Aoi Yu [蒼井優] Beautiful and talented actress who mostly works for movies (many of which are very good btw!)
Fukatsu Eri [深津絵里] Beautiful and brilliant! My faves with her: "Slow Dance", "Saikou no Kataomoi", and the movies "The Magic Hour", "Akunin", "The Professor and his Beloved Equation", "Space Travelers". Yay Fukacchan! ^__^
Ishihara Satomi [石原さとみ] I never understood why in english they say "Cute as a button" and "Cute as pie"; whatever, Satomi-chan is cute as a button-shaped pie (or as a pie-shaped button, as you prefer). Kawaii! (and I adored her acting in "Puzzle", LOL)
Kanno Miho [菅野美穂] Extremely versatile and talented actress, she really impressed me in "Kimi no Te ga Sasayaite Iru", where she delivers a great performance without even being able to use her voice (which, for an actress, is quite a feat!). Her repertoire is vast, as she can be also very funny, as shown portraying "Mariya-san" in "Churasan". Not a classical beauty but I find her very attractive all the same!
Morikawa Aoi [森川葵] Beautiful and talented, she's my current fave! Loved her (and her acting) at first sight! :)
Apart from piercing eyes and a lovely smile, she possesses an extremely wide acting range and a particularly strong comedic sense!
Shinohara Ryoko [篠原涼子] So far, the only thing with her I didn't like was "Unfair", but I don't think it's her fault. She's gorgeous and also a very good actress. My faves with her, "Tsuki no Koibito" and "Haken no Hinkaku" ("Oomae Haruko desu! Sore ga nani ka?" ^____^)
Takeuchi Yuko [竹内結子] Extremely beautiful and talented actress, imho she gave her best performances in "Bara no nai Hanaya" (a must see!) and in the movie "Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu"
Wakui Emi [和久井映見] In all roles I've seen her playing so far, she's always been nothing short of outstanding...whether in her 20s, in her 30s or in her 40s...always great, always breathtakingly great - and always beautiful - of her unique, classy, refined yet so simple and pure beauty, one not only depending on looks, but on everything else as well: her voice, her gestures, her expressions...such an enchanting and marvellous actress, really! ^___^
Yoshitaka Yuriko [吉高由里子] Beautiful and talented actress. Gorgeous face (and voice) plus very wide acting range. Imho, one of the best :)
pash's dramas (189)
3-nen A-gumi ~ Ima kara Minna-san wa, Hitojichi desu [3年A組 ~ 今から皆さんは、人質です] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Whoa, what a powerful story!!! I usually am quite subjective in my reviews, pointing out that whatever I write is simply "imho", but in this case I gotta tell you: if you watch this and it doesn't touch you deeply, than I'd say you should check your pulse, 'cause there's a high chance you're dead and you just don't know it! Jokes aside, such a thought-provoking script, and such a moving performance by the main actor! I normally point to "1 lt. no Namida" whenever someone asks me "I'm curious about J-dramas...where should I start?"...from now on, I think I might give them this as a second choice!
Ai no Uta [あいのうた] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) I had great expectations for this one, considering that two of my absolute favorite actresses (Wakui Emi & Kanno Miho) are in it. And indeed, the scenes with the two of them are the best part of this dorama, or should I say, the only part worth watching. Unfortunately in fact - given that it's a story which aims to be extremely (even, painfully) realistic - it turns out to be just the opposite! The plot twists are sooooo predictable, the characters bidimensional, the dialogues often idiotic, and the whole thing screams "faaaaaaaake" like the cheesiest of commercials (I won't go in details, so as to avoid spoilers, but let's take as a mere example the family dog, which no one takes for a walk in 10 episodes, and which also never barks, not even once. Just like one of those überfake dogs from a pet-food commercial, ne?). I'd define it "hollywoodian" (as in, fake-fake-fake!). Disappointing...:/
Ai wo kudasai [愛をください] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Have you ever seen a picture of a lit-up candle on a pitch-black background? Well, that visual image came to my mind as I was looking for the best way to describe this dorama without giving away too many details: at first (and for the biggest part of the episodes), the darkness is so thick it's almost unbearable; but then, slowly but surely, a faint light can be seen and, as we approach the ending, the light shines bright and warm and the darkness is vanquished. Heartwarming story, great performance - as usual - by Kanno Miho, very good direction and script, nice and catchy soundtrack and score. Oh, and a special mention for Fubuki Jun: she's always excellent! 10/10
Aoi Tori [青い鳥] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) It took me ages to finish it 'cause I stopped watching it after the plot twist in the middle of it (no spoilers, I'll just say I really disliked it and was at the same time shocked and pissed off). I picked it up again after a few weeks and slowly watched it until its conclusion, but by then the magic had gone, as far as I'm concerned. The cast did just great throughout the whole series (BTW, Natsukawa Yui and Yamada Maiko, each in her own way, are both to die for - though I realized I've become older and wiser, as I'd have chosen Nagasaku Hiromi's character instead! ^_^), and the directing and photography are also top notch. Too bad for the plot, otherwise this would've been a perfect 10...:/
Arimura Kasumi no Satsukyu [有村架純の撮休] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) What a nice lil' gem of dorama! Soothing, relaxing, ideal as a break (pun intended) in-between some heavier series, or anyway when one wants to watch something that calms down. But don't take me wrongly, this is not to say that it's boring or shallow or anything like that. On the contrary, I think the best feature of this "Arimura Kasumi no Satsukyu" is that, while giving the superficial impression that nothing's really going on in the different episodes, still they manage to touch (or should I say "caress", considering the gentle, non-intrusive approach) some deeper issues regarding family, friendship, love, work, etc.
A very convincing performance by the lead, as well as by the supporting cast. To top it all, some nice music throughout the whole series and in particular a lovely, funky ending credits song by Takeuchi Anna!
The only reason I don't give this a perfect 10 is that alongside little masterpieces like episodes 4 and 8, there were also some much weaker ones, namely eps. 5 and 6 (all imho of course).
Still, it's a well-deserved 9 in my book! ^__-
Ashita no Kita Yoshio [あしたの、喜多善男] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Although pretty difficult to describe (Is it a noir? Is it a drama? Is it a feel-good story? Or rather a dark tale of personal growth? Or maybe...a little bit of all of the above, and then some more?), this is a deeply original and interesting dorama, with a nice message, a weird but solid script, great acting, very good directing/photography, and last but not least, a superb jazzy soundtrack!
At Home Dad [アットホーム・ダッド] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Very well done, light comedy with some deeper, even thought-provoking bits. Shinohara Ryoko is gorgeous, Abe Hiroshi's very good, but two other actors actually steal the show here: Miyasako Hiroyuki is just great, and Ando Sakura (the lil' Rie) is so good! (actually, to act that well at 6...man....it's even scary, seriously! There are quite a few grown-up actresses, with many doramas in their CV, who could still learn a trick or two - or more! - from this child!)
Attention Please [アテンションン プリース] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Ueto Aya is totally cute in this (so is Aibu Saki! \o/) and Maya Miki does a very nice job portraying the instructor; too bad the two special episodes weren't that good (honestly, I found them quite bad)...anyway, it's definetely worth watching, imho...^__-
Bara no nai Hanaya [薔薇のない花屋] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I loved every minute of it: brilliantly written, acted, directed, photographed, edited...the only thing I didn't like at first was the ending song, but then it grew on me and by the last eps. I couldn't take it off my mind, LOL...
Big Money! [ビッグマネー！〜浮世の沙汰は株しだい〜] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I often say that one of the (many) reasons why I like J-dramas so much is the incredibly vast variety of genres and of topics they address, and the great freedom the writers have. Now, this dorama is a perfect example of that! Where else could you have a whole series depicting banks for what they really are (the portmanteau "banksters" immediately comes to mind!) and thus having a bank's big gun as the villain, all the while having as the totally improbable heroes an old guy, a young and inexperienced fellow and two incredibly funny yakuza? Nowhere else, ne? ^_^;
Particularly worthy of praise, as always, Nagase Tomoya's performance, but also Kohinata Fumiyo's and Matsushige Yutaka's - who add some much needed comic relief moments (plus, one of the most tragic and romantic scenes ever!) - and last but not least, Okamoto Aya's; besides, she's to die for in this, period. The only reason why I don't give this beautiful dorama a full 10/10 is (WARNING: little SPOILER ahead!) that I'm a bit dissatisfied with the ending; after having built up all that tension with such a despicable S.O.B. of villain, I'd personally want said villain to be utterly crushed, disgraced, humiliated, destroyed at the end (Kusturica's "Black Cat, White Cat" comes to mind, if you know what I'm saying, LOL). This "let's give the guy a hand" just doesn't sit right with me...
BOSS Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Having watched them almost one after the other, I couldn't help comparing this dorama to "Unfair" (particularly since they're both cop-shows with a female lead) and imho "Boss" wins hands down: not only is the main character much better (somebody with brains instead of a female "Dirty Harry"), but also the supporting cast is quite good, the plots make some sense and the constant humor makes it much more enjoyable (all this imho of course). I didn't have many expectations but I ended up unexpectedly liking it.
BOSS Season 2 Rating: 5/10 (Watched) There were some good moments and a coupla good episodes, but that was it; imho it's much worse than the 1st season (Toda Erika was soon replaced with Hasegawa Kyoko, and that also contributed to my disliking of this season, sorry...^__^;;;...); the humor bits were much less funny (you can only laugh that much about Yamamu's iron wig, c'mon) and the plots were mostly poorly written...
Bungaku Shojo Rating: 6/10 (Watched) I watched this because I'm a fan of Morikawa Aoi, and indeed she shines through it just like she does in any dorama or movie I've seen her in so far. But honestly, anything else here is just "meh": trite story, cheesy dialogues, some useless characters and nothing particularly worthy of mention except the background music (Chopin & Debussy, yay!)
Camouflage ~ Aoi Yu x Yottsu no Uso [カムフラージュ] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) In the same "artistic" (read: insufferably pretentious!) spirit of this dorama, here's a creative "haiku-review": only 17 syllables and not one more! (also 'cause it'd be a crime to waste even one more minute of my time on this...^__-). So, here goes:
Aoi Yu's beautiful
but this dorama sure isn't;
pompous, artsy crap!
p.s. The only good thing of this (apart from Aoi Yu, that is) is the theme song, a lovely bossanova sang by Ms. Aoi herself. Thanks to that, I'm giving this a 4 instead of a 1...^__-
Celeb to Binbo Taro [セレブと貧乏太郎] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Kamiji Yusuke is funny. Aya Ueto is beautiful, and so is Kuninaka Ryoko (though I must confess having been eerily attracted by Wakamura Mayumi and her impeccable blonde bob). The story is the Nth retelling of Cinderella's tale (or maybe I should write "stale", heh), this time with a coupla twists that actually made it a little less annoying than usual, for this humble reviewer: 1) he's poor, and she's loaded; 2) being loaded isn't the goal here - as a matter of fact, the dorama conveys the message that being loaded and being a decent human being are pretty much mutually exclusive (something that I appreciated - what with the "it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven" and all that, you know). Unfortunately most of the dorama is just "meh", often being silly rather than funny. Still, differently from other reviewers, I liked the last episodes a lot better than the previous ones, and as far as I'm concerned those last eps and the afore-mentioned message are the reasons why this gets a passing grade.
