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Monday, February 28, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 9

Ep 9: Ai wo yamenaide (Don't stop love)
O.A. 9 Jun 05
Ratings: 16.5%

Shimao becomes the CEO of Frontier with the help of Sakuraba from Lloyd Brothers. Sakuraba brings in a group of people to be the executives in the management board which Kamiya expresses concern over but Shimao refuses to heed his advice and thinks that Sakuraba is on his side.

Shimao meets Taneda, the director of one of Frontier's subsidiaries and commands him to improve his sales figures within one month. This is similar to what Takayanagi used to do but Shimao tells Sakuraba that he has his way of doing things and tells him to back off when Sakuraba tells him to sack that director immediately.

Mariko and Ryuta are having dinner at home and Shimao does not return home again. Due to his busy schedule, Shimao has not returned home for some time and is staying at a hotel near to Frontier. At the same time, Sakuraba brings Shimao to his new home and deliberately got this apartment because it is at a higher level than Takayanagi's.

A few days later, Shimao receives news from Kaori that Taneda had passed away suddenly. However, he is not interested in this and wants Kaori to get Kamiya to attend Taneda's funeral. Kamiya goes to visit Takanayagi and informs Kirino about the current situation in Frontier. Hearing this, Kirino decides to bring Takayanagi somewhere as he has been in a daze since he was hospitalised.

Shimao returns home after a long absence and tells Mariko to move in with him to the luxurious apartment in Roppongi. However, Mariko objects to it. Ryuta also asks why Shimao wants to move out of his family house since he accepted the post of management executive in the past just to protect the house. Shimao gets angry and insists that he will move out of the family home alone if Mariko wishes to stay put.

Kirino brings Takayanagi to the art gallery where they first met. At that time, Takayanagi was a very pratical guy but a painting there made him see the value of art from another perspective. That was also when they started seeing each other. However, after that visit, Takayanagi goes out alone thus leaving Kirino in a panic...

Shimao and Sakuraba go for a business lunch with a politician who asks for money so as to work together with Shimao. However, Shimao refuses to accept the deal and criticises the politician for trying to make use of his squeaky-clean public image. He also scolds Sakuraba for taking things into his hands which incurs the latter's wrath and he instructs the VP, Tachibana who is working for him to contact the other management executives.

Takayanagi returns to the hospital where Kirino is waiting for him anxiously. He had went to pay respects to his late father and wants Kirino to go to Frontier with him. Takayanagi meets Shimao and tells him to beware of Sakuraba but Shimao does not heed his advice and says that he should be wary of Takayanagi instead.

At the management meeting, Sakuraba rounds up the management executives whom he brought into Frontier and forces Shimao to relinquish his position as the CEO. Kamiya is helpless since the number of executives on Sakuraba's side forms the majority and Shimao has to leave the company crestfallen.

Mariko and Ryuta hear the news and tries to look for Shimao. After wandering around for some time, Shimao finally returns to his family home where he is welcomed by Mariko and Ryuta. Kaori also comes to look for Shimao who is so touched by Mariko and Ryuta's concern for him and starts to cry...
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This episode is so fast-paced...everything happens in a flash. One moment, we have Shimao being at the top and the next, he's reduced to square one again. He was simply obnoxious at the beginning of this episode but when you saw how defeated he looked at the end, you can't help but sympathise with him.

If he didn't accept Takayanagi's offer to be a management executive in the first place, things would not have come to such a stage...On the other hand, if he had left Frontier then, he would not have managed to protect his family house. There are a lot of "what ifs" to ponder over...

In the next episode, both Takayanagi and Shimao are back to square one. The difference is that Takayanagi refuses to give up and he has the support of Kirino. However, Shimao chooses to avoid making mistakes again even though Kaori seems to be willing to help him...

There's only 2 episodes or so for this drama...I wonder how they will wrap this up. Surely these two guys can't make it big again in just 2 episodes?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 8

Ep 8: Hills no Shin Shacchou (The new CEO of the Hills)
O.A. 2 June 05
Ratings: 15.9%

Shimao becomes a hot favourite in the business circles ever since his promotion to a management executive in Frontier and literally hogs the limelight which used to be focused on Takayanagi. As a result, he wins an award, "Man of The Year" from an economic magazine and is credited with bringing huge profits to Frontier. However, it is also clear that Shimao no longer looks the same as before...

Mariko and Ryuta plan a small celebration party for Shimao's winning of the award but when he returns home late at night, he cannot be bothered to talk to them as he is engrossed in work.

Shimao raises the next project at a meeting which everyone sees it as feasible but Takayanagi objects to it. He uses the excuse that this project is risky and makes Shimao drop the project. Shimao is furious at this and Kaori reminds him to take it easy as he looks quite frightening these days without a smile.

Ryuta comes to bring sashimi to Mariko for dinner and happens to see her ex-lover Tanisaki at her place. Tanisaki leaves hurriedly upon seeing Ryuta who finds that he is back to pester Mariko to let him meet Shimao in order to make some business deals. Mariko is upset that Tanisaki wants to make use of her. When Shimao comes home, she is unable to bring up the subject as he is busy with work.

The next day, Shimao brings up another proposal during the meeting which is rejected by Takayanagi again. Shimao refuses to give up and wants him to give a reason. Takayanagi says that since he's the CEO, he has the right to reject Shimao's proposal. He also throws in another comment that Shimao should create his own company if he really wants to proceed with the project.

Shimao is undeterred by this and orders his subordinate to go ahead with the project despite Takayanagi's objections. Mariko finally tells Shimao about Tanisaki who wants to meet him but Shimao rejects her outright, saying that he sees no value in meeting Tanisaki. Ryuta gets into a fight with Shimao and tells him to look at how detestable he has become ever since he got promoted.

Shimao meets his business associate who informs him that the project has to be called off because of Takayanagi's pressure tactics. Although they hoped to work with Shimao, they could not disobey Takayanagi's orders since Frontier belongs to him.

