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Viewing profile :: Old-Ant
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Joined:  25 Jun 2005
Total posts:  82
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Country (Nationality):  United States
Location:  SF Bay Area
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Old-Ant's drama votes (2)
Anego [アネゴ]
I defy any male to not fall in love with Noda Naoko by the third episode.
Slow Dance [スローダンス]
Just what I was hoping for

Old-Ant's artiste votes (4)
Amami Yuki [天海祐希]
Multi-talented, gorgeous actress with an incredibly strong presence.
Inamori Izumi [稲森いずみ]
Constantly excellent in every part she plays. Funny, touching and beautiful.
Maya Miki [真矢ミキ]
Good acting, good comic timing, and pretty. What more can a male dorama fan of a "certain age" ask for?
Nanami Hinata [日向 ななみ]
I am defeated by her cuteness.

Old-Ant's dramas (0)

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Old-Ant's drama reviews (8)
Batsu Kare [バツ彼]
A standard romance drama upped by 10 years [Rating: 7/10]
TBS's synopsis is terrible, so here's something a little more accurate: Kyousuke (Takahashi) has always had women coming on to him, unfortunately that's coupled with his inability to turn them down. But his easy-going, flirtatious style keeps them coming to him like moths to flame. His boyhood friend, the widower Youhei (Takashima), is Kyousuke's conscience and delivers long-winded lectures (with standard Takashima intensity) to him about his loose-moraled lifestyle. As the story begins, Kyousuke's wife has just divorced him for cheating, and he is forcefully separated from his cute-as-a-button kindergarten-aged daughter. He goes to live in a businessman's hotel, but spends all of his time at Youhei's apartment hanging out and cooking for Youhei's perfect 8-year old (or so) son. At the same time, single-and-loving-it Natsuki (Maya) and her best friend, the soon-to-be-divorced Shouko (Inamori) are setting up a stationary and sundries shop in Youhei's neighborhood, and Natsuki moves into the apartment right across from Youhei. Their various 30-something personalities ignite sparks of anger, romance, and a combination thereof. If you've seen many Japanese romantic comedies, you'll see how the story ends for certain characters from the first episode. (You might even be able to guess from the cast list.) The nice part is you can also see that most of the characters have a lot of growing up to do before episode 12 so the ride is good even if there isn't a lot of suspense over the ending regarding certain characters. There are a few twists I wasn't expecting, and some good chuckle humor...but thinking back on it, there isn't much I can really pick out about it that would make me recommend it except for one thing: I had to see the next episode. Good pacing, maybe? Clever cliff hangers? I don't know, I was simply hooked. Takahashi and Maya play their parts with fluid ease. Inamori is a little more rigid, but turns in a reasonable performance. Takashima's performance was over-the-top, and it didn't quite mesh with Takahashi's comfortable-in-his-own-skin delivery, but after a few minutes you get used to it. Takashima's performance is only somewhat cringeworthy around Inamori, and that's because of the script. The more minor characters don't add much to the mix. Masahiro (Amano Hiroyuki) tries to eat up the scenery with comic overacting in his part as the unattractive, overweight comic relief, but he doesn't really seem suited to the mood of the rest of the cast. There are no surprises with Kitagawa and Takisawa Saori as the scheming office rivals for Kyousuke's affections. All though it is mainly by-the-numbers romance, there are enough surprises in the story to warrant a favorable review. The writer, Komatsu Eriko, seems infatuated with Kyousuke's character, and I have no doubt most of the audience will be as well. It's too bad that Maya's and Inamori's characters aren't as well developed as the two main male characters, but this is a buddy story as much as it is romance. I give it a "Pretty Good."
