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    Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

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    Almael
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/18/2015, 9:19 pm

    Boss


    Eriko cool; Police work: maskot Peepo! ; the thief

    dream couple

    unacustomed to earthquake: is she really Japanese?

    Reiko ; Katagiri

    Kimoto Mami power up; Yamamura-san

    Iwai-san takes a good sniff; Hanagata Ippei

    Type: detective drama
    Genre: crime, detective, action
    Year: 2009

    Synopsis:
    Osawa Eriko is recalled to head the newly found Special Crimes Countermeasure Unit. Officially, it's a quick response investigate unit meant to deal with high priority or difficult or modern crime. It is to provide assistance to Criminal Investigation Division 1. However, the truth is a complex layered matter of interest from various groups within the "organization."
    The unit has been raised by Nodate Shinjiro who also selected the colorful team:
    Eriko, 40, Division 1/4 outcast inspector, highly intelligent, an expert in profiling, a beauty, a single among single, self-declared busty, heavy drinker, and messy (exhibitionist) sleeper.
    Katagiri Takuma, 31, Division 1 outcast, a handsome, gloomy, hard working man, a master marksman, has shooting phobia, has no experience with women, , bloodtype B, self declared awkward.
    Kimoto Mami, 25, expert forensics, Scitific Crime Detection Research outcast, fair introvert nerd, has difficulty to follow "order", bloodtype B.
    Hanagata Ippei, 24, rookie from a police box, healthy, willing to do anything, bloodtype O, a weirdo.
    Yamamura Keisuke, 50, Sgt., Environmental Haelth and Safety outcast, careless "Trapper", divorced twice, has a dislike toward beautiful women, likes cabaret clubs, bloodtype AB.
    Iwai Zenji, 39, Sgt., Organized Crime Division (4) outcast, a brawler, cross-dresser, likes men, bloodtype AB.
    It basically consists of peculiar police "troublemakers", hence, the true purpose is to isolate them. The unit's office is located on the 6th floor in the corner of the Annex building.
    The unit solves cases due to each member's peculiar strength and their boss' intuition and smarts. The members more or less overcome their weaknesses for good or worse.

    Critique:
    So far this show has the best team of all police dramas. Half of the cast are better or best actors. The advantage is it makes a great show to enjoy. The disadvantage is some are not available for season 2. :/
    The women are strong in this show. Amami Yuki as Osawa Eriko is just great as usual.
    Takenouchi Yutaka as Nodate Shinjiro makes a good pair with her (and in other shows). In the show they have a 18 year old relationship kind of like Akane & Ranma, a like-despising one. Nodate says he raised the unit for his gokons (Nodate-kon).
    Kichise Michiko as Narahashi Reiko is Eriko's rival in womanhood. It's a good friendly, poisonous relationship. A reason for cat fights! Toda Erika as Kimoto Mami is the junior for both woman to raise. She has the best character stories in the show. We get to see her grow while going through goo and bad time. Mostly bad times if not worse of all in both seasons, though.
    Too bad the show is kind of short, there's not that much or extensive relationship scenes to enjoy like in longer shows like NCIS. However, all necessary character stories and relationships are there so there's is really nothing missing.
    The majority of crimes turn out to have some mystery to them that are solved in smart ways. It's very enjoyable to watch.
    The conspiracy in the end was shocking, misleading, suspenseful. Even though I could guess roughly how it would go it kept me glued to the screen until the very end. Sorimachi Takashi (GTO) as Takakura Ryuhei, the mastermind of the Black Moon, was a surprise appearance. He's always soo evil when playing the bad guy. Here he's double/triple crossing everyone and escaping nearly all our heroes' traps. He even plants a fuel-vapor (thermobaric) bomb that's exaggerated as a nuke equivalent with no one in Japan able to disable it (except Japan's foremost criminal bomber). This is too much of a Hollywood trope. All that needs to be done is preventing oxygen mixing or contact for a moment, e.g. sand, water, nitrogen would do. If you thought you've seen it all then brace for season 2!
    Miscellaneous stuff:
    The show is up to date on scientific research e.g. James Surowiecki's work on the Wisdom of Crowds/Collective intelligence that just came out.
    The first few seconds of the ED is very reminiscent to the Japanese "Yuki no Hana". Well, I would have identified it regardless in which language.

    Verdict: 9.7
    Cast: 10
    Cast performance: 9
    Script/Directing: 10
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/18/2015, 9:22 pm

    Boss 2



    Numata Yoshimi replaces Reiko and that's just the start Twisted Evil

    OMG fan rage over a Korean boy group

    Eriko's omiai under surveillance

    Sachiko, the dark angel

    Sachiko makes another unsuspecting comment

    police super team; maskots Peepo! Peepa! Peepee!

    Type: detective drama
    Genre: crime, detective, action
    Year: 2011

    Synopsis:
    It has been two years since then... Nodate, who has risen to become the counsellor as a result of the performance of Eriko and the unit, accepts an important case with the intention of securing another promotion. And, so he revives the Special Crimes Countermeasure Unit.

    Critique:
    The bad: Kichise Michiko as Narahashi Reiko and Toda Erika as Kimoto Mami aren't available or only partialy available for the show. Reiko's and Eriko's farewell on bad terms over Mami's exiling was sad.
    Hasegawa Kyoko as Tadokoro Sachiko/Sacchi isn't an equal replacement for Mami. She has a double background story we don't to see much other than the implications and "results". She is badass but we get only a glimpse.
    Shaku Yumiko as Numata Yoshimi replaces Reiko. At first, she is your ordinary forensics but whoa once she starts her "play" she's convincingly fanatic.
    The episode with the ex-french-legion soldier was unsuspecting, yet, good. Darker yet less evil than the one with the ex-Yakuza boss. Both stories are typical twisted stories where our heroes end up saving the bad guys.
    I have hoped to see Sorimachi Takashi (GTO) again and the show was leading on for a while, but he got killed off to introduce an even greater evil. That was a little disappointing. Omori Nao as Morioka Hiroshi, the mysterious ex-police now ministry-secretary. He plays the usual underdog antagonist but the show sent me for a loop until the end. His shooting skillz is superb is an understatement. Despite being cornered on both sides he shot them both and wins unscathed! It's a true dark and heinous conspiracy. And it's still not over yet.
    Just when you thought Mami rejoined the show for good she's killed off for the x times here. She's really the preferred target in this series. Eriko also has become a prefered target in this season. In the end she's infected with a deadly virus but manages to run a few times. That's a bit too much even for her.
    Miscellaneous stuff:
    Notice Eriko recommending and praising lawyer "Takako Mamiya" from "Rikon Bengoshi" in the show. Notice the lawyer's appearance at the airport. I think it's just a print worn by someone, though.

    Verdict: 9.5
    Cast: 9
    Cast performance: 9.5
    Script/Directing: 10
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/19/2015, 12:42 pm

    Time for some fun!

    ACTING MISTAKES!!

    LEGAL HIGH
    Spoiler:





    BOSS
    Spoiler:






    Most interested Japanese movie this year: Ao no Ran

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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/20/2015, 5:44 pm

    ST Scientific Task Force



    the team

    Type: police drama
    Genre: mystery crime, comedy, detective, action
    Year: 2014

    Introduction:
    This show is referred as ST season 2!