Shimao asks Takayanagi out for lunch and states his intention to proceed with the project regardless of Takayanagi's objections. As such, the latter fires Shimao on the spot thus marking the beginning of their battle...

Shimao contacts Lloyd Brothers' Sakuraba to inform him of the dismissal and begin the acquisition of Frontier shares. At the same time, Takayanagi realises that Shimao is eyeing Frontier but loses control of the company due to the financial backup Shimao got from Lloyd Brothers. As a result, Shimao becomes the new CEO of Frontier in just one afternoon. Kirino decides to leave Frontier since Takayanagi is not around while the rest remain behind.

Takayanagi goes drinking and is stabbed by his enemy. Kirino goes to the hospital to take care of him and encourage him to face failure. Shimao also comes to meet Takayanagi and passes sarcastic remarks. When he goes back, he happens to see Kaori who tells Shimao that they should stop seeing each other for the time being. Shimao wonders why Kaori has suddenly turned cold towards him but cannot find the reason behind this...

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This is a very good episode where we see how detestable Shimao had become as a result of success and fame. I never knew that Kusanagi Tsuyoshi can be such an eyesore since he's usually the good guy in dramas. This marks a drastic change in his career and I hope that he can keep up the momentum to the end.

As for Takayanagi, it sure hurts to see him looking so crestfallen. Actually, I think something must be bothering him in the first place since he was preoccupied most of the time and wasn't concentrating on work. And when Kirino asked him how he intended to rein in Shimao who is getting more successful, he simply said that he can just kill the monster he created at any time but I guess he never realised how scheming Shimao had become as a result of that Toujou Boueiki incident. I think that matter made him decide to be ruthless so as to pay Takayanagi back for betraying his trust.

Oh, Shimao is going to get more irritating by the next episode. Will we get to see him live "happily ever after" or will the bad guy fall from the top? That's what I'm really interested in...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 7

Ep 7: Hills no Chouten e (Moving towards the top of the hills)
O.A. 26 May 05
Ratings: 16.3%

Shimao and Mariko are upset over having to move out of their house in a week's time. On her way to work, Mariko meets Ryuta and scolds him for going to look for her boyfriend, Tanisaki who is a married man.

Shimao attends a party with Takayanagi and the others in the company and many big shots surround him after hearing about his achievements in Frontier so far. Takayanagi looks on with disinterest at the situation. Suddenly, a guy named Sakuraba from the investment company, Lloyd Brothers comes to Shimao and asks if he is interested to open a company of his own. Shimao thinks that he does not have the capability to do so and rejects the offer. In actual fact, Shimao is very unhappy with Takayanagi over the Toujou Boueki's case and is contemplating leaving Frontier.

At the same time, Kirino alerts Takayanagi of the fact that Shimao may leave Frontier given his recent clash with Takayanagi and that he's become a popular figure in the industry. Takayanagi pretends not to be bothered about it but is hatching a plan to ensure that Shimao stays on.

True to Kirino's concern, Sakuraba comes to Shimao again and asks him to set up his company with Lloyd Brothers' help. He even daggles the option of clearing Shimao's debts for him so that he can keep his house.

Takayanagi offers to make Shimao a management executive in Frontier and offers to clear his debts for him. He also reminds him of the fact that should Shimao quit, he will still be entitled to severance pay besides taking ownership in the company.

Shimao discusses this with Ryuta and he is troubled over whether to accept the offer from Takayanagi since he cannot stand working for him. Ryuta scolds Shimao for being too inflexible and sticking to his principles blindly. He also lets out the fact that Mariko is working as a hostess after work so as to lessen their family financial burden. Hearing this, Shimao tells Mariko that he will accept Takayanagi's offer and become an executive on Frontier's management board. Takayanagi then assigns Kaori and Miyazawa to work under Shimao.

With this appointment, Shimao begins an entirely different lifestyle from before where he gets chauffered to work in a limousine and dines in fine restaurants. Actually, this is part of Takayanagi's plan to change Shimao's values as he believes that once Shimao is used to the good life, his principles will change. In a way, he seems to be bent on proving that no one can withstand the temptations of fame, power and money including Shimao.

Shimao's first assignment as an executive is to handle the project by Miyazawa with CG production company, Giga Works to create a new company. In order to get the project going, Miyazawa has committed more than 100 million yen but has not signed the contract yet. Shimao decides to go to Giga Works personally to seal the deal and sees that the boss signed the contract with another competitor.

Shimao is furious about this and is thinking of how to solve the problem. Kaori and Mariko try to show concern for him but he flares up at them. Shimao decides to use money to get the employees of Giga Works to leave the company and create a new company with them which makes Giga Works bankrupt overnight.

Shimao is standing beside the stage during the press conference of Giga Frontier (the new company he created) and confides in Kaori that he was undecided over whether to make Giga Works bankrupt in the first place. However, his desire to win overcame everything and he felt a thrill for the first time in defeating others. Kaori is increasingly worried about Shimao who seems to be changing and resembling Takayanagi...

This is really an episode with an unexpected twist... If you have seen the trailer, you would have seen that Shimao has become the bad guy overnight and Takayanagi No.2. No doubt Takayanagi is obnoxious when he speaks about money, fame and power all the time, the look on Shimao's face is even more detestable. I never knew that Kusanagi can look so horribly evil in a bad guy's role and the people around him are probably going to be further away from him when he takes over Frontier. In Takayanagi's haste to change Shimao, he has brought about the birth of a monster who is even more ruthless and hungry for success than him. And we can see in the next episode that his decision will be the cause of his downfall...Suddenly, I feel sorry for Takayanagi and it seems like there will be a twist of roles between them. I wonder if success in this case means having to turn away your loved ones and being so ruthless... What a high price to pay!

This episode suddenly changed the flow of the drama and made it more compelling to watch. This has got to be one of my favourites this season...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 6

Ep 6: Hills no Himitsu (The secret of the Hills)
O.A. 19 May 05
Ratings: 15.6%

Interesting episode! Just when you thought that Takayanagi is changing, you will be disappointed. A leopard never changes its spots<_< but I'm starting to see his principles and beliefs being shaken especially after this episode...

