mayoraasei: There is no such thing as coincidence (Default)


Chiisana Kyojin (Little giants) -- Hasegawa Hiroki, Okada Masaki, Kagawa Teruyuki, Yasuda Ken
Synposis: as the protege of the serving director of the "first division", Kosaka thought he had the director position in his pocket until he was all of a sudden demoted for a small mistake. The more he tries to find out why, the deeper he seems to become entangled in the web of corruption and lies.

The police version of Hanazawa Naoki? )


Kizoku Tantei (Aristocratic detective) -- Aiba Masaki, Takei Emi
Synposis: an aristocratic man moonlights as a free PI because he likes it, and he is helped along by his 3 servants. He goes up against a female PI in her cases.

That was about how much I understood from the first episode )


Kinkyu Torishirabeshitsu 2 (Emergency Interrogation Room 2) -- Amami Yuki
Synposis: Amami Yuki returns to her best as a no-nonsense policewoman in a small group specialising in interrogation.

Almost like BOSS )

(PS: I kept getting very confused because Tanaka Tetsushi appears in both CRISIS and this one)
mayoraasei: There is no such thing as coincidence (Default)
In contrast to last season dreary selection, there's a host of more interesting dramas out this season, starting from CRISIS, which has screened at Cannes, and Kizoku Tantei starring half a dozen "main character level" actors. Will it save the Jdrama world from its seemingly unstoppable decline?

"CRISIS" Poster

CRISIS -- Oguri Shun, Nishijima Hidetoshi
Synopsis: A group of people with troubled pasts are assembled in a new team of anti-terrorism specialists.

Much of the drama's promotions have centered around the fact it has screened at Cannes. It stars none other than Oguri Shun in probably his last serious role before ruining his image forever in Gintama (ひどい).

CRISIS Screencaps
被毀型之前當然要追悼(不要亂用詞啊喂)一下小栗旬的英姿

It also has Nishijima Hidetoshi, who has the dubious honour of being the first ossan I liked even though I think I've only seen him in Strawberry Night. Even though he has a playboyish role in that one, I somehow have it imprinted in my memory that he's a 憂鬱型帥大叔....why.

Apart from the girl, the other 2 team members are all reliable actors who play side roles regularly.

So far, the first episode was...good but disappointing. I think the expectations given it keeps pushing the "we've been to Cannes!" slogan was too high. The episode does not break out of the usual Japanese police drama mold. It drops you straight into the action to introduce the 5 main characters, then without a pause, goes onto another case. The sum is you get a vague idea of each person's specialty, a hint of their quirks, but nothing you can get your teeth into about their personalities or back stories. As far as introductions go, it's good but not as memorable as the tight, tense and occasionally quirky first episode of BOSS, which gave a much stronger impression of each of the weirdos that made up the team.

Almost every Japanese police drama these days seems to open with a (literal) bomb so I'm getting pretty immune to it. Where this first case is concerned, there was not a lot of deduction involved, nor was there much sympathy for the Victim-of-the-Week. When you take those two elements away, you need a villain with a strong presence to really rack up the tension (because to be honest, I would have totally not felt sorry if the guy died, and neither would the main character judging by his own words) but the series has decided to keep the antagonist as a nebulous force or group behind the scenes.

It was an otherwise well-written and well-produced episode, with some good action (fairly rare in J-dramas), good natural acting (except for the guest victim...seriously kiddo) and good pacing that didn't let up until the end. But in a way, as a series pilot that is supposed to draw audiences in, I feel it just scraped past because the case of the week wasn't able to give the audience any emotional connection, either to the victim or even to the main characters. Presumably there is some big conspiracy overarching all of this but the episode doesn't give enough away to really build up the suspense. If it weren't for the quality of actors and the fact I know the production team have come up with some solid works, I don't think I would continue watching.

"Reverse" Poster

Reverse -- Fujiwara Tatsuya, Toda Erika, Koike Teppei
Synopsis: Based on the eponymous novel, Fukase is an ordinary man without much luck or excitement in his life, until he meets the girl of his dreams. Just as he begins to enjoy this blossoming romance, an anonymous note arrives in his girlfriend's hands: "Fukase is a murderer". 10 years ago, Fukase had gone on a car trip with his best friend Hirose Yuki and 3 other mates. Hirose never returned and they promised between themselves to take the secrets of that night into their graves. What happened to Hirose? What are they hiding? Who is hunting them down now?

So...I don't know if anyone else does this, but I'm the kind of person who always reads the beginning, the end, before reading the middle....

So obviously, after watching the first episode, I rushed onto Google to find out "what happened to Hirose?!" "Who killed Hirose?!" "What is the meaning of Reverse?!"

I confess the answer will be much less underwhelming if you read/watch the story for what it is.

This drama was promoted as "a 11 year reunion of Death Note actors Raito and Misa-chan!" which...I didn't know that was a thing until this season (see below and the up and coming Code Blue 3). Fujiwara was first known - and probably best known to western audiences - as the protagonist of the somewhat uniquely Japanese dystopian bloodfest known as Battle Royale. Both he and Erika (and Matsuyama Kenichi who was L) have gone on to forge fulfilling careers spanning a rich library of interesting and varied characters. Koike Teppei I have not seen onscreen for so long that I didn't realise how much I miss his cute ageless face. Every time he smiles it makes me sad at knowing this heart-warming character already died. Apparently in the original story, Hirose is supposed to be a big burly bear-like man who is a sweet and gentle giant. But Koike just screams 暖男暖男 in every scene that I don't think the difference will bother fans of the original work.

Minato Kanae's novels are known for their rational but cutting expositions on the failings of humans and the innate selfishness in all of us. The tone of this particular novel is said to be much warmer than her other works, and will probably be more palatable to the audiences. Fujiwara manages to make the clumsy, ordinary and painfully submissive character into someone for whom we can have some sympathy. Definitely worth watching for anyone interested in the interplay of human selfishness.


"Boku, Unmei no Hito desu" poster

Boku, Unmei no Hito desu (I am the destined one) - Kamenashi Kazuya, Yamashita Tomohisa, Kimura Fumino
Synopsis: Masaki is a guy without much luck with girlfriends. Kogetsu is a girl without much luck with boyfriends. One day, a mysterious man appears in front of Masaki and proclaims he is God, and the reason that Masaki has been failing in his relationships is because he is destined to marry Kogetsu so that their child, 30 years later, can save the Earth from a meteor. Thus starts Masaki's arduous task of wooing Kogetsu for the future of Earth...!