    Synopsis:
    Five exceptional researchers are gathered and given powers for special investigations in response to diversified modern crimes. They are called the Scientific Task Force or ST for short. They work in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department's Scientific Crime Laboratory.
    The elite rookie Inspector Yurine Tomohisa becomes the ST's commanding officer.
    Akagi Samon, the true leader; forensic expert; has a fear of other people; leads, organizes & analyses the team and their gathered information.
    Aoyama Sho, a profiler with an American PhD in criminal psychology; a compulsive messy with order in the chaos.
    Kurosaki Yuji, a chemical expert with such an excellent sense of smell that he is able to discern the scent of poisonous substances; unbeatable brawler; does not talk to just anyone.
    Yamabuki Saizo, a Nobel price level chemical expert who is also a monk.
    Yuki Midori, a physicist who also has an exceptional sense of hearing; a compulsive exhibitionist.
    All of them possess great abilities but are socially inept.
    The most eccentric of them is their leader and forensic expert,

    Critique:
    The show's concepts are badly mixed and realized. And frankly, this overshadows everything for me. The show invests into comedy the wrong way, too. Or maybe because the actors aren't well in doing them.
    The team's members are designed superficially similar to the genetically enhanced augments from Star Trek DS9 - "Statistical Probabilities". They are total weirdos. Their peculiarity isn't bad but it's just ... too far fetched and or weird.
    For example Fujiwara Tatsuya as Akagi Samon when he finally has figured it out he virtually has a "headache" attack or some such sickness.
    In the first half the stories are your ordinary mystery cases. This is the good part of the show. In the second it goes the way of JOKER Yurusarezaru Sosakan. Here, renegade ex-policemen commit murder and try to turn people against the law and police. That aside the true aim (main theme) is to draw and plunch Akagi Samon into darkness. Turning him into a monster and making him the new leader of the renegades. This part is just bad and on the last drop.


    Verdict: 7.3
    Cast: 7
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 7

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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/20/2015, 5:54 pm

    Missing Noir M[Korea]


    Gil Soo Hyun taking measurements in his mind's eye

    Jin Seo Joon's secret: HOME

    Type: police drama
    Genre: mystery, crime, detective, action
    Year: 2015

    Synopsis:
    Genius ex-FBI agent Gil Soo Hyun is recruited to head a new task force to solve the toughest cases. Due to his past he has an secret agenda of doing what he deemed right.
    Veteran detective Oh Dae Young is partnered up, and is to keep an eye on Gil Soo Hyun.
    Jin Seo Joon is the information gathering, analysis nerd. She has a secret past which serves to create a bond with Gil Soo Hyun, willingly or not.

    Critique:
    This show has perhaps the most twisted stories of all mystery crime dramas. The stories are good, suspenseful, interesting. Most of them have more than two twists. Nothing is what it seems and all involved appear to be the bad guy at some point. Until the very end it's unclear who's the victim or criminal or what's the truth. Frankly, the story I liked most was more a ordinary mystery case. Be warned: many of the stories are dark, even creepy.
    The actors are ok but it could be better. Too bad, the best actress is just a guest star and gets killed off.
    Unlike other mystery shows only Gil Soo Hyun and Oh Dae Young do the walking. This kind of small team is kind of refreshing and it gives a new or better perspective on solving the cases. It also adds a thrill to it all.
    Despite everything the show is really good.

    Verdict: 8
    Cast: 7
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 9
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/20/2015, 5:59 pm

    Tsukahara Bokuden


    ShinEmon facing his biggest childhood enemy, the seedling!

    Samon: No way!

    Mahiro

    unending defeat

    Samon makes a move on Kano

    final journey

    Spoiler:

    Tsukahara Bokuden Episode 4 Eng Sub 3


    Type: semi historical drama
    Genre: history, samurai, action
    Year: 2011

    Introduction:
    This is the story about the legendary swordsman Tsukahara Bokuden, considered to be the best Japan ever had. To this day people devoted to Japanese sword-fighting, would make pilgrimages to the Kashima shrine, where his grave lies. It is considered the spiritual home of kenjutsu. Every year on September 1st a festival called "Jinko-sai" is conducted, where the deity rides an Omikoshi (mobile shrine).

    Summary:
    ShinEmon was born into the Urabe Yoshikawa house, Hitachi no kuni (Hitachi Province, today's Ibaraki Prefecture) on Honshu, but is adopted later.
    In 1505, 7 years later, he's coming of age and receives the name Takamoto, hence, Tsukahara Shin'emon Takamoto.
    He has mastered the Kashima-chuko and Shindou sword style. He is eager to learn more and requests to be allowed to become a wandering swordsman in training.
    As heir to the Tsukahara, neither his adopted father, the head of the Tsukahara, nor the head of the Hitachi Daijyou clan agree.
    The Kashima shrine is rundown and has become less visited. After an insurgent attack on the shrine, ShinEmon is let go to spread the Kashima-chuko sword style and the Kashima deity's fame again.
    His younger sister Mahiro, is a shrine maiden serving the Monoimi-sama priestess.
    Yamazaki Samon has doubt about his lowly self being allowed to accompany ShinEmon. However, he has no family to leave behind. If anything happens he will be punished or won't be able to return alive either. Twisted Evil
    Their first fight is against bandits (Mad Max 2) to save a poor village. ShinEmon's logic gives the battle expirienced/hardened Samon a headache.
    The first duel is against Maki Genki, the human devil with the Daifu Ryu style sword fighter (frog like style).
    ShinEmon is confronted with the dilemma of unending fighting (war) bigots more. And he is asked for an answer to a way of winning without killing.
    In 1508, they reach the capital Kyoto. On their way they save Kano from ruffians (free roaming ex-soldiers or bandits).
    They get tracked down and invited by her father, the main retainer of the Oouchi-clan. From then on ShinEmon is entangled in the rivalry between the Oochi-clan and the Hosokawa-clan, who serve Kubo-sama (The Shogun).
    ShinEmon is urged to duel Oono Hidetaka from the Hosokawa's side.
    Sometime later Enchin fails to assassinate Kubo. The Hosokawa, as revenge, suggest the Oochi, hence, ShinEmon take care of Enchin.
    Enchin, is an Igamono (Iga ninja), who's verse in any weapons like the sword, spear, blowgun, bo shuriken (stick shuriken). He actually uses an unknown secret weapon, too. ShinEmon can't figure it out but jumps into the fight anyway.
    In 1511, the Funaoka-yama battle is won [Atsumori (Heike Monogatari)]. ShinEmon is awarded for taking the enemy leader's head. The Hosokawa assert, the presence and award of a guest is inappropriate and lowers the Shogun and his retainer's honor. They suggest a new duel to show off to the public.
    ShinEmon is forced to fight NanEi. NanEi is ruthless with a two bladed Naginata on both ends. It's impossible to win against him with a sword.
    In 1512, Kashima's lord is killed in action.
    In 1513, ShinEmon has noticely changed. It has been a while since any no worthy/strong opponent has showed up. Just when he decided to continue his journey he learns of powerful hidden sword masters.
    He meets up with Okutsu Genzaburo to challenge him but he had already forsaken the sword. Okutsu tells him there's no meaning in pursuing sword fighting/killing strength. There's no escaped the from that hell. Sometime later, Okutsu goes on a killing rampage forcing them to face off. Dying, Okutsu tells ShinEmon he will soon enough fall into darkness, too. This more than disturbs ShinEmon and he develops fear of himself being swallowed up by darkness.
    Meanwhile, ShinEmon saves Yamamoto Kansuke, famous future strategist. ShinEmon takes Yamamoto Kansuke as his pupil.
    In 1516, haunted by ghost of his opponents, with deep suffering and worry ShinEmon decides to return to Kashima. Having returned he decides to cleanse himself in 1000 days of confinement prayers. At the end he obtained Hitotsu no Tachi (one sword), a new style of timing and stance.
    With a looming infighting ahead, ShinEmon is forced to take sides. Upon deep meditation to find an answer he obtains Heihou no Ken (Sword of Harmony). It's ideal is to win without a fight.
    ShinEmon decides to leave on another journey. His former master tells him to never come back. No matter what happens he is to pursuit his own fate and not that of the clan. ShinEmon names his new style Shinto Ryu and takes on the name Bokuden. Boku as in Kiboku (tortoise-shell divination) (partially from his original birth name Yoshikawa).