Takayanagi meets an old acquaintance Toujou who used to be his father's friend. Toujou asks Takayanagi to take over his debt-ridden company, Toujou Boueki (Toujou Trading) since he is stricken with cancer and is dying soon. This conversation is overheard by Morimura whose company was taken over by Takayanagi and bears a grudge against him.

On the other hand, Shimao and Mariko are in a fix because of their finances and they have yet to find a place to move to as their house will be taken back by the bank. Ryuta comes for dinner and tells them that there was a guy standing outside the gate. Mariko runs out to look for that guy but to no avail.

Morimura goes to a reporter and tells him about the proposed takeover of Toujou Boueki by Frontier. He even tells the reporter to investigate Takayanagi's father and his bankrupt company.

Takayanagi brings up the issue of taking over Toujou Boueki during a meeting but everyone objects to it. As such, Takayanagi asks Shimao to be the person in charge for this case. Everyone is puzzled why Takayanagi wants to take over a debt-ridden company.

Takayanagi brings Kaori and Fuji to the Toujou residence and reveals to Toujou that he's going to take over his company. They also come to know that the mansion used to belong to Takayanagi's family and his father received some help from Toujou after his company collapsed. That is why Takayanagi would want to buy the debt-ridden Toujou Boueki even though it does not bring any good for Frontier. Shimao cannot comprehend the reason for Takayanagi's decision and goes to ask him. The latter provides him with the reason that he just wants to return Toujou's favour in the past. Shimao is sceptical about Takayanagi's change in attitude but Mariko tells him to believe Takayanagi.

The next day, the media carries news about the takeover bid and Takayanagi does not go into details of his decision especially about his intention to return the favour. As such, rumours start flying around and Frontier's share price takes a tumble. The employees are worried but Takayanagi assures them that everything will turn out fine.

Takayanagi receives news about Toujou passing away and immediately makes a phone call to someone about selling Toujou Boueki. Kirino asks Takayanagi if he had intended to sell off that company right from the start and was lying to everybody but he says that nobody realises the worth of that company (apparently the company has some business in Laos which is very profitable) so he is just trying to make some money from a good business deal. In actual fact, he did not buy over the company to return a favour. Shimao is angry that his trust has been misplaced in Takayanagi and gets into an argument with him. Takayanagi mocks Shimao for being as useless as his dad and Toujou since they were unable to protect their own companies and has no right to criticise him...

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The scene where Shimao confronted Takayanagi was so good. You can see Kusanagi getting so involved in that scene that saliva flies all over the place. And you really have to hand it to Takayanagi for having the foresight to spot that business opportunity even though everyone thinks that the company is worthless.

Next episode should be even more fun. Shimao gets promoted and is probably going to get into more conflicts with Takayanagi as he proclaims that he will never change even though he's promoted...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 5

Ep 5: Hills no Daigyakuten (The big twist on the Hills)
O.A. 12 May 05
Ratings: 16.8%

The problem for this episode is not really exciting but what makes me hyped up is seeing how Takayanagi get frustrated at his people turning against him one by one as if this is proof that his way of doing things is wrong.

In the beginning scene, Shimao goes to dinner with his colleagues at a high class restaurant and makes a fool of himself. You should have seen how funny he was when he gobbled up the food before the waiter even poured the sauce for him, lifted his glass for the waiter to pour the wine even though he shouldn't do so and dragged the tablecloth, causing the plates to crash to the floor when he wanted to pick up his napkin. Due to this, Shimao feels down at the gap between he and his colleagues but Kaori consoles him. They even go back to Shimao's home to have sashimi from Ryuta's shop.

Forgive me for saying this but I really think it is an eyesore to see Kusanagi and Matsushita Nao together. I know she's wearing flat shoes but she's still taller than Kusanagi by at least half a head's length. It's really uncomfortable to see that combination just like putting Koyuki and Kimura Takuya together.

Anyway, Takayanagi came to know about Shimao and Kaori being on good terms but from his expression, it's not clear whether he's jealous or just plain unhappy over their relationship. I really doubt that Takayanagi feels anything for Kaori since he's also involved with the other secretary, Fujii but it's probably a mentality like "i just don't want to let someone fight with me over something" even though he takes Kaori for granted.

Takayanagi brings Kamiya to a company Air Dream to talk about business plans. Since it's a major project and Takayanagi gave Kamiya the chance to do it, he gets carried away and talks about it so loudly at the bar Frontier staff frequent that the papers report the news of the joint venture. As such, Air Dream decides to cancel the deal due to the breach of confidentiality.

Kamiya sees no hope in salvaging the situation but Shimao refuses to give up and drags him to wait for the president of Air Dream at the resort and try to solve the problem. However, the president refuses to see them. Kamiya tries to bribe the elderly housekeeper with money so as to see the president but she rejects him outright. After waiting for 3 days, they are still unable to meet the president and has to go back to Tokyo. Shimao and Kamiya tells the housekeeper to relay the message that they were here just to apologise for what happened.

Takayanagi chides Shimao and Kamiya for achieving nothing and wasting a few days just to wait for Air Dream's president. He also directs criticism at Shimao as if anxious to prove that Shimao is wrong. However, Kamiya rebukes Takayanagi even though he is the one who had all along disliked Shimao and treated Takayanagi like his benefactor.

In actual fact, the president of the company is the housekeeper whom Shimao and Kamiya had met. Being touched by their sincerity and patience, she decides to go ahead with the project with Frontier. Even though the deal is still intact, Takayanagi is furious about the fact that Shimao has proved him wrong once again and his eyes are seething with rage and indignance...

Seems like Takayanagi is going to make life more difficult for Shimao now that his most loyal aide, Kamiya is also defending Shimao's way of doing things...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 4

Ep 4: Hills wa Utau (The Hills are singing)
O.A. 5 May 2005
Ratings: 15.6%

Shimao experiences again how ruthless Takayanagi can be when it comes to achieving his goals. The latter took over his buddy's recording company despite his pleas but Shimao can only look on helplessly.Takayanagi gives Shimao his next task of handling the first concert to be organized by this company whereby he has to attend to the opera singer, Michele Andorini. However, this singer gives Shimao a tough time as he tries to make him happy but Michele keeps flaring up at him. He asks for help from Mariko and Ryuta but fails to get him in the good mood.

