Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kiseki no Hito theme song Hone by Ging Nang Boyz

Speaking of Kiseki no Hito, I just realised the theme song, Hone (Bones) is available on the net for download! Just google for 銀杏BOYZ骨mp3 and its the first link!! Too bad the song is not available on DAM or Joysound. :( That was a fun show to watch.

Mamagoto Episode 1-4

What is it with NHK and foster parent doramas. First we had the charming Kiseki no Hito, about a useless guy who falls in love with Aso Kumiko and her deaf and dumb daughter and now we have Mamagoto with Ando Sakura as a Sunaku worker who finds meaning in life when Usuda Asami abandons her son with Ando Sakura.

What's next? A jdorama about an ex-yakuza who runs into the daughter of his childhood friend and he must protect her from the bad people? One can hope.

Mamagoto is a big deal not just because its got Ando Sakura who is one of Japan's best actresses along with Matsushima Hikari but because the director is Nakata Hideo, director of Ringu and Dark Water.

Visually so far, Mamagoto has not been special. Its got a raw sort of quality to the visuals but nothing impressive but you can tell it doesn't have the budget.

I like that the kid is not your usual trying to be cute and actually acting like an adult kid. However, there is something about the kid's acting that bugs me. I'm no expert about 5 year old kids but sometimes his acting seems very fake. Ando Sakura is good as the demon old lady with a sad past whose heart gets melted by the kid.   

So far its been feel good fun but not as impressive as the talent would suggest. Watchable so far but don't expect greatness. The first two episodes have been subbed. Watchable.

Monday, November 28, 2016

IQ246 Eps 1-3

IQ246 feels like a more modern version of Furuhata Ninzaburo but does that necessarily mean its better? Oda Yuji who spends a lot of time tanning is this eccentric aristocrat Homonji Sharaku who is so freaking smart he is spends his time telling everyone about how bored he is.

Homonji has a army of supporting characters:

1) Kung fu butler Kensei
2) Yet another actress who is too young to play a police officer in Tsuchiya Tao doing the Imaizumi role.
3) A pair of police detectives who don't do any investigating including one the irritating one who says random English words all the time,
4) Aristocratic sister
5) Nakatani Miki as the criminally underutilised coroner who is smitten with Homonji's IQ.

Nothing wrong with a huge supporting cast except they all get a lot of screen time and IQ246 feels very crowded to the point that the mystery feels like an afterthought.

Oh yes, the mysteries. Like Furuhata Ninzaburo, we get to see how the crimes are committed and its about how Homonji solves the case. The list of high profile guest stars is certainly impressive and I'm tempted to watch episode 4 for Kuninaka Ryoko but the first three episodes seem to be about the mystery serving the various supporting characters rather than the other way around and it made for a tiring viewing.

I just realised that ersby has already completed the subbing of Furuhata Ninzabura season 3 and I shall be watching that instead of IQ246. Meh.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Mano Erina 2017 Calender

Its time for the annual Hamsapsukebe tradition of another Mano Erina calender!

Mano-chan during her baby fat days but they should have blown up the bottom left picture since the other two are not worth looking at.

I like the colour composition for this one except the bottom left picture is boring.

The lighting just looks very fake compared with the background.

Mano-chan at the height of her kawaii powers. OMFG, so cute. More kawaii than Michishige Sayumi!

Not so cute with short hair. In the picture on the bottom right, she looks like this retired JAV actress called Arimoto Sayo.

The bottom right picture is a leftover picture from an old calendar. I guess all the pictures are leftovers.


Waking up with Mano-chan theme.

Ugh, anorexic Mano. I don't get turned on by skin and bones.

Not too bad except for the anorexia.

From her new photobook coming out next month which I will not get.

Pretty much a fail calender filled with many unwanted leftovers. Do not get. Her calenders have historically been good (and I used to buy heaps of calenders) but this is so disappointing.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

9 reasons to watch Unmei ni, Nita Koi

I haven't enjoyed a Kitagawa Eriko dorama since One Million Stars. For those who don't know, she's the writer responsible for many of the shows during the so called golden era of jdoramas such as Long Vacation and Beautiful Life. Then she did crap like Tatta Hitotsu no Koi and the overrated Orange Days I thought she was a one trick pony.

Recently she did Tsuki ni Inoru Pierrot which I liked and we have Unmei ni Nita Koi, which is definitely one of her best works in terms of writing. I can now say, Kitagawa Eriko is not a one trick pony and she can do good shit when not burderned with idorus and talentos.

Unimei ni, Nita Koi starts off like your typical middle age woman wish fulfillment dorama, especially the first episode and gets more interesting in the second episode when Kasumi starts to talk about her past. There are so many things I like about Unmei ni , Nita Koi that its easier to do it in point form so I present to you 10 reasons you should watch it:

1) It is very pretty.

NHK and WOWOW shows usually look prettier than the rest but Unmei ni, Nita Koi also uses some nice camera movements cause most of the time, jdoramas are limited to static shots. There's a scene where the main guy, Yuri is walking out the door. The camera follows him and he says something at the doorway and then it moves back to the main girl, Kasumi's face to show her reaction.

There's also a scene when Kasumi is running up some stairs and the camera tracks her movement from outside to building up to up the stairs from a side viewpoint. Its small things like this where the director is more about shooting talking heads that I appreciate.

2) Kasumi is not a woe is me heroine and doesn't feel like your typical generic character for women to project themselves onto. 

This ties into point 3 which is:

3) Yamaguchi Sakura's Maho is a great villain.

