Koyuki [小雪] Incredible natural beauty and sophistication. Just charming to watch.
Kam's dramas (9)
GTO [麻辣教師] Rating: 8/10 I watched the GTO movie before this, so its characters and premise seemed fresher then and moved me more than the drama. But the reason this doesn't get a 10 is because of how genuinely frustrating some of the characters were.
Hoshi no kinka 1 [星の金貨] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Often contrived and unintentionally silly, but always moving! I adore Noriko Sakai in this, and Yutaka Takenouchi's character is just way too much fun.
Kimi wa Petto [きみはペット] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I hated the first episode. I liked the second. Everything after charmed the socks off me!
Kou Kou Kyoushi 2003 [高校教師 2003] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Very bittersweet. I was touched despite the fact that parts of the drama seemed written for 13-year-olds. But Aya, why did you have to cut your hair!? :(
Majo no jouken [魔女の条件] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) With the exception of a few plot devices, I thought this series was surprisingly well-written. For the most part, it dealt with a serious subject in an intelligent manner.
Mariya Rating: 8/10 (Watched) A nice blend of humor and drama dealing with a topic that's not all that common. I hated Atsuko Asano's annoying role at first, but ended up loving it in the end!
Suekko chounan ane san nin [末っ子長男姉三人] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Cute, funny, and I liked the cast. After the ex shows up and leaves, the drama wasn't left with much steam, but the characters still made it fun.
Taiho shichauzo [逮捕しちゃうぞ] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I've never enjoyed a show as much as this one! Every episode had me grinning like an idiot from beginning to end.
With love Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I think I harbored a crush on every single one of the actors in this. Slow pace, but the writing was mature enough to balance things out.
Kam's drama reviews (9)
GTO [麻辣教師] Never been more annoyed in my life! [Rating: 8/10] I've never been as annoyed with anything as with the stubborn teacher characters that plot Onizuka's demise episode in and out. The head teacher in particular made my stomach churn; I could barely even stand looking at him! So watching this drama was a sort of masochistic exercise for me, as opposed to the indelible pleasure I was hoping it would be. Toward the final episodes, there were a number of genuinely touching moments, but I think that my original viewing of the GTO movie may have moved me more. Of course, I'd probably be saying the exact opposite had I seen the drama before.
Hoshi no kinka 1 [星の金貨] Contrived but moving. [Rating: 9/10] Contrived on every step of the way, and the surgery segments were so silly that they were almost impossible to watch! But what kept me coming back was the sincerity of the actors. Noriko Sakai, without saying a word, expressed more emotion here than most actresses express in their lifetime; this is possibly one of my favorite acting roles ever. I also loved the arc that Yutaka Takenouchi's character underwent (especially touching was the relationship with his father), though I found that he overshadowed Takao Osawa's character perhaps a little too much. My only real disappointment lies with the final episode: excellent build-up, decent (though perhaps contrived) ending... but it just tries too hard. Whereas the other episodes draw emotion effortlessly, this one just wants to shock and shock and shock and comes out feeling a little hollow as a result. I was expecting to cry a river, but my eyes were as dry as a desert the whole episode through!
Kimi wa Petto [きみはペット] Charmed the socks off me [Rating: 10/10] After viewing the first episode, I thought this was the worst waste of time I had ever experienced in my life; I was put off by the inane script, Jun Matsumoto's forced antics, and the flippant references towards sex. Proceeded watching, and I liked the second episode a little better. By the end of the third, the show had already succeeded in charming the socks off me, and I skipped sleep on two consecutive nights just to see everything through to the end! Part of the reason I loved it is because in personality, I can relate to Koyuki's character, and I just loved the way she was written. But I was also charmed by the humor, and the fact that each and every single character had distinct and memorable traits. It's the little touches that give the life to this drama, and this was as well-rounded a cast as I've ever seen. Lovely music, and the pacing was just right for me.