On the day when Shimao is supposed to sign the contract with Michele, he gets a call from Ryuta that Mariko fell from a staircase and is hospitalised. He rushes off to see Mariko even though Takayanagi stopped him. Luckily, Mariko is fine except for a crack in her ribs but Shimao's action causes Frontier to lose the contract and has to cancel the concert. He wants to go and apologise to Michele but Nanami stops him since Takayanagi is already there.

Takayanagi offers more money to get Michele to perform but his manager asks him to let Kaori spend the night with Michele in order for the contract to be signed. Without a thought, Takayanagi tells Kaori to do so but she refuses. However, when she sees how much this contract would mean to Shimao to achieve his aim, she is prepared to sacrifice herself. However, Kaori realises that Michele is just upset about his relationship with his girlfriend being objected by his parents and tries to console him. Shimao gets the wrong idea and ends up bashing Michele when he rushes to the hotel to save Kaori.

Michele offers to perform after coming to his senses as a result of Shimao saving Kaori but there is no venue since the concert is cancelled. As such, he performs with the orchestra at Roppongi Hills' roof garden much to everyone's surprise. Takayanagi is extremely unhappy about the fact that Shimao thwarted his plans but Nanami reminds him that Shimao can win people over and get the work done unlike Takayanagi who spoils his relationships with people due to his forceful way of doing things. Of course, this is not music to his ears.

Takayanagi is getting irritated and he's likely to explode in the next episode. The more Shimao achieves, the more it makes him feel that by doing things differently, Shimao can get more than what Takayanagi gets. As such, I think he's starting to realise that Shimao is a rival and may resort to destroying him since Takayanagi is the one who gave Shimao a chance at success. I don't think he's that magnanimous to see Shimao succeed in a different manner from his since it would prove that his way of doing things is not so correct after all. He won't be able to tolerate this humiliation...

And looks like Kaori is already in love with Shimao but he doesn't seem to have realised it. Or else, why would she want to sacrifice herself for his sake?

Anyway, I'm now more interested in the battle between Takayanagi and Shimao rather than the relationship between Shimao and Kaori. Seems like those two guys are going to have a very interesting clash since a lot would be at stake, including money, fame, beliefs and a woman. Kaori used to like Takayanagi but after this episode of asking her to sleep with someone for the sake of the company, I doubt she will like him anymore.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 3

Ep 3: Hills no Seikou to wa (What success on the Hills means)
O.A. 28 Apr 05
Ratings: 14.2%

Another interesting episode from this series... I think Takayanagi is starting to feel the heat of letting Shimao work under him because he can achieve the final aim without using Takayanagi's style of doing things i.e. money talks and Shimao is gradually winning over people with his sincerity. I have a feeling that Takayanagi may thwart Shimao's path to success given that he was the very same person who provided the chance to Shimao to prove his worth as a software engineer.

The welcome party for Shimao is held at Takayanagi's apartment and it looks awfully big as compared to when I saw it in Ep 2. Anyway, the grandness of the apartment is a bit too overdone where you have the bathroom so huge that it seems there are more than one cubicles and the ladies can have so much space to redo their makeup together in front of that mirror. Normally, I don't think anyone would go to that extent of having such a big bathroom but it seems like Takayanagi usually entertains his guests at home so there could be a need for that.

And with the growing expectations on Shimao, there would always be those who don't like competition and make things difficult for him. Shimao is given a task to get a Japanese dessert shop to join as Frontier's web shopping merchant but that owner refuses to do it. Although Takayangi knows that his subordinate is deliberately giving Shimao a problem, he turns a blind eye to it and views it as an interesting game to see how far Shimao can go if he doesn't follow Takayanagi's philosophy towards business and money. According to how I see it, even though Shimao is aware of Takayanagi's practical stand towards money and he himself is in need of money to settle debts from the bankrupt family business, there is no way he can say goodbye to his principles so easily just for money. And Takayanagi is eagerly anticipating the day when Shimao's moral values would disintegrate in order to prove that his way of thinking is more superior. That should be the main reason as to why he hired Shimao.

Since Shimao is having problems with the deal, Takayangi tells him to offer more money to the owner, Kiyokawa but this becomes an insult to him. As such, Shimao gets inspiration from his friend, Ryuta on what could possibly cause Kiyokawa to be so resistant to the idea of joining the online merchant scheme. He realizes that the issue is not with making more money but rather Kiyokawa would not want to compromise on the quality of his products just to make money after going through the entire process of the dessert making. In the end, Shimao's willingness to understand the situation and his intention to give up the deal by not forcing Kiyokawa causes a change in the owner who decides to join the scheme. No doubt Takayanagi is glad to solve the matter but the way he was practially staring at Shimao for not following his teachings and using a method entirely different from his values would definitely be a sore point for Takayanagi.

On the other hand, Takayanagi is preparing to buy over Ogura Hotel but the owner refuses to sell it to him, giving the reason that he dislikes Takayanagi. As such, he is angry over this and resorts to force by purchasing enough shares of the hotel to wrest control from the owner. That just goes to show the difference between how Takayanagi and Shimao handle obstacles. One goes all out to achieve the aim regardless of the repercussions while the other strives to achieve a win-win situation not at the expense of anyone.