是一部腦洞開很大的日劇……

So this one is touted as "a 12 year reunion between Nobuta actors Shinji and Akira!" A lot of politics and arguments came following this casting, which I won't go over here, except that Yamapi is noted down more as a special guest rather than a "secondary main character" judging by the way his name is arranged on the official cast page.

I thought it was joking about the "God" bit, but he does appear out of and disappear into thin air, so...

How do I put it, it's hard not to think about the ugly politics that runs on in Johnny's Entertainment when you see Kame and Yamapi appear together. To their credit, both Kame and Yamapi are much more mature actors compared to their Nobuta days, and the scenes where they appear together were surprisingly impressive by how much presence both of them have.

The role is fairly natural for Kame, and he's always been pretty good at these clumsy but cute characters much more than he is at extroverted or expansive characters like Yamaneko (which I'm still impressed he pulled off). Yamapi, on the other hand, is much closer to what he's like in Nobuta than his more recent 面癱 main characters. I know a lot of people call him 死魚眼 (dead fish eyes) and 面癱 (facial paralysis) and 木頭君 (Mr Wooden), and I'd agree with most of them in his usual roles. I think a lot of people say that he's more suited to the cool roles, but personally I find him much more likable in these expressive roles where he makes use of his surprising sense of comic timing. With introspective roles, he's really not able to emote a lot with his eyes, but here his eyes are twinkling and his smirks are endearing, and there's a strange sense of camaraderie in his scenes with Kame. I have a fondness for Kimura, who I think is amongst the few in her generation who puts a lot of effort into her roles and holds her characters well.

The script is light, humorous and self-aware, which is perfect for the ridiculous premise and the tone of this series. It's one of the few rare romances that actually makes me want to keep watching, at least for the laughs.

defendant

10 Apr 2017 03:52 pm
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
"Pigoin", or "the defendant".

I should be studying for exams and obviously I'm here posting about K-dramas...

The Defendant is one of those shining examples of Korean script-writing that in part explains why, while Japanese dramas in general is in a decline, the new Korean dramas continually break records in ratings and audience response.

That is not to say that it's without flaw (though I haven't watched the whole thing yet), because if you take a step back, some parts of it isn't really consistent with what a character might do. For example, Park Jung-woo choosing to avoid authorities instead of trying to enlist the help of either his colleagues (though understandably he may not trust all of them) or his family, despite being previously a law enforcer himself. Or the odd choices by Cha Min-Ho to kill or not kill people - especially his "wife" when she "betrayed" him multiple times.

The script does something that both Japanese and Korean dramas are good at - the exploration of human nature, of the effect society (especially in a much more conformative society as would exist in Asia compared to the western world) has on the actions of an individual, and the drivers behind a crime and a kind act.

What it adds to that, and is something that recent good Korean dramas have been able to achieve that Japanese dramas struggle with, is the wholeness of a story. Japanese dramas have been very good at suspense and crime procedurals, but they have very rarely done a good job with a story arc that is paced across the entire series. They also have this inexplicable penchant for explaining away plot points with some mind-boggling conspiracy that feels more like a badly written hyperbole.

Pigoin is about a well-respected prosecutor who (conveniently - Korean drama staple #1) is struck by amnesia, and can't remember exactly why or how he came to be on death row for the murder of his own wife and young daughter. What unravels as he slowly regains pieces of his memories is an intriguingly complex web of ruthless petty vengeance, jealousy, greed, personal ambition, loyalty, obligation, integrity and love.

If Descendants of the Sun painted soldiers and doctors in a romantically unblemished light, Pigoin comes across as an ode to the faithful barristers and prosecutors who respect and uphold the moral demands of their jobs. It also reminds us that the world, especially where the law is entangled, is grey: that while most criminals are not framed like Park, many despite their crimes usually has some goodness in them.

It's nice to see the despicable factory owner in Descendants of the Sun get somewhat of a good part this time - though he starts out a gangster angry at the main character for putting him in jail, he eventually becomes an ally and then a friend.

But let me get to exactly why this post came to be. Kim Minseok - the cute little spark in Descendants of the Sun, the runaway thief who became everyone's little brother. Despite staying in side parts, his roles are getting meatier and meatier, last year playing a neurosurgical intern diagnosed with brain cancer (of course - it's amazing how many hospital staff get sick in the correct specialty in medical dramas). This role is his best yet.

***** SPOILER ALERT *******

He is an accomplice in the murders, but after he kidnaps Park's daughter he finds he couldn't bring himself to murder her. He was rorted into this because the bad guys promised they would pay for his ill sister's operation, but his sister died in the operation anyway. Struck by guilt, he then spends 10 episode looking after Park's daughter and hiding from the bad guys, who have told him that if he dares to go to the police then they are able to pin Park's wife's death on him. He was forced to turn himself in later on and had hoped to provide the evidence to convict the man who instructed him to abduct Park's daughter, but ends up being killed for it.

This is one of those roles that can really make an actor, and Kim is helped along by his baby face that makes him look more like the kid's older brother than (almost) 20 years her senior.
The interactions between him and the girl are some of the sweetest things on TV and is in fact cuter than the father-daughter interaction (I'm guessing Shin Rina spends a lot more time on/off screen with Kim Minseok than she does with Ji Sung, and the level of comfort shows because of her young age).

His character stands as the symbol (one of many in this series) of what a single selfish action can bring and what a singular kind thought can achieve. And (I can't seem to emphasise this enough XDD) his baby face really helps his case as the young and immature kid who made the wrong choice in life, and throughout the series grows enough to accept retribution for his wrongdoings.

In fact, if anything, his character has a more complete character development arc than anyone else in the series. The main characters have had a lot happen to them, but they've pretty much stayed consistently themselves, with their fixed world views, from beginning to end.

His is only one character in the throng of interesting character motivations - take Park's friend, who turns from upright prosecutor to protecting his selfish interests; or Cha's wife, who initially stays silent but surrenders to her moral misgivings at a crucial moment. It's a fascinating web of humans being driven by their flawed or virtuous humanness, the flaws that put the noose neatly around Park's neck, or the kindness that slowly weathered away until those traditional heroic virtues - kindness and justice - won the day.

It is a good script, if flawed and slow at times, and it is the type of script that explains (above and beyond the pretty faces that adorn it) the good ratings that accompany a drama of this calibre.

It is the contrast that you see with a terrible script like A Life ~ Itoshiki Hito that explains why Japanese dramas are struggling to obtain ratings above 15% these days despite being stuffed full of well-known names.

