Monday, May 30, 2016

Kiseki no Hito Eps 1-3

Ladies and gentlemen, I have found my feel good dorama that I like more than I should in Kiseki no Hito. The last jdorama which fit this discription was Coffee-ya no Hitobito, also from NHK BS Premium. Coincidence?

The main character of Kiseki no Hito is yet another loser who's done nothing in life. I was thinking not another freaking Boys on the Run because they usually run the loser character through the stereotype wringer without doing anything interesting.

Then I noticed the dialogue of Ichitaku and his friend whinging about life and how aimless they were to be pretty funny. I have no idea what it is but it is a gift to be able to write characters complaining about the world and make it funny, informative and not stale.

After watching the first three episodes, turns out the writer is non other than Okada Yoshikazu, writer of Boku no Tsuma to Kekkon Shite Kudasai, Watashi to Iu Unmei ni Tsuite, Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi etc etc.

Ichitaku who does nothing but somehow has a room somewhere in Tokyo meets former yankee Aso Kumiko and their first meeting is gross but funny. Did I mention I love Aso Kumiko who was underutilised in Love & Peace and Haiyu Kameoka Takuji?

Aso Kumiko has a daughter who is both deaf and blind and is being kicked out of her apartment because the daughter is too noisy. Ichitaku wanting to score with Aso Kumiko (who wouldn't) introduces them to his landlady who is unusually kind and Ichitaku begins his journey to finally be useful to someone.

On the face of it, Kiseki no Hito seems like an oversentimental Ashida Mana type show but trust me when I saw its more laid back comedy. The thing that seals it is the writing. I don't know how to describe it when stereotypical characters come alive because their dialogue have just enough nuance and bounce. Nojima Shinji couldn't pull it off with Our House but Okada Yoshikazu is the man!

Very similar in tone to Coffee-ya no Hitobito despite being completely different genres and having different creators. Its as if both shows could exist in the same world. They are not realistic but neither do they have the fakeness of your mainstream shows. I guess they are both stories about humanity dressed in melancholy and joy.

I had more fun watching Kiseki no Hito than I should have. You can grab the raws from Avistaz or just google Kiseki-no-Hito-EP01-720p-x265-ER (third link). Make sure you have ad blockers on your browser. Subtitles can be gotten here. The ending song Hone is not available yet but there is a Ando Yuko version out. I can't stop listening to this song. Very watchable.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Re Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu Eps 1-7

Isekai Seikatsu is yet another light novel adaptation with a long name and interesting premise that doesn't take full advantage of the concept and ends up being yet another generic moe harem anime.

This time our generic protagonist is transported to fantasy world and everytime he does, he goes back to the start ala Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. He is aware of the tropes of fantasy alternate world anime and they try to play it for laughs but before long Isekai Sekatsu just becomes full of cliches like our protagonist being a super nice guy to get to girls to his side.

How much more interesting would it be if he just pretended to be nice because that was how characters in moe animes solve their problems and somehow it didn't work? The groundhog day gimmick is interesting but everything else bored me to tears especially the butler and cat maids part.

I'm just so frustrated because the writer could have done so much with the concept. No more stupid light novel animes. They are just shallow shounen fantasy that always end up being the same derivative crap. Episode 7 ends with another cliffhanger but I don't give a crap about the cardboard characters. Isekai Seikatsu seems to have been received favourably by the anime fans but I'm guessing they liked SAO and DanMachi as well. For me its just more of the boring same.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Can jdorama/jmovies thrive without idorus and talento?

I don't even need to watch this show to know how bad it is.

If you're one of the five people who read this blog, you know how much I despise mainstream shows with the main purpose of being vehicles for idorus and so called talentos. *cough* Gouri *cough*. However, compared to Japan, Australian tv is full of reality tv shows and the only dramas are soap operas like Neighbours and Home and Away. There are hardly any home made Australian dramas. The reason isn't just the difference in population between Japan and Australia, although it probably plays a part.


If you're in charge of greenlighting tv shows for TV Asahi or TBS or Fuji TV, you'll probably have to convince the higher ups that casting this person who can't act can draw X number of eyeballs to the show and increase entertainment news coverage. Can you go the bosses and say I've got this great script and director and we are going to cast the best no names and we are going to draw ratings based on strong reviews.


The two biggest ratings giants in recent years have been Kaseifu no Mita and Hanzawa Naoki, two shows with horrible acting and crappy scripts and both drew ratings producers will die for.