    Critique:
    Remember this is the time of the Warring States, a time when headhunting was still in practice. For more refer to "Samurai Headhunters" documentary.
    Spoiler:

    http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/samurai-headhunters/0/3391088
    http://docuwiki.net/index.php?title=Samurai_Headhunters
    official clips
    https://www.youtube.com/show/samuraiheadhunters

    Sakai Masato as as rebellious swordsman ShinEmon Very Happy  Hira Takehiro as Yamazaki Samon is a great partner.
    The fights in the show are good. Although, there are sometimes too many cut scenes, but the slow motions are a good counter balance.
    The fights are not not your usual kendo esque/ordinary style but "realistic" street fighting if I may say so Very Happy  It's like real Ryu ken (as far as can be surmised or guessed today).
    The fight with Oono Hidetaka reminds me of a fighting game match I had myself. It was most remembered because of the exact same action. Although, in my case it was a mid air kick contest that I won. Very Happy
    The fight with NanEi was highly anticipated because of the difficulty but it ended with just a single hit kill. It's not exactly disappointing but seriously?
    It's nice the show depicts ShinEmon as someone who's open to new things and is not biased. He rather tries to assimilate. adapts, transform new or other styles into more practical useful with his style or skill.
    If you expected some romance you will be served only little. The show is true to historical records here. However, don't bet on ShinEmon dying a virgin, though.
    Miscellaneous stuff:
    ShinEmon: "Not good, I guess food is more important than the match..."
    Samon: "even an old saying goes "30% talent, 70% looks"."
    ShinEmon saves Kanon but Samon makes the move on her. Laughing


    Verdict: 8.7
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 9
    Script/Directing: 9
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/20/2015, 6:11 pm

    The Next Generation Patlabor - Tokyo War




    Type: live action movie
    Genre: mech, conspiracy, action
    Year: 2015

    Intro:
    This is the final movie to the live action show of the same name. The movie is based on a 2011 novel by Oshii.

    Synopsis:
    2013, a disgruntled, and dissatisfied Self Defense Force group commits a series of terror attacks on the Japanese government. Their goal is to force awareness to the changes and new challenges in the post 9/11 world, and an increase in military spending.
    Inspector Takahata Tosi arranges with the Police Security Unit - Special Vehicle Section 2 (and the russian FSB) to handle the crisis outside the law of the land. The terrorists preempt the police Patlabor unit by launching an attack that destroyed all the unit's facilities. However, this was foreseen and the unit escaped just in time.
    The Japanese Self Defense Force scrample their F-2 jets and AH-1 S&T Cobras into battle over the Tokyo skyline but are easily defeated. Takahata corners the renegade ground support crews and annihilates them.
    The heroes are forced into a dramatic showdown. While Akira has trouble with her Labor, the other women fire away at the enemy bird. Akira has to stand in the open and remote control her labor's weapon by eye sight. Akira, Takahata, and Kasha shoot down the enemy.

    Critique:
    The movie follows Patlabor 2: The Movie. See there for more insider or background details as they are pretty much the same.
    The movie starts with a Hellfire destroying a the Yokohama Bay Bridge. It reminds of the Maverick attack in"True Lies". Of course this is a movie trope. Neither missile would be able to destroy a section of such a large bridge. The difference is actually explained in the movie. Very Happy
    The terrorist's motive in the movie to raise public interest was right at the time of the anime movie in 2002 but in 2015 events in the world has already overtaken it. As you may remember disagreement with China has raised Japan's realization of their isolation and solitude. PM Abe and nationalists have worked hard to raise Japan's foreign relations and international commitment. Major military projects were initiated and completed. Japan promised commitment in the war against terror, resulting in a Kenji Goto's murder. As Abe "promised" in 2014, in early 2015, Japan changed its Constitution for international deployment & use of force, and the military budget was greatly increased.
    Compared to regular action movies the movie is lacking a bit on action. By that I meant there's no constant action. It has stretches that look like your regular drama show with long dialogues, too. The Patlabor actions are limited in their freedom of movement. I guess the budget wasn't big enough for more.
    The terrorists use a customized AH-88 "Hellhound" (see anime movie) classified as AH-88J2 Kai "Grey Ghost". It's a combined Comanche-esque design (completely different design! ) with an AI and state-of-the-art thermal optical camouflage. Obviously, the design was chosen for easy and cheap production of the mockup. It's unlikely a real helicopter modified for the movie. It's neither realistic, practical nor feasible as is. It still looks cool. Very Happy
    The story is kind of simple or rather does no dare to venture for more. Kasha's FSB mentor is codenamed "Red Golgo"! Onodera is the master mind who idolizes and follows in the footstep of Tsuge (from the anime movie). He's ruthless in achieving his goals. An eye for an eye - Takahata, executes the terrorists on the spot. Scary! Aside from the actors and their immediate surroundings, some news, etc. not much else is going on. It really feels limited. The air battle is good, although, not as extensive as say the american Godzilla movie.
    Overall, it's a Hollywood level movie with incomparable smaller budget. It's well done in that regard but I doubt it will please everyone in the same manner as a real Hollywood action movie. It certainly sets a new bar for modern Japanese CG movies. If it wasn't a live action but a full CG movie like Appleseed, it probably would have been a lot better.

    Verdict: 8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/22/2015, 5:25 pm

    Keizoku


    veterans Mayama Tooru & Kido Aya: "Not again!"

    top secret stealth fighter a la Ace Combat X-02 Wyvern or NCSI-New Orleans S2E03 Skystorm

    Type: mystery crime drama
    Genre: mystery, detective, action
    Year: 1999

    Synopsis:
    Todai graduate Shibata Jun joins the MPD as an elite detective. She is an extreme moronic simpleton, clumsy, naive, and gullible virgin with a super analytical brain and has no sense of direction. She's the daughter of legendary detective Shibata Jun'ichiro, who solved all crime cases. He usually took case files home and had them solved by morning. In truth, he never looked at them but let his 9 year old daughter read them. She always found them cheap mysteries, though. Very Happy She especially asked to be assigned to the unsolved cases ("keizoku") unit. It's basically a storage for cold cases but officially investigation never stops. For an elite to chose this dumpster unit, most people are ridiculing her choice.
    On her way to work she often helps people solve their problems. She can solve any university level problem instantly. To help some helpless internet user she fixes his laptop by connecting it directly with the Pentagon's supercomputer giving him access to unpublicized data. Later, the user(s) became famous world wide, and their faces well known in certain circles.
    There are a total of six people in the unit each with certain skills. While solving cases Jun learns about the world, the human heart and its dark side.

    Critique:
    Nakatani Miki as Shibata Jun can be characterized as a combination of your typical Japanese woman and a naive country girl who knows nothing of the world or people. She's full of contradictions that borders on ridiculous. She's extreme on both side of the medal on most anything. She remains on the good side, though. Seriously, can there ever be a person like her?
    Watabe Atsuro as fellow detective Mayama Tooru is Jun's relyable and experienced "knight". So far it's the best role I saw him in. He basically pulls her back to reality and reveals the true human nature or motive behind the cases that Jun can't figure out. He usually does it at the very end when Jun asks the murderer about their motive. He also does some secret investigation throughout the show. The romance part doesn't appear until near the end. It's still your old style proper Japanese drama.
    Suzuki Sarina as Kido Aya is virtually the big sister in the unit. She's an elite who got dumped into the unit from General Affairs and mostly works as librarian. She usually teases Jun or tells her simple kid's lies but often has to come to her rescue.
    Famed police actor Ryu Raita plays as Nonomura Kotaro, the unit's chief. He serves as mediator and provide comic relief stories about his marital troubles. They only appear as intro to each episode, though.
    The rest of the cast don't seem to matter much. Overall the above form a good team with nice relationship. This arrangement is better than the later Keizoku 2 - SPEC.
    The mystery cases are ordinary in today's therms. For example the 3rd story is about a room when entered it is empty one time and full the next time or vice versa. It's your typical moving wall ninja trick or changing labyrinth trick. But how an ordinary person can pull it of in the time given or creating it in the first place without residents noticing is a greater mystery. Laughing
    It's a bit old and may not be appealing for some but I still think it's a good show in its own right.

    Verdict: 8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 8


    Last edited by Almael on 1/24/2016, 5:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/22/2015, 5:31 pm

    Keizoku 2 - SPEC



    the special team!

    tooth; spitting tooth attack

    Saya's Mr. pillow


    Spoiler:

    courtesy Hello! Project

    Saori masu!


    Saori masu! battle


    Type: mystery drama
    Genre: mystery, detective, action
    Year: 2010

    Intro:
    This is the continuation of the Keizoku show but made 11 years later with a (nearly) complete new cast. Unlike the first this show is about crime committed by people with paranormal or ESP powers. It's a remake and an alternative universe. Therefore, by all means it's "Keizoku 2 SPEC". Aside from the drama show there are two specials and three movies.