Meanwhile, Shimao is still avoiding Kaori because he's upset with her close relationship with Takayanagi. I can sense that Kaori seems to be warming up to Shimao and gradually shifting her affections towards him since they have resolved their differences. And in the next ep trailer, seems like Shimao came to her rescue so will this mark the beginning of their romance? I think I mentioned in my last review that Kaori (or rather Matsushita Nao) keeps wearing white clothes all the time. Can she do something about that wardrobe? OK, she might not have a say in that but the lack of colours is getting to me. And it's so weird to see her standing with Kusanagi since she's obviously quite tall and she's not wearing heels in some of the scenes. Somehow, it feels as if she's towering over Kusanagi.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 2

Ep 2: Akogare no Hills e (Going to the aspired hills) - reference to Roppongi Hills since the office of Frontier is in that building
O.A. 21 Apr 2005
Ratings: 17.4% (an increase of 1.6% and the only drama so far to see an increase for the second episode)

It's getting better and I think the highlight of this drama would be the confrontations between Takayanagi (Tsutsumi) and Shimao (Kusanagi). Their conversations are always so full of meaning and Tsutsumi is such a fantastic actor. He's got that charm that will make you go crazy so he's definitely suited for this role. Seeing two good actors pit their skills against each other is definitely worth spending 45 minutes watching this every week besides the engaging story and wide range of supporting cast.

Shimao finally meets Takayangi and tells him that he wants to be rich. Actually, what spurred him to change his thinking is the fact that his mother died, his business collapsed and his house would be auctioned in a month's time if he does not have the money to buy it back from the bank. I guess he is unwilling to lose the only thing which holds fond memories of his family so Shimao made up his mind to change his situation.

Takayanagi seems to be rather unconvinced by Shimao's determination to be rich and tests him by showing how to cancel someone's contract even though the other party even went down on his knees. Being kind and soft-hearted, Shimao is definitely struggling to come to terms with Takayangi's ways which the latter tells him frankly that he has to be ruthless in order to succeed. If Shimao is just after a small sum of money, he has come to the wrong person because Takayanagi would only teach him how to make big money. Shimao cannot stay with him if he does not have the determination to reject people. He even tells Shimao outright that it is not the illness which killed his mother but rather poverty is the culprit. If Shimao had the money for the operation, his mother would be saved. Takayanagi reveals that he bought Shimao's IT company 6 years ago when he was in the Uni because Shimao had left the running of the company to his friend then since his father just passed away. Takayangi makes it clear that there are only 2 types of people in this world i.e. those who use people and those who are being used. He tells Shimao to choose whether he wants to be the master or the slave.

Well, Takayanagi may be a bit forceful and frank when it comes to his attitude. His logic is very much twisted towards money makes the world go round but he does have a point too. He is very practical and may come across as unfeeling. This is the exact contrast of Shimao who is compassionate and trusting which led to his downfall twice. As a result, Takayanagi's clear stand is bringing about conflicts within Shimao who wants to change but this cannot be done so easily. Is he being undecided? From what I see, Takayanagi hires Shimao primarily because of curiousity (Shimao's values are different from him and that he came to Takayanagi to ask how to become rich) and to make use of his skills as a software engineer. There is nothing such as a free lunch in the world. He believes Shimao will change to be like him while Kirino (Wakui) bets that Shimao will not change.

Shimao is given his first job to terminate the contract of a toy shop which uses Frontier services to market their goods. He cannot bring himself to do this and happens to come up with the idea of using online auctions to sell the antique toys in this shop. Even though he helped that shop make 5 million yen a day, he still has to terminate the contract since Frontier had entered a contract with a major toys manufacturer and that they cannot provide the internet services to a competitor under the terms of the contract. As such, no matter what Shimao does, it does not change the situation. Sometimes, there is no such thing as a win-win situation in life. What makes this worse is that Shimao thought that he stood a chance with Kaori when she helped him with the auction but he found out that she is dating Takayanagi. He practically ignored her after that, feeling betrayed even though Kaori doesn't really need to explain to him about her relationships. He's not even dating her in the first place but it sure doesn't feel good to see the person you love being in love with someone else. Thus, this seems to have taught Shimao a lesson that hard work is not equal to good results. Putting in effort does not pay in the end.

Something I noticed is that Matsuzaki Nao is wearing white suits most of the time while the other secretary played by Takisawa Saori is wearing black. Trying to contrast good vs evil? Too much white is quite boring so I'm hoping she can wear something different. More variety would be good.

Looking forward to the next episode and this drama's definitely staying on my watchlist!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review of Koi ni Ochitara Ep 1

Review of Ep 1 (Zutto sagashiteta hito - The person I've been looking for)

Well, I have mixed feelings towards the first episode. To begin with, the highly publicised trip to Hawaii for the shooting wasn't that necessary to me in the first place. I'll explain why later. I was prepared to surrender until I saw Kusanagi sprang into action towards the last 10 minutes to save the day so I'll continue to watch this since it seems really interesting from now on.

Just to give a brief writeup on the first episode and what happened...

Suzuki Shimao (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi) quit the Uni 6 years ago to take over his father's factory after he passed away and operates it with his team of close-knited workers and mother. His younger sister, Mariko (Kimura Yoshino) works as an OL in a company located in downtown Tokyo. One day, Shimao wins a trip to Hawaii from a lucky draw and brings his mother along. He happens to bump into Shirakawa Kaori (Matushita Nao) by the poolside and they fall into the water. Since then, he's been smitten by her and his mother invites Kaori for dinner. The next day, Shimao goes to Kaori's room to return her notebook to her and meets Takayanagi Tooru (Tsutsumi Shinichi) for the first time. Shimao is in awe when seeing Takayanagi's extravagant lifestyle and how he describes his endless ambitions but Shimao doesn't see what Takayanagi will actually achieve when he fulfils all his goals since he thinks that money is not all that is to life. Takayangi tells Shimao straight in the face that he is not cut out for business but he is OK with this remark but offers him help if he needs it. When he returns to Japan, his factory has folded due to fraud by one of his trusted employees. His mother also collapses from the shock and passes away since he cannot pay the operation fees of 50 million yen. Being totally broke, he even has to scrimp on his mother's funeral arrangements. Shimao plans to go to Takayanagi for help but is blocked by his employees like Kamiya Riku (Tanihara Shosuke) and Miyasawa Shu (Suzuki Kosuke) as someone who is out to make trouble. Having no choice, Shimao resorts to being a security guard at the building in order to meet Takayanagi but to no avail. However, Shimao saves Takayanagi's company from trouble when he manages to restore the server in the nick of time. It is then when Takayanagi's ex girlfriend cum senior manager Kirino (Wakui Emi) comes to him with a newspaper article which shows that Shimao is an IT genius who was taking a correspondence degree in the Uni six years ago...