Fugoh Keiji [富豪刑事]
Do you like Fukada Kyoko? [Rating: 4/10]
Fukada Kyoko plays the granddaughter of an ancient millionaire who apparently did awful things in the past to obtain his money. Now he wants to repent by having his untouched-by-evil granddaughter use up all his money in the cause of good. She's picked policing as her profession, and grandfather used his connections to install her in a police section that very much doesn't want her. Each story plays out with a criminal on a crime spree and the police are helpless. During the panicked meetings they flounder around for a plan until she raises her hand and politely says, "If you could allow me for just a momentc" She then suggests the most flagrant, money-wasting scheme anyone has heard of. The chief of police always along with her suggestion. The scheme doesn't always work, but Fukada always catches the criminal in the end. This is my first drama in which Fukada Kyoko appears, but I'm willing to bet that this is the character she always plays -- a completely clueless but nice and enthusiastic dimwit. Okay, she did a competent job playing it, but I can understand why people would hate her performance. Every line she reads is played exactly the same. The supporting actors just chew up the scenery. There's not a line that is not overacted in some way. I'm sure it was done on purpose, but it's darned annoying. I can't say that I absolutely hated this drama, but it was a tough slog for me. There were charming aspects (I loved the opening credits for some reason among some other repeated devices), however, I don't think I ever want to see it again. I love comedy, but usually the comedies I like say something about the world -- they have a slightly subversive edge. This said less about the world than your standard Bugs Bunny cartoon. I'm assuming that if you're a fan of Fukada Kyoko comedies...or maybe if you liked the kind of humor you find in Taihou Shichauzo, then you may like this. If you like anything more sophisticated, skip it. Pretty bad.
Heisei meoto jawan ~ dokechi no hanamichi
You can make a chest of drawers out of newspaper [Rating: 8/10]
Mataro (Higashiyama Noriyuki) is in debt, deeply in debt, and it's his own fault. He's always looking for the get-rich-quick schemes and doesn't realize that whenever he cooks in his ramen shop, it comes out tasting awful. His wife, Satsu (Asano Atsuko) is the perfect woman for a poor family. She is always chipper, infinitely resourceful, and wonderful cook even with the cheapest of ingredients. They have five children, three in grade school and two not yet old enough for school, who are basically the audience's eyes into the family providing an in-between location between the angelic patience of Satsu and the constant scheming of Mataro. But there is no status quo for this series to return to. Like Job, things just keep descending. When something goes wrong, the family's situation gets permanently worse, and the amount of their debt continues to climb. I was ready to give up on this series in the first ten minutes. I could find no sympathy for Mataro and the cheerfulness of Satsu was...inhuman. But as the point of view of the children came into the picture, the drama really began to grow on me. Hamada Gaku as Un had some lines with almost professional comic timing (perhaps he spent some valuable time learning the trade from Ishizuka), and the obvious self interest that dominated Tajima Honami's character brought the series down to earth. When the early episodes centered around the children's plight, everything seemed to click. The backup cast was unfortunately forgettable for the most part, but there was a surreal episode-by-episode glimpse into a "normal" family's life (originally as a counterpoint to the poverty of Mataro and his family) that just shined in its one-tiny-scene-per-episode pace. There were places where my lack of sympathy for the Mataro character plunged to utter contempt, but questions like, why is Setsu so cheerful in the midst of poverty, are eventually answered and the ending is rather well done. And after seeing 101 kaime no puropozu, it was really nice seeing Atsuko in a series where she doesn't have to cry through most of each episode. Good show.