Japanese literature and film have traditionally been great at its incisive comments on the human condition, and it's getting more and more technically mature at doing police procedurals, but the formula is getting tired. I'm waiting for the day where it can put together something that fits together as well as Pigoin does - and it has the luxury of doing this in only 12 episodes instead of dragging it out over 18 (for Pigoin, sadly a victim of its own popularity).

Like in the heyday of Hanazawa Naoki, I think we would see something that's more deserving of a high rating than the brain-numbingly silly Doctor X.
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
When did Fuji's golden chicken of Gekku start laying turd piles? And when did Johnny's golden boy become a turd magnet?

Probably around the same time.

Kimura Takuya used to be the guarantee of golden ratings, but his last few dramas have been disappointments to the channels. To be absolutely fair, the ratings for all dramas have been going downhill in the last decade. In recent years you'd be lucky to find 3 dramas that rate above 20% in a year, or 3 dramas to rate above 15% in a season. With that in mind, the fact that Kimura-led dramas have still been able to pull in audiences of close to 15% is actually not that bad, until you consider that the supporting cast all consist of main star quality/popularity actors, then the rating appears mediocre against their combined star power.

The thing is, I never really understood the appeal of KimuTaku or his acting. His posturing isn't as obvious as many of the other JE graduates, and he manages to emote adequately for every scene, but his characters are never sufficiently different from each other.

But this time, more than any other year, KimuTaku needed this drama to do well. Still floundering in the aftermath of SMAP's messy breakup (it's embarrassing enough without the government coming out to apologise because they had hired you for the Olympics), KimuTaku is really putting his eggs in this basket. Never known for being the most easy-going person to work with, this time he reportedly splurged 1 million yen on buying the entire cast and crew...custom made jackets?

The supporting cast has such stellar names as Asano Tadanobu (you last saw him in Thor, unless you saw Silence), Takeuchi Yuko (a shade of her commanding presence in Strawberry Night), Matsuyama Kenichi (you've first met him in Death Note and you'll know he's a formidable young actor in his own right), Kimura Fumino (a rising young actress who has enough presence to hold her own), Nanao (a decently popular actress who unfortunately gets typecast in anego roles), as well as a string of respectable older supporting actors. As you might see, if you know anything about Japanese dramas, these are all people who would at any other time be leading their own series.

Then it's a wonder how the script manages to take these photogenic actors with likable personalities, and write them into a story about the most gratingly immature and unprofessional doctors you'll ever have the misfortune of watching.

As the story goes, Okita (Kimura) has spent the good part of the last 5 years in America, learning amazingly advanced surgical procedures. It turns out his best friend Masao had gone behind his back and suggested to the hospital president that he be sent to America. With him out of the way, Masao married Okita's ex-girlfriend-or-crush-or-just-some-girl-he-liked-practising-sutures-with-Danjo Mifuyu (Takeuchi), who also happens to be the president's daughter, so then Masao climbed into the vice president's role. It's quickly clear that Mifuyu is Desdemona with her head in the clouds, and Masao snuggles with the hospital's medicolegal solicitor at work but sleeps in a separate bed to Mifuyu and their daughter.

Rounding up the cast is an uncaring surgical director, Matsuyama's hot-headed young doctor Igawa, and Kimura Fumino's refreshingly feisty (and smart) scrub nurse.

If I didn't know that Matsuyama and Takeuchi (and Asano) are more than capable of holding down amazing characterisation, I would have blamed the jaw-hurting ensemble on their acting. Asano brings a complexity to Masao's jealousy, but Matsuyama and Takeuchi manage to have a combined IQ of a squirrel, and I blame that on a terrible script that has characters spew out stupid things to create conflict only for the sake of conflict.

For example, the storyline of the first episode was Mifuyu's father (i.e. the president) needed a valve replacement, but developed a severe post-op complication. While Okita tried to find the surgical solution to fix it, Mifuyu yelled at him that she doesn't want any more surgery because "you promised it would be okay!" and "I'm saying this as the next of kin!" Then the next day when Okita interrupted the surgical department meeting, requesting to go ahead with the surgery that he has worked out, all the of the surgical department opposed him but all of a sudden Mifuyu stands up and asks Okita to save her father. What was the whole point

Then the second episode was about a man who had his thoracic aortic aneurysm stented, but developed a post-op complication due to a (rare) aberrant right subclavian (i.e. the artery that supplies his right arm came off the "wrong" side of the aorta), and his right hand was affected because the stent blocked off the supply.

When Okita put forward that they should go in and fix the problem, the surgical director overruled him based on the fact that "this will amount to admitting to a medical error and they'll sue us" because "we are a top hospital providing top quality medical care so we can't do anything that suggests we have made a mistake".

What. The. Actual. French.

Let's not even go remotely into the ETHICAL issues of KNOWING there is something you can fix and KNOWING there is a solution but choosing not to do it. I'm pretty sure that LEGALLY you can be dragged through the court and beyond for NOT DOING IT. In fact, I am pretty sure that is what MEDICAL MALPRACTICE is, given that there is CLEAR INTENTION and CLEAR HARM.

I'm sorry, that's the moment I decided this drama was too retarded to be worth my time. Any doctor or nurse standing in that room should go read the Hippocratic Oath and get their licence revoked.

This drama is clearly written by someone who have no idea how health professionals actually think and work. It's also written by someone who has a terrible grasp of character, and you have two major characters (Mifuyu and Igawa) whose personality switch dizzyingly from scene to scene, depending on whether the director needed them to be whiny rats or tail-wagging sidekicks.

I'd like to say you can watch this if you like the actors, but I feel like I'm angrier because I know what they're capable of, and the script has not been kind to anyone except the golden boy who's already lost his halo.
mayoraasei: (Gintama)
When you read the synopsis, you wonder how this could possibly be interesting. Sangenya Manchi is one of the top/legendary salespeople-real-estate-agent in her company. This is the story about how she sells houses..............

Not only that, Kitagawa Keiko pulls one of her most expressionless blank-faced acts, not that this is her fault because Sangenya is supposed to have 3 expressions - normal expressionless face, faint slight-relaxing-of-jaw "ochita" (got them) smile, and her ヽ(#`Д´)ノ GO!

In fact, most of the central characters are caricatures - from the icily efficient Sangenya, to the puppy-like Iwano, the try hard Mr-Nice-Boss Yashiro, the company "prince" Adachi, the waste-of-oxygen Shirasu, the cute-happy-to-be-adultress secretary, the sexy bartender....