OK, coming to the review proper, I'll start talking about the story before the Hawaii trip first. We first get a feel of the basic setting and some basic relationships whereby Kusanagi plays another goody-two-shoes guy who is really too good to be true. As his friend puts it, Shimao is behaving like an oyaji whereby he replies that he always speaks what he was taught by his father so he might be behaving like an oyaji after all. He doesn't take offence by what other people say and is only too glad to help people when he can. To him, money is not that important as long as there is sufficient to make ends meet. He was even that kind to give his money to his employee to pay the loanshark even though that money was for a trip to Hawaii to celebrate his mother's birthday. To me, that was stupid since there is a limit to how much you should help people. I may be very sceptical but you will know later that being suspicious and not too trusting may be better after all.

To be frank, I was prepared to write Kusanagi off by now since I am really sick of him playing such nice guy roles AGAIN. However, if you actually have the patience to watch till the end, we can see that there is something different after all in Shimao which brings up to the Hawaii trip.

Well, I must say he really got on my nerves in the earlier part of the Hawaii trip since Kusanagi was behaving like a hyperactive kid cum country bumpkin when he was in Hawaii. And to coincide with the title of "falling in love", he did fall into the pool with Matsushita Nao (how lame it seems...) so that's how Shimao's attraction towards Kaori came about. Now, the highlight of the Hawaii trip is not the scenery (although it does look like a heavenly place) but rather his meeting with Takayanagi. A cleverly thought-out scene is where Takayanagi goes on and on about what he hopes to achieve and yet Shimao silences him with a simple question, "what are you going to do after you have achieved all your goals?". Takayanagi mentions that his greatest joy in life is to enjoy a glass of champagne but Shimao counters that by saying that he is ALREADY doing that now regardless of whether he achieves the next set of goals he sets. That is why Takayanagi writes Shimao off by saying that he's not cut out for business since Shimao doesn't seem to be motivated by monetary success. A clash of views which is really interesting in my opinion...

Next part would be what happens after that Hawaii trip. Shimao's life becomes a mess when his factory folds due to trust placed on the wrong person and his mother dies. He is helpless because of his lack of money so this becomes the primary factor as to why he goes to Takayanagi. I don't think he really wanted help from Takayanagi in the first place but what happened to him should have changed Shimao's mindset. Maybe he realized that his old thinking is not helping him to survive in the world of today. As what his mum said when they were in Hawaii, Shimao used to be studying IT when he was in the Uni and had to give it up when his father died. That is why his mum thinks that it is a pity to give up his talent where he could have achieved more in life but Shimao did not think so. However, it would not be an easy task to get close to Takayanagi since he's the CEO and this makes Shimao realize the vast difference between him and Takayanagi.

Now, the finale section where Frontier (Takayanagi's company) gets into some trouble and Shimao saves the day. It sure was cool seeing Shimao typing furiously on the keyboard while putting on a relaxed front as he restores the server and leaves without a word once the job was done. It is rare to see Kusanagi acting in cool roles so this part is a must-see to see a different side of him. Oh, I forgot about something. Kusanagi seems to have put on a bit of weight and looks more healthy than his sunken cheeks look in his past few dramas where he looked undernourished. Now, he's looking slightly better than before... Since Takayanagi has realized that Shimao is an IT whiz, he's going to join Frontier and probably cause some tensions among the staff there with his talent by the next episode.

Initially, I think the news reports mentioned that Shimao is modelled after the famous IT entrepreneur Horie Takafumi but it seems like Takayanagi seems more like Horie with his acqusitions of the soccer team etc. Anyway, I'm not too concerned with that.

The theme song is rather plain, a typical R & B song but it may take a few times for me to remember the melody.

I'm going to put this drama on my must-watch list now (the first for this season) since I like such office-setting dramas and the clash between Kusanagi and Tsutsumi is so interesting. Ai kurushii, if it makes me kurushii (painful), I'll drop it ASAP by the 2nd or 3rd episode. I don't wish to watch a tearjerker at the moment and Nojima Shinji's style just doesn't work on me. I still have Attack No.1, Yume de Aimashou, Kegaretashita and Ruri no Shima to watch...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Preview of Koi ni Ochitara ~ Boku no Seikou no Himitsu (What if I fall in love ~ The secret to my success)

Starting on 14 April 2005, Thu, 2200 - 2254
First episode extended by 10 mins (2200 - 1109)

This drama depicts the success story of an IT entrepreneur who also gained fame by owning a professional baseball team (sounds more like Horie Takafumi's story even though FujiTV keeps denying it) and explores the theme of how success is exactly measured in life.

6 years ago, Suzuki Shimao (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi) took over the family business with his mother Aiko after the demise his father. Even though they are not rich, Shimao manages to live comfortably with his mother and younger sister, Mariko.

One day, Shimao wins a holiday trip to Hawaii at the shopping street's lucky draw and goes with his mother. Over there, he meets Shirakawa Kaori (Matsushita Nao) and her boss, Takayanagi Toru who is an entrepreneur in IT venture business. Shimao is deeply attracted to Kaori after that meeting.

However, when Shimao returns to Japan, he finds that his factory is in trouble as one of his managers committed fraud and causes the family business to collapse. Due to this, his mother suffers a heart attack and needs a transplant urgently. Being left high and dry, Shimao remembers Takayanagi's words that if he faces any trouble, Shimao can come to him for help. As a result, Shimao goes to Takayanagi's company, Frontier and decides to enter the IT industry...

Cast Relationship and description:

Suzuki Shimao (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi) 28
An innocent and honest young man who took over his father's small factory when he died of an illness. He believes in taking one step at a time and helping people who are in trouble. Currently, he lives with his mother and his younger sister who is working as an OL. and has little luck with love so far. He believes in his father's principle of money cannot buy everything in the world.

