Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fireworks / Uchiage hanabi, Shita kara miru ka? Yoko kara miru ka? review


I went into Fireworks with completely zero knowledge and expectations and the movie did not even meet any standards of competency for me. Here's five reasons why you should not watch Fireworks:

1. NO PATHOS

The story did not give me any reason at all to care for the characters. We are given a basic introduction into the characters, the main girl is dragged kicking and screaming by her mother who is remarrying because she doesn't want to relocate and then the main character starts the time travel cycle.

First off, when we normally get a groundhog day like story, you either need some dangerous event that needs changing, a relationship that needs saving or you just want to see someone do interesting things. Fireworks does none of these. The anime tells us that they two characters like each other but they don't even have a relationship prior to the time travelling.

2. VERY INCONSISTENT ART

For a freaking movie, I have no idea why many times the art looks completely awful.

3. EVERYTHING FEELS SO GENERIC

From the high school setting to the jokes, Fireworks feels like a poor copy of a copy of Koe no Katachi and Kimi no na wa. I've seen this so many times before and done so much better.

4. DOES NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIME TRAVEL ELEMENT

Self explanatory.

5. NONSENSICAL AND NO ENDING

The movie keeps asking the audience whether a fireworks are round or flat and then proceeds to give us this weird musical scene and starts to get psychedelic for no reason while I was struggling to keep awake waiting for the story to do something interesting with the time travel stuff.

Finally, there's an artsy fartsy no freaking ending to the story. It probably makes sense to the writer and fans of Shaft, the crappy animators but they failed to make me care about the story to even try.

SUMMARY

I can't remember the last time I've seen such a poorly produced and executed anime movie that failed on every single front for me. Do not watch.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Kahogo no Kahoko

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Kahogo no Kahoko is about a child-like university student who we never see study, who was raised by an overprotective mother played by Kuroki Hitomi and she basically spends the whole movie pulling cute faces.

I'VE ALREADY SEEN OKAASAN, MUSUME WO YAMETE II DESU KA SO WHY SHOULD I WATCH THIS?

First off this Kahogo no Kahoko is a comedy and its more of a shoujo anime style boy meets girl story mixed in with a family dorama.

STILL DOESN'T SOUND APPEALING

Probably my favourite part of Kahogo no Kahoko is how idiosyncratic all the characters are. For example, Kuroki Hitomi completely changes into a different person when she leaves the kindom's border and you've a sloth grandfather who keeps saying he'll do something tomorrow. What saves Kahogo no Kahoko is the chemistry between the two leads which is pretty good and the main guy starts off not as a boring nice guy but as someone who takes advantage of Kahoko's naivety. Plus I like how he always turns up doing some dodgy part time work.

WHAT ARE THE SHOW'S WEAKNESSES?

Kahoko, who is basically like an anime child never really learns what hardship is as the show turns into a family drama in the second half. The family stuff can get a bit draggy.

IS KAHOGO NO KAHOKO GOOD?

As a shoujo manga style jdorama about a kawaii girl who never grows up with a lot of family drama elements, Yukawa Kazuhiko (GTO, Koi ga Shitai, Oyaji) does a pretty good job. He's an expert at the family drama stuff with the classic Oyaji. So if you accept the parameters or limitations of the genre, he did a pretty good job and I managed to get right to the end and the bus stop scene was moving. Surprisingly watchable.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Gukoroku Traces of Sin review

Trace of Sin is a murder mystery movie that's more about hierarchy in today's society featuring an all star cast of Mitsushima Hikari, Tsumabuki Satoshi, Usuda Asami and Ichikawa Yui.

Mitsushima Hikari is in prison for child neglect and her brother Tsumabuki Satoshi starts looking into the murder of a family that happened one year ago.

The more Tsumabuki Satoshi finds out about the murdered parents, the more we discover this cruel world that makes up Japanese society.

This is Jmovies at its best; dark, uncomprimising and unafraid to make the viewer feel very uncomfortable.

