Friday, November 30, 2012

JFF 2012: Thermae Romae

The raw came out a couple of weeks ago but I have already bought my ticket for Thermae Romae and its more fun watching movies in cinemas with fans. The Festival Director made a very interesting point in that the Japanese Film Festival is the only place outside of Japan where one can catch so many Japanese movies at one place and I have to agree as a fan of Japanese cinema. This year's line up is awesome and I guess I'm living in the right country outside of Japan for Japanese movies.

Anyways, Thermae Romae is a very funny movie, especially the first half and humour is basically the reverse of Jin. Instead of modern doctor going to the past, its an bathhouse architect Lucius, played magnificently by Abe Hiroshi going to the modern era and marveling at all our bath and toilet inventions. You can't go wrong with fish out of water comedy.

Lucius's trips to the future are short and he always runs into Ueto Aya who plays an aspiring mangaka. Everytime Lucius time travels, he goes back with new ideas and we see him trying to transplant modern stuff into ancient Rome to great comedy effect.

The movie slows down for me when it becomes about Ueto Aya's character traveling back to ancient Rome with Lucius. The relationship just does not work. Ueto Aya still looks like an 18 year old girl and all she does is try to act cute. I know its a comedy but they really need someone who can act and sell the relationship with what little screen time they share.

It could have worked better as a dorama series but getting the budget to do the Roman scenes would be tough. I love the Rome scenes. I was thinking where in Japan did they got so many gaijin extras until I released that it was shot in Italy. I like how the Romans get dubbed over in Japanese like a cheesy B grade movie and the director must have watched quite a few of those old Roman/Greek movies from the 70s and 80s cause its got that feel.

Thermae Romae is a very funny, if uneven movie which is hard to avoid given that there is not much time to develop the characters but someone needs to realise that Ueto Aya is not a good actress. You put Ueno Juri in there it becomes a better film. Lucius moping after Kitamura Kazuki told him he was a hack just felt so disjointed. Thermae Romae is a watchable comedy that tries to please too many people to the point that the narrative takes a back seat.

 Need Abe Hiroshi kickass WOWOW action dorama.

 Love the Bilingual sign as a funny way to get past the language barrier.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tsugunai ep 2

Who would have thought that my two favourite doramas at the moment are similar in that they are both serial murder thrillers with a young killer? I thought the end of episode 1 underplayed the confirmation that Makoto was the killer but but I think it works in that it mirrors Eisuke's suspicion and his hope that it was not true.

The soap opera angle of this woman who looks exactly like Eisuke's dead wife works as well because she is put in a situation of desperation like his wife and this time he has the chance to do something about it or atone for his past sins and not to mention that he is indirectly responsible for her suffering. I'm happy that something I feared would be a weak point turned out good because I had no idea how they would work her into the story.

My favourite bit is when the other homeless dude was killed. My first thought was Makoto killed the guy cause he stole Eisuke's shirt and then Eisuke's horror at the realisation that the other homeless dude was killed in his place. The episode wraps up with a chilling conversation between Eisuke and Makoto where his suspicions are confirmed. That scene gave me a chill down my spine.

Reminds me of that scene in Hitori Shizuka when Kaho is shown pushing the bullet in and that unforgettable look on her face. One more episode of Tsugunai left and I can't wait to see how child molester dude figures into the finale. Definite must watch for me and I love the triumvant of Double Face, Tsugunai and Hitori Shizuka this season. Huge thank you to \( -o _ o- )/ for uploading ep 2!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hitori Shizuka ep 1

I feel bad I didn't talk about Hitori Shizuka in my jdorama write up for this season. I've learned my lesson; any WOWOW dorama is worth checking out. The main character for ep 1 is Takizaki played by Takahashi Issei, the guy who looks like he wants to cry all the time from Gonzo. Takizaki is a low level police officer who is stuck working in a police box and dealing with grandmothers making a report about 900 yen being stolen.

I love good old WOWOW realism. I really enjoyed the look at being a grunt in the police force. Doing menial work such as keeping onlookers away from crime scenes or being tasked to random questioning of town people. I like that even when Takizaki manages to hit on a lead from asking random people at public places, he is unable to present his finding because other senior members of the investigation team have hit upon the same information from chasing juicier leads. I love that its not preachy but shows it as it is.