Takayanagi Toru (Tsutsumi Shinichi) 38
8 years ago, he switched jobs and joined IT company, Frontier. Now, he is the CEO of this company and is expanding his company's influence by the day. He is dubbed the favourite of the era by the media and is popular in the social circles. He believes that as long as there's money, he can buy everything in the world.

Shirakawa Kaori (Matsushita Nao) 24
The secretary of Takayanagi who's innocent and gentle. Being quick on her feet, she is a great help to her boss. She also holds a torch for Takayanagi but he does not see her as a romantic interest given that he has many girlfriends.

Suzuki Mariko (Kimura Yoshino) 26
Shimao's younger sister who is working as an OL in a company located in Marunouchi since she graduated. She's the type who speaks her mind unlike her brother.

Ando Ryuta (Yamamoto Koji) 28
Shimao's childhood friend who operates a seafood shop nearby. He likes Mariko but has never told her about it.

Kamiya Riku (Tanihara Shosuke) 30
The general manager of Frontier and the right-hand man of Takayanagi. He admires his boss for his abilities and hopes to own a company some day. As such, he is eagerly awaiting his chance.

Hoshino Mamoruko (Sato Eriko) 24
The master of a bar, Rioha where Frontier staff frequent. As such, she knows a lot about the company through her encounters with the staff.

Fujii Hiromi (Takisawa Saori) 24
Takayanagi's secretary and the senior of Kaori. She is ambitious and wishes to climb up the corporate ladder. Being one of Takayanagi's girlfriends, she also views Kaori as a rival for his affections.

Miyazawa Osamu (Suzuki Kosuke) 29
A staff of Frontier who's serious about work. He gets into a mess with his easily excitable character.

Kirino Nanami (Wakui Emi) 33
One of the founding members of Frontier who used to be ex-colleagues with Takayanagi. They used to be dating but are now ordinary friends. She is also the one who first uncovers Shimao's talent for the IT business.

Official website: http://www.fujitv.co.jp/koiochi/

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 10 (Finale)

Ep 10 (Final) O.A. 18 June 05
Ratings: 13.3%

As a result of his real identity being revealed, the islanders treat Takahara (Takenouchi Yutaka) coldly with the exception of few. Jie comes to Yuzo and asks the latter to get Takahara to leave on his own accord. Ruri overhears this and gets angry at them for treating Takahara this way,

Ruri's mother, Nao comes to Hatomijima and asks to take Ruri back to Tokyo. Ruri feels that Nao is just doing this at whim since she deserted Ruri when she remarried and runs out of the house.

Ruri meets Takahara and he remarks that it will be good to return to somewhere which you really belong to. At the same time, Sanae-sensei is getting worried over how to set up the junior high school for Ruri and Izumi while Nao senses that Ruri and Yuzo are looking more like a family to her.

Ruri and Nao go on a walk and Nao remarks that Yuzo and Ruri are so close while her distance with Ruri is widening. However, when Ruri overhears Yuzo discussing with Megumi on whether he can still work for another few more years to bring up Ruri, she ponders whether her presence would be a burden to them. Ruri goes to Sanae and asks whether there is any hope of opening a junior high school on Hatomijima. Although Sanae tries to look positive, Ruri realises that the possibility is low due to a lack of students.

When Nao prepares to leave Hatomijima, Ruri rushes to the pier and rides the boat with her. At the same time, the islanders find out that Ruri had left the island with Nao and are waiting for her to return since she did not say goodbye to Yuzo and the rest. Ruri finally returns in the evening and apologizes for being unable to get the authorities to change their minds. Actually, Ruri had went to the ministry of education in Ishigaki to ask for the junior high school to be opened and wasn't going to return to Tokyo with Nao.

Takahara is leaving Hatomijima and everyone comes to see him off. He is touched by their concern and promises to be back again.

In March, Nao calls Ruri and tells her that there was an article on Hatomijima. The principal of the orphanage where Ruri used to be introduced a number of students to go there thus the junior high school can be opened.

Ruri makes it to the junior high school and to her surprise, Sanae who was supposed to be posted elsewhere, ends up teaching at Hatomi Junior High school. At the same time, Takahara becomes a hairstylist at a seaside salon and is reading Ruri's letter happily...

This is the first drama which finished this season. Well, it's an all ends well finale to the story although I thought that the twist about them being able to open the junior high school was quite... unconvincing. Trust them to come up with that just before the academic year ended in March...

Other than that, I thought that this drama was a refreshing change from the selection we have this season. It may seem plain, slow and boring just like Yasashii Jikan last season but human dramas tend to focus more on human interaction than making the plot interesting with lots of twists. And one common trait between the two would be the beautiful scenery.

However, some lacking aspects would be:
-The Takahara/Kawashima thread could have been further explored. It seems like everything ended so quickly. The suspense built up over so many episodes and the explanation just took less than 1 episode. Takenouchi Yutaka's airtime is so little and he rarely speaks. What a waste!
-The overly "perfect" ending. Of course, making Ruri leave the island serves no purpose since the title is Ruri no Shima but the junior high school issue just seems to make reality so "unrealistic". Imagine the trouble they took to set up the junior high school and in the end, everything gets done just because of an article.

Will assess how this drama ranks among the others which I've watched this season when everything finishes.

Thank you for reading the reviews so far and hope that you will enjoy the new season drama reviews too! Do post here if you have any comments on the drama!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 9

Ep 9 O.A. 11 June 05
Ratings: 12.3%

The police comes to take Kawashima away for an interrogation because someone had raised the alarm when he fought with Nonomura earlier on. When asked about his name, Kawashima admits that he's Takahara Makoto in front of everyone who is shocked as to why he wants to hide his identity.

