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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Review of Orochi おろち

Title: Orochi
Official website: here
Roadshow date: 20 Sep 2008
Theme song: Ai wo suru hito by Shibata Jun
Total run time: 107 minutes
Original manga by: Umezu Kazuo







Cast:

Monzen Aoi / Monzen Kazusa (Kimura Yoshino)
Monzen Risa (Nakagoshi Noriko)
Orochi / Yoshiko (Tanimura Mitsuki)
Oonishi Hiroshi (Yamamoto Taro)

Review:

Be warned that there will be many spoilers in this review. Although this is not a suspense movie, there are some revelations throughout the plot which will provide unexpected twists. As such, if you do not wish to spoil the fun of discovering them until you watch this movie, I suggest that you give this review a miss.

First of all, let's start with a summary of the story. Orochi (Tanimura Mitsuki), a girl of unknown origins who wears a red dress and coat, wanders into the Monzen residence on a stormy night. She becomes the maid in this huge mansion and observes the happenings in the household. Monzen Aoi (Kimura Yoshino) is a famous actress who has a pair of twin daughters (they do not look alike at all). Although Aoi is full of confidence about her talent and beauty, she seems to be fearing something and is especially strict towards her elder daughter Kazusa who is not good at singing. She is constantly berated by Aoi for being inferior to Risa, the younger sister. On the other hand, Risa gets an early taste of success by being a child singer while Kazusa looks on with envy. Not to be outdone, Kazusa decides to give up singing and concentrate on being an actress like Aoi.

At the peak of her career when she is only 29 years old, Aoi announces her retirement from showbiz and disappears from the public eye. At the same time, Orochi slips into her deep slumber which happens every century but still has a strong urge to find out what will happen to Kazusa and Risa in future...

Years later, Kazusa grows up to be the spitting image of Aoi and becomes a well-known actress while her sister Risa pales in comparison and becomes an assistant to her sister. Risa then brings a young girl Yoshiko (who looks exactly like Orochi) to the Monzen residence for an unknown reason...

This is not a horror movie. And this is not a movie strictly about women's obsession with beauty. The message is deeper than this. The presence of Orochi is not to instill fear. Orochi is there as an observer to what is going on. She does not take part or influence what happens in the Monzen family. In addition, Orochi happened to be in the Monzen family by chance. She did not select where to go. I would say that Orochi takes on the role of narrator for this story.

In fact, the theme of this movie is more on human desire which brings about tragedy, hatred and ironies in life. It is especially evident in what happened to the sisters. When they were children, Kazusa was treated especially harshly by Aoi and expected to do as well, if not better than Risa. The tables were turned when they grew up as Kazusa turned out to be a popular actress and was garnering all the attention which Risa used to bask in. What they did not know was a dark secret in the Monzen family. Aoi knew what would happen to the women in the family. Everyone would lose their beauty at 29 years old and slowly rot away. That is why she was especially harsh on Kazusa since the latter is not her own flesh and blood. Kazusa would not be affected by the curse of the Monzen family. Aoi knew that even though Risa was more promising as a kid, it would eventually come to nought when the sisters grew up. Risa was certain to have the same fate as all the women in the family. That is why Aoi wanted Kazusa to carry on her legacy i.e. Kazusa was the only person who could carry on the Monzen name despite not bearing the Monzen blood relation.

However, when Aoi revealed this parentage secret to Risa on her deathbed, this set off the bottled up hatred which Risa had for Kazusa. On the surface, Risa didn't make a big fuss about being relegated to a virtual unknown when Kazusa made it big but deep down, she still relished the days when she was the centre of attraction. Coupled with the fact that Risa loved Kazusa's boyfriend, the revelation served as the final spark to set the hatred on fire. Risa's distortion of the truth caused Kazusa to wallow in pity and cause irreversible hurt to her looks. When Risa finally revealed the truth, Kazusa was unable to bear with the irony that she was in fact the culprit for her own downfall.

There are a lot of what ifs and ironies in the story which could have changed the ending drastically. Despite not being Aoi's own daughter, Kazusa was the spitting image of Aoi and took the same path as her mother did. On the surface, Aoi seemed to favour Risa but it was Kazusa who Aoi had entrusted her ideals to. That could be also why the potrait in the stairway only showed Aoi with one daughter instead of two. To Aoi, her only hope was for Kazusa to continue with what she had failed to do. Of course, Risa is pitiful for being written off right from the start because of her parentage but it was something which Aoi couldn't do anything about. Aoi could have thought that spending time on Risa would not be worth it after all. If Aoi didn't tell Risa the truth, Risa might not have tried to get back at Kazusa. And Kazusa would not have destroyed her beauty with her own hands. On the surface, it may seem like Risa's jealousy was the sole driving force for what she did but I think another key factor was desire. Of course, Risa wouldn't have felt good upon knowing that she would be the only one to rot and die while Kazusa continues to live happily and enjoy the things which Risa did not have. Since Risa cannot do anything about her fate, dragging Kazusa through hell would have fulfilled her desire for revenge.

