Thursday, August 30, 2007

Jmovie review: Bubble Fiction Boom or Bust/ Baburu e go!! Taimu mashin wa doramu-shiki

Just the fact that this movie stars two of my favourite actors ever, Abe Hiroshi and Hirosue Ryoko is more than enough reason to watch it. Bubble Fiction takes place in an alternate reality where in 1990, the Finance Minister of Japan put forward place ceilings on real estate transactions thereby prematurely bursting the boom. This leads to a situation where Japan is heavily in debt and would be bankrupt in two years.

Hirosue Ryoko shaking her booty to C+C Music Factory's Everybody Dance Now.

Yakushimaru Hiroko (Sawajiri Erika's mom from Ichi Litre no Namida) plays a scientist who travels back to 1990 using a washing machine to try to stop the law from being passed. Unfortunately, she failed and Abe Hiroshi has to send her daughter, played by Hirosue Ryoko back in time to save her mom and Japan. Yes, it sounds wacky and this film is wacky, in a good way.

Abe Hiroshi stunned when told that in 2007 one can download high quality JAV on their computer.

The fact that the time machine is a washing machine is not just a great source of humour, its telling the audience to turn of the brains and enjoy the movie for what it is, a look at Japan during the great bubble economy. The sight of 80's perm hair and clothing is enough to make me lol. I don't know much about the time when Japan is booming and everyone had money. I'm sure that to most Japanese, it must have been the time of their lives, just as how uni life was the best period for me. A world where people spent money like water and the Japanese felt so invincible.

OMFG. Hirosue Ryoko in a mizugi!!!!!

Abe Hiroshi is great as the womanising Shimokawaji. Its a testament to his acting ability that he can easily play loner characters like Kuwano in KDO and then a ladies man in Bubble Fiction. Hirosue Ryoko is a bit too old for her character but I'm just happy to see her acting.

The best part of the show is seeing how different things were in 1990 compared to today. Mobile phones didn't exist. People go to discos instead of pubs. The lame fashion from that period. I wish that they could have spent more time looking back at 1990 but the pacing of the show is more important. IMO, the best way to describe the show would be Austin Powers without Austin Powers.

The last half hour is not as fun to watch. Basically we have two comedic action scenes which aren't really funny. They never established that Abe Hiroshi is a great fighter except that he has no problems getting punched by women. The movie would have benefited from cutting down on the comedy action but the two scenes serve as the climax for two different stories so shikataganai.

I can't believe people actually found that sexy....

After some pretty disappointing Japanese movies this year, (hint: avoid Blue Wolf, Nana 2) Bubble Fiction is really a breath of fresh air. Its not nearly as good as feel good comedies like Swing Girls or Get Up! but its still pretty good.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Jmovie review: Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru (Heavenly Forest)

My name is not Chiaki-sempai!
From the writer of Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu and Collage of our Lives comes Tada kimi wo aishiteru, the story of Segawa, a loner student who is paranoid about the smell of the medicine he has to use and Shizuru, a fellow uni student who looks and acts more like a 12 year old girl. These two 'outcasts' become friends and hang out at the 'heavenly forest'. Its not long before the story becomes a mini Orange Days when Miyuki, the girl that Segawa has a crush on invites him to join her group.

OMFG. What have they done to Hachi!

The best thing about this show is of course, Miyazaki Aoi. Unfortunately, her acting is so good that she really looks like this girl who can't seem to mature. Its a complete transformation from Hachi. That said, the fact that she looks to young makes some of the scenes a tad uncomfortable, though it will appeal to the lolicons out there. Miyazaki Aoi's potrayal of Shizuru is like the JAV Sora Aoi dressing up in kids clothes. Its so wrong but so... appealing. I spent the whole movie staring at her hoping to see some sign that this was the same actress as who played Hachi in Nana.

Its fun watching Shizuru and her childlike crush of Segawa. In a way, its sorta like a more subdued Nodame without the slapstick humour, which doesn't mean that its not funny. Most memorable is the 1st night Shizuru stays over at Segawa's house. I can't help but draw comparisons with Suzuki Anne in Stand Up! They are two similar looking actresses playing fairly similar roles including the ugly duckling bit.

