. I planned only watch until episode 4 for Trendl Reina's Joan of Arc but luckily her character stayed on in the show.

Her character is funny because she thinks of the head chef as good and there are a lot of jokes you can make about her faith especially with all the technology we have today. Unfortunately, there are not too many of them.

The main parts about linking the food requests to the famous people doesn't really work for me but at least since the episodes are only 30 minutes, its tolerable. For example, Cleopatra's request was for a dish equivalent to her pearl. So when she rejected the first ice cream they gave her, the chef made her eat something very hot first before serving the same ice cream to make it taste better.

Sad to say Mayuko doesn't have much to do. Its the type of role that's usually left to a gravure idol.

Better to give a small, thankless role to someone who can act than someone who can't.

I'm wondering why the role wasn't given to an idol for ratings purposes but my guess is Mayuko gets to do more than look cute later on.

I'm on this bus as long as Reina is in the show though the preview for the next episode looks like she might be leaving. :(

Saigo no Restaurant is a meh light historical food fluff that is not as funny as it should be. Don't waste your time unless you like the screencaps.