    Synopsis:
    While the SIT (Special Investigation Team) special commando unit went after criminals, Shimura gets separated and shoots at Sebumi Takeru. However, he is hit instead. Sebumi [Takeru sounds worse] is accused of shooting Shimura.
    Sebumi gets shunned to the "unsolved cases" special division SPEC of Public Welfare, the secret police force. It's located in a separated corner of the MPD HQ. SPEC is tasked with cases of ESP, that can not be explained with science, to build up evidence to stand trial. In other words, handling nonsense cases and claimer complaints that are passed around departments. Laughing Then unit is always on the verged of being crushed from enemies and friends alike. (ESP ability is called SPEC in this show.)
    Sebumi's rock bottom enthusiasm is met with Toma Saya's hunger. The one armed woman is totally annoying to his proper and correctness as a policeman. Saya's patronizing and ease of acceptance of shocking law breaking procedures is another annoyance. Obviously SPEC is used to do this. Yet, she has conflicting issues about lying and telling the truth.
    It's all unacceptable but no matter how hard he tries to use common reasoning only Saya can solve them. As the cases come and go he is forced to acknowledge her expertise and skill going so far as actually asking for them.
    Unknowingly, the secret enemy organization and the old enemy have been manipulating them since the distant past. It's a secret war between humans and "established" SPEC population. Saya is fated to face her past again and become instrumental in committing her own sinful cruel tragedy. Having lost everything she finally faces her true enemy.
    It's a shocking revelation. Will she become the enemy's slave or die by his hand or...?

    Critique:
    Toda Erika as Toma Saya has lots of much fun. Most of the time she makes all kinds of faces. This is actually true for many of her roles but it's totally different from her proper public appearance e.g. Hana Yori Dango2. She's an actress for all I know. It's refreshing to watch, though. She usually gets bullied by Sebumi Takeru and the criminals. Sometimes she pays them back, of course, and when she does it borders on excessive. One funny thing is she studies Schroedinger's cat and it seems she still didn't finish it midway of the show.
    Her ex-boyfriend "Lefty" teaches preparatory physics classes for university entrance exams: writing gravitational kinematic orbital equations and continues with relativity and the twin paradox. This is a hint. This final level is normal for senior high school students in Japan (and some European countries). It's a mystery why Saya's stuck with Schroedinger's. Yet, she calculates the time passed within the Hayabusa space probe because of her father's work. This is another major background story difference as it occurred after Keizoku.
    It's also kind of funny watching how skilled she is in handling and eating food of any size(!) with just one hand and chopstick. She eats at least as much as ten people. It's her "side effect" (term borrowed from World Trigger). You got to wonder how she handles toilet issues. Well, Japanese controls are on the right so it should be convenient. She uses weird tools for cooking...which looks edible, probably. Sebumi didn't die but is still ungrateful. Laughing She's probably taste deaf.
    Kase Ryo as Sebumi Takeru is the stiff, soldiering detective. Being stiff with a poker face his acting hardly influences impression. He starts out as ignorant, proper policeman, but due to lack of power falls to the dark side. He basically fails as the perfect counter or sheath for Saya which is all too human. It's only hinted in the show Saya being some kind of monster. When volunteering for unit Zero, the secret police within Public Walfare, Sebumi pulls a tooth bare-handed! He also has extreme defense reflexes to throwing/flying attacks from the side, e.g. outside FOV. Is he even human?
    Ryu Raita as Nonomura Kotaro is one of the old cast (aside from chief clerk Kondo-kun). This old chief is (still) two timing with an idol police woman, Miyabi! They are there for comic relief and or from time to time make some insightful comment. Miyabi joked once she was pregnant which for some reason is taken as given later on. Further confusion was made with her having a relationship with another young detective. This side story is completely irrelevant to the story.
    There are a number of recurring names from Keizoku which caused some confusion. The show has a reference to Sakai Masato (as Date Kazuyoshi) in Joker where he plays a detective who secretly makes untouchable criminals disappear. It's a good cruel show with similar things going on, hence, the reference.
    At one time it was mentioned using a PHS phone was alright in a hospital. This is certainly not true at least not in all hospitals. In the same episode there's a whole listing of Japanese specific diseases.
    As the story progresses it gets clear our two protagonist are just a play-ball in a war between two secret all-powerful all-present organizations and society. Even dogs are serving agents. Yet, both sides, for some reason, need our protagonist as actors in the war. The most trouble some issue is in the later quarter of the show where things suddenly escalate into chaos. Both sides get partially or in whole wiped out and two boss showdowns happening one after another. It's makes sense watching but having it suddenly explode and end is awkward. In case you are confused, Youta did die. The show is just preparing for things to get resolved with the Special and the 3 follow-on movies, though. I'm not happy about this scripted dependency.
    Saya makes some nice statements after recovering from her overwritten memories saying : she's who she is. Or rather her super deductive brain cannot be deceived. It's like when you understand a theory or the matter things you can always recreate the equations. Hence, you actually don't need to remember an equation if you understand it all. Well, I'm not so sure a personality won't change when memories are changed, though, e.g. split personality. After all memories, experiences, and meetings make what we are. If the wiring don't change it should be alright but who knows. Surprisingly, Sebumi manages to recover, too. In his case, it's sensory / draumatic memory e.g. smell. He's a hound! Saya further says suffering and pain changes (people) into kindness. This is certainly true that is if revengeful fallen people are discounted. Therefore, facing and accepting pain is important.
    The final episode leaves you wondering what actually happened in the end. Saya used her secret SPEC power "which" independently acted to save them. At least that much is obvious but watch the Special for the answer.
    In the Special, an enemy appears who collects SPEC DNA to gain and control SPEC powers not his own. This is obviously an idea taken from the anime DNA². Saya's power is finally revealed, too. Don't be shocked. There's a reference to Turn A Gundam and Gundam. It's a leap in thoughts. There are more unimportant references. The Yakuza cop (see Neko Samurai) has actually cool skillz but fails on any other account!
    Saya reveals an interesting cue: the Kanjis for reading Ku-on can be read as Que-en in frenchgish (as Kuon does with Maman instead of Mama). Kuon's acting is great. Too bad she's so evil.
    Btw., there's a new poster on the walls for every episode or instance. I dunno about their connection if any.
    The difference between the two shows is based in time, characterization of the protagonists, and story. In other words, it's mostly a generation based difference or taste if you will. I think both are good in their own respect and do have their own awkwardness and issues. Keizoku is ordinary but has twists while Keizoku 2 is more (weird) fun and less serious. There are some good stuff in this show, though.

    Verdict: 7.8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 7.5
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/22/2015, 5:36 pm

    Tantei no Tantei / Detective Versus Detectives


    special finger care! ; special face care!

    ΕΜΡ trap; nasty stuff

    PV


    Type: detective drama
    Genre: crime, detective, action
    Year: 2015

    Intro:
    The show is based on a series of 4 novels of the same name by Matsuoka Keisuke. The show at least covers the 3 novels (training, vs. Gedo, vs. Shinigami). Frankly, the 4th novel is supposed to be the final which seems to be included. I'm not sure due to the timing.

    Synopsis:
    Sasaki Rena is a beautiful woman with excellent memory and intelligence. Five years ago, her sister Sakura-chan was murdered by a stalker who had used a private detective to track her down.
    Rena is bend on hunting down evil private detectives, and one day get the one, "Shinigami", who caused her sister's death. She went through rigorous training and became the most hated anti-detective detective in the country.
    With possible enemies in her own company, the whole world has become her enemy. Even if wrong, she is unpopular among her own colleagues. Soon enough her enemies and the police plot to take her down. Every detective firm known has started to investigate her.
    Despite enemies at every corner she escapes fatal blows. Unknowingly, she already has stepped into the net of her arch enemy. Her every step's been guided by the enemy. When she finally realizes it's already too late. She's forced to choose death and save someone or live (for the time being).