I've talked to many Japanese about their doramas and movies and most conversations don't go beyond whether something is interesting or not. Seriously, its impossible to have in depth conversation about doramas or movies when in Japan unless the other person is hardcore into movies. Compared to the Western world where we're discussing every detail of Game of Thrones or how Sons of Anarchy and House of Cards suck after season 3.

Lots of people hate Gouriki but apparently she's got a lot of female fans for some reason. This producer says that reviewers don't really criticise movies. If reviewers don't criticise movies, that also means they don't criticise performances of people who can't act like that overpushed Mikasa actress in the Attack on Titan movie. If they don't criticise their own movies, then that means the movies that are actually good.

Long story short, I don't think your average Japanese will appreciate a good jdorama like Suzuki Sensei even if it hit them in the face. Its not just the Japanese audience though. You can also see the indifference to quality with shows that get subbed and the number or people downloading the subs from English speaking jdorama fans.


Johnnys are already responsible for a large chunk of TV entertainment shows like Bistro SMAP and that Arashi game show. You want continued support from Johnnys, you better put more of their people in your doramas. Gouriki can't act for fucks? Don't worry, we'll keep giving her her own show.

There is an episode in the anime Shirobako where all the stakeholders from the tv studio and talent agencies give their stupid input on how to make and cast this anime that it derails from what the creators are trying to do. Talent agencies hold more power than producers and directors.


Granted the good doramas are mostly from WOWOW and NHK but because your major networks continue to make doramas, everyone has to compete in that field as it is much cheaper to create those so called reality shows that are actually faker than wresting.

A robust industry at least guarantees that there is money flowing into the making of doramas and movies. The good WOWOW and NHK shows like Yami no Bansosha may not have the budget of a Getsu 9 dorama but at least they have one.

A robust industry allows good writers and actors and production people to have jobs, pay their bills, hone their craft and hopefully they'll have a chance to work on a dorama with an actual story and vision.


To answer the question of whether jdoramas/jmovies can thrive without idorus and talento, I would like to think yes but Japanese viewing habits suggest not. If something as great as Lady Joker which is like The Wire of Japanese doramas cannot make a dent in their public consciousness, there is no hope. However, because we continue to have shows featuring people who cannot act and soap opera lighting, we at least can continue to have gems like Arechi no Koi which are unappreciated and unsubbed.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Utenai Keikan Episode 1

Utenai Keikan or the policeman who cannot shoot is an interesting show about a career policeman Shibasaki who is forced to take sole responsibility when a policeman who has mental problems commits suicide.

Shibasaki's boss leaves him out to dry and Shibasaki's father, a former policeman gives him advice and tells him to investigate the matter more. Shibasaki is under a lot of stress not just from his workplace but also his family with plans to buy a home next year with his dad providing the deposit.

So at the mid point I'm thinking this is your everyman uncovering a conspiracy show. Shibasaki is transferred away from the main HQ as he continues his investigation. By the end of the episode, Shibasaki finds out who the main culprit is and I'm wondering where the story was going.

Shibasaki tells the culprit to be his spy in HQ and proclaims that he will work his way back to HQ. This got me excited because Shibasaki is not your nice guy protagonist. Its a dog eat dog world of police politics plus the fact that he is obviously a smart cop having to do non-administrative duties will be interesting.

Utenai Keikan does not have the smell of a family friendly guy learns to be a better person kind of story and I look forward to watching the remaining 4 episodes after a good first episode.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Arechi no Koi

After a string of crappy jdoramas, it was time to reach back into my unsubbed jdorama backlog and watch WOWOW Arechi no Koi.

Arechi no Koi is a reflective story about life centered around this poet Kitazawa Taro played by Toyokawa Etsushi who has slaved for 20 plus years as a salaryman and begins to have an affair with Suzuki Kyoka, the wife of poet friend

Arechi no Koi is not your typical salaryman  affair jdorama.

Its a show about the meaning of life and the approach the different characters take to it and what they each hold dear.

The relationships between people who are comrades, family members, lovers and how people need each other to survive.

As it is a story about poets, there's a lot of poetry in Arechi no Koi which means a lot of freaking difficult Japanese with words no one uses in real life. :(

Aside from that the story is pretty straightforward and there are plenty of beautiful and funny lines.

