|Aoi Tori [青い鳥]|
Extremely good with a little bad [Rating: 9/10]
Ok, there were two plot turns in this drama that were extremely annoying and only made a little sense to me. So why rate it a 9? Because the rest of the story was one of the best I've seen from Japanese TV. The first 4 episodes were filled with a slowly building sexual tension that created a terrific dramatic atmosphere. And if you view the main characters as obviously having had emotionally damaging pasts, the events that occur could make sense. If you just go with the plot, the story really sweeps you along. The acting is good all around (though there were times when I wished the male lead would have displayed a bit more energy.) Both actresses playing the daughter were fantastic, especially An Suzuki. She was adorable without being overly cutsie.
The ending can leave you with questions but the short special episode answers them.
|Bloody Monday [ブラッディ・マンデイ]|
Bloody Awful [Rating: 3/10]
It's hard to determine which side had the lower IQ, the terrorists or the people trying to catch them. At every turn the police bungled opportunities to catch the bad guys so I guess they win the moron prize. Early on an officer has disarmed and has a gun trained on a terrorist. So what does she do? Walk up to the guy and put her gun in easy reach of the terrorist. Guess what happens. Later, the location of something that could save millions of lives is found. So do they send a large troop of officers to retrieve it? No, just a couple police. Guess what happens. The terrorist J seems to have no trouble having face to face meetings with the teenage Falcon. Do the police think that maybe they should keep the Falcon under constant surveillance so they can catch the terrorist? Of course not.
And the ending was pretty lame.
If any of the "good guys" had any sense the terrorists would have been rounded up in about 30 minutes (and the show would only last 1 episode.)
The terrorists' motives are ridiculous and Narimiya Hiroki's cliched smirk and swagger performance as J gets a little tiresome.
It was pretty well directed and it looked good. It was the first time I recall seeing Ashina Sei and thought she fit her role well and will be looking for her next, hopefully better, project.
|Buzzer Beat ~ Gakeppuchi no Hero [ブザー・ビート]|
nothing new [Rating: 5/10]
If you've seen a few other Japanese romantic TV dramas then you've already seen this one. There's really nothing new here; just
a collection of the standard cliches. You know in the first episode how things will end and with the title of 'Buzzer Beat' you know how the final game will end. The theme of the series is how love gives you strength. You know that because it gets mentioned several times per episode and there is a giant sign on
the outdoor basketball court that says, "Love Makes Me Strong" that is featured prominently in most episodes. The show could have used some subtlety but the writers seemed to want to hit the viewers over the head with their message.
Some of the characters are pretty good but there are too many artificial obstructions keeping the main couple apart, obstructions which
only serve to drag the story out to fill the eleven episodes. This would have been much better as a two hour movie.
The tremendous appeal of Keiko Kitagawa as Riko is the main
reason to give this series a view but it doesn't save it from the
|Enka no Joou [演歌の女王 (えんか の じょおう)]|
Too dumb [Rating: 4/10]
I think that after playing such a strong character in The Queen's Classroom Amami Yuki was looking for a completely different kind of role. Unfortunately she chose this drama/comedy. It was really sad seeing her play such a dim-witted and too often spineless woman. It is really hard to like the main characters in this series; none seem to possess the slightest amount of common sense.
I think some of this is meant to be a comedy but the writers apparently thought that just making the characters idiots would come across as funny. It didn't. Perhaps if this had been done as anime we might have an easier time overlooking the lack of
normal human conduct. Maybe my expectations were too high since Amami Yuki was the
star but I still couldn't find much to like here.
One feature I did like was that most episodes contained a brief moment where the derivation of a kanji character was discussed. This was quite interesting to the beginning Japanese student.
Laughably bad [Rating: 2/10]
Wow, there was pretty much total incompetence at all levels in the production of this. Maybe the stupid, annoying direction/cinematography was used in hopes no one would notice the writing was so horrible. The "plot" is disjointed, inconsistent and really makes no sense. The script has absolutely no respect for any of the characters, they're just stick figures to be moved around and spew idiotic dialogue. I guess the actors are to be forgiven for their performances. It's hard to imagine anyone able to make the words in the script believable.
|Fukigen na Jiin [不機嫌なジーン]|
A bit of a mess [Rating: 5/10]
Takeuchi Yuko is such a likeable actress but is pretty much wasted in this drama. There's very little logical flow to the series and there was only about three episodes worth of plot; the whole thing felt very drawn out. The lead male character is not particularly endearing and Uchino Masaaki's poor acting didn't help matters. There just wasn't much interest in seeing the two leads get together. If you're looking for a romantic comedy/drama there are many more better choices.
very disappointing [Rating: 4/10]
I was very eager to watch this drama after seeing all the rave reviews. I just finished the last episode and am definitely disappointed. I like dramas with some silliness (I loved Gokusen) but this one really requires you to turn off the logic centers of your brain.