I was gripped by every word, enjoyed every frame and performance. I would say Traces of Sin is 2017's The Snow White Murder Case.

The less I say about Trace of Sin the better. I got the raw from nyaa here and the subs from Avistaz. Must watch

Friday, September 29, 2017

Papakatsu review

WHAT IS PAPAKATSU ABOUT?

Papakatsu stands for papa katsudou (lifestyle). Its basically the new compensation dating. Rich old men paying university going women money to spend time with down. Iitoyo Marie plays a university student who gets into papakatsu after being kicked out of her home and runs into Watabe Atsuro who turns out to be her university lecturer.

WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT PAPAKATSU?

Nojima Shinji is one of the greatest jdorama writers ever but lately, he's output has been disappointing especially Our House. From episode one of Papakatsu, I could feel the difference in his writing. The conversations between Iitoyo Marie and her three friends were funny and could deliver the necessary information I needed while feeling very natural. And when he is on, no one writes monologues like Nojima Shinji. Suffice to say, I was paying attention to every freaking word and its been a while since I can say that dialogue in a jdorama feels like singing to me.

Everything else about Papakatsu is good. The acting, the directing and the music. Its a low budget jdorama that looks so much better than many high budget shows.

WHAT'S BAD ABOUT PAPAKATSU?

Nothing.

SHOULD I WATCH IT?

Yes, if you've got the Japanese for it or can read Chinese. Being a Nojima Shinji show the vocabulary is a bit more difficult than usual. You can get it from nyaa here although its missing episode 2 or stream from jplovetv here. While I can't give it a must watch, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Very watchable and definitely deserves to be English subbed.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ashita tatte, Himitsu wa Aru Episodes 1-3

The story about a son and mother who killed their abusive dad 8 years ago sounded interesting to me so I decided to check out the dorama. However, the more I watched the show about this who is this mystery person who knows about the crime, the more uneasy I felt.

That's because the mystery antagonist's actions start to become more and more prosposterous such as being able to dig out the body from the garden in the middle of the night without the main character or his mother noticing.

The final straw for me was when the the fiance's boss shared client information with the main character despite the fact that he was not even an employee of the firm.  Is there not such thing as client privacy in Japan?


It seems like the writer is making things happen for the sake of the everyone is a suspect mystery and everything feels like its going to collapse under the weight of logic. Maybe everything gets explained well in the end but I could not ignore my jdorama sense tingling. Dropping it straight away. Meh.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Border 2 Shokuzai is coming!!!!

After a lot of waiting and wondering why Oguri Shun would do crappy doramas and movies instead of doing the continuation of one of the best shows of 2014, Border 2 is finally coming end of this year!

I know I should keep my expectations low but I'm so excited! Not so excited about Haru. Its coming as a special dorama so I'm guessing its going to be tv movie? Get hyped! Need to find time to rewatch season 1. :)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Dragon Quest XI : Sugisarishi toki wo motome PS4 review


I love old school turn based RPGs. Its such a niche genre nowadays because Japanese companies have mostly gone into making gatcha smartphone games that you mostly get low budget ones that rely on gimmicks to sell and when somone makes a good one with a proper story like I am Setsuna, it doesn't sell.

Now, I've never been a Dragon Quest fan. The only one I played was DQ8 on the 3DS and I really tried to like it and finish I but it bored the hell out of me. I was thinking of skipping DQ11 but in the end, I thought its the only big budget old school RPG I can play so I had no choice but to support the genre.

THINGS I LIKED

GRAPHICS - JRPGS used to be in the forefront of graphics and looking at pretty pictures and movies was part of the charm and FF11 is a sight to behold. There were some places where I would just stand still and pan the camera around enjoying the beautiful world before my eyes thinking if only SquareEnix would  lend the engine and give GameArts to do a Grandia remake on this.

OLD SCHOOL TURN BASED - DQ11 has the 'modern' auto attack system but you can switch to old school manual.