The 2nd reason to watch this show would be Kuroki Meisa as Miyuki. She is super hot and I can't believe that she's only 19. Acting wise, I don't see anything special but hey, that's what Miyazaki Aoi is for. Its unfortunate that they only hint at Miyuki's intentions and her relationship with Shizuru. The most interesting part of the show is definitely the triangle/friendship between Shizuru, Segawa and Miyuki. She is so undeveloped that they should have cut out the stupid Orange Days parts. At least I've got a reason to finally watch Haikei, Chichiue-sama. :)


Good thing Nodame's not here.....

Its hard to talk about this show without spoilers but suffice to say, its like an amalgam of Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu and Collage of our Lives. Sadly, its not as good as either. That's mostly due to the ending. When the revelation about the nature of the disease was revealed, it made me cringe. What a lame way to set up a similar situation to Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu. It felt like such an abritary plot devide. IMO, if the relationship between Shizuru and Miyuki were more developed the ending would have worked better.


That said, I'd still recommend the movie just for Miyazaki Aoi. Great actresses in jmovies/dorama are rare. Maybe if the I hadn't seen the two movies based on the same author, I would have declared it a good movie. The concept of the Ima, Ai ni Yukimasu ending is something that can only be used once and the feeling of deja vu was too strong to shake. IMO, the movie would have been better with a straightforward ending.

The only other 22 year old who can look that young is Ogura Yuko. :)

That's more like the Miyazaki Aoi I wanna see. :)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Love Story

How could I have missed this show the first time around? Nakayama Miho + Toyokawa Etsushi = more than enough talent to carry a decent show. Thank the jdorama gods it was voted as series of the week. The bad thing about that is it took forever to get the whole series and now I'm desperately playing catch-up. I just finished this show in one sitting (haven't done that in a while) but that does not necessarily mean that its a good show.

As Satonaka Haru would say, furui yori jidai no onna. :) Except the show came out in 2001.

Toyokawa Etsushi plays Nagase, a famous writer struggling with writer's block and Nakayama Miho plays Misaki, who is assigned to be his new editor. The first interesting thing is that Nagase is an eccentric person, sorta like Kuwano from KDO. He's bad tempered and inconsiderate and of course gets into fights with Misaki. I was excited cause this seemed like the spiritual predecessor to KDO. Both leads were good actors, had good chemistry and there was plenty of funny dialogue like the Nobita-Doraemon joke.

There are times where Yuka's boobs look really perky and times when they look very flat...

Katagori Shingo plays Nagase's neighbour who likes to wear gay scarfs around his neck. The scarves are not really the main problem but he's a very boring character and unfortunately gets too much screen time. He should solely be there to give us a slight break from the verbal jousting between Nagase and Misaki. I don't care how perky Yuka's oppai are, their's is one side story that should have stayed in the fringes. I guess its cause they cast Katagori Shingo and there's some unwritten law that someone from SMAP should be given substantial screen time even though he's playing a supporting character.

2nd problem with the show is that it takes a major detour in the middle of the series which really made me fast forward. (hence finishing the series in one shot) It was then that I realised Kitagawa Eriko was the writer. Sure, she wrote Long Vacation and Beautiful Life. But she also wrote bland shows like Saigo no Koi, Overtime, Orange Days and the horrible Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. Looking at her body of work IMHO, its probably due to the directors/editors and actors who made Long Vacation and Beautiful Life the classics they are.

Kumiko is one really crappily written character. Boring and almost inconsequential plot wise.

She has not fucking concept of narrative. The first few eps were good because they were character driven. Exploring how the characters in the show behave and interact and why. When the first major detour comes, its like a plot diversion for the sake of padding the story. It does nothing for character development and slows the pacing to a halt. Not to mention eliminates the humour which mostly comes from the Nagase + Misaki.

The show then takes even more bloody detours before finally leading to the inevitable ending. By that time, I couldn't care less. The narrative was shot. Too much beating around the bush. There are some classic dialogue in the show but the writer seems to be throwing too many jdorama cliches to make the 11 episodes. It reminds me of the Korean movie 'The Classic' where the director throws every fucking Korean movie cliche into a 3 hour movie, except that the director intended it that way and I respect him for trying to make it work. Here it was like she had a good beginning and ending but didn't know what to do in between. Its like what Nagase said in the beginning of the series. Simple is better. Looks like the writer of the show did not follow the advice what she wrote for her character.