The ladies in this movie have done well. Kimura Yoshino straddles between two roles easily and she is getting better with roles which show off a feminine side of her. I used to dislike her for playing those sweet gentle roles in the past especially in Overtime but she has matured a lot all these years. Well, for actresses who have been in showbiz for a long time, the crunch comes when they hit 30. There have been many instances where actresses start to bare skin or show off the mature woman side of themselves once they reach a certain age. That is only natural but not many people can make the transition smoothly. Kimura is one of those who can show off her feminine trait but does not go overboard on the sexiness. Nakagoshi Noriko really surprised me with her performance this time. I don't remember watching many of her dramas (the last time I remembered seeing her was in Pride) and she's usually in those forgettable supporting roles. Just when I thought it was going to be the same case again, the last few scenes of Risa showed that she can act. I must say that I am very impressed this time with her potrayal of Risa's multi-angled character. Tanimura Mitsuki is really good at cool roles especially in horror films. I still remember how she looked in Shinizokonai no Ao. At the beginning of this film, the seemingly-emotionless Orochi really sent a shiver down my spine. However, as the story goes on, Yoshiko and Orochi seemed to blend together and yet they are two different characters. Tanimura managed to show the overlap between these two characters and how different they can be at the same time.

I would strongly recommend this film to people who are:
1) interested in the rivalries between women
2) fans of the three main actresses i.e. Kimura, Nakagoshi and Tanimura
3) fans of Umezu Kazuo's works
4) looking for films which have twists and lots of questions to ponder over

And my ratings for this movie...
Story: 8.5 out of 10 (Engaging and unexpected twists along the way)
Acting: 9 out of 10 (The three ladies showed off their best)
Theme song: 7 out of 10 (The song by Shibata Jun was quite good but I prefer the instrumental piece played throughout the movie)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6.5 out of 10 (Not much scenery to speak of and the general colour tone is quite dark)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 7.5 out of 10 (Kimura and Nakagoshi showed the love-and-hate relationship between the sisters very well)

Total: 38.5 out of 50

Friday, May 29, 2009

Uta no Oniisan DVD

Title: Uta no Oniisan DVD
Price: 15,960 yen (inclusive of tax)
Number of discs: 4
Produced by: Media Factory
Date of release: 24 July 2009
Total run time: 430 minutes

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Top 10 Ideal Female Artistes' Hairstyles (Oricon)

1) Ueto Aya

2) Kimura Kaela

3) Horikita Maki

4) Amuro Namie

5) Toda Erika

6) YOU

7) Yonekura Ryoko

8) Miyazaki Aoi

9) Shibasaki Kou

10) Hamasaki Ayumi

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (24 May 09)

1) Angels & Demons

2) Yomei Ikkagetsu no Hanayome

3) 60-sai no Love Letter

4) Red Cliff Part II

5) Meitantei Conan

6) BABY BABY BABY!

7) Kesareta Headline

8) Juuryoku Piero

9) GOEMON

10) Gekijouban Chou Kamen Rider Denou & Digate NEO Generation

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Top 10 most beautiful female celebrities with black hair (Oricon)

1) Nakama Yukie

2) Kuroki Meisa

3) Koyuki

4) Kuroki Hitomi

5) Aragaki Yui

6) Kuriyama Chiaki

7) Kashii Yui

8) Miyazaki Aoi

9) Aoi Yu

10) Nakashima Mika

Friday, May 22, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (17 May 2009)

1) Angels & Demons

2) Yomei Ikkagetsu no Hanayome

3) Meitantei Conan

4) Red Cliff Part II

5) 60-sai no Love Letter

6) GOEMON

7) Gekijouban Chou Kamen Rider Denou & Degate NEO Generation

8) Cross Zero II

9) Gran Torino

10) Crayon Shinchan Otakebe! Kasukabe Yasei Oukoku

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Triangle OST

Title: Triangle OST
Price: 2,625 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 25 February 2009
Number of discs: 1
Produced by: BMG Japan
Total run time: 76 minutes