NOT EVERYONE IS A FIGHTER-HEALER-MAGE - Every character has their own tech tree upgrade path similar to the FF10 board system and bonus points for being able to reset your points. I love that every character is different with their own strengths and weaknesses because their own personal character class is what helps give each character their own personality.

REALLY FUN AND LIKABLE CHARACTERS - While the characters in DQ8 bored me, I really liked the personalities of the characters in DQ11 from the thief Kamyu to the twin sisters.

RIDING MONSTERS IS GOOD - I thought the ability to ride monsters would be too gimmicky but it brought a nice puzzle solving element to exploring levels to the flambouyant Sylvia.

THE BITTERSWEET STORIES OF THE FIRST ENDING - The emotional punch of the events leading up to the first ending was great.

THE CHARACTERS ARE SMARTER THAN THE ONES IN DQ8.

YOU CAN NEVER GET LOST IN THE GAME - There is always a summary of the story when loading your save game, the options screen tells you what your next objective is and places you have to go are marked on your world map.

THE INCREDIBLE FEELING WHEN YOU FINALLY GET TO FLY THROUGH THE WORLD MAP.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE

PACING, PADDING AND REPETITIVENESS - It took me 150 hours to finish the game. The story is divided into three parts, similar to Nier Automata and for each part you need to travel through the whole world again. Problem is a lot of it is unnecessary like the stupid trials before the true final boss.
   
 MUSIC - So generic and boring. Every world should have had their own individual music instead of using a generic score everytime you visit a castle or has something to do with royalty etc. JRPGs are about visiting exotic and memorable locations but the generic music makes everything blend in instead of giving each location a memorable tune. The less said about the boring running around the field music the better.

NO VOICE ACTING - Voice acting would have made the game 30% better.

THE FIRST ENDING WAS BETTER - The first ending after going through the world the second time and getting the first credits is so much better than the real ending. It was bittersweet, had pacing and I cared about revenge. The real ending is way too happy for me and just destroys the emotions of the first ending. Imagine if the real ending of Nier Automata was about sunflowers and rainbows. Ugh.

OVERALL

Dragon Quest XI could have joined the pantheon of all time great JRPGS like Grandia, FF6 and FF9 but the third part of the game ruined it for me. Great effort and must play for old school JRPG fans and I can't fault the effort. Fun game with faults.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Akira to Akira spoiler review

Akira to Akira is a show about two stupid Akiras. The first Akira, a poor son of a bankrupt is so stupid that it takes him forever to ask Tanaka Rena out when any idiot can see that she clearly wants to besides telling it to him directly.

I know that delaying the romance is part of building up the drama but when one of your main characters looks like an idiot, it just makes me not interested.

The second Akira is stupid because he lets his stupid brother and idiotic and creepy uncles nearly run his grandfather's company to the ground. The dialogue keeps saying how Akira's younger brother is good at management but makes hasty decisions.

Well, I did not see Akira's brother make any good management decisions. I did not even see him do any rational decisions befitting the president of a large corporation. Which stupid president would sign a loan guarantee on behalf of a large corporation without first running it through the in house lawyer?

Making decisions that turn out bad is not stupid but making decisions without first doing one's homework is completely wreckless, irresponsible and I had to watch that idiot and two uncles screw everything up before Akira salvages everything.

Now, I understand what Akira to Akira is going for. Its the Namonaki Doku guy who tries to do right, has to overcome large obstacle and finally breaks down in the end. However, what Akira did was more akin to burying one's head in the sand and his complete dealing of his brother with kid's gloves is shocking and its what got the company in trouble in the first place.

Akira to Akira would have worked better as a flashback dorama because the last two episodes about Akira trying to save his company was more exciting. Meh.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ito-kun A to E Episodes 1-3

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Kimura Fumino is a one hit wonder screenwriter who on day giving a talk about relationships notices that 4 women in the audience are involved with the same person, Ito-kun and decides to listen to their troubles and use it to write her next script.

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT IT?