Its a shame that a show with Nakayama Miho and Toyokawa Etsushi was spoilt but such uncreative plotting. IMO, Nakayama Miho is a really good actress. One need only look at Home & Away to see that she can really carry a jdorama by herself. Only other actress who can do that would be Matsushima Nanako. If I'm not mistaken, she's retired so its really sad non of the actresses today have reached her level. Her acting doesn't really jump out but she's just got this x-factor and screen presence that lights up the screen every time she's in it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Kiss eps 1-3

Ok, Inoue Mao was good in Hana Yori Dango but was it because she was suited for the role or because she's a good actress? First Kiss is a good way to find out. She plays Mio, a sick girl who reunites with her older brother, Kazuki played by Ito Hideaki who just happens to be her first kiss. Instead of using her sickness for more melodrama, Mio is more of an arrogant brat who doesn't want pity, though she'll still use it as an excuse. This itself is such a breath of fresh air though its obvious that they'll amp sickness issue in the end.

At its heart, First Kiss is a fun show about two siblings. The princess and the useless brother. Ito Hideaki actually does a decent job as Kazuki. While I'll never understand why the got the acting award for Kuzu, he certainly shows that he has potential to be a strong lead actor.

Nothing like a woman who enjoys cooking :)

Basically there are three things I like about the show. First, the cat-fights between Mio and Sakai Wakana. Nothing as entertaining as two hot chicks unsheathing their clothe... I mean claws. Secondly, Matsuyuki Matsuko as the doctor. Her acting is always the same but I enjoyed the hell out of Nanisama and Midnight Rain. Third, I just enjoy the dialogue. Its got the fast back and forth banter and usually ends with a punch line or something amusing. Its sorta slapstick without the childish feel of Hanayome no Papa or Kira Kira Kensui.

So far, the 1st three episodes are decent. I expected to dislike this show but found the humour and pacing to be adequate. Now the important thing is the middle part of the series. Will it go the Koi Kaze route? Or will it go the usual they're not related by blood route? Of will it just be platonic. As long as they keep the humour coming, the show'll be ok.

To answer the first question, Inoue Mao is all right but I want to see whether she can play the nuance changes between being a demanding princess and kawaii imouto. For now the script calls on her to exaggerate her spoilt brat role to almost a parody. The test will be whether the audience will feel empathy for Mio as a person and not because the story threw the kitchen sink of misfortune at her.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wonderful Life ep 9

Whatever happened to feel-good Japanese shows like this? Cliched, yes but contains all the necessary elements to a good dorama and most importantly, fun to watch. I blame it on the influence of Korean dramas and their trademark of a crying scene every 15 minutes. Not to mention Johnny's getting lead roles without first paying their dues and getting the training from playing supporting roles.


Moriguchi Yoko plays this teacher who comes in to cleanse the school of students with bad results, ie the Jaguars. Of course Kirishima is smitten with her and Mizuki is insanely jealous. You know what's gonna happen but the beauty of it is that its so fun to watch. Moriguchi Yoko is one of those actresses who I want to see in a juicy role. I loved her characters in Yamato Nadeshiko and Salaryman Kintaro and am intrigued to see how good she really is.

All they need now is two sailor fukus! :)

One of the requirements of a good dorama is giving the supporting characters the chance to shine. In this episode, its the principal. Show the audience that he is more than a comedy sidekick and irritant. It keeps the main characters fresh and prevents them from overexposure. His spiel in the end was simple and moving. No milking of the moment.

The 'guy oblivious to girl's feelings' comedy never gets old.

Next episode looks to be very exciting. We're finally getting to the Kirishima + Mizuki story. To me, this is more like an old school dorama. Have a concept but build up the characters to the payoff and keep the pacing with supporting characters and humour. Contrast this with a lot of recent shows which have good concepts but fizzle out because their just milking the concept/gimmick instead of developing the characters to tell the story.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yama Onna Kabe Onna eps 1-4

There are two jdorama actresses which I really dislike. Both for their wooden acting and the fact that they are main actresses for so many shows. The first time you see a beautiful actress, you're just happy to watch them act. The second series, you start to notice their acting. By the third series, if their acting really sucks, you can surmise that they probably do a lot of sucking to get their roles.

For a show about mountains, I see a lot of airports.