Fortunately, it takes these caricatures and runs with it, doing what Japan does best, which is live-actioning what is essentially a moving comic book.

You keep watching because of the comic interactions, and then a few episode in you realise, actually, it's a pretty damn good drama.

As opposed to the tropey central cast, the guest stars are much more well-defined and multi-layered. The script is written by a woman, and after a while it shows - the amazing thing is that this show, not only in its central cast, but also in the numerous guests each episode, has an abundance of strong-willed, independent women that Japan often tries to pretend does not exist.

And through these women (and men), the series is actually a shrewd and often painfully realistic dissection about what family is supposed to mean. Rather than taking the moral high ground or the idealistic sundrenched tone of many a Japanese series, it accepts that reality isn't perfect and sometimes it's not possible to fix what has long been broken.

Sangenya's approach is incisive but also warmly empathetic, and she addresses what the customers need rather than what they want, and in that way reflect upon what "home" (ie) is supposed to be. For example, in the first episode, she convinces a gynaecologist couple to buy a unit much smaller than what they wanted or what their means could afford. Her reasoning, as she points out, is that their young son doesn't need a big empty house where his family is never home, but rather, a place close to where the parents work and a small living area where - in the rare moments that the family is home together - they can bond tightly, at least until the child is old enough to get past his loneliness.

In the second episode she addresses the Japanese "hikikomori" phenomenon, and in a twist on the usual J-dora way of encouraging these people to step out of their shells, she reasons that it's unreasonable and unrealistic to expect a man who's been cut off from society for 20 years to relearn the skills to live in society again, so she creates a home where he could self-sustain his wealth while living in as much isolation as he can.

Then there's the pair of lovers who adore each other emotionally but can't stand each others' living habits, the divorcee who keeps trying to get back with a guy she doesn't love but really just needs a home where she can be with her girl friends, the father and son who really want to live together but are too scared to bring it up with their hawkish wives who can't stand each other, the divorcing couple who actually become closer after given some distance....

It's a nice reflection of how society has evolved, and how the idea of home doesn't have to be the nuclear family. It can be for one person, it can be for a group of like-minded individuals who want to grow old together, or even the idea that a family can have two homes and be better off for it.

It's also a gentle illustration of how Japanese women are also evolving - that they can be measurably better than their male counterparts at their jobs (Sangenya and a number of other female guests), that they can now be single, that they can now be divorced, that they can now be the breadwinner while their husband looks after the domestics. Japan is without a doubt catching up with gender equality, but even these days the dramas that come out of Japan can be so...implicitly sexist in what they expected of the two genders. Female main characters are rarely high-ranking, high-achieving or highly skilled in their field, and if they are (e.g. in Doctor X) there's always friction with hoards of ageing men that try to maintain their iron grip on authority.

It is a fun series and the strategies about selling the right house for the right person are interesting, but the pleasure is the underlying commentary on society and the quiet revolution it leads for the overturning of Japanese gender stereotypes.
mayoraasei: (Gintama)
Ratings: 6.6-9.6%

The name is a bit of a mouthful, in both Japanese and romaji: ON 異常犯罪捜査官・藤堂比奈子, meaning "unusual crime detective Toudou Hinako".

Another entry in Japan's ample catalogue of police dramas, ON comes with a bit of a twist - the main character, Toudou Hinako, is a detective, but under the cover of her righteous profession is a darkness she's torn between hiding and unveiling. She is "emotionally cold", so whereas most people would react with some degree of horror or sadness to a murder, she has only an intellectual fascination. She is drawn to them because she wonders what it takes to become a murderer - and what it would take for herself to cross that line, to "flip the switch" - and hence the title, "ON".

This is not actually as unusual a premise as the series tries to make it out to be. The police drama genre has no shortage of borderline sociopaths, such as the enduring creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. What does make it unique is the gender of its lead - in both a genre that is traditionally led by men, and in a character trope that is traditionally assigned to men (at least in main or major characters).

Starring as Toudou Hinako is Haru, in infinitely better make-up than last season's Sekai Ichi Muzukashii Koi. She gives Toudou an innocence that saved the character from being painfully bland. Toudou is fascinating, if only in a metaphysical way. Unlike, say, Sherlock or Kimura's character Tsukumo Ryuusuke in Mr Brain, Toudou is amazingly socially appropriate in spite of her supposed lack of empathy. Perhaps sadly reflective of gender roles in Japan, the highly intellectual Toudou has studied the behaviours of those around her and emulate them in order to "fit in" - as opposed to Tsukumo or even Nakai Masahiro's autistic Ataru, who are allowed to be their unconventional selves and still be considered "great". Apart from her lack of empathy, Toudou does not have the usual characteristics of this trope of being disinhibited and overbearingly egotistic, and if you didn't see her face off with crazy murderers with that excited glint in her eye, you would think that she's just a reserved and smart girl.

The series also takes a slightly aberrant route that does not focus on crime-solving as much as it does on Toudou's quest to define herself and her own motivations. From that end, it's an introspective series that isn't often seen in this drama, and it poses some interesting discussions about the creation of serial killers, and the effect of personal choice versus environmental selection pressures. It was also interesting to see Toudou's perspective turning from "I approach murderers because I want to find out if they can drive me to finally kill, as I am destined to" into "I approach murderers because I want to prove to myself that I will make the right choice and not kill them".

Opposite her is Hayashi Kento, whom I've never watched before but puts up a thought-provoking portrayal of a conflicted, well-meaning forensic psychologist. Many of the deeper philosophical reflections come from him, one of the more interesting and always topical observations being a (rather off-hand) "weapons do kill people" - that the possession of a weapon both enables and psychologically reinforces the intent to kill, and may be what causes people to take that step across the line.

The other major character is Yokoyama Yuu's short-fused policeman, who likes to beat up murderers ever since his own sister was murdered 5 years ago. I've previously enjoyed Yokoyama's portrayals of some odd-balls in various dramas, but he's really quite forced and awkward here. This was especially poignant in a scene in the final episode where he meets with Hayashi Kento's psychologist, as he struts his Johnny's Junior stage walk while Hayashi lowers his head and looks exactly like the self-effacing psychologist he is meant to be.

Rounding out the main cast is Kaname Jun in a surprisingly bland turn as a fellow policeman that likes Toudou but never gets noticed. The older colleagues provide a parental role to Toudou that helps lead her out of her moral quagmire, but in themselves are quite forgettable. Apart from home, crime scenes and work, there are odd intrusions of scenes in a maid cafe, which often come off as cringe-inducing than cute or funny.