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Triangle DVD Box Set

Title: Triangle DVD Box Set
Date of release: 29 May 2009
Price: 23,940 yen (inclusive of tax)
Number of discs: 7
Produced by: Pony Canyon
Total run time: 505 minutes
Special design: 3-dimensional box with a perfect story book of 32 pages
Special disc contains: production press conference, making-of footage in Paris and Shanghai + interviews, footage of Kohinata Fumio's birthday celebration, filming-wrap up footage, boom-up promotional video, spin-off drama "Triangle ~ The Other Side of Love ~" and non-credits ending
Audio commentatory: by the real criminal, producer and director in the first and last episode

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

252 Seizonsha Ari DVD

Title: 252 Seizonsha Ari DVD
Date of release: 22 May 2009
Price: 5,040 yen (inclusive of tax)
Number of discs: 2
Produced by: VAP
Total run time: 213 minutes
Special disc contains: making-footage / cast, director and original's author's interview / first-day press event / national campaign footage / CMs used in the theatre

Monday, May 18, 2009

MR.BRAIN's official game on Nintendo DSi

Even though the drama has not begun its run (23 May), SQUARE ENIX has announced that it will launch the official game of "MR.BRAIN" for Nintendo DSi consoles on 27 May 2009. The game allows the player to try 3 different games i.e. Quick Break (to test reasoning power), Number Shot (to test calculating power) and Janbani (to test reflexes) and will then compile a score to determine the level of the brain.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Meitantei no Okite's original novel

Title: Meitantei no Okite
Author: Higashino Keigo
Price: 620 yen
Number of pages: 348
Released: July 1999
Published by: Kodansha
ISBN: 4062646188

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rinjou's original novel by Yokoyama Hideo

Title: Rinjou
Author: Yokoyama Hideo
Price: 620 yen
Number of pages: 354
Published: 6 September 2007
ISBN: 433474303X

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kamenashi Kazuya to appear in Ep 3 of "MR.BRAIN"

Kamenashi Kazuya will face off with Kimura Takuya in the TBS drama, "MR.BRAIN" which begins its run from 23 May at 7.56pm on Saturdays. Kamenashi plays an elite doctor Wakui in the 3rd episode (showing on 6 June) and the hospital where he works in becomes the scene for a series of murders. Kamenashi's character then engages in a battle of wits with Kimura's character.

This drama will feature a different guest from the fourth episode onwards on a weekly basis.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kusanagi Tsuyoshi returns to work on 28 May

SMAP's Kusanagi Tsuyoshi will be back to work from 28 May following his arrest last month as announced by his agency Johnny's Jimusho. Kusanagi is scheduled to take part in the filming for "SMAPxSMAP" on 28 May and this episode will be shown on 1 June. On that same day, he will have to record the narration for 29th May's "Bokura no Ongaku". In addition, his summer drama "Ninkyou Helper" (Chivalrous Helper) will go on as planned even though there were rumours earlier on that he would be dropped from this drama's lineup. Kusanagi will make his first live appearance on TV through the 29th May episode of "Waratte Iitomo" which is 36 days after his arrest.

Johnny's Jimusho said that the reason for Kusanagi's early return to work was due to the benevolence shown by sponsors and related parties as well as the 30,000 letters sent by fans in support for Kusanagi's return to work. Fans from Korea also made up a considerable majority of overseas fans who wrote in to support Kusanagi. All the letters were sent to Kusanagi who read through them one by one. During this period of suspension, Kusanagi spent most of his time at home reading or watching the TV programmes of his fellow members.

For the FujiTV drama "Ninkyou Helper", Kusanagi plays a gangster who becomes a welfare helper for elderly folks due to an incident. As for promotional efforts of his movie "BALLAD" which goes on roadshow in September, Toho said that they will resume the promotional campaign after observing the situation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Original manga of "Aishiteru Kaiyou"

Title: Aishiteru Kaiyou
Total number of parts: 2
Author: Ito Minoru
Published by: Kodansha
ISBN: 4063722724 (Part 1) / 4063722732 (Part 2)
Published on: 6 March 2007
Price: 600 yen

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top 10 most popular actors among junior & senior high girls (Oricon)

1) Sato Takeru

2) Mizushima Hiro

3) Miura Haruma

4) Mizobata Junpei

5) Okada Masaki

6) Miura Shohei

7) Eita

8) Tamaki Hiroshi

9) Ikuta Toma

10) Yamada Ryosuke

Monday, May 11, 2009

The 60th Drama Academy Awards (Winter 2009)

