Monday, August 31, 2015

100 Yen Love /Hyaku En no Koi

Ando Sakura is IMO, on of the few top tier actresses in Japan along with Mitsushima Hikari and they're both in one of my favourite movies ever Love Exposure. She stars in 100 Yen Love as Ichiko, a complete bum living of her parents who is kicked out and starts working at a 100 yen shop where she finds love and boxing.

100 yen love is a simple slacker tries to find some meaning in life boxing movie and Ando Sakura really carries the movie with her acting. She is so convincing as a NEET and a boxer. (cough, Mitsushima Hikari in Oyaji no Senaka). Ando Sakura really looks like she knows how to box and I love how 'ugly' the fight at the end is.

I love how motivations are not explained but rather its left up to the audience to infer from Ando's acting. While 100 Yen Love is a good move its just hovering below must watch for me. I think the directing is just not up to that level though the fight is pretty good.

In summary, a pretty good boxing movie about finding one's way in life where Ando Sakura shows that she is able to elevate decent scripts to great levels.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ishi no Mayu Eps 1+2

+ The directing on Ishi no Mayu is really good, especially the victim discovery scene in episode 2. WOWOW shows may not have the budget of getsu 9 doramas but they usually have very good direction and so far its been really good.

+ I am so glad this dude is not playing the always angry at the protagonist who is actually good at his/her job while doing nothing useful boss.

- That's because the main actress from Mother Game is playing a newbie in First Investigation Division. Nothing wrong with that, except the way she is written makes her too green. Ishi no Mayu establishes that some veterans can't even pass the exam and she is a police Sergeant so she should have experience.

- Yet her colleagues awkwardly pick on her and somehow trying to draw inferences from clues is strangely forbidden until the group retires to a diner at night. Ishi no Mayu tries to show the main character's smarts with her guessing the reasons for killer Toremi's actions while on the phone but these are questions that the police officers should have been asking themselves onscreen in the first place. Basically what I am saying is that Ishi no Mayu lacks that think along with the protagonist(s) part of serial killer shows.

- I really hate how she's bloody knocking over tins, not really looking around and getting so emotional in episode 2 instead of trying to play mind games with the criminal. I'm pretty sure the police handbook on following your partner does not say stick as close as possible instead of covering angles that your partner can't cover. Maybe she's really smart and is trying to make Toremi think she is too ruled by emotion.

- The only advice Kisaragi gets from her colleagues is keep Toremi talking as long as possible. Where's the bloody expert to teach her the rules when negotiating or how to draw out information?

- I have to ask, how come Kisaragi didn't know about the case that caused her father's death? Its not like he was in the secret service and the file was classified? She could have looked up the records since she's a cop.

+ Despite my complaints, Ishi no Mayu is a rare breed of jdorama cop show in that it tries to be realistic instead of trying to hard to be cool (I'm looking at you Ouroboros). I'm not expecting much but as long as it doesn't pull any Mozu magic hanky panky, I'm happy to be along for the ride. Watchable.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Soup : Umarekawari no Monogatari

Namase Katsuhisa aka Yabe Kenzo's wife has left him and his daughter doesn't like him.

He sucks at his job and Konishi Manami basically takes over his role and becomes his boss and he finds out no one at work likes him.

 Its his daughter's birthday and Yabe Kenzo goes to buy her flowers.

However, Yabe Kenzo's daughter doesn't want to spend time with him on her birthday and instead spends it with her friend shoplifting.

Daughter's friend says don't blame her cause I'm the one of invited her.

Yabe Kenzo lectures daughter. She says why are you trying to be cool only at this time after letting mom run away and Yabe Kenzo slaps his daughter.

Yabe Kenzo has to go on a business trip with Konishi Manami the next day and tells her about slapping his daughter. Konishi Manami is like don't look at me, I don't want to talk to you and requests to change her seat on the airplane. Lol.

Konishi Manami is pissed at Yabe Kenzo the whole trip and suddenly they both get struck by lightning.

And find themselves in another world while waiting to be reincarnated.

They have fun in the afterlife and meet some interesting characters.

This looks like heaven to me.

Why the hell would anyone want to get reincarnated when one can have so much fun? The soup in the title refers to the soup that they have to drink to get reincarnated.

However, who ever drinks the soup will lose their memory and Yabe Kenzo wants to see his daughter again.

Along their way, they meet Ohgo Suzuka who I haven't seen in yonks. Look how much she's grown since Sexy Voice and Robo. Sniff.

Let's not forget Furuta Arata. This movie has all my favourite people in it.

One can never have too many Konishi Manami screencaps.

Yabe Kenzo gets reincarnated and he gets to hang out with Hirose Alice and....

.. Hishimoto Ai. Lucky bastard.

And he finds out his daughter grows up to be Ito Ayumi! I could not have casted this movie any better!

Soup is basically a slow, subdued movie with a love story and a father daughter story wrapped in a story about reincarnation. The problem is the love story feels uncooked and needed a lot more seasoning. The afterlife stuff could have been a lot more interesting.