Chanpon Tabetaka [ちゃんぽん食べたか] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Half-baked coming-of-age dorama, which felt for the most part like an "asadora's digest", as if they'd squeezed a 26-weeks asadora in just 4.5 weeks (9 eps., 45' each): too many undeveloped characters and subplots, a main character whose undecisiveness might have been better developed and overcome in an asadora, but here is only annoying, and a rushed/open ending which leaves utterly unsatisfied. (Oh, and Aoi-tan's part is too damn small! ^_^;...) All this said, I'm even more let down as this had all the right ingredients and could've really been a great dorama....:/
Chiritotechin [ちりとてちん] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Wakui Emi is absolutely PERFECT (no surprise here, LOL), but also most of the remaining supporting cast did a wonderful job, from Matsushige Yutaka to Sato Megumi, from Watase Tsunehiko to Katsura Kichiya, from the lovely Miyajima Mai to Kato Toranosuke, from Kabira Jay to Kimura Yuichi etc. etc. - seriously, it's easier to name the very few exceptions, i.e. the moronic uncle (Kyomoto Masaki is 20 years older than Hara Sachie and the layers of makeup and flashy clothes he wears are supposed to make him look younger, but he ends up giving a strong 50-something-drag-queen vibe; you'll forgive me if I don't find realistic that Natsuko-san falls for him, ne?), the clichè-but-mostly-useless-grandma (I don't like when the elderly are written in scripts as mere ornaments, really; compare this with Churasan's obaa-san and you'll see the difference: now, THAT's an obaa-san, not this ghostly presence!) and the annoying new apprentice, Kososo. Furthermore, rakugo makes for a very interesting and refreshingly original topic (though "Tiger & Dragon" wins hands down there...but that's another story) and throughout the whole dorama, music is an extremely pleasant accompaniment ("Furusato" and the opening credits music most of all!). So why "only" 7/10? Well, sorry if I'm too blunt, but I found both Kanjiya Shihori (whom I also didn't like in the otherwise great movie "Swing Girls") and Aoki Munetaka extremely annoying - and as much as it pains me to write this (me being a Hanshin-fan and whatnot), I have to admit that so was the constant use of Kansai-ben (seriously, now that I've finished watching this, I don't wanna hear another "-hen" nor "-han" for at least six months, LOL!). Anyway, Aoki's character's stage name happens to be perfect for summing up 151-episodes worth of dorama in just two syllables: So-So! :/
Churasan [ちゅらさん] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) ChuraDORAMA!!! A mere "10" doesn't even come close to defining how superb this lil' gem is (heh..."...lil'..."...with its 156 eps, not that lil', actually ^_^) though it's kinda difficult to describe it without giving away anything (and that'd be a pity, as it'd take away from future viewers the pleasure of discovering it step by step), therefore I'll limit myself to this very short - and if I may say so myself, quite apt - description: "the poetry of life" ^_^
Huge congrats to everyone involved in this production, with honorable mentions for the script (oh, those witty, theatrical dialogues! and then again, it makes you laugh, cry, think, dream...the whole nine yards!) and for these actors/actresses in particular: Kuninaka Ryoko (a wonderful lead!), Sakai Masaaki (a very funny father!), Murata Takehiro (oh, those hilarious monologues!), Kanno Miho (a perfect tsundere!) and Taira Tomi (the überwise Obaa!). M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E!!!
Churasan Season 2 [ちゅらさん２] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) There's an old italian saying (based on a real historical anecdote) which goes like this: "Paganini non ripete" (Paganini - a very famous violinist - doesn't repeat, doesn't play an "encore"), and one of the meanings of that saying is that perfection, once attained, cannot be repeated nor copied. Perfection may happen, but you can't expect perfection to repeat itself over and over again. That's why, while thinking about how to comment on "Churasan 2", that old italian saying came to my mind: "Paganini non ripete"! The original "asadora" was pretty much perfect; there shouldn't have been any "encore". This sequel sports the same writer (although this script is surprisingly bad!) and the same cast, but the magic isn't repeated, and it ends up being nothing but a faint copy...:/
Churasan Season 3 [ちゅらさん３] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) You know how sometimes hereditary traits may skip a generation? Apparently, that's precisely what's happened with Churasan sequels, as after the faux pas (or should I rather say "disaster") of "Churasan 2", the writer Okada manages to deliver again with this lovely "Churasan 3". Shifting the focus from Eri and the Ippukan to a new character (Aiko-chan) was a brilliant idea, as instead of the stale aftertaste left by the previous sequel, here we have a fresh, touching, heartwarming story. Well done! :)
Churasan Season 4 [ちゅらさん４] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) In one word: WEAK!!! "Churasan 2" was a half disaster...and this "Churasan 4" is the other half! >_< Just like the first sequel, it's hard to believe that it was written by the same guy who wrote the original asadora and "Churasan 3"...:/
Confidence Man JP [コンフィデンスマンJP] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Brilliantly scripted and well acted by the whole cast! Filled with humor and witty references - I've spotted a few, but I'm pretty sure there are many more - oh, and there's also a movie which is quite good too!
Dear Sister [ディア・シスター] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Lovely dorama about sisterly love and, more generally, about the things we should actually pursue in life (family, love, etc.). I particularly enjoyed Ishihara's and Hirayama's performances!
Dekichatta Kekkon [できちゃった結婚] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Gets a passing grade mostly thanks to Takenouchi's and Chiba's performances. The rest wasn't really worth mentioning...
Deru Toko Demasho! [出るトコ出ましょ！] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Although it has several funny scenes, this one-shot is way too weird and silly for my taste. So, how come I'm giving it a 7? Well, I need only five words to explain why: KOIKE EIKO WEARING A CHEONGSAM! ...'nuff said! :P
Egao no Hosoku [笑顔の法則] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) This dorama had all it needed to be a great one: two great leads (Takeuchi & Abe), a good supporting cast, some great lines, an interesting story (and as someone already noticed, great ending credits, LOL), but imho they screwed it up with the ending, unfortunately...=__=
Furuhata Ninzaburo [古畑任三郎] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Beautiful example of the "howcatchem" genre (as opposed to the more usual "whodunit"), it reminded me a lot of the first seasons of "Columbo" - though this was even better! A funny but oh-so-smart character perfectly portrayed by Tamura Masakazu, some nice comic relief provided by Nishimura Masahiko, great plots and dialogues, nice directing, some great guest stars....to cut it short, a must watch. Oh, and let's not forget about that brilliant, jazzy musical score! A perfect 10 all way through! ^____^
Furuhata Ninzaburo Season 2 [古畑任三郎 2] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) There's an old Italian saying (of course, soccer-related - pardon, calcio-related ^__^) that goes like this: "squadra vincente non si cambia". That is, "never change a winning team" - meaning, when a formula works, there's no reason to modify it!
That phrase fits perfectly to this second season of the acclaimed dorama "Furuhata Ninzaburo": the first season had been basically perfect, so why should they go and modify anything for the following season?
Luckily they didn't, and the result is just as good as the original!
As always in series with an episodic structure, some episodes are better than the rest; if I were to name a personal top3, I'd say first #10 - a real masterpiece! - and right next #9 and #4 ^__-
Gaikoukan Kuroda Kosaku [外交官・黒田康作] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Fast-paced, well written, and all in all a thoroughly enjoyable "sequel" to the movie "Amalfi" (be sure to watch it before the dorama...not that it can't be viewed otherwise, but you'll definetely enjoy it more).
Galileo [ガリレオ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Those like me who are big fans of Higashino Keigo and Meitantei Conan will surely like this. Nice plots, funny, non-intrusive comic relief...too bad they tried to really screw everything up with the last episode (so bad it hurts, seriously!), but they recovered well with the very nice special. Apart from the aforementioned crappy episode 10, the only thing that really bothered me was the absurdity of the "Galileo-starts-writing-formulas-on-some-crazy-surfaces" scenes, present in each ep.; c'mon guys, I understand that a bloc-notes and a pen would have been less dramatic, but there's a fine line between dramatism and idiocy, and those scenes went too far...
Galileo Season 2 [ガリレオ 2] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Solid second season. I think the episodes were mostly better written (i.e. there weren't weak eps. this time) though the whole thing gets a little repetitive after a while (note than I binged it, which may have added to this feeling). I normally would have been pissed off that they replaced the female lead, but since the replacement was Yoshitaka Yuriko (who's one of my faves if not THE fave), I really can't complain! :)
Garasu no Ashi [硝子の葦] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I'm a sucker for a good noir, and this one's pretty damn good indeed! (albeit not *absolutely* perfect, due to a coupla weaker details in the plot - hence the 9/10). Anyway, breathtaking performance by Aibu Saki (I mean, award material, seriously!). I also liked a lot Morikawa Aoi, Okuda Eiji and Watanabe Konomi. Oh, and let's not forget the beautiful music and the "exotic" Hokkaido setting! ^__^
Hachimitsu to Kuroba [ハチミツとクローバー] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) The main issue I have with this dorama is that, until ep.8, the only interesting things about it were the scenes with Romaya-sensei and the ever-changing BTS clips shown during the closing credits (BTW, great song, seriously!). Dull script, unappealing characters and an annoying plot (or rather lack thereof) made it a real pain in the you-know-what to keep on watching until that point. Luckily, though, I didn't give up, as things picked up very quickly from then on and the last episodes were like a fireworks display reaching its climax. Now, how to grade something like that? Seven painfully slow and uninspiring episodes would deserve a "3" or "4", 4 very good episodes could get an "8" or even a "9"...I'll go with something in between and give it a "6". Self-reminder in case I'll ever decide to rewatch it: watch the first ep., skip the next 6, and enjoy the rest! :)
Hanako to Anne [花子とアン] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) It was my first asadora - and it took me ages to watch all of it! ^_^; - but I have to say it's such a wonderful dorama! Very well scripted, filmed, acted, beautiful photography, costumes and music, and most of all such a nice, heartwarming story! Another great performance by the extremely beautiful and talented Yoshitaka Yuriko! Heartfelt congratulations to her, to the rest of the cast, and more generally to everyone involved in this lovely production! :)
HAPPY Rating: 4/10 (Watched) The original manga, despite having its flaws, was still an enjoyable read. Unfortunately, when you take a 23-tankoubon manga and squeeze most of it in a 3-hours double special episode, the result is bound to be crappy, and that's exactly what happened here. Aibu Saki and Miyasako Hiroyuki (who were both very nice casting choices, being surprisingly reminiscent of the respective manga characters) delivered nice performances, but everything else basically sucks.
Higashino Keigo Mysteries [東野圭吾ミステリーズ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Being quite a big fan of Japanese mystery comics (Meitantei Conan) and novels (namely, Higashino!), I really enjoyed this anthology series! True, a coupla episodes are only so-and-so (#3,4,7), but several others are absolutely brilliant (#1,2,5,6,8,11), and the average quality is therefore pretty damn good imho. The frame story being played for a few seconds before and after each episode and reaching the climax at the end of the series is also enjoyable (making constant fun of mystery tropes in a very fast-paced and minimal way - kind of like a 4-koma manga, if you know what I mean - adds some nice comic relief). A well-deserved "8", as long as I'm concerned! ;)
Hitsudan Hostess [筆談ホステス] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Hitsudan Hostess is a short dorama which brings on the screen the life of Saito Rie, who managed to become Ginza's (and therefore, Japan's) number one hostess despite being deaf since age 2, wrote a bestselling autobiography and later (though this has happened after the dorama was made) became the first hearing-impaired person ever to be elected as a local assemblywoman in Tokyo. The story is really moving, the acting very good (particular praises to Kitagawa Keiko, the late Tanaka Yoshiko and Sasano Takashi - plus, it's always a pleasure to see Toda Naho) and the message conveyed so heartwarming.
