Monday, October 31, 2016

Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu Eps 1-3

I try to avoid Aragaki Yui shows as best as I can but Mano Erina, Hoshino Gen (Blindly in Love), Ishida Yuriko and Tomita Yasuko (Suzuki sensei) are in it so it can't be that bad, right?

Unfortunately, NigeHaji is like a very bland version of Hasegawa Hiroki and Ann's comedic jdorama, Date. Like Date, two people do a marriage contract of convenience except the two people are boring as anything and have no chemistry. Not saying every character has to have a quirky personality but there's just something missing. Its the element of I'm happy to watch these two characters do anything. I'm starting to think Kaho carried Hoshino Gen in Blindly in Love.

Anyway, Ishida Yuriko's spinster aunt has more personality than the two main characters combined and no amount of cute end music dancing can save this show.

End of the day I don't give a crap about the characters and I can't believe any man would cheat on Mano Erina. The WTF development at the end of episode 3 had me yawning. NigeHaji doesn't really suck but its just boring. There are better shows out there and I would rather rewatch Date with all the koutouyuumin shinanigens. Meh.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Otoko Meshi 6-10

At the bottom of the food jdorama rankings are shows like Kamogawa Shokudo, Saigo no Restaurant and Kodoku Gurume. At the top are quality shows like Shinya Shokudo and Osen. Otoko Meshi rests in rarefied company just below the top shows.

The only reason Otoko Meshi doesn't reach must watch level is just that it doesn't have enough must watch episodes to make it. I would say episode 7 and 9 are my favourites. Its not that the rest of the episodes are bad, they are actually good and there are no bad episodes.

Otoko Meshi does three things really well. First, it knows how to put food in the story and connect it to the story in a way that doesn't feel forced. Second is it knows how to make you root for the characters. Lastly, you get to see the characters grow and the dialogue to express their growth feels more natural than your usual shows.

Very watchable series for me. This is truly the year of good shows that are just below must watch and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ittou's charshiu kyoku noukou niboshi tsukemen in Shin Koiwa

EDIT: I've got a friend going to Japan this weekend and wants to eat this so I'm making this guide a lot more detailed. More detailed instructions are at the bottom.

To me, Fuunji in Shinjuku was like the top of the tsukemen food chain. I could not imagine a better tasting tsukemen, until I went to the new Ittou branch in Shin Koiwa.

Ittou is famous for its fish based tsukemen which is good but not worth the one hour wait. With the new shop, I haven't really encountered any queues the 4 times I went there during this trip.

I noticed something different in the menu. チャッシュ極濃厚煮干しつけ麺。The name translates to charsiu extreme thick, dried sardine tsukemen.

And it tastes as good as it looks. Super creamy soup and three layer pork that is do die for.

The standard protion is a bit too little but the larger portion chuu 中 is a just right. You need to get an extra ticket to upsize. I do not recommend the largest portion 大盛り unless you want to feel super bloated. I recommend getting the normal portion with karaage or gyoza as a side dish the soup got cold towards the end of eating the middle portion.


You can find the map here. There are two Ittous in Shin Koiwa so you want to go to the one south of the station. Its only a few minutes walk and my favourite drinking estalishment Hotaru is nearby.

This is the map from the South exit of Shin Koiwa station. Its very easy to follow.

This is what the shop front looks like. Normally there is no queue or if there is, its very short unlike the main shop.

When you enter, there is the ticket vending machine on your right.

What you want to choose is the fourth ticket from the fourth row for 1000 yen. (orange colour) チャッシュ極濃厚煮干しつけ麺. It is limited to 20 bowls in the afternoon and 20 bowls at night but I usually go around 8pm and always got one. In the event that it is sold out, then go for the regular one which is the top row, fourth from the left.

Now for the size. Normal is a bit too small so I recommend 中盛り券 for 50 yen (chuumoriken/middle size portion ticket) unless you are going to order sides. Its the first blue ticket on the top row. Do not go for the big portion ticket 100 yen unless you want to stuff yourself crazy.

Give your tickets to the staff member on your left. He will say because it will take some time so just nod your head and have a seat and wait patiently for your tsukemen. There will be cups on the counters and tables for you to pour water for yourself.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chihayafuru Parts 1+2

EDIT: Got a DMCA warning from blogger and had to remove pictures.

With Persona 5 out of the way, I can finally start catching up on movies and doramas. First up is the high school sports and triangle romance two part movie Chihayafuru about this card flicking game called karuta.

I surprisingly enjoyed the movies because despite what one might think of the shoujo genre, they are very well done. It looks good, has enough humour and most importantly is very efficient in terms of script.

The writer and direcitor Koizumi Norihiro has done what a lot of Japanese writers fail to do, make the dialogue succinct, to the point. While Chihayafuru hits all the points and cliches one would expect from an underdog sports movie, it just does it so efficiently I couldn't help but smile.

While Karuta allows for some nice visuals and action from your usual sports movies, as a sport it just didn't capture my fancy. However I was invested in the character enough to be excited about the matches. Another plus for Karuta is that its a sport where boys can compete with girls.

Probably my favourite thing from Chihayaburu is that the triangle romance is relegated to the background and its more a story about teamwork, friendship and finding joy in the game. A well done two parter and I don't think anyone can dislike this movie. Very watchable and I would love to see a third movie cause I need to see Arata unleash his true power. Chihayafuru is available with English subs.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Persona 5 review

Finally finished Persona 5 in 165 hours! I feel like a big weight has finally been lifted off my shoulders! Persona 5 is a dungeon crawling RPG about a group of high schoolers who can enter this parallel world and reform people whose desires have become warped. If I had to compare Persona 5 to any game, it would be Ryu ga Gotoku. RGG is an adult/Japan night life sim while Persona 5 is a high school simulation.