The father daughter bit is standard but what I enjoyed was the cast and their performances.

Soup could have been a great movie with more polish to the script but I kind of enjoyed it, probably more than I should have. Not bad but not memorable. Worth watching if you like the cast.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Mother Game

Reasons to watch:

+ Lots of hot moms. Kinjiya Shihori (Yabe Kenzo) + Adachi Yumi. :)

+ Toyohara Kosuke aka Mr Lan Evo is in it.

Reasons not to watch

- With a name like Mother Game one would expect lots of backstabbing, double crossing and power plays. Unfortunately, its the harem version of a housewife jdorama. Nice and poor single mother goes to expensive pre-school and helps solves the problems of each of the major mother characters.

- Which doesn't sound bad but there's no depth beyond that. If you want a housewife/mother jdorama with character that are more than just their stereotypes, see Saito-san.

- The problems are presented in a boring way only to be solved by a speech by the main character at the end. I don't have a problem with this formula by the way, I love Hitotsu Yane no Shita but I have no empathy for any character at all.


Very bland jdorama despite the talents involved that only caters to its target audience. If you are you might like it, if not go watch Saito-san and avoid the second season.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

More thoughts on Zainin No Uso

1) Forgot to mention lawyers actually object to leading questions during cross examination in Zainin no Uso. The use of leading questions in many legal jdoramas has always perplexed me but I attributed it to Japan being a civil law country. Looks like its more a case a lot of lawyer shows being written by idiots.

2) I love it when Hideaki says, "Not guilty and innocent are two different things." when he is praised by his boss after saving the serial rapist.

3) When Hideaki runs into trouble with the allergy case, he tells his client, " Facts are facts (and cannot be changed). You can't be found innocent but you can be found not guilty. To do that you need to throw away your conventional wisdom, morals and what your parents taught you. (Not too sure about the last one. It sounded like 両親のsomething. Sigh. My kingdom for Japanese subs.)

Edit: Just found out its actually 良心の呵責 which means pangs of conscience. Goddamn Japanese and all the words that are pronounced exactly the same.

One could read that as Hideaki's rule to winning but the interesting thing is that what Hideaki's character was taught as kid is devoid of conventional wisdom and morals.

4) Just noticed that Yasui Bengoshi being the original lawyer for the serial rapist was already mentioned in episode 1 so its that being of a spoiler.

5) My initial reaction when I finished Zainin no Uso was pretty good and the more I thought about it, the better it got and rewatching it has made like it even more.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Zainin no Uso

I gave up on this last year cause it was difficult to watch with so much legal jargon. Gave it another and managed to make it through though I'm going to do a slow rewatch.

Ito Hideaki gives his best performance I've seen as the 'evil lawyer'. Evil meaning will do anything to win which is apparently only evil if you are working for a big corporation like he is. At the beginning of the show, he manages to get this guy off for rape and murder and the parents of the victim confront him. Some stupid reporter asks him, "As a lawyers, don't you have a sense of justice?"

Good thing he replies by asking the reporter, "Do you think that every defendant who pleads innocent is guilty? What's the purpose of having lawyers then? The job of the police and prosecutors is to prove his guilt and my job is to prove his innocence and we have arrived at today's verdict."

I'm thinking, yes! Fuck this evil lawyer bullcrap. Is it the defence lawyers fault that the prosecution has a weak case? Why not cry to the prosecutors and say, "You freaking suck at your job!"

Takito Kenichi is, for the first time (that I can remember) not playing the creepy guy. He's the poor, good guy defender of justice yasui bengoshi and he plays an important role in the story and not in the black and white way. I really like his character.

Kimura Yoshino is Ito Hideaki's childhood friend now doctor. They grew up in an orphanage along with her brother.

Kimura Yoshino's brother who knows something about Ito Hideaki's past.

The casting, acting and directing is typical WOWOW good. The domacles sword hanging over Zainin no Uso is whether the script would make it a simple black and white story like many jdoramas are wont to do or have shades of grey.

The good news is, Ito Hideaki's evil lawyer is an interesting character because of his past. The bad news I really hated the karmic ending of episode 4. However, it does set up a good last episode between Hideaki and the cheap lawyer.

Yasui bengoshi is my favourite character because he does not go around brandishing words like justice and shouting at the 'villain' that he is wrong. The more he finds out about Hideaki's past, the more he understands why Hideaki sees the world as it is. The best thing was the revelation that Yasui bengoshi was supposed to defend the killer in the beginning of the show but he chickened out. If he had been braver and realised that defending people you knew were guilty is also an important part of justice, then the tragedy of episode 4 might have been avoided.

The only other thing I hate is this guy in the middle left. By the jdorama gods, why does he have to mumble all the freaking time? Its so hard to understand him!!! Arrrgrhhhh.

There's no performance here that's so outstanding as to deserve a Hamsapsukebe acting award but it deserves to either replace Black President or Kazokugari in the top five shows of 2014. Bravo to WOWOW and Zainin no Uso definitely deserves to get subbed. Must watch.