Home & Away [ホーム＆アウェイ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) One of the best doramas I've seen, unfortunately partially tainted by an unispired last episode; without giving anything away, let's just say that after a 10-eps-long emotional rollercoaster (you laugh, you smile, you think, you cry...the whole 9 yards, really! Huge congrats to the writers!), the ending feels suprisingly plain, flat and dull. Too bad, 'cause it would have deserved a full 10/10 otherwise. Who does deserve a perfect 10 anyway are the lead (seriously, Nakayama Miho could make even reciting a shopping list an interesting watch; when, instead of a shopping list, there's a beautifully written script, the result is just superb of course) and the supporting cast (those adorably funny scenes portraying the trio of brother+kohais!). Solid score, great scenery. A must watch! :)
Hotarugusa ~ Nana no Ken [螢草 ~ 菜々の剣] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Amidst the recent, ever-surging wave of "westernized" j-dramas, filled to the brim with all sort of depravity, decadence, obscenity and utterly despicable characters, it does one's heart a whole lot of good to find a small gem like this "Hotarugusa"! Such a perfect, oh-so-Japanese, traditional tale of honor and revenge, with endearing, ethical, righteous characters one can't help but wholeheartedly root for, complete with a healthy dose of "mono no aware" (the eponimous flower being itself a symbol of this fleeting yet so strong feeling) and topped with a few moments of comic relief which are ideal to avoid making things too gloomy.
An astonishing performance by Kiyohara Kaya, as well as by the rest of the cast (with honorable mentions for Machida Keita, Hamada Mari and Ukaji Takashi - oh, and the kids are just *adorbs* - there, I never thought I would've used that word, LOL). Some extremely nice music completes the package. Perfect 10 all the way!
Iguana no musume [イグアナの娘] Rating: 1/10 (Watched) Crazy (as in, "batshit crazy"!) premise. Idiotic script. Absurd dialogues. Summing it up: a decent girl who thinks she's a monster, and three REAL monsters (her mom, her lil' sis and a mental classmate) who make her life hell day in and day out (plus two more semi-monsters - her dad and her love interest - who witness all that and simply do NOTHING to stop it). After 4 episodes I just couldn't bear it anymore to see that poor girl crushed and hurt and bullied again and again, so I dropped it (and unless someone tells me that later on some Buffy / Van Helsing / Punisher kind of character suddenly appears and gives all those afore-mentioned monsters a well-deserved, slow, painful, gruesome death...well, unless that happens, I seriously doubt I'll ever consider giving this title another chance, LOL). One of the worst doramas I've ever seen, seriously. Instant top5 of the WCE (Worst Crap Ever).
Ii ne! Hikaru Genji-kun [いいね！光源氏くん] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) I picked this up because I found the premise interesting and most of all because I'm a fan of Ito Sairi, whom I find both a very good actress and a beautiful woman - though I understand that whereas *subjectively* I find her very attractive, probably *objectively* she isn't considered a beauty in Japan...therefore the fact that her appearance was constantly belittled in the dorama, though annoying and even insulting as I have felt it, still wasn't enough to completely inhibit my "suspension of disbelief" - as anyone who has read a little about literature/theater/cinema/scriptwriting surely knows, a *vital* process in the consumption of fiction. Unfortunately, the ML instead made the afore-mentioned "suspension of disbelief" absolutely impossible for me, considered that the viewer is supposed to believe he's a playboy and skirt-chaser from the Heian Period, while the guy - sorry to be so blunt - doesn't have an ounce of manliness in him; not in the way he looks (those Bambi eyes, those constantly pouting lips, those puffy cheeks...everything screams "pre-school kid" to me!), not in the way he moves (gestures, body language etc.). Adding insult to injury, the interesting premise wasn't actually developed, making it a missed opportunity as far as I'm concerned. What a waste of Ito Sairi's talent! p.s. I liked the opening credits song, though!
Imouto yo [妹よ] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) Great acting - as usual! - by the always superb Wakui Emi. Unfortunately, there's little else here. The plot is annoyingly trite (the Nth retelling of Cinderella's tale - which I don't care for at all, btw; I'll never understand how anyone can actually consider even remotely romantic a story which could be summed up as "she's poor, he's loaded". Materialistic much?!?). The dialogues aren't memorable, and neither is the rest of the cast (actually, Tsuruta Mayu is good; Kishitani Goro's clownish antics are somehow funny, but seem out of place 90% of the time here; as for Karasawa Toshiaki, he's as expressive as...a fish!!!). Forgettable.
Itoshi Kimie [愛し君へ] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) Kanno Miho's performance was very good, but not even that is enough to save this crappy dorama. Poorly scripted, unoriginal, predictable, cheesy. In a romantic drama the audience is supposed to root for the leads, but that's very hard to do here since the main male character is such a selfish, weak, spoilt and despicable 1st-class a-hole. And the way the elderly characters are written is just a disgrace: bidimensional characters, almost caricatures...one is little more than an ornament, always wearing a traditional dress and a faint smile and watering flowers or serving tea or such things, the other's a drunkard who speaks like a punk (those family scenes are supposed to add some comic relief, but they're just embarassingly bad). What a waste of Kanno Miho's talent! :/
Juhan Shuttai! [重版出来!] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) An absolutely lovely view of the manga industry, without the over-the-top attitude of many such stories! Beautifully scripted and masterfully acted by the whole cast! Selecting a personal top3 list of the best performances, I really loved Kuroki Haru as the former judoka turned energetic manga editor, Odagiri Joe as the calm and deep senpai, and Matsushige Yutaka as the crazy editor-in-chief / Hanshin fan (though I may be partial here, being a torakichi myself :))
Jyoou no Kyoushitsu [女王の教室] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) I'll start with a warning: there was no way for me to properly review this dorama and explain why I loved it at first and ended up hating it (and believe me, I don't use this word lightly), without some spoilers.
So, before you keep on reading, let me ask you a question: have you watched "Full Metal Jacket"? If you haven't, then maybe play it safe and stop reading. But if you have, here's one more question for you: would you say that Sergeant Hartman was a fine educator or a rotten S.O.B.?
If your answer is the former, then stop reading and start watching this dorama, there's a high chance you'll love it! But if your answer is the latter, then you might want to keep reading - spoilers included - so as to avoid wasting 9 hours or so of your life (over 12 if you include the SP) on this.
And now I'll proceed explaining why I think so (spoilers from now on, consider yourselves warned):
I was captured right away by the thought-provoking premise, and it kept me thinking and (probably over-)thinking for the first few episodes. I even thought, for a brief moment, that maybe the scriptwriter had had an incredibly prophetic view of his future (and our tragic present), thus using this dorama's distopian classroom to portray a society where those in charge seem to have loads of evil fun pitting us "commoners" against each other and even unleashing chaos - the only thing they care about being that we obey, don't think and follow their rules which are more and more absurd each day - and clearly counterproductive, at that. Ok, I was seeing too much into it, LOL, but that's just to show you how intrigued I was!
Slowly but progressively, though, the story kept getting sillier and sillier with every episode. Short after the middle of the series, I started suspecting where it was heading: to an utterly insulting ending where they'd say that this monster (Amami Yuki's character couldn't deserve titles like "teacher" or "educator", and sorry if you disagree, but this is my informed opinion as someone who's worked in this field!), I repeat, where they'd say that this monster had actually been a "good (hell, even great) teacher", that it had all been just some "tough love" and that it had all "turned out well after all".
And that's where I started hating it.
Because I believe that if you treat people badly (Akuma-sensei - sorry, Akutsu-sensei - pun intended - traumatizes her pupils day in and day out, and her behavior sums up to psychological torture in my book!), I repeat, if you treat people this badly, no good *whatsoever* could *ever* come from that. To even imagine such an idiotic development is total BS, sorry.
If you treat people like this, some bad sh*t is bound to happen instead! Just like with Sergeant Hartman and Private "Gomer Pyle" in "Full Metal Jacket", you know...?
Approaching the end of the series, each episode unfortunately confirmed my suspicion, and I was more and more disappointed, and then really *disgusted* by the lousy, idiotic last episode (*every single scene* of it felt like an insult to my intelligence: the commercial-like family scene, the fight with the punks - nani sore?!? Where the hell did those crawl out from? A Chuck Norris movie maybe?!? And then again, the 180° U-turn from monster to ideal teacher / hero, even lecturing the kids on how it's wrong to hurt others - true, of course! But....how dare *she* say that?!? You gotta be f***ing kiddin' me, c'mon! And I could go on and on but I guess you got the picture...in one word: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!").
After watching Arimura Kasumi no Satsukyu" I had felt...cleansed, that's the word!
After watching this series to its end...I feel like I desperately need the soul equivalent of a long, warm, scrubbing-all-over shower! Such a terrible feeling it has left me with!!!
The acting was good (I mean, the kids' acting, as Amami Yuki's character being the expressionless monster she was, the poor actress couldn't show her acting skills, unfortunately. And the rest of the cast, alas, were little more than extras, so it's hard to judge them - except to praise Kaho for her adorable "onee-san"). The music was okay. I'll go with a 4/10, also considering that to correctly asses the "rewatch value" I'd need negative numbers...
Kaidan Botan Doro ~ Beauty & Fear [怪談牡丹燈籠] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Allow me for once to start from...the end; namely, the ending credits: that eerily beautiful waltz, the sheer atmosphere conveyed by that fog and by the eponimous peony lantern, the creepily slow movements...and those absolutely fascinating, kimono-clad "bijin" who, with one feeble gesture, suggest we follow them - something that I suspect most of us would do, even knowing that it might not be a good idea...well, all this could serve as a perfect metaphor of the impact this dorama had on me.
Despite all the caution I might have wanted to exercise (I must confess I was quite worried that this might end up being another victim of the "westernization" of the Jdrama scene [*]), still I got drawn in right away by the perfect photography, by the very good acting, by the lovely music,
and last but not least by the sheer beauty of the afore-mentioned "bijin" gracing the ending credits - Kamishiraishi Mone and Toda Naho (BTW, the latter must have a portrait, hidden somewhere in her attic, which ages in her place; no, seriously, she's basically as attractive now as she was in "Shomuni", two whole decades earlier! I'm impressed - and hopelessly charmed, of course). Perfect 10!
[*] of course I should've known better than to fear anything like that from NHK, which instead managed to deliver a modern but at the same time loyal rendition of this traditional tale.
Kaiki Daikazoku [怪奇大家族] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I didn't expect too much from it, but I got hooked right after a few minutes: it's terribly funny, mocking all the cliches of the genre ("genres", as it's not only about horror, but also SF...you'll find UFOs, time travel, ghosts, zombies...).
The actors did a nice job (particularly Takahashi Issei, Fujimura Shunji, Jay West and Toyama Kyoko - the last two portraying the monk's extremely funny younger brother, and the totally cute ghost Asami-san), the soundtrack is very nice, and overall it's a great dorama, I wholeheartedly suggest this! ^___^
Kaito Yamaneko [怪盗山猫] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) It had an interesting premise, unfortunately ruined by poor dialogues and by the lead actor's "acting" which was incredibly annoying (why the hell does he keep shouting the whole time?!?). I endured that torture for 3 eps. so as to see if it showed signs of improvement. It didn't.