For a series that focuses more on the psychology than crime-solving, its crime scenes is more bloody and confrontational than most other Japanese series I've seen, not for the weak in stomach and definitely not to be watched during dinner. The plot is rather simple but between the philosophical musings and the atmospheric music and camera angles, it's surprisingly easy to digest. Worth a watch when there is nothing else to see.
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
My entries are getting longer and longer...in between.

The endless cycle of sleep-eat-work-eat-sleep doesn't leave much space for introspection on the 2 days of the week you have leave from it.

I've actually been watching a lot of random stuff since coming to Sydney, and this Easter break has been a bit of an unintentional marathon. Some of them I haven't finished yet, but it would be so long until my next entry, that I should at least make the effort.

SPECIALIST
As a continuation of 4 drama SPs over the last couple of years that rated pretty well each time, it managed to be the top rating drama of the season (not including the long-running shows). Even so, the decline in drama ratings over the last few years have been unrestrainable, with most dramas these days struggling to break even 10%, and even the top rating ones of the season seldom pass 15%.

Is it good? It's not bad. The plot holes are less obvious than some of the other stuff that goes on in Japanese crime thrillers, and the mystery is usually interesting enough to keep you engaged for the 45 minutes run time. But the characters are pretty bland, and the overarching conspiracy was - rather typically of Japanese crime dramas - a letdown. The ending is open, possibly paving the way for sequels later on.

Verdict: a good police procedural, but don't get too attached to the big conspiracy.

Kaitou Tantei Yamaneko
It's been a long time since I could bring myself to watch another one of Kame's dramas, and I'm pleased to say that his acting has improved greatly. Yamaneko is sufficiently brash and burlesque for Kame's public persona not to overwhelm the character.

Yamaneko is an interesting character - sort of like Detective Conan bred with Gintama. Japanese literature (if you count manga/anime amongst "literature") does these sort of characters very well - from Kenshin to Gintoki, the carefree and careless main character who carries a dark and bloody past. He's a "good thief" who steals from the corrupt rich, but previously trained as a spy at the order of a mysterious entity called "Yuuki Tenmei" who came into power during WW2 but still exerts a stronghold on Japanese politics. Somehow, Yamaneko had a fallout with Yuuki Tenmei, and while completing his "side quests of the week", his main mission is to find Yuuki Tenmei and the answer to his existence.

Unfortunately, rather typically of a show of this enormity - e.g. Ouroboros, SPEC - the ending dissolves into ludicrousness. One of the twists was seen a long way coming due to an unfortunate casting. And like many Japanese shows of this calibre, the show is peppered with odd morality lectures and the ending is immensely confusing as to what it wants to say about the world.

Verdict: an excellent effort by all core actors, let down by a disappointing script.


Matsumoto Seicho adaptations
Matsumoto Seicho was one of the great authors of modern Japanese crime literature. Every year, there are multiple adaptations of his works released as drama SP, drama series or movies.

I watched a few of them: "The black forest", "The woman who bought the local paper", "The castle of sand", "The flag of mist". They're slickly produced SPs (well okay, most Japanese drama SPs are quite well done and often better than the series...) which are all well-acted and very atmospheric.

The female characters are...interesting, and really rather pitiable. Apart from "The Black Forest" which quite easily translated to a contemporary setting, the others...I want to say that they're dated, but they're not, because in Japan (and probably many other parts of the world) women are still subject to the same sort of inequity that's put on display there.

For example, the extremely capable and shrewd reporter in "Castle of Sand", who provided multiple clues and ideas to the police investigation, gets transferred away from investigative journalism because she's a woman and should be writing about things like...girly things.

Or the rather tragic female main characters in "The woman who bought the local paper" and "The flag of mist". The first story was extraordinarily...claustrophobic. Here is a woman who was being extorted and raped, who wanted to keep her marriage together, and murdered the two perpetrators because they threatened to continue their abuse. In the end, to protect her husband's reputation, she divorced him before turning herself into police. She had intended to kill herself but one of the other characters stopped her, saying - "the man's (the rapist) children won't get any of his life insurance if you die, because it would be counted as suicide. I hope you can turn yourself in, so that the children know the truth, and they can continue to love their father."

I don't know why I reacted so badly to that. I felt she had already been through so much, and while murder can't be justified, there's certainly extenuating circumstances. I don't feel the man deserved any sympathy and he certainly wasn't portrayed as a good father - he had multiple women and was rarely home to see his wife and children, and on top of that he extorted this poor woman for money and raped her multiple times. I felt she had already paid so much for another undeserving man in her life - the husband, for whom she had an abortion as he demanded it of her, and the botched operation made her infertile. For whom, even when her own honour and security was at stake, she still cut ties with him so that he could be protected. In a way she was a 白蓮花, but she also wasn't, because she became strong enough to take matters into her own hands and kill the perpetrators. I don't think people should commit suicide to avoid facing retributions, but I was very annoyed that the above speech could change her mind - why should she have sympathy for these children, when their dad is such a low life and when she couldn't have children?

Less tragically, in "Flag of Mist", it was about a girl's revenge against a lawyer who declined to be the defense lawyer for her wrongly accused brother. I felt a lot of her hate was misplaced, but yet tragically understandable.

What ties these stories together is that a lot of these women - these women who try to get their way, are not your usual "good girl". They become hostesses, they sell their bodies, and when asked, they sigh and say, "We have to live, somehow".

These days things are getting better for women, but his stories are an oddly painful reminder of how stifling Japanese society can be on the role of women.
mayoraasei: There is no such thing as coincidence (Squeak?)
I don't know if I'm getting jaded with age (although I have to say spending a stint in ED usually makes me more jaded by the week LOL) but it's been a while since I've watched a drama that's really moved me.

And that is to say, Ouroboros wasn't one of them.

Yes, it had 3 of my top favourite Japanese actors and actresses. It had an interesting set up. It had some very likeable supporting characters. It had character development. It had plot. But somewhere, somehow, all these things fell apart.

I think I finished watching the whole thing purely based on how much I adore Toma and Shun and Ueno Juri, as well as the "middle-aged trio".

In the end, it continued to be a much warmer story than Maou - the woman whose death underpinned all this was a living character - unlike the main character's unfortunate brother in Maou. The main girl Hibino wasn't an orphan, and that in itself was important.

In the end, I think this is a far more human story than Maou. The theme of family is the undercurrent that drives everything along, creating little eddies of plot everywhere it turns. Hibino and her father, Ryuuzaki and Danno, Ryuuzaki and Danno and Yuiko-sensei, Konatsu and her father, Nachi and his search for his sister, the middle-aged trio and the way they watch over the younger trio, the final boss...