Not going to say much about the plot save that a murder occurs close to Takizaki's police box and he goes to investigate only to find another policeman already there. I went into Hitori Shizuka with no knowledge save for Kaho's face on the poster an I enjoyed every damn minute of it.

Hitori Shizuka looks like your typical awesome WOWOW dorama. Gritty and real. Even Tsugunai doesn't look as good. There must be something about the directors who work for WOWOW or something in the water there that make their doramas look so much better than the rest. Personally I think its because the lighting doesn't make it seem like every room has multiple light sources and the earth has two suns and the directing is about capturing performances and not making actors look good.

I am very excited about this and its a definite must watch for me. If you've seen Kaho from Kare, Otoko, Tomodachi, you know she's got the acting skills to pull this off.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tsugunai ep 1

Something unrelated first, was out all night in the city and I brought my 3DS and turned on wifi for streetpass, ie if someone with a 3DS is close by you'll exchange miis. Should have done this stuff when I was in Japan 6 months ago. I'm currently playing Bravely Default and one of the interesting features of the game is that people playing the same game can become villagers in your game and you can use them as summons as well.

Chances of that happening are remote since I wasn't going to Yodobashi Akiba but I managed to get three streetpass miis and they were all in Japanese. No one was playing Bravely Default but it warms my heart that there are other Japanese 3DS playing people in Melbourne. No idea whether I can streetpass with Australian 3DSs.

Anyways, to the main topic at hand which is my much anticipated Tsugunai. Tanihara Shosuke plays a homeless doctor, Hidaka with a dark past. I'd wager my life he does a much better job than Kimutaku in playing homeless. A lot of the first episode is setting up his past as well as Hidaka encountering a series of murders.

There's a bit of a soap opera angle with him running until a woman who looks like his dead wife but the main thing is setting up his situation and his connection with the murders. Don't want to spoil anything cause its best to watch it with no knowledge but there are some interesting themes going around here.

Can't call it must watch yet cause ep 1 is pure set up. It does it well but nothing that comes close to Tsumi to Batsu or Shokuzai's ep 1. I'd rather it start slow and finish strong than the opposite. Fingers crossed ep 2 is good and I really hope furransu uploads ep 2 cause he says he'll only continue uploading if someone subs. This is a solid first episode and be be a pretty good series.

This is supposed to be Tanihara Shosuke's first dorama lead role so congrates to him. He definitely deserves it over those johnnys that plague jdorama land. Managed to get most of the dialogue with the help of Japanese subtitles though some of the investigation talk was lost on me. Too lazy to stop line by line and go through the kanji dictionary. If you've got basic Japanese and love more realistic WOWOW-like stuff, you can't go wrong with Tsugunai.

Edit: stupid recent comments widget is broken. I've added the most popular posts widget and the results are interesting. I've redownloaded Jyouou Virgin 3 so I might do an episode by episode screenshots galore with summary in the future lol. Anyone know where to get the Japanese subs?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Going My Home ep 5

Currently waiting and hoping that Tsugunai gets uploaded.Ep 5 is when going my home is starting to click for me. We finally get a picture of what the story is about, name regret with the whole Kuna will allow you to talk to the dead thing. We get Abe Hiroshi gearing up to do the Kuna hunt thing for his father and conversations start to be more about the past and regrets.

Abe's character arc is different though, he is still the useless supervisor who doesn't know how to do anything but only how to survive. Looks like Koreeda is building up to the Kiseki moment, where everyone will find their answers doing an event in the end. I hope and don't think its the Kuna thing. I think Kunas appearing in Abe's dreams is much more interesting and can be a fun tool to say more about his character. Still not must watch but we're up to the halfway mark and things are looking promising.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Poison eps 1+2

A midnight dorama about a mysterious fella who lends this super untraceable poison to people in trouble. The poison is undetectable and takes 24 hours to take effect. Since the premise is that the mystery person somehow knows a lot of private details of these people in trouble, I'm not going to question it.

The first two episodes are pretty much don't kill someone you think is a threat to you until you are absolutely sure. The third episode seems to be about using it against someone who is actually a bad person. Usuda Asami is the cop who is chasing cases involving the poison. I think the main story is not going to be good and its pretty much about what type of stories they can tell about people who are desperate enough to use this poison. Watchable.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kodoku no Gurume ep 3+4

OMFG, I want to eat this wasabi karubi.  Very rare karubi with wasabi. Can't imagine how it tastes like. Tempted to go random yakiniku and just ask for wasabi.

