Abe Hiroshi [阿部寛] His bizarre antics and facial expressions in Trick had me rolling.. A talented comic actor with superb comedic timing.
Inoue Mao [井上真央] The most adorable actress out there. I love her animated facial expressions and the way she speaks. Very natural acting abilities. She has a great future ahead of her. I just hope she won't be typcasted as the tough, strong-willed girl.
Shibasaki Kou [柴咲コウ] The ice queen of J-drama; she is no delicate flower. I was concerned she would be confined to sullen, borderline-psychotic roles until she showcased her acting talents in Orange Days. Her portrayal of the deaf girl blew me away.
Ace wo Nerae! [エースをねらえ!] Rating: 2/10 (Watched) Unwatchable (except for Ueto Aya). The plot is dull, shallow, predictable, and cheesy. The tennis scenes were so horribly fake that I nearly gouged out my eyes from embarrassment. The girls clearly can't play so they had to use computer graphics to simulate the ball trajectories. Oka must be a hundred times more talented than Steffi Graf because nobody goes from being barely able to return a serve to winning tournaments at competitive varsity levels with only a couple weeks of harsh drilling. Tennis requires years of practice and coaching for one to be truly proficient. The only redeeming quality of this drama is Aya in a cute tennis outfit.
Boku dake no Madonna [僕だけのマドンナ] (Watched) Saw the first episode and was immediately turned off by its similarities to Long Vacation. I'm sure the overall story is different but I have no intentions of finishing this one.
Densha Otoko [電車男] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) A slap in the face of the real densha otoko. Can a script be more overly-dramatic/exaggerated? The appeal of the densha otoko story is the improbable romance did and can take place in real life. However, this dramatic rendition perverts that idea into a preposterous fairy tale nobody can identify with. Itosh Atsushi's over-acting makes it all the more unbearable. His portrayal of densha will go down in J-drama history as the most puny, spineless, pitiful, sniveling-weasel-like, poor-excuse-for-a-human-being character ever created! The guy acts like he's about to die from a nervous breakdown. His constantly whiny face and apologetic behavior makes me puke. Perhaps his moniker should be changed to "Trainwreck Man" because watching his hysterical crying fits gives one the same mental anguish as witnessing a tragic derailment accident. The last episode was building up toward what could be the first genuinely touching scene of the series until train boy started sobbing and hyperventilating uncontrollably (again). Hermes-san probably accepted his confession out of pity rather than love--after all, who could refuse the entreating of a wretched, fragile creature spewing tears and mucus all over the floor. I only forced myself to finish this drama for the lovely Itoh Misaki as well as occasional glimpses of Maki in schoolgirl uniform, cool ASCII art wiz Oguri Shun, and Darth Miho.
Gokusen [ごくせん] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) A decent adapation of the manga. As with GTO, the writers had to tone down the material to make it more suitable for television. Yankumi was far more badass in the manga (she was actively involved in the yakuza underworld). While the stories in this live-action series were formulaic and predictable, they were also funny and genuinely touching. Nakama Yukie and Matsumoto Jun make a great Yankumi and Sawada duo.
Gokusen Season 2 [ごくせん２] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) This installment merely rehashes ideas from the first one. Yankumi is once again in charge of a class of delinquents and she has to win their trust through a series of selfless actions, stirring speeches and fights. For whatever reason, I didn't find this group of students as likable or realistic as the first class. It also didn't contain as many goofy comedic scenes as the first. My other complaint is the two lead students are so good-looking it's hard to suspend disbelief. lol. Nonetheless, this serial still works as a solid stand-alone drama.
Good Luck !! [グッドラック！！] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) A genuinely entertaining, feel-good J-drama with a solid cast. The storytelling is not as deep as I'd like but the amusing subplots and well-rounded cast more than make up for it. The airline setting will take some getting used to. Don't miss Tsutsumi Shinichi's briliant performance which earned him best supporting actor. Overall, a fun, light drama that will not wear thin with repeated viewings.
GTO [麻辣教師] Rating: 9/10 I'm a huge fan of the manga and I love this live action version just as much (even though they tweaked most of the original characters and storyline). Sorimachi is the perfect Onizuka.
Hana Yori Dango [花より男子] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Too rushed and overhyped. I did not feel the romance between Tsukasa and Makino was properly developed. However, the drama does score major points on the beautiful set, top-notch presentation and well-chosen cast. Inoue Mao makes the perfect Makino. Matsumoto Jun really surprised me with his compelling portrayal as Tsukasa. Overall a decent drama but not nearly as fantastic as everyone make it out to be.
Itoshi Kimie [愛し君へ] (Watched) I'm debating whether I should continue with this drama. It took me three days just to finish the first episode because the story dragged on at an incredibly sluggish pace. Kanno Miho's soft-spoken, sedate character really puts you to sleep. I also felt some of the scenes were too contrived for melodrama (see the scene where the two leads clarify an earlier misunderstanding while sakura petals flutter around them). What happened to subtlety?