Kakafukaka ~ Kojirase Otona no Sharehouse Rating: 1/10 (Watched) Similarly to "Bungaku Shoujo", the only reason why I went and watched this dorama (or should I say, "endured this abomination until its conclusion") is the fact that I'm a big fan of Morikawa Aoi. And indeed, once again she shines through it like she always does. The big difference though is that, apart from her acting, "Bungaku Shoujo" was just "meh", while this "Kakafukaka" is plainly terrible. As I wrote while reviewing "Iguana no Musume": "Instant top10 of the WCE (Worst [email protected] Ever)". If I could use only one word to describe it, that word would be "SICK!!!". Seriously, I have a question for whoever wrote this, as well as for the tv channel people who greenlighted it: "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?"
The only thing that could've saved this from getting the minimum grade would have been if one of the following two changes to the script had been applied:
1) All of a sudden, Jim Caviezel's character from "Person Of Interest" is magically trasnported inside the shared-house during the last breakfast scene, and of course he does what he's best at, shooting the male lead's kneecaps off right on the spot! (see if that brings up a reaction on that insufferable fish-face of his!)
2) Right after the last scene, an extra scene with the caption "some time later": we see a prison guard escorting the new inmate, Hongyo, to his cell. The prison guard opens the cell and introduces Hongyo's cell mate, a 7-feet, 250-pounds giant with a scary face and an evil smirk right in the middle of it: "This is Bubba, you guys are bound to get along just fine...you see, he also tends to "GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT!". Caption: "And they lived *painfully* ever after"...
Kakegurui [賭ケグルイ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Albeit as crazy and "shonenjumpesque" as they come, this dorama and its sequel do provide a few hours of evasion and entertainment. Morikawa Aoi is a perfect "tsundere" type and Hamabe Minami does also really well as the compulsive gambler - managing to be at the same time funny and scary when she goes "gamblerserk" and shouts/utters/whispers - depending on the episode - "Kakeguruimashou!". I might raise or lower the vote depending on how they wrap everything up in the subsequent movie (unsubbed atm), though...
Kanojotachi no jidai [彼女たちの時代] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) Scriptwriting 101: the ideal script should have great characters and a great plot; you can still write something nice with a weak (or even no) plot but at least great characters, and you can still come up with something watchable with weak characters but at least a great plot. But if you write something with no plot and dull characters, what you'll get in the end is just a waste of film. Uninspiring.
Kazoku no Katachi [家族ノカタチ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Very nice dorama about the importance of family (and more generally, good ol' values) even in today's world, where people (just like the two leads in the 1st ep.) often stay alone thinking they'll manage to find happiness that way. But - quoting from this dorama - "two is better than one, and three is better than two". Et cetera, et cetera...:)
Keiji to Kenji ~ Shokatsu to Chiken no 24-ji [ケイジとケンジ ~ 所轄と地検の24] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Please allow me to start with a premise: I've read a fair share of messages bashing this series in forums, social networks etc., all due to Higashide's scandal. Now, I must confess not caring much about actors' and actresses' private life, and let me explain why: I've met several artists in my life (though in my case musicians and writers, rather than tv or cinema people) and I gotta tell you, most of them were, to put it bluntly, shitty people; ego-maniacs dumb as rocks who'd stomp on anything and anyone for just a little more fame. And yet, they were great at their jobs. So the lesson I've learned from those personal experiences was that it's better not to know the person behind the artist, and limit ourselves to appreciating the artists for their art. That said, Higashide might even be a rotten human being (and then again, maybe not...after all we'll never know the whole story and that's probably better), but that doesn't change the fact that he's a good actor, and he proved that once again in this "Keiji to Kenji" (portraying that silly, childish but at the same time kind prosecutor) - together with the rest of the cast...all of them did a great job, seriously, from the always überfunny Kiritani Kenta (as the loud and big-mouthed Osakan high-school teacher turned cop) to the lovely Higa Manami, who could be the poster girl for "Classic Beauty" (personally, I'd gladly follow her not only to Portugal, but even to Cleveland or Detroit, LOL - sorry Clevelandites and Detroiters, I know y'all must be sick of those jokes, but you gotta admit they work every time just the same...gomen gomen! ^_^;...)
I really liked this series and I think it'd be a pity (besides being a tad disrespectful towards all those who took part in this production and weren't involved in any sordid scandal) if people were to miss this only because of the "boycott the cheater" movement.
Apart from the afore-mentioned great performance by the whole cast, I think this dorama stands out for the profound humanity (pettiness and flaws included, LOL) with which the screenwriter infused both the characters and the plots. If you're, like me, fed up with the robotic, bidimensional characters of most Western "Police Procedurals" and their cold, heartless, all-action-and-zero-empathy plots, then there's a high chance you might really appreciate this series too!
I agree with a review found on another website that some of the comedy parts were really too much, though. The comic relief had been good, even very good throughout the whole series imho, but in the last episode they really went overboard! More generally, the last episode was way weaker than the rest under all aspects (plot, dialogues, acting etc.)...too bad, otherwise I'd have given this an even higher grade!
Kekkon Dekinai Otoko [結婚できない男] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Abe Hiroshi's performance is simply excellent: at the same time funny, convincing and even moving, here and there. The same can be said about the absolutely gorgeous Natsukawa Yui. Kuninaka Ryoko is also good, though her character lacks depth....as a matter of fact, I don't give this a full 10/10 right 'cause I feel the whole thing could have been better developed. But anyway, it's still a very good dorama! 9/10 p.s. Kuwano-san has a great taste in music (it reminded me of Nodame Cantabile, LOL), as Hayasaka-sensei in manga (Tezuka, Golgo13, etc.)! Oh, and of course the Great Kaneda (that guy's just too funny, ROFL) has an impeccable taste in cars! 1970s Opel GT, one of my all-time faves! ^___^
Kekkon Shinai [結婚しない] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) There's an Italian idiom ("senza infamia e senza lode") which would apply perfectly to this dorama. In English it would mean, literally, "without infamy nor praise", and in a less literal and therefore better translation, it would sound as "not particularly worth of praise, nor of criticism". The dorama has its moments and the main actors (Kanno Miho, Amami Yuki, Tamaki Hiroshi, Koichi Mantaro and Miyoshi Ayaka) all deliver solid performances. Unfortunately, the script is a bit plain, so it ends up been watchable and even quite enjoyable, but at the same time not particularly remarkable.
Kenja no Ai [賢者の愛] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Although far from perfect and, let's face it, even quite disturbing here and there, this (very dark!) noir dorama from Wowow is still totally watchable and even enjoyable, particularly on a scorching summer night and with some cold beer on a side. ^__-
Kiina ~ Fukano Hanzai Sosakan [キイナ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Ages better than most mystery doramas, this one has very well written stories, realistic plot twists, and the cherry on top is that it's graced by a main character who's not only a savant, but also a very decent (and funny) person. Too bad there are only 9 episodes and Koike Eiko's role is, alas, not a big one (though she looks lovely in that uniform!). Good performance by Kanno Miho, as almost always in her case, so no surprise there. p.s. The authors must be Meitantei Conan fans, LOL: Kiina's ex's name is..."Kudō Shin'ichi...rō"?!? Maji ka?!? ^_^;
Kimi no Te ga Sasayaite Iru [君の手がささやいている] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Loved. Every. Single. Minute. Of. This. Really, I wish I could give it more than 10! Superbly scripted, acted, directed. As far as I'm concerned, this is a m-a-s-t-e-r-p-i-e-c-e! ^_^
Kinpika [きんぴか] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) I had great expectations for this dorama, given it starred Nakai Kiichi and Ijima Naoko (both of whom I'd really liked in "Saigo kara Nibanme no Koi" and its sequel) and also taking into account the synopsis which made it sound really interesting. Unfortunately, there's waaaaay too much focus on form (i.e. photography, music, editing, camera movements/angles, "coolness" - Gods, I hate that word! - etc.) and waaaaaay too little focus on substance (as in, a decent script, totally lacking here!). As far as I'm concerned, it really seems like one of those crappy tv series mass-produced in Hollywood, the only relevant difference being that instead of American actors, we have Japanese ones here. Total let down.
Kisarazu Cat's Eye [木更津キャッツアイ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Very funny dorama with some touching moments. Great characters (Ucchi is by far the funniest!), elaborate plots and great performances by the whole cast. Nice music too. It reminded me a bit of "Lock, Stock, etc.", with a Japanese twist. I don't give it a full 10/10 only 'cause I think it could've been developed better here and there, but it's still a great dorama! p.s. After the dorama, they also made two movies, titled "Nihon Series" and "World Series", respectively; whereas the second one is ok, even funny at traits, the first one is embarrassingly bad!
Koe Girl! Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I must confess I'm a rare specimen among japanophiles: I don't like anime. No, seriously, I honestly find those childish voices plainly irritating and the whole "moe" concept just gives me the creeps!
And that's *precisely* why I think that the fact that I've watched this "Koe Girl" and really, really, really liked it speaks *volumes* about its quality!
Thanks to a very well-written script, to a solid performance by the whole cast (particular praises to Fukuhara Haruka, Nakamura Yurika and Yoshikura Aoi) and to a wonderful production, you don't need to be a regular "aniota" in order to enjoy this lovely dorama, which manages to be at the same time funny (for example, the episode about screaming was positively hilarious!!!), moving (Fukuhara's performance made my eyes wet more than once!), endearing and entertaining - so much so that I didn't just *watch* it, I actually *binged* it!
Kogure Shashinkan [小暮写眞館] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) What a lovely dorama! In the short span of four episodes, the authors managed to craft a wonderful, heartwarming, delicate, touching and poetic story that deals with deep issues like loss, guilt, tragedy, family, friendship, love. The main character is often called a "ghost picture detective", but "soul detective" would probably be a more precise definition. I literally loved every single minute of this hidden gem! Perfect script, great acting, nice score...such a pure, refreshing little masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned! ^__^
Koi ga shitai Koi ga shitai Koi ga shitai [恋がしたい恋がしたい] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Nice dorama, mostly well written and acted (honorable mentions for Kanno Miho, Watabe Atsuro and Tokoro George), accompanied by some lovely music. You'll need a strong suspension of disbelief, though, as these guys keep bumping into each other as if they lived in a small village, instead of a metropolis, LOL. On the other hand (and this is the reason why I don't give it a full 10/10) the characters are even "too realistic", in that none of them is fully appealing; they have too many defects and even the apparently nicest among them will reveal a dark, hidden side. Something which would have been ok in a noir, but in a romantic story seems a little out of place, imho.
Koisuru Hong Kong [恋する香港] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) What a nice lil' gem! Refreshingly original (this could easily be one of the most original love-stories I've ever seen depicted in a japanese dorama!), wonderfully written, acted and directed! Hong Kong makes for an enchantingly exotic setting, and those beautifully vivid, ultra-saturated colors bring out all its magic! A particular praise for Koike Eiko, who's not only superbly gorgeous, but also a marvelous actress! Perfect 10/10! :)
Kudo Shinichi e no Chousenjou [工藤新一への挑戦状] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) The series is definetely better than the previous special; I think the format (30' episodes) works better, as it's more fast paced. The original manga atmosphere is recreated pretty decently, though for obvious reasons they decided to have Shinichi, rather than Conan, as the lead (good job by Mizobata Junpei, btw). Kutsuna Shiori is a wonderful Ran and Jinnai Takanori a funny Mouri Kogorou. Enjoyable!