Kou Kou Kyoushi 2003 [高校教師 2003] Aimed at 13-year-olds, but still got to me [Rating: 10/10] Barring the first episode, which didn't know what the hell it wanted to be (what was up with the cheap J-Horror segment towards the end!?), the series is uniformly excellent . Despite this, the writing is a mixed bag, though. On one hand there's the improbable plot (you learn to swallow it quickly), on the other the entire puerile rape/host/vengeful teacher story arc, and then you have a mature and methodical character study that does a great job of delving into isolation and the difference between dependence and actual love. I was touched in particular by how forgiving and resilient the character of Hina was; she's able to cope with things that would cripple any lesser soul. The ending is deliciously ambiguous, so much so that when I think about it, at times I find it uplifting, and at others utterly distressing. What a morbid and bittersweet story.
Majo no jouken [魔女の条件] Unconventional but intelligent! [Rating: 10/10] Wow, was this one odd. It was interesting to see the script present the relationship between Michi and Hikaru as something pure and even wonderful. There were a few scenes of tender affection that had me squirm, despite the fact that I was rooting for both of these characters from the first episode on--proof that this type of subject matter just isn't easy to handle. For the most part, the writing is intelligent and mature, save for a few moments where logic is thrown out the window for the sake of a twist or two; the final few episodes are especially guilty of this. But the show makes you think, and it opens your mind, and presents everything in such a way that you're still allowed to either agree or disagree with it in the end. I'm impressed with all the different levels that it works on.
Mariya Beautiful message. [Rating: 8/10] I thought this series was genuinely moving and had a great overall message! The story basically centers around sibling relationships, and what it means to be there for one another when you have nobody else to turn to. Though I was a little disappointed with the limited characterization of all the sisters but Sora (each were given roles that amounted to little more than "wise older sister" or "spoiled youngest daughter," for example), by the end the characters just grew to be so likable that I had the impression they were better written than they actually were. Most of the show's focus is on Sora, and it employs a fragmented format where every episode, she helps one patient come to terms with their illness or a problem they may have. Unfortunately, this means that major plot points like Hiyu's illness sometimes feel like afterthoughts due to how little time is devoted to them, though luckily, they never get (too) mawkish or heavyhanded to try to compensate (in fact, possibly 80% or more of the show has a humorous tone). I'm just sad that the whole thing didn't last a few episodes more; I loved the final episode and the ending, but they just came too soon!
Suekko chounan ane san nin [末っ子長男姉三人] Cute [Rating: 8/10] The series summed up in two words: cute and funny. Though not dramatic in the slightest; best example is when episode 9 leaves with a cliffhanger that you'd think would have large repercussions, but silly music plays in the background during the reveal, and by the beginning of episode 10 you realize it was nothing. The drama also doesn't have much steam left after the ex shows up and leaves, so it relies on the charm of the characters to pull through...which works, despite the strangeness of seeing so many people over thirty behave as if they were twelve. Eri Fukatsu is great, but Koyuki steals the show.
Taiho shichauzo [逮捕しちゃうぞ] Loved it! [Rating: 10/10] This is probably as cheap and childish as TV shows can come... but I loved it! There's a certain innocence to it that you don't often come across. It was my first drama, and will probably remain my favorite--I've just never genuinely enjoyed something as much before. I thought it was hilarious how there was often more focus on the relationship/dating aspects than the police force. But the latter is basically there to provide a refreshing backdrop, which gives the whole show a certain novelty value. And as has been mentioned, there's plenty of eye candy! Highlights are Sachie Hara's sexy legs and radiant smile and Misaki Itoh looking gorgeous in her wedding dress.
With love Mature and intelligent writing [Rating: 10/10] The slow pace may be detrimental to some, but I personally loved how this drama took the time to carefully develop the characters and their feelings. Generally, I find Japanese dramas to be somewhat superficial, but there was a depth and maturity to the writing here that took me by surprise, in particular with the way that the characters' plights were linked to their professions. The final episode felt a little forced, unfortunately; the way resolutions were reached was too picture-perfect, and even a little lazy. But otherwise, the other 11 episodes are perfection.