Firstly its because she's not a 'how can you know what I feel?' villain. Secondly its that her hate towards Kasumi feels like a commentary on so many woe is me heroines of this genre and Kasumi gives her a great answer.

I just enjoy watching Yamaguchi Sakura chewing the scenary.

4) The humour is very effective.

There's not a lot of humour but when its there is funny including some puns. I thought the stalker girl subplot would be annoying but it was a good comedy respite from the serious story.

5) Ohgo Suzuka as Riri.

6) You can see the twists coming a mile away but what makes them work is that the reasons are interesting.

7) Dialogue does not feel cliched.

This is hard to explain but one of my most hated phrases is 'to face yourself or the problem'. (Jibun wo mukiau) Its been used in way too many things and there are plenty of cliched phrases when that just get used all the time. Those Dr Phil moments when a character somehow has to spell out the obvious thing.

There are quite a few Dr Phil moments when I think to myself, 'I've never heard it delivered that way before' or that it felt like the character talking. There are so many lines that I liked like the one above about artists and bosoms. :)

8) 8 episodes means that the pacing is perfect. 

None of that 10-12 episode trendy dorama format. 

9) Acting is good.

There is scene from the above screencap when Yamaguchi Sakura realises something and her face goes from sneering smile to horror.

While Unmei ni, Nita Koi does everything right, I just can't give it a must watch because the chemistry just isn't at that level. I am not saying there is none but it just needed a bit more magic in the casting.

I enjoyed the hell out of Unmei ni, Nita Koi and watched the 8 episode in one shot. Unmei ni , nita Koi is almost a must watch and its rare to find such a well done older woman romance jdorama.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Cold Case : Shinjitsu no Tobira Eps 3+4

I liked episode 3 but the pacing was just a tad too fast with so many revelations. An extra 5 to 10 minutes would have have helped settled things down and perhaps a bit more world building with Amagasaki which I wanted to see more of. Amagasaki sounds like an interesting blue collar town.

That said, the English music selection is just wrong. I love Bon Jovi's Always but it did not fit the ending of the episode. I know they are playing hit music from the year that the crimes were committed but at least choose a Japanese song.

Episode 4 is the first episode of the series that I liked. Luckily Kawaguchi Kyougo's Sakura become the important song of the episode and not some English song. Fukuda Mayuko even in a bit part is a good thing. :)

The star of the episode is Santamaria Yusuke who played a great foil for our heroes. Someone needs to reedit the episodes and replace the ending English songs with Japanese ones. I vote that Always be swapped with Mr Children's Tomorrow Never Knows or Spitz's Robinson.

Cold Case is still finding its feet for me. I'll watch until the end but it seems doing a direct adaptation might not be such a good idea.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I am a Hero movie review

I had heard good things about the movie and manga so I was pretty excited to watch I am a Hero. The last zombie movie I had watched was the massively overhyped Train to Busan so I kept my expectations low on this one.

I came into this movie from the perspective of a long time Japanese movie fan. 99% of the time, it is shit. There's always no sense of geography,they try to hard to look cool etc. My passing criteria was that as long as there was nothing to complain about with the action, I was ok with it.

The story takes a while to get going since it wants to introduce our main character is this very normal person but when the we finally get to see the zombies as our hero runs away from his workplace, there is this glorious 5 minute action scene that totally makes the movie (according to Japanese standards).

Storyline wise, I am a Hero doesn't stray from the usual zombie tropes nor should it. Nagasawa Masami's character is so underwritten but the star of the movie is director Sato Shinsuke who did Princess Blade and criminally underrated Gantz movies. If there is one Japanese director who knows how to do more with less, its him. Put any other director in his place and I am a Hero would not be as good.

The ending is awesome and I really want to see part two. I've started reading the manga and had a quick look at the synopsis and it seems they changed some major things for the movie. I wonder whether fans like the changes?

On the whole, its a very solid zombie movie. Very watchable.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

If Cats disappeared from the World

I will accept any premise as long as what flows from that premise makes some sort of logical sense. The premise of If Cats disappeared from the World is that Kenshin is going to die and the devil appears before him offering to extend his life in exchange for something.

That exchange turns out to be deleting phones from existence, and then wiping out movies until finally making cats disappear from this world. What the devil meant by wiping this things is that they never ever existed in history. These things that the devil wipes out provides Kenshin with a connection with the important people in his life and changes his relationship with them.

Problem with the premise is that wiping out phones from history not only means Alexander Graham Bell never invented the phone, humanity somehow cannot create this device and history is changed forever. We're talking a world without internet, television, computers and video recorders. Yet somehow Kenshin's world stays the same except for non existence of phones instead of being a completely different world. We've seen many stories about changing one point in history that can make huge changes to the present. The premise of this movie is about erasing things that have been used throughout human history. Its as if Kenshin were living in a time bubble.

Now this can be all explained away by the revelation of the devil's true identity but it just makes Kenshin look fucking stupid anyway, especially for someone who has watched so many movie. If Cats disappeared from the World is a house built on dodgy foundations. At least its not crying porn but I just could not enjoy the movie with the shadow of the premise hanging over the story.

I'm currently replaying Ryu ga Gotoku 5 and Ando Sakura's dad is in it playing a cop and it was weird watching him play this quiet watchfixer in this movie.

The writer could have easily fixed this with the devil being more specific with his trade such as this phone at this certain date in Kenshin's past will not work or the movie metropolis will never be made or that the cat Lettuce will never exist in his life.

'If Cats disappeared from the World doesn't sound' as good as 'If my cat disappeared from the World' but it would have solved this movie's achilles' heel. Don't waste your time with this unless you enjoy turning off your brain in pursuit of sad movies.