Best Drama: Mei-chan no Shitsuji

Best Leading Actor: Matsuyama Kenichi (Zenigeba)

Best Leading Actress: Kanno Miho (Kiina)

Best Supporting Actor: Sato Takeru (Mei-chan no Shitsuji)

Best Supporting Actress: Katase Nana (Uta no Oniisan)

Best Directing: Zenigeba

Best Script: Arifureta Kiseki

Best Theme Song: Kumorinochi, Kaisei by Yano Kenta starring Satoshi Ohno

The Television Special Award: Aibo

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Top 10 most anticipated drama sequels (Oricon)

1) Furuhata Ninzaburo

2) Odoru Daisousasen

3) Haken no Hinkaku

4) Galileo

5) SP

6) TRICK

7) Nodame Cantabile

8) Dr Koto Shinryoujo

9) Jikou Keisatsu

10) Kyuumei Byouto 24 Ji

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (3 May 09)

1) Meitantei Conan The Dark Black Chaser

2) Red Cliff Part II

3) GOEMON

4) Gekijouban Chou Kamen Rider Denou & Digate NEO Generations

5) Crows ZERO II

6) Crayon Shin-chan Otakebe! Kasukabe Yasei Oukoku

7) Gran Torino

8) Slumdog Millionaire

9) Burn After Reading

10) Oppai Volleyball

Friday, May 08, 2009

Top 10 songs to be dedicated to mothers on Mothers' Day (Oricon)

1) MOTHER by SEAMO

2) Arigatou by SMAP

3) Mirai e by Kiroro

4) Hahasanka by Metis

5) Tsubomi by Kobukuro

6) Arigatou by Oohashi Takuya (Sukima Switch)

7) Anmaa by Kariyushi 58

8) Mama e by Aoyama Thelma

9) BIG MAMA by Soul Camp

10) Ai wo komete hanataba wo by Superfly

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Top 10 Ideal Mothers - Actresses (Oricon)

1) Kuroki Hitomi

2) Maya Miki

3) Matsushima Nanako

4) Takeuchi Yuko

5) YOU

6) Yoshinaga Sayuri

7) Fujiwara Norika

8) Shinohara Ryoko

9) Tanaka Misako

10) Nakama Yukie

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Top 10 Ideal Mothers - Singers (Oricon)

1) Amuro Namie

2) aiko

3) Moriyama Yoko

4) YUKI

5) Matsuda Seiko

6) Takeuchi Mariya

7) Yoshida Miwa (Dreams Come True)

8) Shiina Ringo

9) Angela Aki

10) Chara

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Top 10 Good Women Ranking as chosen by women (Oricon)

1) Amami Yuki

2) Maya Miki

3) Matsushima Nanako

4) Fujiwara Norika

5) Amuro Namie

6) Yonekura Ryoko

7) Kuroki Hitomi

8) Shinohara Ryoko

9) Fukatsu Eri

10) Becky

Monday, May 04, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (26 April 09)

1) Meitantei Conan The Black Chaser

2) Red Cliff Part II

3) Crows ZERO II

4) Crayon Shin-chan Otakebe! Kasukabe Yasei Oukoku

5) Gran Torino

6) Burn After Reading

7) Slumdog Millionaire

8) Oppai Volleyball

9) Drop

10) Rainfall

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Top 10 Ideal Younger Sister Ranking (Oricon)

1) Becky

2) Aragaki Yui

3) Oohashi Nozomi

4) Ueto Aya

5) Shida Mirai

6) Horikita Maki

7) Nagasawa Masami

8) Miyazaki Aoi

9) misono

10) Ayase Haruka

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ooizumi Yo gets married to FujiTV drama producer

Actor Ooizumi Yo (36) announced his marriage to FujiTV drama production centre producer Nakajima Kumiko (39) on 2 May 09. According to the fax signed by him, he revealed that he met Nakajima through working on the drama "Lost: Time: Life" last spring and they started dating after the drama was broadcast. He referred to Nakajima as a pillar of support for him. As Ooizumi had just finished the national tour for the stage play "Shimoarai Kyoudai no Spring Has Come" on 29 April, he decided to make use of this short period of rest time to submit the marriage application in his hometown, Hokkaido. According to Ooizumi's agency, there are no plans for a press conference regarding his marriage.