Generally each episode contains what is often called the "idiot plot", meaning the conflict could quickly be resolved with just one sentence spoken at the right time. But then, of course, each
episode would only last 10 minutes.
Each episode is pretty much the same:
1. Some ridiculous conflict arises.
2. Onizuka takes an action which in the real world would result
in a significant prison term.
3. One or more people do a bunch ignorant things to make the
4. Someone makes a teary-eyed speech defending Onizuka.
5. Conflict is resolved.
Often this "great teacher's" actions are negligent and harmful to his students (like ignoring an unconscious, injured student for what appears to be hours in order to search for a lost necklace.)
I don't see what anyone sees in Takashi's acting. He seems to
have gotten his training from watching monkeys at the zoo.
Absolutely no subtlety in his performance, mostly just mugging for the camera. (Granted, there's no subtlety in the scripts so that might be part of the problem.)
There are touching moments in most episodes but they are based on such artificial situations that they don't ring true.
|Hoshi no kinka 1 [星の金貨]|
bad soap opera [Rating: 4/10]
Given the other good reviews I read this was surprisingly bad.
I'm usually an easy touch for sentimental romances but this one
was ridiculous. Amnesia, murder, suicide, cheating spouses,
evil doctors, pregnancy, terminal illnesses, etc. , this one pulls out every
cliche from the hackneyed soap opera handbook. Even the
"good" doctors are incredibly incompetent and no one behaves
with an ounce of good sense. Can't believe there are two sequels.
|Ichi Ritoru no Namida [１リットルの涙]|
Try not to cry [Rating: 10/10]
When I first heard the title of this drama I thought the title sounded silly and lugubrious and the show would be horribly overwrought. I just finished watching the final episode and have to say the title is perfect and the drama is nearly perfect. The story is, of course, sad but also inspirational. I teared up pretty much every episode. I guess the fact that it is inspired by true events is what made it so poignant for me. I'm truly amazed by the courage of this young woman and what she, and others like her, have to endure.
The acting was good all around. I had never seen Erika Sawajiri act before; she was just a pretty face to me. I was completely blown away by her performance. Her abitlity to portray both strength and fragility was amazing. I will definitely be hunting out other work by her.
For a story of this type it's hard to think of a better one.
|Ikebukuro West Gate Park [池袋ウエストゲートパーク]|
disappointing [Rating: 5/10]
This just did not click with me. I enjoyed the direction and cinematography but the writing was very weak. Some of the characters were interesting and some of the humor worked nicely but the general plot made little sense. I guess I was expecting a bit more realism but much of the story seemed to take place in an alternate reality. Too many overly dramatic moments with no purpose; mostly a bunch of immature guys trying to act manly. I just couldn't much care about the characters and I really hope the police in Japan aren't as pathetic as they are portrayed here.
Cliche-o-rama [Rating: 3/10]
I am so thankful this drama was only six episodes long; I don't think I could have watched anything more. Truly, this is nothing more than a string of the standard tragic teenage romance cliches.
Comparing it to 1 Liter of Tears is an atrocious insult to 1 Liter of Tears.
If you want to relate it to another drama, I would say it is "Crying Out Love, In the Center of the World"'s mentally challenged cousin.
The author has claimed this is a true story but I doubt it. Most of the details in the drama make no sense, so it's hard to believe they actually happened.
The story starts with an immature teenage girl meeting a violent, creepy teenage boy and because the script says so, she falls in love with him. And that's the main problem with the story; there's no real motivation for anything that happens and the relationships are too artificial to care about.
|Liar Game [ライアーゲーム]|
Nice change of pace [Rating: 8/10]
This is a very unrealistic drama that clearly shows its manga roots.
The situation doesn't really make much sense but if you go with it, it can be a lot of fun. It's basically a dramatic game show and it was nice to see a show that requires some thinking. You might have to hit the pause button when some of the schemes are explained to mull them over.
It's far from perfect: It should have been shorter and there were too many scenes of guys with strange haircuts laughing manically.
But, still, the mind games that were being played and the moral of honesty and fairness to those around you was nice.
|Majo no jouken [魔女の条件]|
Not a romance [Rating: 6/10]
As a romantic tale it completely fails but as a story of a deeply emotionally disturbed woman, it's fairly good. This woman has serious problems and I'm not talking about falling for an underaged guy. It's how she deals with it. She seems incapable of rational thought or having concern for anyone but herself. She had to know how her life and the lives of those around her would be impacted but instead of waiting a year for the boy to graduate and avoid all these problems she went ahead.
This is mostly just a criticism of the main characters actions and not so much against the drama. As a psychological portrait it was interesting, as a romance it was very lame.
It's about two immature people falling in "love" and making a series of really bad decisions.
It could have been so much better. [Rating: 6/10]
There is a good drama hiding in this series and in abler hands this could have been quite good. The basic story line is good and keeps you interested but it felt like the producers didn't have enough confidence in the material and added distracting elements that just made things annoying.