    Critique:
    Shocking, brutal, violent and intelligent. For reasons mentioned and or not further explained posting of images has been limited. This show is undoubtedly meant for the female audience. Ye woman and gals should be watching this. Seriously.
    So what's it about? On the surface it's about detectives hunting detectives. The things they do border on or are crimes and murder.
    However, subtly the main theme is violence against women. Crimes are committed on all three sides (the good, the bad, and the victims).
    Important information are provided and spread throughout the show. They are worth listening to. Ya better do.
    Kitagawa Keiko aka Sailor Mars as Sasaki Rena is awkward. Well, she's completely different from her usual self. She's cold as she has shut herself off. Through hard work she uses all her knowledge and skills to gain an edge in the uneven fights against her male opponents. Due to her emotionless appearance and poker face she's a turn off. Frankly, this affects the show greatly.
    In the second half the focus increases more on Kawaguchi Haruna as Minemori Kotoha. She's the typical weak sheltered little sister who starts to live by herself trying to gain independence. Being caught in the reality of being a novice assistant she's absolutely helpless and lost. Therefore, her role didn't help improve the show.
    The "real" partner is the detective Kubozuka Yuma, who typically is against private detectives. Sadly, he gets killed off as soon as he becomes an ally.
    The fights are brutal as far as TV drama shows go. There are way more brutal movies, though. Despite everything not a lot of blood is spilled but when it does it's a pool. The show doesn't hold back on tricks you shouldn't try at home. Don't even think of trying. Better yet forget it.
    Since Rena is smart, it's immediately obvious when the show tries to set her up, when she makes a mistake. On the other side there's at least one case where she's way too smart...or rather impossible to figure out within the time constrain.
    It's really something: Abiru has prepared a modified laptop that won't boot when found. The motherboard has to be put into a microwave and heated for 6 minutes at 170 degrees such that the soldering points will melt and the interrupted wire will be reconnected. Afterwards, chill it in the refrigerator then put it back and the computer will boot. An amazing scheme that would put police forensics to shame!
    Let's ignore the microwave could have fried all the internal circuits. Laughing Imho figuring out the problem in the first place is no easy task. From a real world example, there was once a specialized precision control industrial computer board numerous engineer couldn't figure out the problem for years on end. Then someone newly assigned figured it out in an hour and some hours more to fix it. The problem was energy levels beyond the limits of measurement, hence, nobody could figure it out. It was right between the macro cosmos (measurable world) and the micro cosmos (immeasurable world=quantum). Simply put, regardless of the number of engineers with unlimited time they wouldn't have been able to solve it but yours truly genius would pull it off. That's why it is impossible or that Rena is too smart not to mention Abiru.
    Overall, the show is good but the actors fail to please. It's not exactly their fault and I dunno if the script and directing could have been improved with the given setting in place. It's a shame because I think the show has the potential for being better not to mention there are a lot of good stuff I cannot further in details.

    Verdict: 7.6
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 7
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 12/22/2015, 5:37 pm

    Btw. Kitagawa Keiko is getting married in January! All ye Sailor Mars fans rejoice!

    Update:
    She got married on January 11!
    http://blog.stardust.co.jp/keiko/20160111_1758/



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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 1/16/2016, 10:48 am

    Age Harassment


    voodoo nailing pigs

    Emiri dogeza : "It's okay. It's about my duties."

    "When she's done here, please, take her away." ; sit dance




    Type: workplace drama
    Genre: slice of life, office
    Year: 2015

    Synopsis:
    Yoshii Emiri manages to be hired at a top trading company. However, despite being on the career track she's shunned to the General Affairs department (the stereotypical Japanese odd job/punishment department).
    Naturally, she's unsatisfied but puts up with it. While she tries hard to get used to her work and overcome many trials she witnesses or experiences all kinds of harassment. Whenever things start to get overbearing she would give people a piece of her mind.
    Sometimes, it helps people to solve their problem. While some admire her courage she's become a headache for the higher ups. They come up with more ideas to "improve" woman's situation but the reverse is true.

    Critique:
    This is nearly like another version of Shomuni but more specific about harassment. You might be interested in "Onna wa Sore o Yurusanai" (Women Won't Allow It) as well.
    Takei Emi as Yoshii Emiri is in her feisty, hotblooded, and brazen element. If you watch the show you know you are waiting for Emiri to snap.
    The show's a collection of all kinds of harassment towards women but not necessary exclusively restricted to women. The Japanese have an abundance of examples and cases to show, each with its own Japanese nick name term. Some border on mobbing but mobbing is not explicitly punishable by law. There are enough to fill an encyclopedia. However, it's not complete, the worse are left out. For example "Nikkin Kyoiku" is a front to handout abuses to make people quit by themselves. It's very common in Japan's management culture. Not like it's all that different or even worse elsewhere, mind you. In Korea it's physical violent. In certain region in Germany it's common to steal someone's lunch. Or if you are a foreigner in Germany or Switzerland life threatening attempts to your life is also quite common e.g. cutting your bike's breaking wire or sending threatening letters. Yet, I consider workplace conditions in Germany to be the most proper of any country. Things were worse in Norway or Russia, long before the Breivik incident. In most cases, it's a cultural thing where people don't consider it bad or are oblivious.
    The show also stereotypically emphasizes the conflict between career and clerk track employees. The distinction refers to people who are meant for leadership (working until it's done on time) and people working regular hours. For many cases the show discusses what makes something a harassment. For others it gets down to the root cause as well as the human reasons behind them. Despite being about a serious theme the show is enjoyable thanks to the cast.


    Verdict: 8.3
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 9


    Last edited by Almael on 1/24/2016, 1:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 1/16/2016, 11:04 am

    Algernon ni Hanataba wo (2015)



    Sakuto's presentation; best friends Hiyama Kosuke and Yanagawa Ryuichi shocked over Sakuto's experience

    Algernon; Algernon's mother

    Kawaguchi Rio and Koide Mai; Sakuto's young sister Karen, who used to despise him

    Type: human drama
    Genre: society, science tragedy
    Year: 2015-Apr-10 to 2015-Jun-12

    Introduction:
    This show is based on the novel Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes and not the short story. This show is different from Algernon ni Hanataba wo (2002).

    Synopsis:
    Shiratori Sakuto, 28, mentally disabled, has been abandoned and put into a home for kids on probations run by Dream Flower Service. One day, he delivers flowers to Mochizuki Haruka who works at a brain physiology research centre.
    She's part of Professor Hachisuka Daigo's team studying the improvement of mental performance. They succeed in creating ALG which showed promising result in a lab mouse, henceforth named Algernon. Algernon can spell Japanese as opposed to Sakuto.
    Meanwhile, Kawaguchi Rio becomes attached to Sakuto for he would not suffer when she's gone. While looking for a human test object they decided on Sakuto, who's willing to do anything to get smarter. Sakuto is transformed into a genius through surgery and ALG. As Sakuto realizes reality he comes to dislike human nature while becoming more elitist thanks to Daigo's brainwashing suggestiveness. Rio becomes distress with Sakuto's developement and realizes her mistaken approach. When Haruka turns down Sakuto's courting he makes it out with Rio.
    However, due to an unforseseen fault or side effect in ALG Algernon's intelligence begins to fade, and he dies. Sakuto realizes his situation, too, and works to solve the problem. Due to his relationships been gone bad he is left in the dark about Rio's fate. It's a race against time.

    Critique:
    The show is true to the novel except for some alterations. As with the novel it's all about mental and emotional development, including or rather using human relationships as an example. It's in part from a modern point of view including technological and scientific understanding.
    However, it's inherently missing all other new discoveries and understandings of later times. Using ALG the story neatly overcomes early development requirements e.g. wild children. Using Daigo's brainwashing, the story narrows down on the stereotypical image of the elitist superintelligent. However, the story's point is shown with Sakuto realizing his mistake of ignoring the human heart.
    Yamashita Tomohisa as Shiratori Sakuto is good at imitating disabled people. Although sometimes it seems he's over doing it. As Sakuto becomes intelligent he's missing all the things children learn about relationships, and etiquette. While he accused others of looking down on him before without realizing he's doing the same now. Well, it's typical human nature to be oblivious to ones own doing. To have this part in the novel/show is a plus. Well, for the sake of development Sakuto's type of human he already has developed has been ignored.
    Kuriyama Chiaki as Mochizuki Haruka is for some reason not surprising (see Ataru). Since, Kill Bill she's kind of on track to be Japan's Angelina Jolie. She's slightly better at acting, though, especially subtle emotions. Here, she portrays a man's dream of a woman. Like Sakuto you are meant to be drawn to those lips of hers. Seriously, she is meant to be more attractive than Rio.
    The major difference to the novel are some relationships and Kawaguchi Rio's fate. While in the novel Sakuto's supposed to have a purely sexual relationship with Rio in the show he cuts ties with her right away. Unlike the novel Sakuto does not lead a sad life afterwards but continues his life with his friends.
    As expected it's a good show thanks to the original novel. It's supposedly better than the previous show. For another fun version see Dirty Pair TV episode 12. Wink
    Miscellaneous stuff:
    The brain logo can be drawn in a single line.