One of my favourite lines is when Kawashima Umika is sitting in a tax near the end and she says (paraphrasing) I can handle the truth because I am the daughter of a poet.

Arechi no Koi looks awesome and has a movie-like soundtrack. You know someone really spent a lot of time working on the look and feel of this dorama.

Performances are good though Kawashima Umika is a bit too young for the role but since the story stretches from the 70s to the 80s it can't be helped.

Its hard to write about Arechi no Koi not just because there's a lot of poetry but its show that says a lot of things similar to Lady Joker but with a lot less suspense.

Very watchable show for me. Never once did I feel like skipping a scene and I really enjoyed watching all the characters and their complicated relationships. Arechi no Koi deserves to be subbed. If the poetry stuff ever gets subbed then I might be able to really say whether Arechi no Koi deserves to be labelled must watch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dias Police Eps 1-4

Matsuda Shota is the lone policeman for this secret group of illegal immigrants who live in Tokyo. Dias Police is more like a private detective show about immigrants and the show is surprisingly sympathetic to their plight with Matsuda's character talking about how Japan hardly recognises any refugees.

My problem with Dias Police is tone. It deals with some dark issues like organ and children selling to suicide by tongue biting but it doesn't go for realism at all and is closer to a afternoon cop dorama or even a tokusatsu show rather than a WOWOW one. It tries to be light hearted but I never even smirked once.

I just find the tone all over the place and nothing clicked with me. The only reason I lasted 4 episodes is that they were pretty short. Then I saw the preview for episode 5 and Kaho is in it! Looks like I'll be staying on another 2 episodes. Otherwise, meh. Nothing to see here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kakko no Tamago Dare no Mono Eps 5+6

I stuck around until the end because of Higashino Keigo. As expected there is a tragic story behind the twist but I couldn't give a damn. The bad guy turns out to the the person who was so prominent in this show but had no reason for reason to be.

I just can't buy how easily the person who set up the bomb was induced to do so for the money. Really forgettable series by WOWOW. Avoid.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Rewatching Civil War

After rewatching Civil War multiple times, (not necessarily legally) I have come to the conclusion not only is this the best comicbook movie ever, its an expertly crafted move. Not just because it expertly juggles so many characters and has so many quotable lines but also there are so many themes that are explored among all the punching and size changing.

First off Zemo. The promotion of the movie was that both sides are right and here we have a 'villain' who is actually right. One could even argue Zemo is the protagonist. This is a movie about his plan for revenge. Zemo is the voice of innocent bystanders given form. He is the tactical genius smart enough to decrypt the Hydra files and realise that there might be skeletons in the Avengers' closet that he could use. Best of all, the twist has been implied in Winter Soldier.

Speaking of revenge, we've got two other characters seeking revenge as well. Black Panther who ultimately comes to different terms with his need for vengeance (thank the Marvel gods that he stopped Zemo cause Zemo is the best villain since Loki) and Stark who is just I don't care Winter Soldier was mind controlled because everything in my life has fallen apart and revenge is the only thing that can make me feel better.

Civil War is great because it pays off the character development from previous movies. The soldier who was used to chain of command who comes to realise that all organisations are easily corruptible and the safest hands are in his. The rebel who has made so many mistakes who realises that he can't keep running away from accountability.

The scary thing is how can Marvel movies get any better? Can the peak get any higher? 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Kono Machi no Inochi ni

Kono Machi no Inochi ni is a WOWOW dorama special about dog catchers starring Toda Erika, Kase Ryo and Tanaka Yuko (Mother). I usually avoid dog doramas and movies because they are basically feel good fluff and how can anything stand up to Hachiko Monogatari?

Kono Machi no Inochi ni starts off as this morbid dark comedy about people who's job is to dispose of dogs that people no longer want to keep. We have a dude who's girlfriend just ran away who wants to get rid of the dog she left him although from his actions he is clearly attached to the dog. One of the staff members starts hearing dogs speak and experiences a meltdown.

It was an interesting first half with people from the centre getting calls from angry people for disposing of the cats and dogs when the main cause of it is members of the public being irresponsible and abandoning the animals. As they keep saying, disposing of animals is a job no one wants but someone has to do it.