Kyou kara Ore wa!! [今日から俺は!!] Rating: 1/10 (Watched) Slapstick comedy of the lowest level + waaaaaaaaaaay too much violence for my taste + the blonde guy couldn't act even if his life depended on it + most of the dialogues which are supposed to be funny are actually idiotic instead. Hashimoto Kanna is cute, but what with the awful 80s hairstyle and with those abominably hideous sukeban skirts, that's really not enough to keep on watching this waste of film. In my humble opinion, the fact that so many praise such crap is just one more proof that we're in the middle of Kali Yuga, that the world is upside down and that the Apocalypse is just around the corner. Heed my advice and avoid this idiocy. And while you're at it, repent, 'cause the End is nigh...^__-
Liar Game [ライアーゲーム] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Being quite a sucker for logic and riddles I pretty much liked it, but I found the last episode uselessly long (2 1/2 hours, half of it being just a recap of what had happened that far >__<)
Anyway, I liked Toda & Matsuda, while the supporting cast was imho so and so...
LIAR GAME Season 2 [ライアーゲーム 2] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) It starts well but then imho gets lost a bit in the second half.
It's still entertaining, though...
Maison Ikkoku [めぞん一刻] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Pretty decent and respectful adaptation of Takahashi Rumiko's adorably funny masterpiece. The whole cast did a great job in bringing to life the respective manga characters. Too bad they made only a one shot instead of a full-fledged dorama!
Maji de Koukaishitemasu [マジで航海してます。] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) Iitoyo Marie and Takeda Rena are both quite cute, and the maritime setting could have been pretty interesting (alas, due to the lousy writing, it's very dull instead). Even if the 2nd season had been subbed (which it hasn't yet as of June '19), I'm honestly not sure I'd watch it.
Medaka [めだか] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Very nice feel-good dorama with an interesting premise (a sorta "female GTO" having to deal with a night-school class made of adults, each with his/her own problems) which, albeit being mostly ok, still had some weak points and a few scenes which felt a bit forced (hence "only" 8/10 as I'm not fully convinced by the script). Anyway, the cast did a great job, particularly Mimura, who was absolutely perfect in this role!!! :)
Meguri ai [めぐり逢い] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) The leads are very good, and the drama itself has its good (heck, even very good) moments; unfortunately, that's partly ruined by the many obvious, repetitive, forced or simply silly scenes whose only "raison d'etre" seems to be to stretch into 12 episodes what could have been much better developed in half the eps or maybe even in a tv movie. Ironically enough, for a drama which focuses so much on missed opportunities, that's exactly what it ends up being, imho: a missed opportunity. :/
Mioka [美丘] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Beautifully scripted, acted, directed....such a lovely drama with such an absolutely heartwarming message...all actors did a great job, just a special mention for Yoshitaka Yuriko's breathtaking performance! I wish I could give it more than 10!
Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose [もう一度君に、プロポーズ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Very interesting premise, but unfortunately a pretty difficult one to develop, and the dorama couldn't really live up to it. If one took the best and most relevant scenes of the whole series and re-cut them into a 2-hours long movie, the result would probably be nicer. Anyway, honorable mention for the always adorable Wakui Emi! Kurashina Kana did a great job too. Not so sure about Takenouchi, here...I had a strong impression he was out of his depth most of the time. Nice soundtrack though!
Mukodono! [ムコ殿/女婿大人] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) I had huge expectations for this dorama (having Takeuchi Yuko and Nagase Tomoya as leads...plus Shinohara Ryoko among the supporting actors!) but imho it was quite disappointing...I din't find it well written at all, dialogues were even boring at times and the plot was, again imho, way too plain/obvious/cheesy. The leads have played better roles than these and the supporting cast had a mixed performance imho: some of them (Utsui Ken and Danta Yasunori most of all) were good, others (particularly Akiyoshi Kumiko! >__<) were really annoying...
My Boss, My Hero [マイボスマイヒロ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) With such an outrageously absurd premise, I honestly only expected this to be a funny comedy (which it was; heck, it was even hilarious in many scenes!); what I didn't expect was that it could end up being so deep and well written! Congrats to the authors, to Nagase Tomoya's histrionic skills, to the main actresses' cuteness (I was particularly glad to see again Murakawa Eri, whom I really liked as the lovely manager of the yakyuu club in "Rookies") and finally to "Tokio" for the very nice ending credits song, "Sora Fune"! :)
Naguru Onna [殴る女] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Recipe for a perfect dorama: take two great leads (Wakui Emi is simply to die for, here...and I guess Fukikoshi Mitsuru will have the same effect on the female audience), add some very good supporting actors (Amami Yuki and Ono Takehiko most of all, but everyone else also does a good job), mix everything with a nice, light and entertaining plot and most of all with lots and lots of witty and überfunny dialogues, give everything that unmistakable, unbeatable 90's flavor, and finally serve: the viewers will appreciate. Now, I can't speak for everyone else, of course, but believe me, THIS viewer was delighted from the very first minute to the very last! Perfect 10/10! :)
Nakuna, Hara-chan [泣くな、はらちゃん] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) One of the most original dorama I've ever seen (possibly, THE most original!), it shines thanks to a beautifully written script, to some enchanting characters, and to a superb performance by the whole cast (my personal top3: Nagase Tomoya, whose performance here is probably his best ever; Yakushimaru Hiroko, whom I'll always fondly remember as the okaa-san in "1 lt. No Namida"; Kutsuna Shiori, who's simply gorgeous, period...:))
Natsuko no sake Rating: 10/10 (Watched) It's hard to add anything to what the fellow reviewers occultangle and Susan so aptly - and beautifully - wrote. Let me just say this: do you know that idiom, used to describe something incredibly boring, which goes "it's like watching grass grow"? Well, it couldn't be farther from the truth, in the case of this splendid dorama! For around 2/3 of it, in fact, what we viewers do is basically watch rice grow....and it's not boring at all! Indeed, just the opposite! I've been watching doramas for over 10 years, and you can imagine I've seen my fair share of characters struggling to achieve something: rarely have I been so captured by those "ganbaru" as I've been here! Thanks to a beautiful script, of course, but also - if not mostly - thanks to Wakui Emi! She managed to get my eyes wet over the imaginary taste of an imaginary sake! I'm afraid I'm running out of praising words for her amazing talent and beauty...I'll just say this: arigatou! :)
Neko Zamurai [猫侍] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Although a bit silly, it manages to be pretty funny, at times even hilarious. Great performances by Kitamura Kazuki as the ronin-with-a scary-face-but-a-golden-heart and by Takahashi Kaori as the funny-and-very-greedy-yamato-nadeshiko-who-owns-a-cat-store. Very nice music too! :)
Nemureru mori [眠れる森] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Woah, this dorama is really powerful! Wow, the atmosphere! Quite a few bone-chilling scenes, making it a perfect fit for these scorching summer nights...:) Brilliantly directed (these guys studied Hitchcock and Dario Argento proficiently, imho), mostly very well scripted and acted (I just think Jinnai Takanori's performance was a bit over the top, and there's a little too much darkness for my taste - hence the 9/10 instead of a full 10/10)
Nobunaga Kyousoukyoku [信長協奏曲] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I would've given this a 10, hadn't they decided to screw it all up by wrapping the story up lousily in a mostly poorly written, boringly diluted, obnoxiously hollywoodian movie. Without it, the dorama is great but feels unfinished; with it, it's half ruined. What a bad decision!
Nodame Cantabile [のだめ カンタビ−レ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) It would deserve 10/10 for the music, and 1/10 for the obnoxious stupidity of some characters (i.e. Masumi should be put out of his misery imho) and of many scenes. Still, the music is just too good, as is the idea that even just a small percentage of the viewers will be drawn to classical music thanks to this dorama (sidenote for those who will venture for the first time in a theater or concert hall: no, you don't have to wait until someone shouts "Bravo!" before you are allowed to applaude, LOL). Therefore I'll be generous: 7/10 ;)
Orange Days [オレンジデイズ] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) J-Dorama at its best: bittersweet, romantic slice-of-life, pure minimalistic poetry just like a well-written haiku. It may not be the most original plot ever, but...who cares? It works like a clockwork! And - something that doesn't happen too often - it has a perfect cast: every single actor/actress is simply perfect for his/her role. Particular congrats to the leads, Tsumabuki & Shibasaki, but also the supporting cast did just great! Well-deserved 10/10!
Ore no Hanashi wa Nagai [俺の話は長い] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) O fellow jdoramist, thou shalt not be fooled: under the guise of a light comedy, what we actually have here is a lil' gem of dorama that manages to address some very deep matters (more specifically, the NEET problem; more generally, what makes us happy and what is this good old thing called family). Brilliantly written and aptly acted by the whole cast.
Osen [おせん] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I totally loved the whole concept of preserving the tradition without giving in to the times, and I also really appreciated the photography and Aoi Yu's performance (and cuteness!). But apart from that, I have to confess that I found everything else just so-and-so, particularly the over-the-top, shounen-manga vibe which exudes from most scenes. Too bad, as far as I'm concerned; had it had a more adult, deeper script, I'd have liked it much more...
Otoko Meshi [侠飯 ~ おとこめし] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) By far the most original food-related dorama I've ever seen (and one of the most original doramas, period), it features an interesting script, some great characters, and some tasty recipes. Good performances in particular by Emoto Tokio and Miura Masaki (plus a *great* performance by Satsukawa Aimi as a guest star in one ep.!). Uchida Rio is really beautiful and so is the music. So why don't I give it a full 10/10? Well, the "pasta" presented in one ep. is basically a crime against humanity! ^_^;
Otona Joshi [オトナ女子] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Shinohara and Eguchi were both very good. Unfortunately, the drama itself was horribly slow and I couldn't help feeling that it was unnecessarily dragged (and filled with useless side stories and minor characters) only in order to stretch into 12 episodes what would've worked much better as a movie or a much shorter drama. It's a shame, because the last episode was very good (but having to endure 11, mostly boring episodes to get there, was pretty tiring).
Otousan to Yobasete [お義父さんと呼ばせて] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I might've given this a better grade if only: 1) Wakui Emi (the main reason why I've watched it in the first place) had had a bigger role; 2) the subs after ep. 2 hadn't been machine-translated - and therefore often unintelligible, unfortunately. As is, I give it 7/10.
Pension Koi wa Momoiro [ペンション・恋は桃色] Rating: 1/10 (Watched) When I reviewed "Arimura Kasumi no Satsukyu" I wrote that they had managed to touch some deep issues, all while "giving the superficial impression that nothing's really going on".
Unfortunately, in this "Penshion: Koi wa Momoiro", they don't just *give the impression* that nothing's going on....the problem is indeed that nothing's going on, period! (ok, *almost* nothing...but honestly, the little that actually happens could've barely filled a 5' short - so little it is!)
Adding insult to injury, the dialogues are as unappealing and bland as they come (like a conversation between dumb, shallow people who actually have nothing to say - sorry to be so blunt, but that's the way it felt!) and the characters horribly undeveloped.
Total waste of film and time.
Princess Maison [プリンセスメゾン] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Nice lil' dorama that shines due to a pretty well-written script, some endearing characters and some great acting by Morikawa Aoi (no surprise here, she's been nothing less than brilliant in everything I've seen her in so far), Takahashi Issei and Hizuki Hana (too bad her filmography is so limited!). An über-simple premise and a minimalistic approach work just fine. The only reasons why I don't give it a ful 10/10 are: 1) there are two minor characters (the richo brat and the tranny) who are totally useless here and imho feel like totally alien presences in this story; 2) the landlady's character isn't fully developed and that's a pity imho.