+ More of a movie look than your typical jdoramas.
+ Kimura Fumino is not playing a boring naive, idealistic character for once.
+ Kaho is in it!

WHAT'S NOT GOOD ABOUT IT?

- The two girls so far have not been interesting.
- The only 'catch' of the show is the identity of this Ito-kun but frankly I don't care.

SUMMARY

I'm still waiting for the episode that'll make me go 'I can't wait to see what happens next!' Meh, but I'll keep watching for Kaho and its been a while since I've watched with Japanese subs.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Cecile no Mokuromi episodes 1+2

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Ugly duckling housewife played by Maki Yoko enters world of housewife fashion magazine discovers all the frivolous things that Japanese women care about and then finds out that the models are not as real as they think they are.

WHAT IS GOOD ABOUT IT?

Maki Yoko and Ito Ayumi! I would be jumping for joy about both of them being the leads if it were any other dorama.

WHAT DON'T I LIKE ABOUT IT?

After two episodes, there is nothing to hook me. Not Maki Yoko's exaggerated housewife nor Ito Ayumi's desperate freelancer writer character. Not the Kichise Michiko being a victim of domestic abuse angle. I just find the tone or angle really boring. There needs to be more of a competition angle to this like talking about the extreme ways the models do their fake instagram pictures in order to get followers and likes.

SUMMARY

Cecile no Mokuromi feels very safe and boring instead of taking advantage of the subject matter and really showing the warts and all of the fashion model industry. Instead it plays more like your typical housewife everyone has a secret dorama. Meh. Might give it one more episode but the first two nearly put me to sleep.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Yakuza 6, Grandia III and Berserk posters

My 3 posters that I got from yahoo auctions just arrived! I used buyee to bid on them and get them shipped. I used to buy video game posters from Trio in Akihabara and Nakano Broadway but the past year they have stopped selling video game posters. I need to find out where to get video game posters in Japan but I've never come across any other store that sells them.

First off is the Yakuza 6 poster. Love this game. Its a return to form for Ryu ga Gotoku Studio after the disappointing Kiwami. Can't wait for Kiwami 2 and I'll definite get the poster for that!

Second poster is for Grandia III. Its not my the best Grandia game but Grandia series is my favourite and it has the best battle system. Plus, Grandia posters are very rare. There was a not so pretty Grandia 1 poster for sale but it cost an arm and a leg. Speaking of arm and a leg, the bad thing about buyee is that I combined my shipping and they packed my posters into a box that was a lot bigger than it had to be in order to charge me more. It might have been cheaper just to ship my stuff separately. I get that they need to make money from the bidding and shipping but ichiman for 3 posters is way too much.

Last one is a Berserk poster from the official guidebook. I was hoping it would be an A2 size poster instead of an A3. Oh well. I think I'll hang it up at work.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Akira to Akira Episodes 1-3

WHAT IS IT?

Akira to Akira is a banking jdorama about two people named Akira. You've got rich Akira is the heir to a major corporation who decided to be a banker and poor Akira who's been through hardships in life. Th story about how their try to succeed in their jobs and it flashbacks through their multiple meetings when they were kids.

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?

For one, its a WOWOW show so acting is better than normal. The casting is great. I liked that little story about the supermarket fight in Sendai. I wouldn't mind seeing a jdorama about supermarket wars.

WHAT'S NOT GOOD

In the beginning, Poor Akira says that he would assess all loan according to their merits. He then gets put in charge of this factory which is barely surviving and the owner has a little girl who needs a heart transplant. (boohoo)

The fact of the matter is, the factory has a slim chance of being able to repay a loan so that's why Poor Akira's boss did not want to issue a new loan. Not only that, stupid Poor Akira helps this factory worker run away without paying his debt?

Just because someone has a sob story doesn't mean they are entitled to escape from their debts and liabilities.