    Verdict: 8.3
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 9
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 1/16/2016, 11:12 am

    Gold


    the champ with superhuman genes

    Nikura Rika buffled

    the last rebel

    Type: Family drama
    Genre: Human society
    Year: 2010-Jul-08 to 2010-Sep-16

    Synopsis:
    Saotome Yuri is a successful entrepreneur mother famed for her books on raising children. She has her children to prove her right. Except for the youngest, all of them are on track as candidates to take part in the next Olympics.
    Nikura Rika, is an average "failure" of a common woman, who for some reason gets hired as Yuri's assistant. In reality, as Yuri tells her someone else selected her. However, the real truth is even more surprising or rather unpleasant. As she works she gets more involved with Yuri's family secret for good or worse. As she deals with all kinds of problems she has to stand up to Yuri while trying to solve things in her own way rather than just following orders. Will Rika last or fail as miserable as everyone else before her? Or maybe there's an even a larger storm ahead?

    Critique:
    The main theme of the show is about the ways of upbringing children and how they turn out to be or how people are. It discusses as well as shows the problems involved and how various people deal with actual life. Of course human relationships are part of it all. However, at the end we are told not everything is straight forward and there are bound to be problems. The difference is not to give up and how a problem is dealt with rather than being ignored or delegated. Well, this all is debatable with no end so I will stop here. The story and plot of the show is a thing of its own, though. This is all the more reason to watch it.
    Amami Yuki as Saotome Yuri is superb as ever. Yuri is charismatic, assertive and psychologically overwhelming in convincing people. As a business woman she gives people only one chance to redeem. However, she emotionally like any mother except using her superior psychology to shape or whip her children (and everyone else) into line. It's also enjoyable to watch her rebuke bad people.
    Nagasawa Masami as Nikura Rika is just another poor soul hired to be the girl for everything. This suffering heroine has to give her everything to please Yuri's demands however unreasonable they are.
    Including all the other veterans and good actors this show is quite enjoyable. Note Sorimachi Takashi and Takei Emi. Wink

    Quotes:

    • Yuri: "More than that, he was going to sell his daughter as a woman. He's disqualified as a father, no matter how poor and no matter how stupid."
      Yuri: "If a woman is sold off even once, she'll have that vice following her."
    • Yuri: "The most useless thing in this world is badmouthing someone out of envy. If you're that free, drain some sweat, think and do something about it yourself. Happiness or unhappiness, don't matter as long as you're alive. Fortune, misfortune always alternate like a swing. However, it would be terrible if it stopped. There would be only boredom. Eternal boredom."
    • Yuri: "There are two reasons why a woman mustn't harm her body. The first is for your own sake. The second is for the sake of your future children."



    Verdict: 9.3
    Cast: 9
    Cast performance: 10
    Script/Directing: 9
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 1/16/2016, 11:20 am

    Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu / Crying out Love, in the Centre of the World


    under the umbrella; romance of the fickle hydrangea field not

    "Love and Marriage"

    went to war, went to jail, gone through marriage, now's time for heaven




    Type: boy meets girl drama
    Genre: slice of life, romance, tragedy
    Year: 2004

    Intro:
    This is not a live action as some seem to think! The show is based on best selling novel "Socrates in Love" (Koi Suru Sokuratesu) / "Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu" (2001) by Katayama Kyoichi. It has since also been made into movies (same name; Japanese 2003) and "My Girl and I" (Korean 2005). It has also been staged into a musical in mid 2005. There's also a radio drama and manga. If only the manga was made by CLAMP.

    Synopsis:
    2004, Matsumoto Sakutaro (Saku), 34, is a doctor who works hard until he collapses. He's a dead man inside. 17 years ago, he lost the love of his life, Aki. He's weak. He's still holding tightly to the bone ashes of his beloved, unable to let go. He's unable to move on. He's shattered and burden from the lost. He's waiting for death to come.
    Now, with his old high school about to be demolished he has returned to his hometown for the first time. He has realized it's time to process the past and let go. It's a heart breaking journey down memory lane.

    1987, a coastal countryside town, it started to rain when Hirose Aki was holding a condolence message for a deceased teacher. Saku stepped forward to hold an umbrella for her. It's the beginning of their relationship.
    As thanks, she gives him a sea cockroach and pulls some pranks. When her birthday (July 2) nears he ghost writes a postcard to a radio station to win a walkman for her. He lied about her having leukemia to win. They start to exchange voice diaries via the walkman. They face off various troubles. Despite her increasing health issues, they went to a deserted island for fun until she collapsed. When she does develop leukemia, he writes another postcard claiming the first was a mistake and that she's fine.
    Weeks went by as her parents prevented him from visiting. When they finally meet, Aki appears to be fine. She, actually, has been left in the dark about her true illness as they hope she would belong to the survivors. She eventually finds out by herself but wasn't sure. Using her cunning she tricked Saku to spill it. Aki tries to drown herself in the ocean but is saved by Saku. In order to stay together Saku tries to forge a marriage application without knowing it being illegal. Realizing anyone could die any moment regardless of circumstance Saku decided to live in the here and now.
    They finally manage to hold a formal wedding photo session. However, Aki's health deteriorate once again for the last time. Aki requests to see the blue sky over the ancient rock Uluru. October 23 (Saku's birthday), she ditches Saku to go by herself to keep her pride and dignity. Saku catches up and they try to enbark on a flight but Aki loses consciousness...

    [not part of the novel]
    2004, six years ago, he convinced and supported Kobayashi Aki to give birth and become a single mother. They became friends. She's virtually his caretaker/stand-in wife.
    When Saku suddenly disappeared to return to his hometown she chased after him fearing the worse. Saku tried to kill himself but found out he doesn't want to die.
    He tells her of his regret of taking Aki and possibly resulted in her early death. If only she were to live another 4-5 years (extreme optimism) she could have saved by the bone marrow donor program established in 1991.
    Sharing his pain Saku starts to value Kobayashi's affection... When saving Kazuki from a traffic accident Saku accidentally dropped Aki's bottle, shattering it and leaving it forgotten. Kobayashi's hit instead making him realized she's the only person in the world who's there for him.