Prison School [監獄学園] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I watched this expecting it to be an outrageously stupid, unpretentious evasion filled with fan service - or eye candy or whatever else you may wanna call it (which it actually was, I'm not denying that, LOL!), but I really didn't expect it to be, at the same time, so tremendously, absurdly, rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-ly funny - and even pretty witty at times!!! ^____^ Particular mentions for the always adorable Morikawa Aoi and for the über-funny Emoto Tokio who really steals the show, LOL! Too bad they haven't made more seasons!
Propose Kyodai [プロポーズ兄弟] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) It felt a bit rushed, I think it would've been better developed if it had had a few more episodes...anyway, all in all it was still enjoyable...plus, Motokariya Yuika and Becky are just gorgeous :)
Pure [ビュア] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Sometimes titles can be deceiving, but it ain't the case with this lovely drama. As straightforwardly as possible, what we have here is the pure story of a pure love between two people who, each in his/her own way, are pure at heart. Very good performances by the cast, with special mentions for Wakui Emi and Fubuki Jun!
Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san [ラーメン大好き小泉さん] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) In case you're wondering whether you should watch this or not, let me just say that, upon doing so, what I'm wondering about is: "Why, oh why, have I spent time watching this?" ^_^;
OK, I've seen worse dramas, to be fair; and with that premise, it would have been hard to expect a masterpiece; hence I won't be too drastic. Still, it doesn't reach the passing grade imho, sorry...
Reinoryokusha Odagiri Kyoko no Uso [霊能力者 小田霧響子の嘘] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Ishihara Satomi's gorgeousness in this drama would deserve a 10. The scripts' silliness (though there were some funny moments, as well as some touching ones - but alas, amidst too much silliness) would deserve waaaay less. Too bad, because it was kind of a missed opportunity. Had it been scripted less poorly, it could have easily gotten a second season. Well, at least the last episode wrapped things up nicely.
Rich Man, Poor Woman [リッチマン、プアウーマン] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Being the old social ist that I am (though much less old and much more social ist than Bernie, LOL), you might understand I would've never watched anything with such a classist title, hadn't it been for a friend who wholeheartedly suggested it. And when, upon watching the first episode, I got so angry at the male lead for his behavior that I actually thought about dropping this dorama, it was that same friend who managed to convince me not to do so. This is why, now that I've watched the dorama till the end, I feel the need to publicly thank that friend of mine. Hadn't it been for him, I wouldn't have watched this dorama that, albeit not being the best of all time, still has one of the best characters ever (namely, the female lead, masterfully portrayed by Ishihara Satomi, who managed to make me laugh one moment, and move me to tears just a few minutes later). The lovely message conveyed by this drama, in a nutshell, could be that love and goodness can change even the worst people and make decent human beings out of them. A lovely message indeed, albeit maybe not such a realistic one, let's admit. Anyway not in the big business world (where I have the strong impression only the scum rises to the top) and not in this Last Days we're living in! Anyway, a great performance by the whole cast - and particularly by the leads - and the afore-mentioned message get this dorama a well-deserved 8/10 ^___^
As for the SP, it was just half-baked, with some good/funny moments but also some very weak ones. Actually, at times I couldn't help but feeling like the writer had sort of totally run out of new ideas, so for example she thought it was ok to make the leads behave almost as if they had gone back to square one and the whole series just hadn't happened, and I personally found that pretty annoying. The acting was once again good, but the leads couldn't shine as they had done in the series because of the less appealing script. P.p.s. Ishihara Satomi's the only one who managed to speak English with a decent, mostly understandable accent; the others were just embarrassing, sorry...
Ryusei no Kizuna [流星の絆] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Halfway through it I thought I was gonna give it an 8/10 or even a 9/10, depending on how it went on...but then I didn't like that much the 2nd half and, most of all, I almost completely disliked the final episode...imho it's a big disappointment since it was well written (with witty dialogues and very funny moments, despite the quite dark main story) and also well acted, both by the leads and by the supporting cast...
Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi [最後から二番目の恋] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Brilliantly scripted and superbly acted by the whole cast (with particular mentions for the leads, Koizumi Kyoko and Nakai Kiichi, who are absolutely great! Chapeau!), this is without any doubt one of the best doramas I've ever seen, seriously! It even reminded me a bit of the wonderful series of movies "Kazoku Wa Tsurai Yo!" for the general atmosphere and for the adorable craziness (and at the same time, adorable "normality", as weird as that may sound) of the families portrayed in those movies as well as in this dorama. Great music, too (most of all, the piano piece reminiscing of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies). Instant top10 of my personal all-time faves! Perfect 10! ^_______^
Saki ni Umareta Dake no Boku [先に生まれただけの僕] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) This dorama gets a full 10/10 for its many merits (very interesting plot, beautiful message, great performances by the leads - Aoi Yu and Sakurai Sho - and by part of the supporting cast - most of all, Kazama Morio and Kinami Haruka - btw, too bad Morikawa Aoi's role is so small T__T) and despite its defects (the naiveté of some details - active learning is indeed a great tool, but it's not so easy to implement it, particularly in a high school environment, as shown here; the ridiculously terrible performances given by Arakawa Yoshiyoshi - the guy can "play" only ONE character, and that's what he does *every single time* in *every single drama*...SO ANNOYING!!! - and by Takashima Masanobu - compared to him, even Dick Dastardly from "Wacky Races" was a credible, realistic and sober villain!!! >__<
Seigi no Se [正義のセ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Another lovely, heartwarming drama masterfully acted by Yoshikawa Yuriko - honorable mentions for the secretary's and the dad's performances! Too bad it's, I'm afraid, absolutely unrealistic. Still, wouldn't it be great if it actually were like that? 9/10 for the positive example it sets!
She Rating: 8/10 (Watched) After the first few minutes, I was expecting it to be one of those awfully hollywoodian stories where an incident occurs and, scratching the surface, all the characters are revealed to be rotten to the core (typically hollywoodian, corruptive, luciferian message, btw). I was underestimating Japan, of course (my bad, as having watched around 150 J-doramas + dozens of J-movies I should have known better!), and at the end of this dorama (alas, too short and a bit confused) the message conveyed was very different! Very good performances by Morikawa Aoi and Matsuoka Mayu!
Shiawase ni Narou yo Rating: 7/10 (Watched) It wasn't anything great but I still enjoyed it; I found Katori Shingo and Takahata Atsuko particularly good, and the rest of the cast did a decent job too (with the exception of Naka Riisa, whom I found as incredibly annoying as she was in "Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo" - sorry! ^_^;...)
Shigatsu no monogatari [四月の物語] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) Nice and delicate wrapping for a story so weak it could've easily been done as a 5 to 10 minutes short movie. In order to fill up the other hour or so, many useless, boring, artsy details have been added.
Shokuzai [贖罪] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) In my experience, a good WOWOW noir is a quite effective way to keep one's mind off the heat and the humidity of a scorching summer night. It was with that spirit that I decided to watch this, and indeed I was granted my fair share of thrills - thanks to a superb photography, to some extremely eery music, and to those über-creepy, flickering shadows on the walls which are a constant presence in this dorama. The problem is, though, that this story is waaay too dark and disturbing for my taste!!! Still, the great cast did, as one would expect, a great job, and I have to admit that, had the last episode been differently developed, and had the most disturbing scenes and details been expunged from the story, this could've been a very good noir indeed. Hence my not too harsh vote.
Shotenin Michiru no Mi no Uebanashi [書店員ミチルの 身の上話] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I must confess that, as I start reviewing this "Shotenin Michiru no Mi no Uebanashi", I have mixed feelings somehow. As a matter of fact, despite not having had any particular expectation regarding this dorama, I got drawn in right away from the very first minutes, as it started with a huge "BANG!". The series went on being very interesting and enjoyable until around the middle of its run, then - at least, as far as I'm concerned - it took a turn for the worse, went downhill and by the time it reached its conclusion I was left with a "meh" aftertaste...:/
Sono "Okodawari", Watashi ni mo Kure yo!! [その「おこだわり」、私にもくれよ!!] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Matsuoka Mayu is beautiful and Itoh Sairi über-funny (so much so that after a coupla episodes I ended up being a lot more attracted by her than by her colleague, LOL!), but this "mockumentary-BTS-of-a-fake-tv-program-metatvdorama-whatchamacallit" is pretty much a load of crap, sorry...^_^; p.s. nice opening&ending credits songs, though...
Suekko chounan ane san nin [末っ子長男姉三人] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I liked it a lot! ^__^
I found it somehow hard to believe that it's from 2003, as it has a much older flavour (in the best sense possible...I mean it totally looks like a classic from the 90's imho). Extremely well written, with many funny moments, and also very well acted by the female cast: Fukacchan is great as always, but also the mother-in-law and the 3 "elder sisters" of the title are very good (my personal fave among them being Harada Tomoyo - too bad her other dorama "Straight News" and "Dessin", if I'm not mistaken, have never been subbed! T__T)
Suizokukan Girl [水族館ガール] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) It starts well and goes on very well for the first 5 eps., unfortunately the last 2 eps. are, imho, way too cheesy/predictable/boring. Anyway, good performances by Matsuoka Mayu (she's really very good here!) and by Toda Keiko (great as usual, too bad she doesn't have a bigger part); Kiritani Kenta (whom I normally like) has had better roles than this, though.
Taiho shichauzo [逮捕しちゃうぞ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Hara Sachie and Itoh Misaki are both as gorgeous as they come, and the dorama itself, though far from perfect, was definitely better than I expected...the plots are interesting, it is funny sometimes, there's plenty of eye candy...and the nice ending made me raise my vote a lil' bit...:)
Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta [大切なことはすべて君が教えてくれた] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) Dropped it after 4 eps....first of all, I totally misunderstood the plot....I was expecting a noir (building on how and why the male lead woke up next to one of his students without having the foggiest about how that has happened...is it a frame? who's behind it? what's really going on? ....etc. etc.) instead of this cheesy watchamacallit ("school triangle"? "school romance"? "school for scriptwriters very much needed"? hehe ).
Apart from that, I can't help feeling that they took a few REAL actors (Toda Erika, Nishimura Masahiko plus some young talents who would later come out as real actors as well - like Ito Sairi and Suda Masaki, i.e. - but who are unfortunately relegated to being little more than extras here) and they teamed them up with a bunch of pretty faces who are, alas, as expressive as a...oh, NOW I got it! A "school of fish"!
(sorry, I know these days I'm particularly harsh in my reviews...but seriously, this is really "aria fritta", as we call it...- "hot/thin air"...)
Takane no Hana [高嶺の花] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Very interesting - and refreshingly original! - premise, supported by some witty dialogues, nice directing and a very convincing performance by the main actor (Ishihara Satomi, whom I normally like, wasn't at her best here, though). Too bad it kept getting worse towards the end. A missed opportunity, as far as I'm concerned.
Tamagawa Kuyakusho of the Dead [玉川区役所 OF THE DEAD] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Already halfway through this "Tamagawa Kuyakusho of the Dead", I started wondering how the heck I was gonna review it. Why? Well, because it is, quality-wise, a real rollercoaster: one moment you climb up high, the next you take a plunge into the abyss! Normally I am a dedicated advocate of comic relief (of course it depends on the genre, but let's simplify a bit for the sake of discussion), but here it is, for the most part, just idiotic (I'd say the decent part is, like, only 10% of it). On the other hand, the "serious" part of the story is where this dorama reaches its high points (take episode 6 as a perfect example of what I'm saying), but the fact that it is so constantly and obnoxiously intertwined with the aforementioned übersilly scenes just ends up stealing some of its value.