Everywhere there were broken families, but despite that it was oddly tender the way people tried to form a family out of these broken pieces.

It was what made the drama more sentimental and more human than something more cerebral and focused on blind justice like Maou. The story is driven by sentiment, by yearning, by the human need for warmth and cohesion and family, and I think the moments about family are some of the sweetest and best-written in the series.

The rest of the plot frays upon close inspection. It's the problem with translating something from 20 volumes of manga over to a 10 episode drama. You don't quite give it enough time and space to set up the gravity of the underlying conspiracy - there's not enough horror that goes into the overarching plot about the orphanage being a front for an organ transplant farm. In a time where such human rights issues persists in the world, it feels like the drama has bitten off more than it can chew and as a result feels like it's overly nonchalant about what should be a viscerally (no pun intended) disturbing plot.

I do like Toma and I do think he's generally a good actor, but his performance in the last 2 episodes have been a bit jarring, and I wonder if it's a directorial choice. Especially in the pivotal confrontation against the final big boss, the emotional weight doesn't seem to quite be there. The disbelief and horror is, but there's a lack of sense of betrayal or mortification or sadness that you might expect from someone so connected to him. I feel the whole character of Ryuuzaki might have been written a bit unsteadily, given how much variability he has, and his "secondary personality" was never really explained.

I have nothing bad to say about Shun or Juri, both doing incredible jobs with their rather archetypal characters. The arc with Hibino's father was beautifully acted, managing to keep Hibino's subdued personality while neverthelessly being heartbreaking.

I don't know if the manga will end the same way. I feel it's probably a little unnecessarily morbid, although this final choice might be because the relationship between Ryuuzaki and Hibino never really developed. In the end, Ryuuzaki's choice was his "kazoku"...given how Japanese revenge dramas usually go, I'm not surprised, but I guess I wished I was.


(Aside: DAMN IT SHUN AND TOMA CAN YOU GUYS BE LESS CUTE TOGETHER)
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
Starring the golden trio of Ikuta Toma, Oguri Shun and Ueno Juri, there's almost nothing that could go wrong...then again, these guys have also been guilty of some pretty mediocre stuff each.

Japanese revenge dramas could go either way. They never tend to rate that well - even my personal favourite Maou only rated about 12-13% all-up, which is explained both by their time slot and also probably by the general audience's preference for feel-good type dramas - but they can range from clever and heart-wrenching like Maou to inanely cheerful like Ryusei no Kizuna to rather bland like Alice no Toge.

Ouroboros starts off well-paced and well-developed, which is always a massive relief when the drama has enough budget to cover its ambitions. It's constructed like a police drama of the day, the first episode focusing on the death of salaryman Nishida which appeared at first like a suicide until it unravelled to reveal the underworld plots and police corruption behind it.

The case of the week is a little messy as it serves mainly to introduce our characters. Ultimately, what shines is the revenge story that drive our two main characters and underpin the overarching plot - their quest to find the people who destroyed their orphanage and their childhood 20 years ago, who had murdered the one person who created a family for them. In this time, one of them has become a well-regarded member of the police force with the local highest arrest rate under his belt. The other has become the leader of the local yakuza.

At the moment, Toma's Ryuuzaki Ikuo seems more like the main character we are all supposed to relate to, while Shun's Danno Tatsuya is the mysterious genius who runs the plot. They're a much more likeable pair than the two in Maou, aided perhaps by the bias of justice and kindness on their side. Their individual gestures of offering the little girl whose parents were killed gifts of solace were both sweet and flags the humanity that remains despite the deep anger they still carry with them 20 years on. What's more interesting is that it's the outwardly heartless Danno who gives the girl a teddy bear, while it's the outwardly harmless Ryuuzaki who smiles and whispers to her, "The bad person is gone...your enemy no longer exists."

Out of all the pretty faces in their ilk, Toma and Shun are amongst the more convincing actors, and now 8 years on having been the main characters for many a drama and movie, they carry their respective characters with a remarkable ease that makes the heightened drama more watchable. Shun always had a nice voice (he did a short stint as a voice actor after all), and it's always a pleasure watching him languidly snark in his velvety cool voice. I'm also less bothered by his lanky hair here than I am in Hanazakari which is a superficial trivia no one needs to know about. Toma makes what is usually a rather bland character likeable (I wish I could have said the same about Mukai in Saigo no Keikan), and Ryuuzaki has enough layers for him to bring out his acting chops.

The most amazing scene in the first episode was when he confronted the corrupted cop, and watching the innocent earnestness drain from his face, his eyes turning hard and unfeeling - it was a scene that could have been interpreted so many ways - anger, judgement, scorn, hatred, righteousness - but I think Toma's interpretation was perfect, just the complete lack of warmth and sympathy as he readied himself to execute a criminal.

There's not much to say at this point about Ueno's character except that she's consistently watchable. I expect that her father will feature quite strongly in this plot, as everything in J-drama tend to link up with each other in some way or another. I have high hopes that we will see some amazing acting from all three of them feeding off each other in a climax somewhere down the line, given how it's started off. And really, these guys are far more suited to doing something gritty like this than the pure love dramas.

As always, I have reservations about how the ending will proceed in a series based off a manga that is yet to end. Bloody Monday and Saigo no Keikan could find somewhere to pause, but when you throw out a bone like this in the first episode, you do expect the last episode to solve the mystery - and traditionally J-dramas have not been very convincing when they deviate from the original plot. Also from experience, suspense-type J-dramas tend to collapse in a heap around themselves in the last 2 episodes when they suddenly realise how much crap they have to build up and explain.

Still, Maou was not without its flaws but it is still one of my favourite J-dramas - and with Shun far more comfortable as the fire smoke-breathing yakuza than Ohno as the wronged lawyer, and Ueno infinitely more useful than whoever that girl was...I think I can accept a flawed drama, though I'm always hopeful for better.
mayoraasei: (Gintama)
I have less and less patience these days to sit down and go through most of the season's dramas. When I saw the initial ratings for the season I was a bit shocked. Apart from S ~ Saigo no Keikan which is rating consistently well, no other drama managed a pilot rating of above 15%...a fairly dismal outing for the season. I couldn't stomach the inevitable angst of Ashita, mama ga inai (about the troubled journey of a group of young orphans trying to find a place of belonging)...so I ended up watching S ~ Saigo no keikan and Shitsuren Chocolatier.

Let's just say, the ratings are justified.