    Critique:
    The story mainly takes place in 1987 (July 2 and later). They actually were able to show an original working Sony Walkman (WM-101). Very Happy Palm sized cellphones don't exist yet.
    The love story is really great, yet so sad and depressing. If you are easily depressed this will be hard to watch. It's sadder than "Air" or "I'm Sorry, I Love You".
    However, the story is just the toppings. The details displaying, dealing and processing the issues of relationship, feelings, psychology and other matters is what makes it really great. They are basically Plato's / Socrates' played out discussions in a more down to Earth fashion.
    Obviously, some things are constructed and forced, and there are some logic errors but they all can or have to be hand waived for the sake of the story and plot. Other than that the show may have been trying too hard to emphasize the depressing state. It's all very well arranged and directed.
    Admittedly, many story elements aren't new or haven't been used elsewhere. Even the story introduction admits it. After all it's just one of a myriad of Romeo and Juliet variations. Or just look at life inspired collections like "Salad Days" or the radio programs in the show (very common in Japan) or Reader's Digest.
    All the characters are well made and nothing's coincidental. In retrospect, Kobayashi is definitely a foreign element and not created by the author. It's a subtle difference, though, without hard facts.
    Ayase Haruka as Hirose Aki is perfect for the role. She won the audition against an extremely huge number of candidates. It's no wonder she won the Best Supporting Actress award. Officially, she's not a main character! It's typical for Japanese shows but it's unclear whether this is an economic exploitation or a discrimination. Aki's charismatic, cunning, skillful and crafty including using a woman's weapon to motivate Saku. Don't be fooled by Ayase Haruka's image of the perfect female specimen Aki's just a normal girl. She hates to lose, hence, appears strong but is weak inside.
    Yamada Takayuki as young Matsumoto Sakutaro starts out as a glumly, boring guy who becomes more lively thanks to Aki. Even though he doesn't have a multitude of expressions the script made it up quite well.
    The show's story starts when they are 16 going onto 17 and being (10th grade) high schoolers. It seems they are one year too old or perhaps this has been adjusted to conform with the legal marriageable age (boys: 18; girls 16).
    There's no adult Saku in the original novel and they happen to be in the same class in junior high school. Aki became sick in 3rd year.
    As to the question whether it was wrong or not to take Aki on the final trip, remember this is fiction. There's no sense to put in excess thoughts or interpretation into something that might not have been considered in the first place. Keep to the facts! Of course it could have been inspired by real life stories but there's no prove of that.
    However, for the sake of discussion ... It was Aki's decision. She decided on it knowing it could lead to her death. She accepted the risk, in part to fulfill her wish, in part for Saku's future's sake. She may have hoped again to unburden him from having to take care of her. She just underestimated his love, weakness, and feeling of guilt of letting her go.
    The special is basically a summary retold from Yatabe-sensei's perspective. It does have a minor number of unseen footage. Yatabe reviews the developments or the important points to be conveyed.
    In scope the show is better than the movies unless you prefer their specific cast more. The Japanese movie was made at the same time and appears to be similar story wise except it's 10 years not 17. It's good in its own right. Here, the story is told from Fujimura Ritsuko's view point who happens to find Aki's cassette. At the same time Saku returns.
    The Korean movie has french, anime and comic elements which gives off a strange feeling. Story wise it's the same as the movie above. The comic parts are too artificial to be funny. There are a number of other things that don't seem right. I'm particular unhappy with great dislike about Su-eun's (Aki) final scene. Su-ho (Saku) comes back telling her they couldn't go. He stands tall across her seat. She hunches over until her head rests on his stomach (looks like she's giving a blowjob). He rests his hands on the back of her head as if hugging. In the end Su-ho stands on a field of purple flowers seeded by Su-eun. It's your stereotypical sunflower field trope.
    Miscellaneous stuff:
    An ambulance breaking and skid turning. It's a wonder it didn't turn over.
    The ED scenes made to look like film shot in the 80's reminds of "The Wonder Years".
    Ep.2 Notice the change of the town in the zooming scene on the hill showing the contrast between the 80's clean air and the less bright 00's. Maybe it's the sunset or CGI manipulation but it looks so genuine.
    Special: Yatabe imitates Aki? It's revealed how Tomoyo and Aki became friends. Yatabe says it was "Hatsukoi" (First Love) for Aki and Saku.
    future Tomoyo is married to Obayashi and named her daughter Aki.
    Even though, "Ayase Haruka" is a famed celebrity she's still living incognito.
    Quotes:

    • grandpa Kentaro: "I want you to steal something for me. Someone's bone ashes." ...
      grandpa Kentaro: "Wait, I will haunt you when I die. I will curse your descendants, too."
      Saku: "Why would you curse your own descendants?
    • Aki: "Living with someone you love or living with someone while loving another. Who is more fortunate?"
    • Aki: "I'll get fat. I'll get as heavy as your grandpa and riding on the back of our bike."
      Saku: "What are you talking about?"
    • Aki: "Don't you think that to lose something is to gain something?" (Usually this refers to making efforts that comes with abstaining something to gain something else as a result of the efforts. Aki refers to herself, though.)
    • Saku: "I remembered ... your birthday ... July 2nd. I was born into a world with you in it."
      Aki: "I have been waiting in a world without you. I was waiting for you to be born."
      Saku: "You only had to be alone for 3 months. Isn't it unfair? I'm going to be alone forever."
      see "Love Story" (1970) Oliver : "I am a Romeo who must live on after Juliet’s death."
    • Aki: "I knew it. There's no afterlife after all. Heaven doesn't exist. This place ... This is heaven."
    • Yatabe: "So that you won't forget the time you shared with her?"
      adult Saku: "So I won't forget she died."
    • adult Saku: "Feelings for a person who's alive will grow stronger than for a person who's dead."



    Verdict: 9.3
    Cast: 9
    Cast performance: 9
    Script/Directing: 10
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 1/16/2016, 11:38 am

    more soundbites and cut scenes
    main BGM theme: Saku to Aki

    BGM: nen, natsu


    Movie "Hitomi o Tojite" ("With My Eyes Closed") by Ken Hirai


    MV
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 9:07 am

    In order to deal with my long backlog I'm going to start making free-talk semi-reviews.
    I'm giving up on covering much detail and more on impression and opinion.
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 9:22 am

    Marumaru Tsuma


    Type: relationship drama
    Year: 2015

    Synopsis:
    Hikari's the perfect servile housewife who not only does support but also solves all her husbands troubles. On the other side Kubota is totally spoiled, unorganized, demanding, takes things for granted. However, they aren't truely married but are bound by a contract. When he tries to get her to marry after the end of the current contract she left preferring no other kinds of relationship. She ends up wandering around. Most business and capsule hotels don't accept women in Japan; It's still a serious problem for women to get in (of course in part due to security reasons).

    Critique:
    There aren't many married couple shows that are realistic. Like most shows they show problem cases and their possible solution or outcome.
    This show is surprisingly very realistic. Except for the main characters' special predicament the bigger family situation, the character designs, etc. anyone can relate to instantly. Admittedly, it's all only applyable to western and eastern cultures. In Arabic, Indian, or African cultures things are different even from region to region (tribal, ethnicity), of course, there are exceptions.
    The main point of the show is the clash of ideals and reality. And how relationship and society fits in. Overall it's an OK show, though.

    Quotes
    Hikari's mother: "I've dated all sorts of men up till now, and those who claim they're critics of men... are the types who'll definitely change their tune once they get married.
    It's said a wife's most important job is to deceive her husband."


    Verdict: 7.7
    Cast: 7
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 8

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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 9:46 am

    Kagi no Kakatta Heya



    So revolting!

    Type: riddle drama
    Genre: detective, crime
    Year: 2012

    Synopsis:
    It's Friday, Aoto Junko, a hotblooded woman, starts her new job at a law firm. Junko "acidentally" pushes the button to a bank safe while her boss and the bank manager are still inside. The door needs two codes to open. One of which is held by the manager. The door can only be opened on work days, though.
    Enomoto Kei is sent to open the door which he does. Enomoto Kei is master lock maniac working at Tokyo Total Security firm. He's a super nerd and versed in any area of science and technology. However, he has no interest in anything but locks.
    Junky has a strong sense of righteousness which drags her and her boss into followup locked room murder cases.


    Critique:
    Something's strange with the management and direction of the show and how actors are hired or designated in this show. It also only has a cast of three while the rest being all guests. The show is shown from the point of view of Toda Erika as Aoto Junko. She has the most texts and screen time. On episode 1 basically is running the show by herself but Ohno Satoshi as Enomoto Kei does the revelations. Yet, she is just a supporting cast. Anyhow, in this show she's just started in a law firm. Her acting and appearance is different from the usual: showing lots of puzzled faces (furrowing eye brows). Like Mitsuki she's compulsively attracted to buttons, levers, and anything that has some sort of action function or trap.
    After visiting the scene, Kei rebuilds a model of it in just a day to precise measurements he took while walking and remembering it in his mind. We only get a glimpse of him "walking", though, so it may not be so. Well, for room size scale walking isn't the best method because of the bigger error margin compared to eye sight. Or maybe he remembers it in detail without having to take any kind measurement. Both ways works for me to recreate a floor plan.
    Kei solves how the locked room suicide cases are actually murder cases. He also solves how the murder took place as it is usually necessary to unravel the mystery of the locked room. However, he has no interest about the murderer, hence, (sometimes) Junko and her boss are left (with a dump founded look; Junko's hope shattered) to somehow proof or pin point the murderer. Remember he has his own job and this is just asking for a favor (during work hours and free time). He doesn't consider it work and won't accept compensation but in return he asks for free advise when needed. I had to wonder if this was a hint. As it turns out the advises are his way to bring in new cases for him to solve... He may also not mention it's a murder case when he deems the case to be a real closed room case.
    Her boss makes all kinds of excuses to get it over with to reduce this waste of time. But when talking to corporate clients or press etc. he takes all the credits. In any case he gets dragged along and even starts to make suggestions.
    The interesting thing is several cases have "magic" involved.
    Overall it's partially a parody and comical so it's real fun sometimes.
    It's well prepared and directed; everything weird has a reason. The staff was meticulous about details. The BGM is used as a means to control attention, it's a beat type or exciting type of music. It stops and or resumes at certain cut scenes. We are well led here. Either way the result's the same nothing's coincidental. You can't miss things here.


