Monday, January 29, 2018

Byplayers Episodes 1-7

I wasn't that interested in Byplayers when I first read about it despite the fact that it had some of my favourite actors. I show about 6 actors living in the same house so they bond before shooting a big movie? How interesting would that be? Since Byplayers got subbed or at least the first 7 episodes, I decided to give it a go and so far its been a fun ride.

Its so much fun watching actors that I've seen in so many shows playing themselves, especially Endo Kenichi, Osugi Ren, Matsushige Yutaka (Kodoku no Gurume) and Terajima Susume (Every Beat Takeshi movie).

To me, its less about 6 people living in the same house but more about the world of acting. About how its like any other job where various people with their own idiosyncrasies have to work together. About how actors feel about the public perception of their roles. About how a scandal can derail a supporting actors career. (If you are a Johnny, scandals are like water over a ducks back) About how actors give it their all even for tokusatsu shows.

Byplayers is a love letter to doramas and movies and the actors that entertain us and support whichever unworthy idoru the tv stations want to use as a ratings grab. Featuring a myriad of cameos, Byplayers is a strong contender to be a must watch show.

With five episodes to go and the big reveal already done in episode 7, lets see whether it can maintain its quality and surely Kita Yoshio has to make an appearance. Thanks to jc1782 for subbing the first 7 episodes and f u to the streamers who took his/her subs and removed all credit. Very watchable.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Kangoku no Ohimesama Episodes 6-10

Kangoku no Ohimesama greatest weakness is that it spends most of its time in unnecessary flashbacks that detail every single thing about their characters' past. However, this is Kudo Kankuro writing here so every trip to the past in funny and touching.

Still, when a show uses the flashback technique, its keep the audience guessing how the characters got from point A to point B, which is the beginning of the show and every nugget of revelation keeps the audience guessing. In Kangoku no Ohimesama, we the audience can pretty much fill in the blanks and while there are some potential twists, they never happen and in the end it ends up being a straight forward journey.

I've always said not to judge a jdorama but what I think it should be but what its trying to be. Kudo Kankuro wants Kangoko no Ohimesama to be a comedy about friendship and about how a bunch of criminals can band together and risk their futures for the himesama. In that sense he has succeeded. Kudo Kankuro has created a memorable cast of characters especially Baba Kayo. There are so many funny and interesting details in the dialogue.

At the same time, I just hate the pacing and the narrative flow. If only it were 6 episodes, the pacing would be perfect or if Kudo Kankuro did it as a straightforward show instead of a flashback story. Watchable but infuriatingly flawed.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Kangoku no Ohimesama Episodes 1-5

Kangoku no Ohimesama is a Kudo Kankuro (Tiger & Dragon/Manhattan Love Story) dorama with a stellar cast of the best actresses in Jdoramas along with Iseya Yusuke (Ashita no Joe). The story is about a group of women who met in prison getting their revenge on Ikemen Shacho Itabashi Goro.

The main attraction of the dorama are the chemistry between the characters especially Koizumi Kyoko's Baba Kayo, Kanno Miho's I didn't hurt anyone tax evader and Mitsushima Hikari's sensei.

Its funny how these group of women still carry over their practices and traditions from the prison to outside life. Or one could say that the practices from prison life is the basis of their friendship and they would not be able to relate to each other without them.

Kangoku no Ohimesama is funny, charming and has lots of flashbacks and it slowly goes through what happened with the obasans in prison and what they are taking revenge for. While the flashbacks are funny, it takes a very long time for them to get to the important questions to answers that I as the viewer want when interrogating Itabashi Goro.

It feels like instead of giving one small revelation in one episode, it would have been better for pacing reasons to have to have two, ie do the first five episodes in 3 episodes instead. I can understand Kudo Kankuro did it that way. Its more about the characters than the mystery and works as a once a week show. However, it doesn't make for a good marathon series.