Kono Machi no Inochi ni then veers into feel good territory and a meh ending. It felt like whoever wrote this had a great concept but didn't know to finish it and went for the safest ending. Could have been good but should not have been good but the script is incomplete. Meh.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Seirei no Moribito dorama

I had just watched this anime last year and was pretty surprised to see a fantasy dorama instead of your usual taiga dorama with 500 characters that require you to know who's in what clan and where they are on the map. I never got around to writing the review for the anime but what I remember is was the beautiful art, iconic character of Balsa, lots of world building stuff, a story about raising a boy who would be a good king and a ho-hum ending.

First off, Ayase Haruka is the wrong casting decision for Balsa, at least compared to the anime. She tries with the voice but physically she is not imposing. You know who would have been my choice? Ando Sakura. (100 Yen Love) She may be shorter than Ayase Haruka but she can look like someone who's been through hell and survive. I can't think of any tall actress in Japan who's not skinny as a twig. Not saying Haruka is random johnny who can't act bad but she just doesn't project tough. She didn't make me hate her acting, so I may have complained too much.

I rather enjoyed how similar it was to the anime despite the limited budget. My favourite thing about the dorama is that it continues past the anime's story and there's going to be a season two! The anime finished with a meh happy ending but it felt like the start of something so the cliffhanger at the end of the dorama got me really excited! (Its based on a long running series of books after all. And speaking of long running books, if only someone made season 2 of Guin Saga.)

Seirei no Moribito is a watchable fantasy jdorama that does what it can with its limited budget and I just want to see what happens next!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Bakuman movie review

From Juhan Shuttai! to Bakuman, we've got another story about making manga. In Bakuman, its about two high school kids played by Kenshin and Soujiro from the Rurouni Kenshin movies who are trying to get their manga serialised in Shonen Jump. The movie also features an all star cast from Yamada Takayuki playing a minor role to Shometani Shota.

I've got two problems with Bakuman in that the two main characters aren't very interesting and they are really not underdogs especially with them not having produced a manga before and all of a sudden getting the attention from an editor in Jump.

There was no ganbarre feel for me and I was more interested in the who had already payed their dues to the manga gods. Its as if Sakuragi joined the Shohoku basketball club and he can already shoot and do crossovers from day 1, just not as good.

Its a two hour movie and they had to skip a couple of steps but the fact neither of them are interesting doesn't help. They try to make them underdogs by making their rival a super genius but this super genius has been drawing manga since he was a kid.

There are a lot of talented artists in Japan and a lot of them just do doujinshi. What it takes for someone to go from amateur to pro the movie kind of tells you but doesn't articulate it in a way that's beyond skin deep. I'm talking about perspective, art consistancy, how to pace the story for whatever pages are needed a week. Stuff like that.

Instead, its too concerned with the manga rankings and we're talking about Shonen Jump here, which has LoToveRu where stupid protagonist has his face shoved up girls' crotches every chapter.

Yami no Bansosha is a love letter to making manga wrapped up as a mystery dorama. Bakuman is a love letter to manga for the masses that only goes as deep as a slogan. Meh. Bakuman has made me want to rewatch Yami no Bansosha for the fourth time though.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Our House Episodes 1+2

Nojima Shinji reunites with Yamamoto Koji (Hitotsu Yane no Shita) in yet another family dorama with this one being a Ashida Mana vehicle.


+ Lots of funny and witty Nojima Shinji dialogue. How I miss his writing. However, he hasn't done anything good since Love Shuffle, hasn't he?

+ Love the side characters.


- I never liked Ashida Mana except for in Mother. Her characters are always way too smart and it fits her character in this show but she's like an adult in a kid's body. When she does her crying scenes its just gratuitous and I get flashbacks to Beautiful Rain. I don't think I can ever enjoy her acting until she grows up.

- Can't really blame Nojima Shinji but Charlotte's character uses English in the weirdest of places and she knows some really difficult words and sentences. Same problem with Massan, shouldn't Charlotte and Koji be speaking a lot more English?

- I wish it wasn't doing the usual turn one person into Charlotte's ally per episode formula.

- Zero chemistry between Charlotte and Koji.


- Taking a taxi from Narita? No idea where they live but the taxi went pass Tokyo Tower. The taxi bill would be crazy.


I just can't stand Ashida Mana. She's been monopolising the little girl roles for too long. Too bad the girl from Shiroi Haru retired. Surely there must be other talented young actresses out in Japan? Its hard to enjoy a show when you like the dialogue but don't like the main actor in the show. If you like her, you'll probably enjoy this. If not, it won't make you like her and you're better off watching Hitotsu Yane no Shita. Meh.