And that's a real pity, 'cause apart from that, the dorama is surprisingly better than expected. Indeed, by watching the opening credits one might expect one of those westernized dramas that I refer to as "Western TV series in disguise", but it doesn't take long to realize that, luckily, it isn't the case here; yes, the form might be a bit "westernized" sometimes, but the substance, the core, the values...oh, they're all Japanese, folks! Thus the deeply original (and so beautifully humane!) approach to the zombie genre...which, I repeat, without the too many silly scenes would've deserved this title a much higher grade.
Teddy Go! [テディ・ゴー！] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Despite the absurdly weird premise, the dorama still works, mostly thanks to Morikawa Aoi's talent (and beauty!)
Tiger & Dragon [タイガー＆ドラゴン] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Having watched this while I was finishing watching "Chiritotechin" - and since both shows focus on rakugo - it would have been hard for me not to compare the two. And what can I say? "Tiger & Dragon" wins hands down!!! Not only is this hilarious (a very short synopsis could be: "Nagase Tomoya plays a yakuza who wants to become a rakugoka - hilarity ensues"), but moreover I think that the whole concept of intertwining the original rakugo stories with funny events - reminiscing of those very same original stories - involving the characters of this brilliant dorama, thus presenting us viewers with a very original take on the classics, well, is simply put a fantastic idea! Apart from being brilliantly written, this dorama is then equally brilliantly acted by the always über funny Nagase Tomoya - with honorable mentions also for Nishida Toshiyuki and Kiritani Kenta. Furthermore, Ito Misaki and Aoi Yu are both as gorgeous as they come (too bad the latter doesn't get enough screentime here!). Oh, and last but not least, "Crazy Ken Band" play the opening credits song! All in all, a perfect 10!
Tobo Bengoshi [逃亡弁護士] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) The main story would have worked much better as a movie (then it would have been fast-paced and gripping, instead of slow/draggy as it resulted here), and all the episodic side stories would have been totally fine as a long dorama (separated from the main story, they would have felt much less far-fetched). Mixing the two things together, although not a complete failure, wasn't a huge success either. Watchable but nothing special...
Tokyo Tarareba Musume [東京タラレバ娘] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I adored (as usual, and even more than usual, due to her perfect hairstyle :)) Yoshitaka Yuriko, I just didn't like the ending that much...:/
Tsubaki Bunguten ~ Kamakura Daishoya Monogatari [ツバキ文具店 ~ 鎌倉代書屋物語] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Calm, relaxing, full of "mono no aware", it reminded me of two of my favorite manga, "Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou" and "Aqua/Aria". Unfortunately, some characters aren't developed enough (Seitarou, Barbara, Danshaku) while others are, imho, absolutely useless (Morikage-san, most of all). And that's the reason why it gets "only" a 9 instead of a 10. But it's still a very nice dorama, too bad it didn't get more episodes or a second season...this stationery store is a place one would love to visit time and again, just like "Café Alpha" or "Aria Company" ;)
Tsubasa No Oreta Tenshitachi 1 [翼の折れた天使たち] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Very interesting concept, and I want to praise the writers for managing to squeeze some deep, thought-provoking stories in those tiny 35' eps.! Unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, the last two episodes ended up being just so-and-so (due to main characters I had a hard time relating to, and also due to endings I didn't really like), and that was quite a bit of a let-down after the first two eps. which were instead absolutely great. So, the first 2 would deserve a 10, the last 2 a 6...let's meet in the middle: 8/10 ^__-
Tsubasa no Oreta Tenshitachi Season 2 [翼の折れた天使たち] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) They managed to maintain all the good aspects of the first season (interesting concept, brilliant writing, good actresses, etc.) but this time around, without any substantially weaker episode. What more could one ask for? (apart from a 3rd season which, alas, never came) 10/10
Tsui no Sumika [終の棲家] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) If I had to comment on this "Tsui no Sumika" using only one word, then I'd totally say: "thought-provoking"! From the first to the last minute of this 2-part SP dorama, the viewer is overwhelmed with questions, one deeper and more complex than the other. And those doubts - existential ones at that! - linger on even after the end of the dorama. What should we do in order to assist our elderly? How should public care function? What should the goal be? What would the best solution be? Very well-written script, good acting (not so sure about the FL though, as I have the feeling some other actresses might have performed better). Nice music as well.
Tsuki ni Iku Fune [月に行く舟] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I'm seriously considering using this, from now on, as a quick way to answer the question "Why do you like Japanese dorama so much?" Why? Watch this and you'll know! What more can I say? Sheer perfection, seriously! An end-of-summer tale, set in a beautiful scenery and featuring such a poetic story - and such a superb performance by the always amazing Wakui Emi! At the end of the movie, the viewer is left with a bittersweet, nostalgic, oh-so-japanese feeling, one of painful yet heartwarming longing...as far as I'm concerned, M-A-S-T-E-R-P-I-E-C-E!!!
Ueno Juri to Itsutsu no Kaban [上野樹里と5つの鞄] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) Waaaaay too artsy for my taste, as well as for its own good. No plot, no sense, lotsa weird scenes and camera angles/movements. One more victim of the nefarious influence of "nouvelle vague" and "cahiers du cinéma". Its only redeeming quality? It consists of only 5 eps, and short ones at that...
Unfair [アンフェア] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) I'm sorry, but honestly, I found this bad. And I don't mean "well, a bit bad"; not even "hmm, quite bad"...I mean REAL bad, bad bad...Walker-Texas-Rangers-bad... =__= I can't help thinking that to make Shinohara Ryoko play a role that seems like it's been written for Dolph Lundgren (hell, seems like it's been written BY Dolph Lundgren!) it's such a tremendous waste of talent... T__T I noticed that not only this dorama has been quite popular, but basically everybody else here gives it a good vote...so I dunno what to say, it seems as if I've watched a different dorama, but what can I say? Imho half of it is so damn predictable (like a bad mix of all the worst Hollywood cop-movies), and the other half is either ridiculous or plain absurd...
Ushi ni Negai wo: Love & Farm [牛に願いを - Love & Farm] Rating: 1/10 (Watched) I knew that whichever dorama I watched right after "3-nen A-gumi..." would be at risk of faring poorly in the unavoidable comparison, so I decided to go with one I deemed bad from the start so as not to "ruin" any potentially good dorama, and maaaaaan, did I choose accurately: "Love & Farm" is even worse than I'd expected. If we asked Kumeta-sensei (the guy who did "Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei") to make one of his crazy recaps, it would probably be something like this:
"Six members of a talent agency hide in the Hokkaido countryside, masking their true identities and posing as students from an agricultural faculty. They're spotted right away though, and at the farm, instead of being welcomed with cow dungs and all kinds of smells, they are showered with pink overalls, rainbows and unicorns. Their reaction is ruthless: first they invent the least efficient way ever to move hay from one place to another, then they purposedly injure one of the cows, forcing the farmer to sell it to the slaughterhouse. All the while, aliens hide in the shadows and conduct experiments on them every night, making them up and doing their hair while they're asleep".
Or something like that, LOL! ^___^
Utahime [歌姫] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) This could've been a great movie, on par with "The Magic Hour" and such. How? They should've:
1) gotten rid of 4/5 of the dorama (filled with useless characters - the innkeeper, the onee-san and her husband, the fisherman, the japanese-guy-with-dyed-hair-pretending-to-be-russian and so on); 2) re-written Aibu Saki's character as something else than this childish, selfish, unsufferably spoiled brat; 3) added some scenes from Golden Era movies (either from real movies, like "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", or if that hadn't been possible, at least with b/w scenes reminiscent of those old cinematic gems).
Unfortunately they didn't do that, and what we're left with here is a waste of film (not to mention, an unforgivable waste of Nagase Tomoya's, Koike Eiko's and Fubuki Jun's acting talent!).
Virgin Road [バージンロード] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Wakui Emi (as soon as she cuts that dreadful "ramen hair" she sports at the beginning of the series ^_-) goes back to being the same, absolutely adorable actress who had previously graced the audience in "Pure", and she delivers a solid performance throughout the entire dorama. Talking about great performances, Takeda Testsuya's would deserve a standing ovation, period. The problems lie with Sorimachi (who seems a bit out of place here, imho), with Hosho Mai (I liked her a lot in "Shomuni", but here she's just irritating, sorry), and most of all with the scriptwriting, which has its moments but also many faults - particularly the last two episodes which are plainly silly. Too bad, it could've been much better than this...:/
Wakamonotachi 2014 [若者たち2014] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) While looking for the right words to comment on this dorama, I was wondering whether I should copy&paste the review I wrote for "Kanojotachi No Jidai" ("Scriptwriting 101: the ideal script should have great characters and a great plot; you can still write something nice with a weak (or even no) plot but at least great characters, and you can still come up with something watchable with weak characters but at least a great plot. But if you write something with no plot and dull characters, what you'll get in the end is just a waste of film. Uninspiring.") or if I'd rather take inspiration from what a fellow jdoramist wrote on this very page ("...I didn't really care for the characters, which is not a good thing for a character-based drama").
Or maybe I should be less lazy and, instead of copying&pasting something previously written, I should try writing something new? Then a possibility could be the "Christmas Present Metaphor": you know, how some Christmas presents look so beautiful (just like the photography, editing and directing in this dorama) but when you finally unwrap and open them you realize they may have looked beautiful from the outside, but actually there's just a totally plain, dull and uninspiring thing inside.
I'll let you pick the approach that you'll find more appropriate.
As for me, even taking into consideration the great performances by Tsumabuki Satoshi, Eita and Aoi Yu - BTW, what a waste of acting talent, casting them for this crappy script! - and also the lovely opening credit song....still, I can't possibly give this waste of film anything higher than a 4/10. Boring, uninspiring and horribly, painstakingly, untolerably verbose.
Wonderful Life [ワンダフルライフ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) It wasn't great nor anything new, but who cares, I liked it...Sorimachi was the same old self , Hasegawa was ages better (both in looks and in acting) than in "Boss 2", and among the supporting cast I will particularly mention Yashima Norito, imho he was great.
Yama Onna Kabe Onna [山おんな壁おんな] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) A whole lot better than I had expected! Even with that silly premise, they managed to make a nice dorama, with lotsa funny moments, some good acting (honorable mentions for Koike Eiko and Itoh Misaki!) and an "older flavor" which I personally really dig (it actually reminded me of two old doramas I liked, "Style!" and "Shomuni"). The music was also very good throughout the whole thing, and I found it very entertaining. Oh, and the Aomori-ben was also pretty funny - besides, it happens to have a very similar intonation to my own italian dialect, LOL! Well done! :)
Yareta Kamo Iinkai Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Where to start? Things like this "Yareta Kamo Iinkai" can only be done in Japan, LOL! ^_^; Ok, it's as weird as they come, but at the same time it manages to be funny and at times even moving for the humanity with which the head judge (that martial arts dude simply ROCKS, LOL) addresses the participants' stories. Too bad the other judges aren't that nice. The musician at least shows some (hint of an) emotion here and there, while the übercold businesswoman, always voting against the other two, never showing an emotion...URGH I just can't stand her! Oh, before anyone jumps at my throat accusing me of sexism, I would've disliked an emotionless businessman just the same - matter of fact, I just despise those icy corporate robots with their mistaken air of superiority regardless of their sex, LOL. Back to the dorama: nice jazzy score music here and there!
Yukemuri Sniper [湯けむりスナイパー] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) I could only find this unsubbed (and without the Special, BTW), but I still just HAD TO watch it, since it's based on one of my all-time favorite manga (published in English as "Steaming Sniper").