S ~ Saigo no keikan (The final police)
Every season there's 1 or 2 or 5 police/detective dramas, each with a different quirk. Affiliation with a professor in neurology (Mr Brain), or a professor in physics (Galileo), specialising in antiterrorism computer espionage (Bloody Monday), solving "psychic" cases (Kiina), solving "psychic" cases until it looks like X-men in Japan (SPEC), department headed by a strong female (Boss), department headed by strong female with tragic past (Strawberry Night). Like medical dramas, the other staple of J-dora, they guarantee ratings of above 10% and frequently above 15%.

As is usual with police dramas headed by two male characters (curious that - never happens in female-led police dramas, but this is Japan), we are given two opposing personalities standing on the same frontline. Kamikura Ichigo, the hot-blooded naive idealistic passionate policeman who, in an RPG, would be a melee fighter. He is offset against Soga Iori, an cool-headed pragmatist who is an elite sniper. They end up on two different squads with separate ideals: SAT, whose role is to dissipate an acute situation swiftly and efficiently with whatever force necessary, and NPS, which seeks to preserve the life of everyone involved in the situation, including hostages and criminals.

Call me heartless, but I find it hard to agree with NPS's noble ideals in the sort of time-critical and stressful situations they come across. Is it really worth it to put hostages or other innocent bystanders at risk to keep the criminal alive? I understand the reasoning Kamikura gives, though some of it is full of so much vengefulness you wonder if that's even what the scriptwriter intended. He says that once the criminals die, the victims' loved ones will never get an answer. Yes, an answer would be nice, but sometimes you never get an answer even if they stay alive, and is it really worth risking other lives for an answer?? The second reason he states is that once criminals die, they will never repay their crimes and repent...which just sounds full of anger and unfulfilled vengeance. I actually find this a more acceptable motivation especially given how much passion Kamikura puts behind his actions - but you would not expect such anger from someone who was just a bystander and not directly a victim.

It's nice to see Mukai Osamu in a role like this. I don't know why people say they weren't sure if he'd suit the role given that he always has colder/effeminate roles. I don't know why people say he has effeminate roles =___=;;;;;; He's one of the few popular Japanese actors/idols who looks convincing as hot-blooded and brash. I always find him less convincing in some of his more "effeminate" roles, e.g. in Mei-chan no Shitsuji. I sort of find his aura a bit similar to Tamaki Hiroshi...there's a more...hmm, "straight" feel to them than a lot of the other Japanese idols, which was why I found Tamaki so disturbing in Ooku.

Ayano Go is growing on me. I don't know why for years I thought I disliked him >___> I mean I saw him in Gantz and liked him, and the only thing earlier than that I might have seen him in was Gold, but I can't even find his character on the chart for GOLD. I managed to dislike everything in that drama, including the usually gorgeous Amami Yuki. But Masami and Takei Emi kinda killed it for me...and I must've associated Ayano Go with that >__>

Anyway, I've really diverted from topic. The point is, the drama itself is very well constructed, with some solid action interspersed with light-hearted humour. Both Mukai and Ayano are excellent in their roles, and it's nice to see Ayano get something meatier to emote with after the insipid Saikou no Rikon. Kamikura is easy to like and Mukai plays him convincingly, but I don't know how many people agree with his ideals, and so far he's been VERY lucky not to have any casualties. I mean, dude, even Kenshin fought with a reverse-blade sword! And even Kira fought with a super powerful GUNDAM that just manages to disable suits instead of blow them up! Like, I'm not against your peace-loving spiel but do you really have to charge into a gunfight with nothing but your fists?? Disbelief is getting harder to suspend, man.

Shitsuren Chocolatier (Heart-break chocolatier)
A teenage boy trips over a beautiful girl on the way to school one day and falls irresistibly in love. But she's the queen bee of the high school, and her goal is to date every hot guy in every year...and obviously our main character isn't on the list - never mind that he's played by Matsumoto Jun from the ever popular boy band Arashi. In order to get close to the goddess of his dreams, Sota sucks up to her boyfriends instead (where is the logic?), goes to domestic classes and learns to make chocolate, because that's what she likes. Finally! One week before a Christmas several years later, she agrees to going out with him. They even share a kiss! But she can't see him for Valentines...but that's okay, she'll see him the day before!

Except when she gets the box of lovingly hand-made chocolates, she rejects him, because she realises he actually loved her. "But...we've been going out!" he cries, and she cocks her pretty head and says, "Going out? But we haven't even had sex."

Ummmmmmmmm..............that was about the part where the awkward long silence came between my mum and me.

Shitsuren Chocolatier's failure is that it's not really suited to be in Gekku, during the Valentine season.

The plot leaps and bounds ahead without regard to logic or reason or any sense of propriety. Sota goes to Paris on a whim and buys his way into an apprenticeship at a famous chocolatier shop with...a manga magazine. 6 years later he comes home, and Saeko, the girl he's still pining for after all these years, pays him a visit, which turns into a date at the cafe...at which she tells him she's getting married...and would like him to make her wedding cake.

He was heart-broken for all of 30 seconds, and then he decides to jump right into it. After all, what is marriage to another man but just a small obstacle on the path to true love!! Never mind that she's a taken woman now, she's always been someone else's woman but still flirted with him! He's always had a chance, and it's now closer than ever! A wedding band is nothing but a thin string of metal! Oh...but just while he's still waiting to get that dream girl, a man's gotta deal with his needs, so think nothing of having a sex-buddy on the side while pining for true love.

Can you see the WTF written all over this? As a manga, this is probably okay, to be read and seen as a joke. But as a drama, I can't see this being acceptable in a country that is still largely conservative and pro-monogamy. I'm surprised by reviews saying that people should stop complaining about Saeko because "at least she's enthusiastic in seeking love". That's not the point. The point is that she is a married woman, and she is still flirting with a guy who is still clearly hung up about her! The fault isn't her entirely, because Sota is the one who thinks "so what if she's married? We can be adulterers!" But Saeko is also the one who purposely wears a tiny dress that barely covers her legs when she turns up to his house, and is disappointed when Sota doesn't copulate with her then and there. Not that he didn't fantasise about it in detail.

My issue isn't that these things are portrayed, but that it's portrayed in such an ambiguous way as to say that adultery isn't a bad thing, that it was okay to be married and pursue an old flame.