Round 1 of the ratings battle for Spring 2009 drama

All the dramas for this season have already made their debut so here's a look at which dramas are favourites with the viewers right at the start:

First of all, we have "BOSS" with the highest rating of 18.1%. This drama is definitely my cup of tea for a few reasons: 1) it's an investigative / suspense drama 2) it stars Takenouchi Yutaka and Amami Yuki 3) the stylish promotional images are very eye-catching. I've only watched about 5 minutes of the first episode (too busy with things to watch this at one go) and I was pretty stunned to see a naked Amami lying on Takenouchi's bed! OK, there seems to be nothing going on between them but I guess this first scene will make eyeballs pop for a brief second. Although I don't really like Takenouchi with a moustache, I guess this is part of his image for the character who appears to be a playboy (similar to Shinji in Long Vacation). A clean-shaven image makes him too goody-two-shoes...hahaha. More on this drama when I've started watching it.

At second place, we have the Gekku drama, "Kon-katsu!". I'm a bit apprehensive about approaching this drama. No doubt Nakai is a draw because he doesn't appear in dramas often but the idea of him being paired with Ueto Aya makes me cringe. Going from the lineup and the story, if Nakai's character has to get married at the end of the series, Ueto looks to be the most likely bet. I used to like Ueto but in recent years, I can't say that I like her performances in dramas. That ditzy image gets on my nerves at times. It's time she grows up on screen. I'll have to see if I can watch this right till the end.

Two dramas share the 3rd spot with a rating of 14.1% i.e. Atashinchi no Danshi and Rinjou. Of these two, I prefer Rinjo as the genre is more appealing to me. Atashinchi no Danshi feels like another version of HanaKimi so I'm half-hearted about following it. Horikita Maki is one concern I have since her performance can be really erratic. Rinjou boasts of a stronger cast lineup so I'm more convinced that I can see good acting from this drama.

Here's the rest of the dramas and their first episode ratings:

5) THE QUIZ SHOW 14.0%
6) Shiroi Haru 13.7%
7) Aishiteru 13.2%
8) Kyoto Chiken no Onna 12.8%
9) Yakou no Kaidan 12.5%
10) Boku no Imouto 12.2%
11) Smile 11.7%
12) Meitantei no Okite 10.8%
13) Hisatsu Shigotonin 2009 10.4%
14) Kaette kosaserareta 33pun Tantei 9.5%
15) Fufudo 9.2%
16) Majo Saiban 9.0%
17) Godhand Teru 8.0%
18) LOVE GAME 5.1%

*Note that Kimura Takuya's drama MR.BRAIN starts in May only thus will not be included in the Spring 09 drama ranking since it is expected to extend into the summer season.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Nagasaku Hiromi gets married

Actress Nagasaku Hiromi (38) announced her marriage to visual producer Naitou Maro (39) on 1 May through a handwritten fax to members of the press. She revealed that she met Naitou through work and said that she will continue to work as an actress after her marriage. Here is the translation of the fax she wrote:

"Announcement

I'm sorry for using this method to discuss my private matter.

I, Nagasaku Hiromi has got married with visual producer Naitou Maro and has begun a new life with him.

All along, I have been struggling with my inadequacies on my own and by the time I realize it, 38 years have passed. At this point in time, I came to know him through work and decided that we can live together hand in hand to support each other in future.

I will continue to work as usual after marriage.

Although we are both inexperienced and immature, I hope that everyone can support us in future.

1 May 2009
Nagasaku Hiromi"

Kusanagi Tsuyoshi given deferred prosecution verdict

The Tokyo Prosecutors' Office announced on 1 May that they have decided to give SMAP member, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi a verdict of deferred prosecution for the alleged public obscenity charge against him. Kusanagi was caught on 23 April for causing a nuisance while in the buff at Hinokicho Park in Akasaka. The Prosecutors' Office said that Kusanagi has shown remorse for his actions and admitted that what he did was wrong. In addition, he has no previous criminal record thus he has been let off with a deferred prosecution verdict.

Johnny's Jimusho has also released a statement on the same day saying that they are thankful for the leniency shown on Kusanagi and apologize for the problems caused by this episode. They will announce the time when he will be back to work after discussing with various parties and considering the views of fans.

Top 11 most desired faces by males (Oricon)

1) Fukuyama Masaharu

2) Kimura Takuya

3) Mizushima Hiro

4) Tsumabuki Satoshi

5) Koike Teppei

6) Okada Junichi

7) Motoki Masahiro

8) Yamashita Tomohisa

9) Hayami Mokomichi

10) Inaba Koshi (B'z)

11) Narimiya Hiroki