The main detective is full of passion but a little low on brains. He runs around yelling at people , over-emoting at every turn and missing obvious connections. Impossible to believe this man could have worked his way to detective level.
The acting by Ohno Satoshi was fine and nuanced and Kobayashi Ryoko was well cast as the innocent, kind young woman. While Ikuta Toma's performance as the detective was very irritating, you can't fault the actor as that was most likely how he was directed to perform.
But the element that was most annoying/distracting was the soundtrack. Apparently the producers didn't think we would realize when something dramatic was occurring and added
constantly loud and overwrought music.
With just a little work this would have been terrific and, as is, there are pleasures to be found here if you ignore some of the annoying distractions.
bad science [Rating: 6/10]
I would have to describe this series as a dim-witted, over-caffeinated combination of CSI and The Mentalist.
Kimura Takuya as Mr. Brain gives a very, and literally, in-your-face
performance that often gets annoying. For someone supposedly so intelligent, he does a lot of dumb stuff that only works because the
screenplay says it works and not because it makes any sense.
Ayase Haruka as the assistant does a good job but, again, her character should have been a lot more intelligent given her job
Too much of the action is, as said by others, very chessy and overly dramatic with an almost constantly pounding soundtrack trying to increase the tension.
In too many cases the science is laughably bad. In most episodes the criminal ends up confessing which is a good thing since the "scientific" evidence against them would in many cases
never stand up in court.
Having said all that, if one approaches this as a slightly comedic science fiction/fantasy show then some enjoyment can be had. I had just hoped that a series called "Mr. Brain" would have been a lot smarter.
|Proposal Daisakusen [プロポーズ大作戦]|
Disappointing [Rating: 6/10]
Oh, how this would have been so much better as a two hour movie than an 11 part TV series!
Ken's repeated lack of courage quickly becomes tiresome and then really irritating. Finally, it became hard to root for him since Rei deserves someone much better than him.
The main reason to watch is to witness why Masami Nagasawa is an increasingly popular actress. She is so very engaging and likeable on screen that she can almost make you overlook the plot.
My recommendation for new viewers would be to watch the first two or three episodes and then skip to the last episode.
Wasn't expecting much [Rating: 5/10]
Wasn't expecting much and that's what I got. It's sort of a wine based version of "My Little Chef" but no where near as good. The biggest problem is the robotic performance of the lead character. You can't really blame the actor, I'm sure that is how the role is written but he just comes off as a dry pedantic guy with no personality. He's just not capable of selling the idea that the right glass of wine (and the story that goes along with it) can solve most of life's problems.
Miho Kanno's energetic performance almost makes up for it but just isn't enough to recommend the series.
Fairly standard stuff [Rating: 6/10]
Typical soap designed to tug at your tear ducts. Yes I got weepy but too much of the plot was unbelievable. You definitely need to turn off your logic detector to enjoy this. Most actions by the characters make little sense (apparently in Japan, if a doctor treats you, you are required to become his girlfriend). Plenty of moments got to me emotionally but you are required to ignore that the story line is kind of lame.
|Ushi ni Negai wo: Love & Farm [牛に願いを - Love & Farm]|
A cheese maker [Rating: 6/10]
One episode had a cheese making scene but all the episodes were pretty cheesy. The story takes place in farm country but the writers
brought all their city jdrama cliches with them. It was nice to see something that wasn't set in a city but the farm scenes were pretty fake.
I grew up on a farm and I found most of the scenes of day-to-day farming to be hilarious (unintentionally).
There were a few times when the sentimental scenes were effective and several characters were enjoyable so overall I
did find some enjoyment to be had from viewing. I also did
appreciate how the series discussed the blight of small farming
communities. I just wish the writers had spent some more time with real farmers to get more of the details correct.
|Watashitachi no kyokasho [わたしたちの教科書]|
Good job [Rating: 9/10]
This is probably my favorite japanese drama of the last couple
years. From what I have read recently, its topic, bullying, is
very timely in Japan. It does a great job of ending most episodes with a bit of a cliffhanger that keeps you coming back (I watched all 12
episodes in two days).
The story takes alot of interesting twists,
probably a few too many in fact - it would have been better with
two or three fewer episodes and the final scene in the teacher's room was a bit much. However, with the usual terrific performance by Miho Kanno I can't complain.
|Zettai Kareshi [絶対彼氏]|
An overall decent show [Rating: 7/10]
This is the first time I've seen Saki Aibu in a lead role and I was generally charmed by her. Yes her performance was occasionally a bit over the top but someone who buys a love robot would have to be a little wacky. In fact her performance was about the only thing that kept me with the drama for the first five episodes. The problem I had was that the robot character was annoying me no end initially but by the end of the fifth episode a change occurred and he became much more tolerable.
I have to say that I could never believe the Riiko/Night relationship and so wasn't as touched by it as others here apparently have been. Is it really love if not loving her is impossible? I thought the ending was pretty much the way it should have been. In any case I still enjoyed the show and encourage anyone who finds the premise interesting to give it a view.