Yes, I'm talking about Itoh Misaki and Fukada Kyoko. Itoh Misaki is good for a supporting act. That's it. Densha was her role of a lifetime. She doesn't have screen presence and can't act. Maybe she has something that makes female viewers like her. I don't know.

Gratuitous oppai shot no. 385

Fukada Kyoko is a horrible actress. SOS and To Heart showed how one dimensional her acting is and Otousan really showed how bad she was compared to the other actresses on the show. Yeah, she has a reputation as a very nice person but there are so many actresses who can act rings around her.

Yeah Meccha Holiday! Every jdorama should have a karaoke scene with Ayaya's songs. Hhm, this reminds me of the infamous clip of Ayaya's tube top falling off. :)

I should have stayed far, far away from this show. But the premise of the show about two women with completely different breast sizes was too much to resist. ( no matter how bad the acting was). The acting is bad. FFS they could have easily replaced Fukada Kyoko with a gravure idol. Isoyama Sayaka would have been a perfect fit. Or even Hanai Miri.

Koike Eiko is probably the only hot actress on the show.

The only reason I've survived four episodes is the gratuitous cleavage/boob shots. I have never seen so many cleavage shots, not even in midnight doramas. (JAV doesn't count) There's something about watching girls looking at each other's breasts. Its like going to a strip club and watching girls looking at other girls stripping.

Sorry, was I staring?

This show would have been so much better as a midnight dorama with gravure/AV idols instead of actresses with paddings and push ups. Its pretty obvious that they use 'stunt' doubles for the close ups. If you like watermelons, give this show a try as shows about oppai don't come so often.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ungrateful leechers

In case you haven't heard, lsqB has dropped Papa to Musume Nanokakan. Not to fret though, Aoi-haru and minnilu are picking up the series for the remaining three episodes. What is shocking though are the fans who are claiming she is irresponsible for dropping the series. I can't believe there exists such people who think fansubbers owe them a duty to finish subbing their series.

Seriously, I fail to see how people can justify bitching and moaning when someone who spends their free time working for the benefit of others decides that they can no longer afford to do so. Its not like we payed isqB to sub for us. She subbed Papa to Musume for FREE. Is it so hard to say thank you and get on with your life?

It really saddens me to see that people still try to criticize her amidst their thank yous. Its like saying I appreciate all the free effort you have given but you should sacrifice all your free time for me even if you no longer provide motivation to provide a free service that has no benefit at all to you for my enjoyment.

If people like to bitch and moan so much, they should just go sub some jdoramas themselves.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ushi ni Negai wo: Love & Farm eps 1-3

This is one weird show. Weird as in one would expect a story like this to be more fitting for a morning dorama. Basically the show is about 6 students who go to this farm in Hokkaido for their training and tells about their trials and tribulations in taking care of cows. In some ways it reminds me of Boku no Aruku Michi except not as entertaining.

Cause end of the day, its about cows. What's the big deal about a cow having to be put down cause she can't produce milk anymore. How many cows are slaughtered all over the world everyday for our consumption? Trying to make stuff like this the crux of the stories is so lame.

Why are we in a dorama about cows instead of OLs?

So why am I watching this show? Simple. Toda Erika + Aibu Saki + Karina. I can't fucking believe they've managed to gather 3 of my favourite actresses together in one show! To me, its like an all star cast. Unfortunately, it had to be a show about cows. At least there's scenes of the ladies milking... :)


Of course they're a disfunctional group. What story would there be if everyone got along? Takashi is heir to the farm but wants to forge his own path. Tohei is the good guy who feels neglected. Karina is the ojousan, which is completely opposite of her character in Boku no Aruku Michi. Aibu Saki is the kawaii one who has the hots for Takashi and Toda Erika is your typical nice girl.

What if Ushi ni Negai is the bonus ep of Liar Game where whoever has more cows in the end wins?

However, all the farming stuff takes centre stage. There's the love triangle subplot and Takashi and Tohei's fight to be the alpha male but they seem to be side plots to the main story of why calves must be separated from their mother after birth, to electric fence or not to electric fence etc. It feels like the characters are there to show cow rearing in Hokkaido rather than the setting being the means to explore the 6 characters. However, I'm sticking to the series for the ladies and hopefully the story will pick up when they run out of farming activities to bore the audience with.

Aibu Saki can milk me any time!