The series is gorgeous. Ishihara Satomi is more gorgeous than she's every been. Most of the major characters are gorgeous eye candy...but watching it just gives me the greasy unclean feeling of soured mayonnaise...rather than the elegant bittersweet of dark chocolate.

monsters

18 Nov 2012 05:32 pm
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
"Just as the world contains both light and darkness, humans are divided by good and evil. Thus, humans created a system to punish the sinful, but are only those who are punished guilty?"

Despite starting with such a ponderous speech and despite the title usually calling to mind something more macabre or malicious, Monsters is the sort of Japanese detective drama that is created for family viewing - hence, neither is there much detective work nor is there much in the way of monsters. It is, however, very entertaining and forgettable.

Katori Shingo (SMAP) pairs up with Yamashita Tomohisa (ex-NEWS) for a quirky police drama that solves its cases with good ol' Japanese deductive reasoning rather than solid evidence that can actually stand up in court. Katori plays the bizarre Hiratsuka Heihachi who is clearly too smart for everyone else. He would be sociopathic if he didn't take so much joy in pulling everyone's strings.

Playing his much more normal and very put-upon partner is Yamashita at his prettiest. It's been a while (since Nobuta wo Produce to be exact) since Yamapi played such a puppy dog role, all eagerness and naivety and adorable tail-wagging whinging. Much like how he amazed everyone with Akira in Nobuta, he makes Saionji a necessary highlight of years of playing uptight-wooden-dead-fish-eyed-main-characters, like Aizawa for example.

The tone the drama hits is comical, even more so than the quirky BOSS, which at least made an effort to use a bit of science and ensemble work. The rest of regular supporting cast plays it with convinced campiness but never to the point of cheesiness. Having just watched Strawberry Night recently, it's hilarious seeing Endo Kenichi repeat his fierce squad leader role but this time with intentionally comical results.

The actual detective business is bad, but not terrible. As is often the case with these things, the pilot was the best-written episode. There are a lot of issues with the reasoning of successive episodes, but at least the journey to getting there is fun.
mayoraasei: (OTZ)
So...remember how I said not long ago that I wanted to watch this so I had something to laugh about?

...Remember how I kept screaming at JIN for the ridiculous "medicine"...Yeah, I should have. I really should stop watching medical dramas, now.

As a drama Doctor X isn't bad, although I'm not a huge fan of Yonekura's wide-eyed mostly expressionless acting, but at least she is at the respectable age to play a freelancing surgeon.

I like me some drama that prods gentle fun not only at the widely-accepted ridiculous Japanese working hours (i.e. 9-5 plus all hours before midnight), but also at the widely-accepted ridiculous surgical working hours (i.e. 7-4 plus all hours before...well, 7am the next day).

I also enjoy a character who is pragmatic and brisk - which is what surgeons are all about, after all - who cares not a flying donkey about the rigid ridiculous ritualistic schedule that define a prestigious hospital's working life, including the hilariously familiar 25-peopled ward rounds led by the well-weathered director and trailed by a troop of forcefully alert faces.

That said, while she's free to fight for her own working rights, there are bits about her "rules" that make for good drama but for terrible medical practice.

Her refusal to participate in daily rounds on the basis that "you don't need a medical degree to go on rounds" is ridiculous. Sure, every surgeon hates rounds, that's why they do surgery, but isn't she even going to check out her patients after surgery?

In fact, the first time she brought up the "you don't need a medical degree" argument (for paperwork) it was a laugh, but the fourth and fifth time it really began to irk me. Her refusal to shake the director's hand citing that exact reason really clinched it for me. You don't need a medical degree to eat lunch, do you? Getting a medical...ahem, even a SURGICAL qualification doesn't excuse you from human decency and basic courtesy.

And other bit that really pissed me off cracked me up was when the patient went into clear shock on the operating table, the anaesthetist sat there swinging her legs for 15 bloody minutes until Daimon got changed and scrubbed and gowned and gloved, and THEN said "GIVE SOME ADRENALINE".

OMFG You're a bloody anaesthetist! Not a scrub nurse!!! YOU'RE the one managing the ABC's. WHY THE FRICK were you waiting for the SURGEON'S instructions???? You're the one the surgeons turn to when shit hits the fan during surgery, especially when that shit is a systolic BP of 60!!!

At this point I don't think it's even worth mentioning that they pushed 10mL of adrenaline through via a peripheral intravenous line. PALM. MEET FACE. (Unless, of course, the anaesthetist had the foresight to make up the 1:100,000 solution, which I can't find any reliable guidelines to say you can/can't give it as a bolus)
mayoraasei: (Geek)
起 = 癸 (meaning 10)
承 = 翔
転 = 天
結 = 欠

As someone pointed out cleverly on the Chinese forums, the title for episode 10 of SPEC2 was "ki" (using the kanji for "10" in ancient Chinese calendar), followed by the SP that was named "shou" (using the kanji for "soar"). The movie is named "ten" (using the kanji for "sky").

This joins together to form the Japanese/Chinese phrase "kishoutenketsu", which describes the ancient poetic structure: introduction, thematic development, transition, and conclusion.

The movie supposedly leaves several questions unanswered. Will we get a "Ketsu" in the future?

Spoilerific SPEC ~ Shou summary )

I can't stop squee-ing over how adorable Ryouta/Ninomae was in this. DAMN IT.

I think I just need more cool-but-cutesy Kamiki ;___;

Not to mention Erika and Kamiki are so adorable XD

There's a lot of plot problems with this episode, but to be honest I think the original series had a lot of plot issues in particular from about episode 4 or 5 onwards. I loved the characters, I really did, but I think as with a lot of Japanese crime series that bites off more than it can chew, it spits out more loose thread than it ties up and often ends in a giant big convoluted woolball.

The SP explains some of the pressing questions of the series: namely what was Toma's SPEC and what exactly happened at the last showdown and what happened to Ninomae, but there's still a lot left unexplained.
mayoraasei: (Jdrama)
I actually finished this post almost a week ago and it's been left sitting on my computer for the last few days.

A very merry Christmas to all.


Favourite Japanese actors )
mayoraasei: (Geek)
Since the realisation struck me that I shall be starting full time employment in less than a month and I will have sold my life, soul, brain, etc to the job, I thought I should do a few updates before my journal is left to abject abandonment.

Shall start this off with a list of my absolutest favourite young actors, actors for whom I could watch almost entire shows with disregard to its structural flaws. Actors who can act, or at least in the effort to do so, don't piss me off with their posturing or trying-too-hardness.

I have decided to forgo the thirty-up category because there are a lot of EXCELLENT actresses and actors from that age range, but I rarely watch their stories because they tend to choose darker and sometimes more abstract materials.

And who shall they be? )

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