Let's get the good out of the way. The art style is great and the music is jamming, especially when they add lyrics to the main themes at the end. The relationship stories and dialogue are not far removed and do not contradict the main story like in Fire Emblem Fates. Its a huge pitfall of having an RPG where you can romance many characters.

The main story is actually pretty good. There are two very nice twists in the story and something unexpected happens near the end which says something interesting about society. The ending is really good. Morgana really grew and Ryuji is probably the most interesting among all the members because he actually behaves like teenager. With that said, Persona 5 has a huge Achilles's heel, namely pacing.

This game is super unnecessarily long. It just takes too long to progress through the co-operations/relationships and most of them are very straightforward and boring with tons and tons of text. There are some well written ones like Soujiro and Futaba most of them are just dry and not funny. I almost gave up on the game many times but as a Japanese study tool, Persona 5 has a lot more useful words and phrases compared to something like RGG so I persevered.

Don't get me started on Mementos which is this long side story dungeon that looks the same and just rehashes enemies to fight. Persona 5's greatest sin is that not one of the side stories are interesting nor funny. Most of them end up being similar to RGG in that its all about some scam. While RGG has many memorable side stories such as Be My Baby from RGG2, Persona 5 makes you sit through a mountain of dialogue to reach a predictable end fot the side stories. The writers did push themselves in a corner with the fact that you need to know someone's name in order to reform them which removes any potential who is the bad guy mysteries.

Its not all bad. The writing is a step above Sen no Kiseki series and its the first anime RPG in a long time I didn't feel like everyone was the same nice cardboard anime character with no personality.

Persona 5 is such a mixed bag for me. There are something I like and there are parts of it I really hated. If I could suggest a fix it would be to shorten and combine a lot of the co-operation stories and just and reduce the barriers for furthering co-operations. I think there's plenty of fat to cut to make it a lean and mean 100 hour game.

I should have played Tokyo Mirage Sessions (which is a similar game on the Wii U) instead because I've read that it's shorter and funnier. Persona fans will love the game and they know what they're getting into which is losing 4 weeks of your life to one game. If you value pacing like I do, I am Setsuna is a much better game.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Koekoi eps 4-12

I really enjoyed the first half of Koekoi. It was your typical high school shoujo manga style dorama but the paperbag head brought made it different enough to be fresh and I was looking forward to what Koekoi would do with it.

I was completely devastated when Karata Erika suddenly left the show. Romance doramas are about delaying the inevitable but making it fun and she and the President made it fun.

The second half of Koekoi descended into standard shoujo manga fare with everyone liking someone else and seemed to have no ideas on how to capitalise on Matsubara-kun's paper head.

The show added the super boring and unnecessary childhood friend. Karata Erika as the seemingly perfect student had much more potential because they could have played around with her keeping up appearances.

The only fun thing in the middle episodes was seeing Matsubara-kun in panic mode and act more like a real person instead of this rigid robot.

I basically watched the second half of Koekoi while playing my 3DS because its was so generic and predictable including the lines.

Good thing the episodes are only 20 minutes but they should have just reduced it to 10 episodes and cut out all the fat.

Ultimately Koekoi is an ok series that did not fulfill its potential and is best watched in the background.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Strange Freak Designs X Ryu ga Gotoku Majima Goro Hannya bracelet

I haven't watched anything for the past two weeks because of Persona 5. I'm pissed off at myself for not being to get the Ryu ga Gotoku ring at TGS. I should have pre-bought my ticket and lined up at 6.

Anyway, Ayako-san, who a I meet at the RGG X Sweets Paradise shop earlier this year brought this bracelet to my attention but I was hesitant to buy it because of the price. Having missed out on the ring, I finally decided to order the Majima bracelet from Rakuten. They didn't ship overseas so I had to use Tenso to redirect it.

The hannya is the tattoo from Majima's back. Especially after Ryu ga Gotoku/Yakuza Zero, he's become my favorite character.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

A Bride for Rip Van Winkle

Ah, Iwai Shunji. A very talented director who made a good movie (Love Letter), a good first episode to a dorama (April Story), overrated movie that put me to sleep (All About Lily Chou) and an acclaimed movie I can't remember anything about (Hana and Alice). Suffice to say, I'm not a big fan but his talent is undeniable so I went in with low expectations.

You can watch A Bride for Rip van Winkle as a movie or a dorama. They are both the same. I'd recommend watching it as a dorama because like all Iwai Shunji movies, it is slow as. Its still beautiful enough so that I didn't skip any scenes but it was a frustrating movie to watch because introduces interesting elements to the story such as the Noriko's Dinner Table like fake family substory but doesn't take them far enough. The most interesting character in the show is Ayano Gou's Amuro. I so wanted him to take centre stage in the movie but Iwai kept pushing him to the side and we got way too much Cocco.

Rip van Winkle is a movie where it takes a long time for the real story to be revealed but the journey should be a lot more fun. I kind of get in my head what Iwai Shunji wants to convey but this movie just lacks that playfulness to make it memorable. I was happiest watching this movie when two faces I know showed up for a cameo near the end. I can't say any more without spoiling the whole thing.

Iwai Shunji fans will probably eat this up. For me it was a movie that looked good but didn't entertain me. Meh.