Jyoou no Kyoushitsu [女王の教室]
Save Yourself! Transfer to a Different School Now! [Rating: 8/10]
Akutsu Maya-sensei is the teacher you never wanted to have. Brilliant, manipulative, obsessive, and dead set on making sure you fall in line with her rules, or you'll find that your life will be hell. 12-year-old Kazumi has been getting below average grades and living a below average life, but the one thing she wants from her last year of elementary school is to have fun with her classmates and make a few good memories. She had no idea that those very reasonable ambitions will make her the teacher's nemesis. The first ten episodes of Jouou no Kyoushitsu (The Queen's Classroom) are a breath of fresh air in the stuffy and formulaic world of Japanese classroom drama. Starting with Kimpachi-sensei and including others like GTO, Gokusen, and Medaka, all Japanese classroom dramas have been about the teacher saving the students from their own folly. The Queen's Classroom breaks from that with an apparently evil teacher who is out to prove that the world is a harsh place, and so is her classroom. Adapt or die. So what follows is a drama series where the teacher systematically removes the parental and academic protection the children had enjoyed, and forces them to deal with their problems themselves. The big question is whether she's doing it because she knows it will make the children more self-reliant, or because she actually is evil. Some of the performances are spot-on. Amami Yuki's performance is chillingly good. Shida Mirai as Kazumi overacts, trying for comic effect, in the early episodes, but as the series progresses, she tightens up and puts in an excellent performance. Hara Sachie is especially good as the well-intentioned teacher who wants to be the best friend of all the students. The annoying aspects of the school administration and parents are the fault of the writing and not of the performances by Izumiya Shigeru and the other actors. And even so, authority has to be weak to allow for the premise of the show. About halfway through the program, I came up with five ending scenarios. 1) She's evil and remains so until the end. 2) She's evil but is reformed in the end. 3) She right. The children must learn to face harsh reality, and even the children realize how right she is in the end. 4) She's misguided, and a successful rebellion by the children forces her to realize the error of her ways. 5) She's misguided, but with the same methods Kazumi used to unite the class, Kazumi saves the teacher as well. My biggest problem with this series is that the ending, episode 11, chose the wrong scenario. I won't say more since what I've said so far might be considered a spoiler. But even the last episode isn't all bad, it's just that I came out...unsatisfied. But for an excellent twist on the usual formula, this is a series to watch.
Keiji Ichiro [刑事★イチロー]
What happens when a dorama goes bad [Rating: 5/10]
Ichiro (Kato Haruhiko) is an energetic young detective who is determined to protect even the smallest of pets from criminals. When a sadistic murder of what seems to be a happy family occurs in Ichiro's district, he is determined to uncover the killer's identity and bring him to justice. There are forces at work that are determined to see that the murder ends as a mystery including the ruling elite of the police force, Chinese mafia, and even corruption near the top of Japan's political structure. Ichiro is joined by Beppu (Tsugawa Masahiko), an elderly and experienced detective, and Michi (Kikukawa Rei), a beautiful elite detective. Keiji Ichiro never really seemed to click from the beginning. They were trying to mix over-the-top comedy with gritty action sequences, but there never really was a spark of life. Kikukawa Rei is gorgeous and can act, but she never really got a chance to prove it here, and Kato Haruhiko did his best, but... Then there's episodes 7, 8, and 9 where it became obvious that the original plot was scrapped and a new ending was hastily rewritten to put as much of the plot in studio sets where the budget can be regulated rather than the more risky location filming of earlier in the series. The pacing suddenly seemed to be similar to that of an American soap opera rather than a prime-time dorama. Few of the plot threads set up through the first six episodes survived the apparent rewrite. And there were subplots that seemed to be added that did nothing more than take up time (such as a meaningless trip to Hokkaido for one of the characters that was entirely related in a talking-heads sequence, and an equally meaningless collapse from overwork). This may be what happens when an expensive show gets only a 5.2 rating. I would have rated it a 7 for the first six episodes, but the final three just sent the rating plummeting. Oh, well.
Shiawase ni Naritai [幸せになりたい]
Won Over by Dimness [Rating: 7/10]
I have gone over to the dark side. I enjoyed a Fukada Kyoko comedy. I've only seen a few comedies by Fukada Kyoko, but it seems that in every one, she stands on her mark, and makes a dimwitted statement with the same expression and same inflection for every line. Sometimes she doesn't even enunciate properly (which is acting 101), but I must admit that for the one character that she can play, she plays it well. Fukada plays Asada Hikari, a sweet airhead from a dirt-poor family who is simply trying to pay off the massive amounts of debt hanging over her head. Matsushita Yuki plays Nagai Masako, a massively competent primetime television dorama producer who has only one flaw in her work: she's female, and all of the men above her resent it. Through a series of inexplicable events, Asada winds up as an assistant producer to Nagai as they work on a TV dorama that must be a success. Let's start with the cons. Fukada cannot act. The ending is weak. Most of the supporting cast are cartoon characters such as the loan sharks with hearts of gold; the sexual harassing weak boss; the executive who blames everyone but himself; the selfish mother who doesn't see the sacrifices her kids are making for her sake; etc. It hammers away at all of the standard themes of women-in-the-workplace dramas such as follow your dreams, a woman over 30 who has trouble getting married, sexual harassment, it's tough in the real world, and all the rest. Now the pros. The look into the making of a dorama is very interesting, and the background characters on the set aren't cartoon characters. The bumbling Hasegawa (Tanihara) actually has a character growth arc. Shinoda Takuma who plays the elder of Asada's two young brothers is a real acting find -- the boy's fantastic. And Matsushita puts in a fine performance caught in the middle of something close to real-to-life on the TV studio side and something close to cartoonish when dealing with Asada's problems. And the pros outweigh the cons -- barely, but the do. If you're a Fukada fan, this show doesn't feature her as much as, say, The Millionare Detective did, but there's still plenty of Fukada for fans to ogle. But even if cute and dim doesn't float your boat, the dorama-behind-the-dorama plot should be enough to attract most fans of the medium. Worth a try.