Kurosagi [クロサギ] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) A lackluster adaptation which failed to capture the spirit of the manga. I found myself cringing through some of the beginning episodes, however, the series improved in the latter half (starting with episode 7), redeeming it somewhat. It is overall watchable but ultimately leaves one with the lingering feeling that it could've been much better. Yamapi makes a dashing Kurosagi but he clearly needs more practice with conveying the serious emotions. Maki is kawaii but her stubborn, holier-than-thou character got on my nerves.
Nemureru mori [眠れる森] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Creepy and slow-moving at first but evolves into a suspenseful roller coaster ride that keeps the viewers at the edge of their seats. This is not the type of drama to watch casually as the material is rather dark and heavy. All the cast members did a masterful job portraying their respective roles. Overall a solid suspense/mystery that should appeal to the thinking audience looking for more than just a sappy romance.
Nobuta wo Produce [野ブタ。をプロデュース] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Perhaps my favorite school drama. I was reluctant to watch it at first because the plot sounded like another formulaic ugly-duckling makeover story. But the drama is much more mature than that; it is really a story about friendship, loneliness, and the burdens of pandering to public opinions. The three young leads had superb chemistry and truly brought their characters to life. I wish this drama never ended. Don't miss this one! Nobuta power, chuunyuu!!
Pride [プライド] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Fell short of my expectations. The first half was engaging but the story deflated when the focus shifted away from Halu and Aki's courtship (the only interesting element of this drama). The weak, uninteresting supporting characters and subplots failed to fill in the gaps. The ending was utterly unsatisfying and unrealistic because the lead-up to it made no logical sense whatsoever. But I rate this drama a 7 because the first half was decent and I'm a fan of Queen, Yuko and Kimutaku.
Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi [空から降る一億の星] (Watched) Currently watching this one (just finished episode 9). I'm fascinated by the somber, mysterious story, and even more intrigued by Kimura's shady character. I also like the fast. chimey music they play whenever some new event or revelation advances the plot. ^_^ This drama is very different from Kitagawa's usual works. It is dark and tragic but I find it strangely refreshing. On a side note, the real English title should be 100 million stars fall from the sky, since ichioku is 100 mlln.
Tiger & Dragon [タイガー＆ドラゴン] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Surprisingly good! I didn't know what to think after the first episode because of the unconventional storytelling format and the over-the-top characters. But I continued watching out of curiosity. By episode 6, I was laughing and genuinely enjoying the series. The way they weave a rakugo story into every episode is extremely clever. Kotaro has to be one of the coolest drama characters to come along in a while. Now I understand why this drama won so many awards.
Trick [トリック] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I became hooked to this series after stumbling upon it on TV one night. I was drawn in by its unique blend of dark, bizarre storytelling and slapstick humor. Abe Hiroshi and Nakama Yukie have amazing chemistry. I honestly have never laughed so much watching a J-drama. Trick is definitely worth a look if you're in the mood for something fresh and creative.
Nobita-kun's drama reviews (2)
Densha Otoko [電車男] An absolute trainwreck... [Rating: 4/10] not to mention a slap in the face to the real densha otoko. Can a script be more overly-dramatic/exaggerated? The appeal of the densha otoko story is the improbable romance did and can take place in real life. However, this dramatic rendition perverts that idea into a preposterous fairy tale nobody can identify with. Itosh Atsushi's over-acting makes it all the more unbearable. His portrayal of densha will go down in J-drama history as the most puny, spineless, pitiful, sniveling-weasel-like, poor-excuse-for-a-human-being character ever created! The guy acts like he's about to die from a nervous breakdown. His constantly whiny face and apologetic behavior makes me puke. Perhaps his moniker should be changed to "Trainwreck Man" because watching his hysterical crying fits gives one the same mental anguish as witnessing a tragic derailment accident. The last episode was building up toward what could be the first genuinely touching scene of the series until train boy started sobbing and hyperventilating uncontrollably (again). Hermes-san probably accepted his confession out of pity rather than love--after all, who could refuse the entreating of a wretched, fragile creature spewing tears and mucus all over the floor. I only forced myself to finish the drama for the lovely Itoh Misaki as well as the occasional glimpses of Maki in schoolgirl uniform, cool ASCII art wiz Oguri Shun, and Darth Miho.
Orange Days [オレンジデイズ] One of my favorites! [Rating: 9/10] I finished the entire series in two sittings and would've done it in one had I borrowed all the episodes at once. Needless to say, I was glued to this drama from the start. The two lead actors have excellent chemistry and delivered convincing performances. This is a true tear-jerker with pertinent lessons about love, life, and career.