Does this guy have the best job in jdorama or what? No acting required.

I enjoyed ep 4 cause it had more story instead of just Goro walking around and thinking 'hareheta....'. That was what made Shinya Shokudo fun and what keeps Kodoku no Gurume from being a glorified food variety program. The story doesn't have to say a lot and in this episode you've got one old friend who used to be very against public displays of affection and now he's married to a Brazilian milf and has a cute daughter.

Plus there's the daughter asking Goro why her dad is such a spineless person. Simple character stuff, no need to explore too deep like Shinya Shokudo and the brevity is what makes it good.

Just some excess screencaps I feel compelled to use...

For those interested, her name is Kamada Fuuko. She kinda reminds me of Asuka Io.

There's a tiny part of me that feels like an erooyaji...

..but I can't help liking beautiful things.

Was there food in ep 4? Oh yeah, mouth watering picanha. Never had Brazilian food before but fark, my stomach is rumbling right now. Hope to see more stories and less food. Less is more.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Going My Home eps 2-4

And the very slow burn continues. I enjoy every minute this dorama but I wish storyline-wise I would have something to look forward to or get excited about. Its a Koreeda dorama so I might as well enjoy his knack for making delicious small picture situations such as the banter between mom and daughter. Very Nojima Shinji like except not as fast.

I'm hoping Going My Home does a Shikaotoko where ever it slowly builds up over 6 episodes and everything goes apeshit for the second half but its probably going to end up being the best example of a fun dorama to watch where nothing really happens.


The slog continues. It hasn't been too bad actually. I've got a ryushare account and found many ryushare links, especially movies. Plus a lot of this year's doramas not so good so I'm not redownloading them. My 2TB jdorama backup is nearly full. I have to either get rid of old stuff that I won't watch again or get a 3TB or use two 2TB hdds as backup.

After the flooding in Thailand that made the price of hdds shoot up, looks like its finally going down. You can get a 3TB for aud$150. There's a Seagate portable one that comes with software to make it recognisable by XP. Yes, I'm still running XP.

With the newer doramas, I don't keep what I won't rewatch but with the older ones, there's a feeling of wanting to keep them just because they are old and rare. I've also noticed that I have missing eps in my backup hdd cause of dead DVDs and I never got around to fixing that. I got some crc errors when copying some movies from my 1TB movie backup hdd. Looks like I'm going to have get another hd and back it up before it goes. The thing about the digital age is that paper lasts longer than cds, dvds and hard disks.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Double Face - Gisou Keisatsu-hen

Coming into this series, I was afraid that they would infuse Infernal Affairs with all the Odoro Daisasousen cliches that that plague so many Japanese cop shows; the inability to go dark and serious while trying to much too look cool and ending up looking fake. The first Double Face was a great copy of the first half of Infernal Affairs and I was very much looking forward to part 2 because it was going to add a lot of extra stuff to the story.

 I like the set from the first scene. Looks great. Too much water but can't fault the effort. Takayama's first meeting with Kita Yoshio. This is when I stopped seeing Takayama as a copy of the Andy Lau character.

We need a WOWOW dorama with Kita Yoshio as a scheming godfather character. The guy can act, its just he's overexposed with so many bit parts and he definitely needs to be the lead actor in his own dorama. That's why I know him as Kita Yoshio, cause it was the one time he's not playing a random supporting role. Also take note the line from this scene. :)

I like the Aoi Yu character because she serves as a mirror for Takayama and a spark in his life. Also explains why they did not do they flashback for Takayama and Moriya at the police academy. Its less about contrasting the two undercover dudes and more about their separate situations.

Can't wait for Ryu ga gotoku 5!!!! One more month!!!!

Bloody exciting scene when the two moles make contact. I like the comic book panel effect.

At this point I was fearing the jdorama cliche of a long debate.

Then Takayama says this killer line. Nice, I like that its different from Infernal Affairs and echoes Kita Yoshio's words.

The iconic rooftop scene from Infernal Affairs.

There's something about Japanese women and mourning clothes that make them twice as attractive. :)

I was worried they would change the ending and luckily they added something at the end. I like it because it ties into the Cantonese title of Infernal Affairs which refers to the lowest level of hell.

Great job by TBS and WOWOW. No idea what the ratings were but I want to see more of this and less Ueto Aya trying to pretend to be a policewoman. Must watch.