Unfortunately, my understanding of Japanese is limited to the simplest sentences, although I could still follow some eps - those which were (loosely) based on chapters from the original manga so with those I already knew more or less what was going on - and the 2-out-of-10 words I could grasp here and there also helped a bit; so all in all I won't comment on the dialogues, as it'd be unfair of me to do so. I'll still comment on the script, though, albeit admitting that, given the complexity (and the length) of the manga, there was no way one could manage to squeeze it into 12 short eps. (less than 30 minutes each, minus the opening and ending credits and the preview of next episode, let's say around 25 minutes each, actually).
The only way one could have done justice to "Steaming Sniper" would have been to make an AsaDora out of it. Now, if you watch this dorama you'll think that it'd be absolutely impossible, given the sex and the violence which are in it! Well, this is where, fluency in Japanese aside, I have a real beef with whoever scripted this abomination, as it has very little to do with the original story, and that showed a lack of respect which I can't forgive. For instance, although targeted at a more grown-up audience, the manga ain't no freaking hentai nor a frigging gangster story "a la" John Woo, for crying out loud! It's a "slice of life" story, dammit! Still, the dorama writer(s) specifically selected the manga chapters containing some sex & violence (which are minor ingredients in the manga chapters themselves, but became, like, the main dish here!) and even went the extra mile and added more sex and violence which weren't anywhere in the manga - and all this really pissed me off, to be honest. So, I'll stand by my opinion that this could've worked as an asadora, since "Steaming Sniper" doesn't revolve around sex and violence, and 99% of that could be expunged from the story without affecting its value at all (and as for the remaining 1%? Well, what's so bad in a good old fadeout here and there?), and with 16 volumes, each consisting of 10 or 11 chapters, there would have been enough material to write the around 150 eps. of an asadora.
Had they done that, maybe they could've also afforded a better cast - and look, I'm not discussing the acting skills of the actors/actresses chosen for this; I'll only say they have very little - and in some case nothing at all! - in common with the manga characters! I particularly disagreed with the casting choices regarding Gen-san, the Okami and Tomoyo-san! (Ooohhh, that lazy and silly decision of using two different actresses for Tomoyo-san with or without makeup! Aaaargh...)
Okay, I've written too much already: considering all of the above, I couldn't possibly give this a passing grade. The beautiful, jazzy musical score still managed to sweeten the pill up a bit, so I'll give this "only" 5 out of 10 and not 4 or even 3 as I was tempted to...
Zoku. Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi Season 2 [続・最後から二番目の恋 2] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Just as good as the original series (which means, basically perfect!), this sequel features the same funny and witty dialogues (aaah, those breakfast scenes!), an extremely interesting and deep story, and a superb performance by the whole cast, with special mention once again for the leads, both amazing! I wish there were more doramas like this one, really! Perfect 10 once again! ^__-
pash's drama reviews (15)
Attention Please [アテンションン プリース] Nice dorama [Rating: 7/10] Ueto Aya is totally cute in this (so is Aibu Saki! \o/) and Maya Miki does a very nice job portraying the instructor; too bad the two special episodes weren't that good (honestly, I found them quite bad)...anyway, it's definetely worth watching, imho...^__-
Bara no nai Hanaya [薔薇のない花屋] Brilliant! ^__^ [Rating: 10/10] Just finished yesterday night watching "Bara no nai Hanaya", and I loved every minute of it: brilliantly written, acted, directed, photographed, edited...the only thing I didn't like at first was the ending song, but then it grew on me and by the last eps. I couldn't take it off my mind, LOL...
Anyway, I give this dorama a full 10/10! :applaud: :victory:
BOSS Enjoyable [Rating: 7/10] Having watched them almost one after the other, I can't help comparing this dorama to "Unfair" (particularly since they're both cop-shows with a female lead) and imho "Boss" wins hands down: not only the main character is much better (somebody with brains instead of a female "Dirty Harry"), but also the supporting cast is quite good, the plots are much better and the constant humour makes it much more enjoyable (all this imho of course).
I didn't have many expectations but I ended up unexpectedly liking it.
BOSS Season 2 1st season was definetely better [Rating: 5/10] There were some good moments and a coupla good episodes, but that was it; imho it's much worse than the 1st season (Toda Erika was soon replaced with Hasegawa Kyoko, and that also contributed to my disliking of this season, sorry...^__^;;;...); the humour bits were much less funny (you can only laugh that much about Yamamu's iron wig, c'mon) and the plots were mostly poorly written, again imho.
Egao no Hosoku [笑顔の法則] Could have been great, wasn't it for the end... [Rating: 7/10] Imho this dorama had all it needed to be a great one: two great leads (Takeuchi & Abe), a good supporting cast, some great lines, an interesting story (and as someone already noticed, great ending credits, LOL), but they screwed it up with the way it ended, unfortunately...=__=
Gaikoukan Kuroda Kosaku [外交官・黒田康作] Very good! [Rating: 9/10] Imho this was a very good dorama: fast-paced, well written, and all in all a thoroughly enjoyable "sequel" to the movie "Amalfi" (be sure to watch it before the dorama...not that it can't be viewed otherwise, but you'll definetely enjoy it more).
Kaiki Daikazoku [怪奇大家族] A lost gem! ^___^ [Rating: 9/10] I found this dorama by chance, I didn't expect too much from it, but I got hooked right after a few minutes: it's terribly funny, mocking all the cliches of the genre ("genres", as it's not only about horror, but also SF...you'll find UFOs, time travel, ghosts, zombies...).
The actors did a nice job (particularly Takahashi Issei, Fujimura Shunji, Jay West and Toyama Kyoko - the latter portraying the extremely funny younger brother of the monk, and the totally cute ghost Asami-san), the soundtrack is very nice, and overall it's a great dorama, I wholeheartedly suggest this! ^___^
Liar Game [ライアーゲーム] Quite good, but it could've been better... [Rating: 7/10] Being quite a sucker for logic and riddles I pretty much liked it...I was gonna give it 8/10 but then I think they kinda screwed it a bit towards the end... I mean, I liked a lot the way it ended and the morale of the story, but I found the last episode uselessly long (2 1/2 hours, half of it being just a recap of what had happened that far >__<) and with too many betrayals/schemes/twists&turns - besides, I'm not an advocate for violence, but I don't get it why nobody ever felt like kicking Fukunaga or Yokoya in the balls, dammit! ^_^;;;
Anyway, I liked Toda & Matsuda, while the supporting cast was imho so and so...
LIAR GAME Season 2 [ライアーゲーム 2] Again, good but could've been better... [Rating: 7/10] Finished watching also the 2nd season of Liar Game, this one as well starts good (I'd even say very good) but then imho gets lost a bit in the second half.
It's still entertaining imho, but like the 1st season, I can't help thinking it could've been better...
Mukodono! [ムコ殿/女婿大人] Quite disappointing [Rating: 6/10] I had huge expectations for this dorama (having Takeuchi Yuko and Nagase Tomoya as leads...plus Shinohara Ryoko among the supporting actors!) but imho it was quite disappointing...I din't find it well written at all, dialogues were even boring at times and the plots were, again imho, way too plain/obvious/cheesy.
The leads have played better roles than these and the supporting cast had a mixed performance imho: some of them (Utsui Ken and Danta Yasunori most of all) were good, others (particularly Akiyoshi Kumiko! >__<) were really annoying...
It's more like a 5.5/10, but not being able to cast that vote I'll give it a 6/10.
Ryusei no Kizuna [流星の絆] I really didn't like the last episode...>__< [Rating: 7/10] Halfway through it I thought I was gonna give it an 8/10 or even a 9/10, depending on how it went on...but then I didn't like that much the 2nd half and, most of all, I almost completely disliked the final episode (except the very last minutes, that is)...imho it's a big disappointment since it was well written (with witty dialogues and very funny moments, despite the main plot) and also well acted, both by the leads and by the supporting cast.
Such a shame to screw it with the ending, really...T__T
Shiawase ni Narou yo Enjoyable [Rating: 7/10] Finished yesterday watching "Shiawase ni Narou yo", though it wasn't anything great I still enjoyed it; I found Katori Shingo and Takahata Atsuko particularly good, while the rest of the cast did a decent job (with the exception of Naka Riisa, whom I found as incredibly annoying as she was in "Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo" - at least this hairstyle suited her better, but seriously...does she always "act" that way?...>__<)
If we had the chance to give half points I'd give it 6.5, but since we can't, let's be generous, LOL: 7/10
Suekko chounan ane san nin [末っ子長男姉三人] Very good! ^__^ [Rating: 9/10] I liked it a lot! ^__^
I found it somehow hard to believe that it's from 2003, as it has a much older flavour (in the best sense possible...I mean it totally looks like a classic from the 90's imho). Extremely well written, with many funny moments, and also very well acted by the female cast: Fukacchan is great as always, but also the mother-in-law and the 3 "elder sisters" of the title are very good (my personal fave among them being Harada Tomoyo - too bad her other dorama "Straight News" and "Dessin", if I'm not mistaken, have never been subbed! T__T)
Unfair [アンフェア] "Ungood"....>_< [Rating: 3/10] Just finished watching "Unfair"...and I'm sorry, but honestly, I found this bad. And I don't mean "well, a bit bad"; not even "hmm, quite bad"...I mean REAL bad, bad bad...Walker-Texas-Rangers-bad... =__=
I can't help thinking that to make Shinohara Ryoko play a role that seems like it's been written for Dolph Lundgren (hell, seems like it's been written BY Dolph Lundgren!) it's such a tremendous waste of talent... T__T
I noticed that not only this dorama has been quite popular, but basically everybody else here gives it a good vote...so I dunno what to say, it seems as if I've watched a different dorama, but what can I say? Imho half of it is so damn predictable (like a bad mix of all the worst Hollywood cop-movies), and the other half is either ridiculous or plain absurd...take i.e. the "twists & turns"
[---> warning: MASSIVE SPOILERS follow <---]:
at first it's a revenge murder and the culprit is the hopeless ghost writer, but then no, it's not him, it's the editor...and then all of a sudden it turns into a kidnapping and the culprit's the babysitter, but then no, it's more than just a kidnapping, it's a stock exchange hoax and behind everything there's actually the ugly-Betty-turned-dark-lady-in-a-blink-of-an-eye, Hasumi...but then again it's more than that, it's a serial killer, and it seems like it's the ex-husband...but then no, it was all a big conspiracy and the real culprit is Andoh....DOH! O__o
...and then again, in the 1st special it becomes an even more improbable "armed revolution conspiracy" by Yasumoto (and a weirdo with bad teeth who keeps sticking his tongue out like an iguana!)
And finally in the later movie we discover more traitors - even when they're not, they still are highly suspectable to be, so watch out for future revelations! Oh, my... >__<
I've read that the dorama's gonna have a second run, and I wonder where the authors are gonna take it next...who knows, perhaps we'll find out that it was all a conspiracy to take over the world and the mastermind behind it was Mio-chan? *__*
Again, I'm sorry if I sound harsh and all I wrote is of course just my very humble opinion ^_^; (feel free to strongly disagree, and please take no offense if this is your fave dorama), but as I said, I found it really, really, really bad.
Wonderful Life [ワンダフルライフ] Nice! [Rating: 8/10] Finished watching "Wonderful Life", it wasn't great nor anything new, but who cares, I liked it...Sorimachi was the same old self , Hasegawa was ages better (both in looks and in acting) than in "Boss 2", and among the supporting cast I will particularly mention Yashima Norito, imho he was great.