Slow Dance [スローダンス]
Take it Slow [Rating: 10/10]
Riichi (Tsubabuki) has lost his motivation at 25 years old. He made an excellent and well-regarded movie when he was about to graduate from college. But directly after, he broke up with the girl he made the movie for, and for the past three years, he hasn't done any significant work towards making a new film. He's just passing the time as a driving instructor for one of the many Japanese driving schools. It's then that he meets 31-year-old Isaki (Fukatsu) who is trying to get her license. Although it takes them time to realize it, this isn't the first time they've met. In some cases, a title has no relation to the content of the series, but in this case, the title is perfectly appropriate. Slow Dance's pacing is leisurely and it's plot winds around like a dance -- but it is never dull. The script is both sweet and funny, the acting is first rate, and the ending is one of the better dorama endings I've seen. The secondary characters are well fleshed out and well acted. Hirosue especially takes on her role with a acting style that is reminiscent of Inamori Izumi's portrayal of Momo from Long Vacation, and does it convincingly. Fujiki plays much the same easy-going babe-magnet that he usually does, but adds a nuance to the part which makes one realize why his character can't seem to refuse the advances of pretty girls. One can also sympathize with the background characters such as Kohei (Tanaka) the anime otaku with a massive crush on Mino (Hirosue). The only less-than-stellar performance comes from the Ayumi character (Kobayashi) who, while not dragging the her scenes down, doesn't pull up to the performances of the rest of the cast. Yes, Long Vacation was a better romantic comedy than Slow Dance, but only by a little. Slow Dance hits all the right notes at the right times to make it one of the best romantic comedies of this decade. If it hadn't been for the very creative adaptation of a massive best-seller (Densha Otoko), Slow Dance would have owned the Summer of 2005. See it!!
Yume de Aimashou [夢で逢いましょう]
Akiko fans, anyone? [Rating: 6/10]
If you're an Yada Akiko fan, then this series will give you what you're mainly after: a lot of Akiko screen time. Akiko looking somewhat happy, Akiko looking somewhat troubled, Akiko looking somewhat in love... But for those of us who think that Akiko is pretty enough, but actually want a little bit of acting; a little bit of chemestry; and something approaching an interesting plot, you're in for a rough 11 episodes. Akiko is an unmarried dental hygenist living with her stubborn father. He's gruff and they argue, but you can tell that they love each other. That's the plot for all of the episodes. All the rest is just filling time. Nagatsuka Kyozo does a yoeman like job as the father. He only overacts occasionally, and he gives a generally convincing performance in his assigned role. Actually, he is the only one with whom Akiko has any chemistry. The background characters, included in the list are love interests Oshio Manabu and Nagai Masaru, add nothing to help the show. The only one who has any appearance at all is Musaka Naomasa as Nagatsuka's toading subordinate. If Akiko can hold your interest, then you'll be interested in Yume de Aimashou. If not, skip this puppy. By the way, aside from a short discussion about dreams in one episode and the standard dorama fare regarding dreams of the future, the title has nothing to do with the story. Not worth it.

   

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