    Verdict: 8.3
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 9
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 10:09 am

    Gaiji Keisatsu


    Type: spy drama
    Genre: action
    Year: 2009

    Intro:
    From the novel Gaiji Keisatsu by Aso Iku. About 5 years after nationalism rose (e.g Aegis; Zipang); tension with China rose to new highs; Japanese forces deployed for humanitarian aid; a string of terrorism have taken place; a bunch of sunglass wearing people and around 200 (true number is classified) UN volunteer aid employees died in the line of duty since the start of the war.

    Synopsis:
    An international security conference is about to be hosted by Japan. Yet, the secret organizations face budget cuts. All the while the agents face enemies all around. Is it an enemy, an internal conspiracy or something else altogether?
    Sumimoto Kenji leads the team but his actions create doubts in Matsuzawa Haruna.


    Critique:
    More or less the show is of the type:
    incompetent bureaucracy; politics & faction interest leaving the heroes fighting for themselves. And it's about national interest vs the right of the individual, laws or ethics. It points out once more Japan's official lack of intelligence agency.
    The show features lots of foreign actors but not a very international show regarding languages. It's at best bilingual: people with eastern block background but using english for non japanese communications.
    Overall it's an OK show.

    Verdict: 8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 10:26 am

    Onna Nobunaga



    Type: historical fiction drama
    Genre: samurai, action
    Year: 2013

    Introduction:
    This show is about Oda Nobunaga, who arguably paved the way for Japan's final unification by Hideyoshi and later Ieyasu, and the departure from savagery of the Warring States. Ultimately, this would set Japan on the path toward the modern age. That said this show is a pseudo alternative account of who Oda Nobunaga really is.....

    Synopsis:
    Oda Nobunaga, born as a girl, is raised as a boy in order to be the heir of the clan.


    Critique:
    Simply put, Oda Nobunaga in this show is no ordinary man!!!!! It's Lady Oscar!
    The show features two of the best actresses.
    Her Amami Yuki shows her famed performances as an ex-all-female theater performer. She's in her element.
    Kato Koyuki as Onou; in some scenes she has her act down so meticulously as if she was doing those unnatural things naturally and automatically...I was wondering if she was born into it. It must have come from lots of training all her actress life.
    better than expected.
    The majority of animes about Oda Nobunaga weren't worth watching. One reason being there are too many versions, hence,in trying to make a new version things strayed.
    The show has foul language; the BGM theme seems to have pieces from the Legend theme. There are some mistakes: the arrow stuck to her back fell off! I guess they couldn't burn the house again to redo the scene. Wink
    Overall it's amusing and fun to watch. Nothing to take seriously.

    Verdict: 8.7
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 10
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 10:55 am

    Top Caster


    Dream team vs Men in Black team

    Eat or Suffocate!

    Type: Reporter drama
    Genre: society
    Year: 2006

    Synopsis:
    The legendary (exiled) anchor Haruka Tsubaki returns! Out of everyone she appoints Nozomi Asuka as her assistant. Asuka is basically her closet slave/servant.

    Critique:
    The show is pure entertainment with some serious themes.
    Features:
    international food (fish,beef): the infamously smelliest in the world!
    horse jokes!


    Verdict: 8.3
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 9
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 11:10 am

    Keizoku 2 - SPEC: Heaven


    face off Satoko Aoike vs. Toma


    heat protection


    hidden magic

    shooting skillz

    no those are not red socks

    Type: mystery movie
    Genre: mystery, detective, action
    Year: 2012


    Synopsis:
    Following the third prophecy of Fatima the SPEC society proceed to take over the world. But Ninomae returns and rebels wiping out the committee. He asks Toma to join but she refuses citing her pride as police woman. Toma is under suspicion of treachery. Super agent Satoko Aoike returns to Japan to deal with them.


    Critique:
    The story is somewhat lacking. It's also lacking in other places. I admit I watched it because of actors. Overall, it's a bit funnier and the special effects are also Hollywood esque. It could be better, though.

    Verdict: 7.8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 7.5
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 11:29 am

    I'm home

    Type: family drama
    Genre: mystery
    Year: 2015

    Introduction:
    This is another remake of the show of the same name. You might want to look into "The Unknown" by K.A. Applegate.

    Synopsis:
    Ieji Hisashi, a top salesman at a securities company, gets into an accident and loses his memory of the recent five years. Megumi and their 4-year-old son seem to wear masks. He can neither tell their facial expressions nor their emotions. He also struggles about his love for them. In order to regain his life he investigates the keys on his key chain... And what he finds are disturbing.

    Critique:
    The show is a thriller which emphasizes on what it means to be oneself as well as about relationship and love.
    This underlying themes are complex philosophical and ethical.
    Would you let criminals run free because of a single innocent person? (e.g. Genesis 18:23-33) However, you should realize the moment the criminals go free the innocent is killed and the world ends. This shows that no matter how small or short lived "good" is it's far more valuable than bad or evil. The reason is simple: good and love are not something that can be created. That's why people without seem to be poor souls. Without love is nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)


    Verdict: 7.7
    Cast: 7
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 8
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    Re: Live Actions & JDorama Review & discussion

    Post by Almael on 4/2/2016, 11:55 am

    Toshokan Sensou/Library Wars: Book of memories



    Laws of Freedom

    The prince

    spies in the shadows

    lone librarian warrior among wolves


    Type: society live action special
    Genre: censorship, action
    Year: 2015

    Introduction:
    Based on the novels and anime of the same name.

    Synopsis:
    About half a year has passed since the kidnapping of the commander of Nishina Base and the especially fierce battle of Odawara. Peace is returning to Musashino’s main library. Komaki recommends a book to Nakazawa Marie, who's a hearing impaired. Komaki gets taken away for this. It's a pretext to arrest Komaki, blemish the library and finally expend censorship on larger scope. And another conflict starts...

    Critique:
    Good story. The show and special and movies are very close to the novels/anime.
    I got to say the set is a really nice modern library in a military base. I had doubts about the cast but the main ones turned out well chosen.

    This is a serious theme which is pure "fantasy" still. If you agree then you are the perfect constituent. Laughing Just a few years ago history books among others in various countries including western and Japan had seen another spurt of censorship. Abe's party has revised and introduced history books for schools denying or without the Nanking incident. Or under the pretense of protecting original national language (France) or introducing new and easier writing rules (Germany) word in used for centuries or since their inception have been replaced or removed altogether (French, German, English etc.). Even wikipedia is actively censored in all kinds of way by applying it's rules or obfuscation (under pretense of moving or reorganization to delete content). Social engineering is happening and not just recently. Most people likely catch only on 1% of it at best or not at all.

    It's said Komaki can only be held for 7 days before he must be released from detention. I dunno where this comes from but in Japan you really do not want to get in such a situation. The basic detention period without charge is 72 hours. Afterwards, a court can permit a 10 day extension for a total of 23 days. In Japan you have a 0.2% chance to leave after 72 hours. You won't get forgotten for years like in some other countries but spending in detention for months isn't unheard of. There are no special visit time permitted whatsoever outside of work days.

    Verdict: 7.8
    Cast: 8
    Cast performance: 8
    Script/Directing: 7.5

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