SUMMARY

Akira to Akira is decent but after 3 episodes it has yet to show me something to get me hooked. Watchable. Fingers crossed it gets better.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Million Yen Women

Hyakuman en no onna tachi aka Million Yen Women is finally out on Netflix outside Japan. I was very intrigued by the show and then gave it an unfavourable review when I mistook the second last episode for the last one. Still doesn't change the fact the revelation of the mastermind and the mastermind's purpose was very meh for me.

The last episode did set things right. I did a bit of rewatching of the first two episodes with Japanese subs and the show still holds up and knowing who the mastermind is does make rewatching more interesting. Maybe I mind change my mind about the mastermind on my second watch.

Anyways, Million Yen Women is not your run of the mill harem show and the women are much more than your typical stereotypes. Its not often I can say I like all of them, except for one.

Very watchable show. Worth giving a bit of money to support jdoramas. Daddy of Light starts the 1st of next month so I recommend you wait till then. Hopefully Netflix pouring money in jdoramas and anime will allow the industry to be more creative instead of catering for the boring masses.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tsubaki Bunguten

WHAT IS IT?

Tabe Mikako returns to her hometown of Kamakura after her estranged grandmother dies. Mikako's grandmother trained her to be professional letter writer when she was young but Mikako rebeled and hated it.

Its basically a small town everyone has a past show and the letter writing is just an excuse for Mikako to investigate her clients.

WHO IS TSUBAKI BUNGUTEN FOR?

Its basically for people who enjoy easy to watch shows and of course Tabe Mikako fans. The rest of the casting is great with Takahashi Katsunori and Katase Nana.

WHAT'S NOT GOOD ABOUT IT?

The letter writing gimmick is pretty paper thin, especially in this age of electronic communication. I kinda wished they had set it in the 80s. The only interesting letter for me was the debt refusal story.

IS IT WORTH WATCHING?

The second half gets better when its not burdened by the letter writing gimmick for random clients and focuses the relationships between the characters but ultimately it was very meh for me. The mark of a bland show is when you wish you were watching better shows in the same genre such as Kibougaoka no Hitobito and Coffee-ya no Hitobito. Meh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

MIFF 2017: In this Corner of the World / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni

The Melbourne International Film Festival is back and the movie that I wanted to watch is 'In this Corner of the World' which I have read good things about. Its a poignant movie about a young woman Suzu who lives in Hiroshima during WW2 and its about the world through her eyes.

In this Corner of the World is a beautifully painted anime with a water colourly feel. When the story gets dark in the second half, it will definitely pull at your heartstrings especially in regards to the suffering of the normal people and their attempt to survive during the hardships of war and rationing.

However, I thought the movie had pacing problems and could have easily shaved 15 minutes from its 2 hour runtime and no vital information would have been lost. There were scenes that went too long or were not necessary and I got a bit bored in the first half.

While the movie is certainly moving, it doesn't do anything that I've not seen from many movies and doramas about WW2 and I don't feel like it does it well enough to warrant a recommendation. Its ok but no Grave of Fireflies.

Friday, August 04, 2017

2017 Japan Trip 2 Part 4: Rest of the pictures

Main reason for going to Sky Tree was for this real life Macross thing!

I want to hop into the cockpit!!!!


Can't remember where this cat was from.

Shinjuku at night.

Kimi no Na wa posters at Shinjuku Station advertising the release of the blu-ray.

Peter Rabbit exhibition near Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku.



Went for the 4000 yen Unagi. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it worth it? No.


Golden Gai in Shinjuku aka Champion District from Yakuza.

Hirekatsu at Narikura in Takadanobaba.

Look at the succulent meat of the special roast tonkatsu from some special mugi fed pigs.


Mouth watering very high quality pork. Absolutely worth the 3900 yen price. The one hour wait time is ok once in a while.

Angel Heart exhibit in Shinjuku.

Nothing cools you down in the Japanese summer like macha ice-cream.

Can't remember what type of custard this was but I was too full to eat it at the time. :(

My game haul from this trip. Not to mention 20000 yen in PSN cards which I've spent nearly all.

Finally a Berserk poster! Not the best poster but finally I have one!