I want to see what happens next but there's a lot of entertaining stuff that I need to go through to get to that point in the next episode. Its sad I can't give this a must watch but it is certainly fun to watch. Hopefully there will be a lot less detailed flashbacks in the second half of the series and the pacing can go faster.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

2018 Japan New Years trip Part 4 : Rest of the pictures.

Lizardon and Pikachu welcoming the new year at the Pokemon Centre in Ikebukuro Sunshine City.

Speaking of Lizardon, we managed to snag two UFO Catcher prizes during this trip!  The first was a Pop Team Epic pushie and the second was this Lizardon at a game centre in Shin Koiwa.

We got both our UFO prizes through the same method, somehow snagging that plastic string that hold the tag.

Lizardon looking after the hotel room.

Keiji Yugami card case.

Keiji Yugami stand at the Tokyo Character Street at Tokyo Station. Must visit for jdorama fans.

I have no idea what a fromage is but it looks good.

Tasted not bad.

Other pastries at the shop.

The best new place we went this time was a yakiniku in Kabukicho called No Meat No Life. Turns out it was just directly opposite the infamous Robot Bar.

We went for the really expensive meats and it was definitely worth the money!

The bad thing about going to Japan around new years' is that a lot of the good eating places were closed so we ended up with a lot of generic food from chain shops.

Omurice place with demi glace sauce in Shimokitazawa. It was not bad. My experience with demi glace sauce is if it doesn't say limited availability, when it sucks.

Macha aisu in Kamakura because it makes sense to eat ice cream in the winter outside.

Sushi from Kakiya in Kamakura. It was ok. The best sushi we had was at this sushi train place at the 8th floor of Yodobashi Akihabara called Magurobito. You can have your own private table and order from a tablet and the sushi will be sent to your table by an automated conveyor belt. Its more expensive than normal but you can definitely taste the difference especially with the maguro. And its got an English menu as well so very recommended.

Kyoto Katsugyu at 8th floor of Yodobashi Akiba. Way overpriced. Avoid.

Gyutan from Tannosuke. Way overpriced.

Another small Lizardon pushie.

Went to the Sega arcade in Kabukicho to get Yakuza goods!

Picture of some of my loot. A whole bunch of old games there. Also got another Sega Saturn since I killed another one when I forgot to plug it into the transformer first.

More retro games. The two drinking glasses on the top right are from Street Fighter and the glass on the left has all the move names in katakana.

Bought two plastic display boxes for 1000 yen each to keep the dust away. The box is a lot larger than it needed to be. Works decent for a cheap product.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2018 Japan New Years trip Part 3 : Izu Shaboten Zoo and Teddy Bear Museum

This was actually the first time I had gone to Shizuoka prefecture. First we took a shinkansen to Atami. Some of you might recognise that name from Atami Sousakan.

From Atami station we took a train to Ito.

And then a bus to the train station nearby the zoo..

At this train station there was a hot spring for warming of feet. I certainly did no want to leave this place.

The main reason we went all the way to Izu was not to see these poor fellas trying to warm themselves in the winter but this fella below.

A capybara. The biggest rodent ever. There are basically giant hamsters.

You could buy some grass for 200 yen and feed these already overfed animals and pet them.

Izu Shaboten Zoo has plenty of other animals as well and the interesting thing is that you can get close with plenty of them and some of them even roam free like the monkeys and peacocks.

The main event we came for was the capybara onsen where the fat, overfed capybara get to enjoy Japan's greatest invention.

We can see dad Capybara hogging the best spot as the hot spring gushes forth.

 I have never been jealous of animals until now.

Should have booked a ryokan instead of making this a day trip.

This is what bliss feels like.

 View of Fuji-san from Izu Shaboten Zoo.

Next to the zoo was this hill were you could ride the cable cars up to the top and get a panoramic view of the area. We didn't have time to try it though. Maybe next time.

It's also got a My Neighbour Totoro exhibit.

Really old teddy bears from when they first came into existence.

The level of detail in this one is incredible.

Tonari no Tottoro...