At the same time, Mihoko, who is the younger sister of the real Kawashima Tatsuya comes to Hatomijima to look for Kawashima but he is away at the police station. Mihoko tells Jie and Yuzo that she is here just to find out what happened to her late brother and doesn't believe that Kawashima killed her brother. However, the rest of the villagers seem to have doubts about Kawashima and keeps making guesses since the time of his arrival at Hatomijima coincides with the period when the real Kawashima was discovered dead.

Ruri is upset over this and runs to Mihoko to find out about Kawashima's past.

The real Kawashima and Takahara were good friends who worked together to open a hair salon. However, they met with an accident one night and Kawahara's right hand was disabled as a result. Thus, he could no longer be a hairstylist and vented his frustration at Takahara since he felt that Takahara was responsible for the accident. In one of his suicide attempts, Kawashima became wheelchair-bound and kept asking Takahara to end his life.

Upon hearing this, Ruri snaps at Mihoko and accuses her of suspecting Kawashima (Takahara) of being the murderer since the real Kawashima couldn't walk. She also scolds her for being the culprit if Kawashima does not return to Hatomijima.

Mihoko decides to go to the police station to look for Kawashima but misses him since he goes back to Hatomijima with Yuzo. Although Ruri wants to believe Kawashima, she finds it hard to face him and tries to avoid him.

Out of fear that Kawashima may disappear from her sight, Ruri goes to find out the truth with Yuzo. Kawashima admits that he did bring his friend to the harbour since he wanted to look at the sea. However, the real Kawashima jumped into the sea and Kawashima (Takahara) tried to save him. He let go of Kawashima's hand because he wanted to free his friend of the misery he experienced. Kawashima mentions that he came to Hatomijima and used his friend's name because this was his hometown and he wants to live his life for the real Kawashima. Kawashima tells Ruri that he plans to go back to Tokyo and assume his real identity again before confessing what happened to the police. Ruri refuses to accept this and runs away crying...

Finally, we get to find out what has been bothering Kawashima (Takenouchi) so much... I can imagine how sad he must be when he let go of his friend's hand as he jumped into the sea to save him. The real Kawashima had asked Takahara, "Can you tell me what are the good things awaiting if I continue to live in this stage?" And he had asked point blank whether Takahara was willing to support him for the rest of his life which the latter was unable to answer. Besides that, he said that being forced to live on and having to depend on Mihoko and Takahara made him felt useless. Faced with such questions, Takahara decided to free his friend from the misery but ends up forcing himself to bear the burden. It's almost certain that he will leave Hatomijima by the next episode or else he would not be able to break free from this psychological barrier if he continues to be Kawashima Tatsuya.

There are a number of issues to be resolved e.g. whether the secondary school can be opened for Ruri and Izumi, Sanae-sensei's impending departure from Hatomijima and how Ruri will handle the departure of her best friend, Kawashima.

In the next episode's trailer, we see Ruri's mother, Nao coming to Yuzo and asking to take back Ruri and Ruri walking around in an uniform i.e. she's in junior high school. More twists in the plot right till the end?

By the way, I find that this is the only episode which Takenouchi Yutaka's character speaks the most. He's been so quiet throughout the drama that I really miss his voice...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 8

Ep 8 O.A. 4 June 05
Ratings: 9.3% (the lowest ratings so far... personally, i think this episode is quite dry but the next one promises to be quite good )

The islanders are preparing for the Hounensai but Ruri has yet to recover from the sudden demise of Shomei and keeps brooding over why the rest can get on with their lives so easily. Ruri chats with Kame-basan and hears from her that according to the island's legend, when people die, they go to a place to live for 33 years before going to Heaven. This consoles Ruri who believes that Shomei is still somewhere looking over her.

At the same time, Jie's wife, Yoshie runs away from home because of the fact that Satoru is his illegitimate son. Satoru is upset that he caused Yoshie and Jie to fall out. The freelance journalist, Nonomura goes around accusing the islanders of being selfish to bring the children to Hatomijima just to keep the primary school running. Yuzo and Kawashima try to keep the children away from Nonomura and refuse to explain themselves.

Satoru falls sick and everyone is in a fluster as to what to do. Yoshie returns home to take care of Satoru and she reconciles with Jie later.

On the day of the Hounensai, Nonomura goes to pester the children again and ask them why they want to stay in Hatomijima. Yuzo tries to shelter them and requests Nonomura to back off. However, he continues to be aggressive thus Kawashima thrashes him. The children then reveal the reason why they wish to stay on which makes Nonomura contented and he stops pestering them.

Just as everyone think that the festival can go on as planned, the police come to look for Kawashima and ask for his name. He states that he's called Takahara Makoto and they bring him away for questioning...

This episode is a bit slow and lacks a major theme but the next episode will reveal more on Takahara/Kawashima's past. It appears from the trailer that he helped the real Kawashima to commit suicide... I'm looking forward to watching this to confirm my hunch...

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 7

Ep 7 O.A. 28 May 05
Ratings: 11.9%

The annual Hounensai (Harvest Festival) is approaching and the islanders start to prepare for this event.

Ruri is glad to have company in school now that the island chief, Jie has adopted a 7-year-old boy Satoru. To Ruri, it's as if she has a little brother to take care of. Ruri tells Satoru about the plan to perform the shamisen during the festival. Actually, Satoru is Jie's son with another woman but he lies to everyone that Satoru is the son of a distant relative.

At the public hall to discuss plans for the festival, a freelance journalist, Nonomura who had come to the island recently asked Jie whether the islanders were being selfish to get kids to the island in order to protect their primary school. Jie tries to divert the topic but his friend, Shohei wants him to explain to Nonomura on this matter. At the same time, Shomei comes and wants them to listen to what his daughter Izumi wrote in her letter but nobody is free to listen to him.

Jie's wife, Yoshie notices subtle similarities between Jie and Satoru. She starts to wonder if they are father and son. She asks Shohei about this and he unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag. As a result, Yoshie starts to ignore Jie and this makes Satoru unhappy as he feels that they quarrelled because of him.

While preparing for the festival, a typhoon is approaching and everyone prepares to secure their homes. Kawashima is waiting at home for Shomei who has yet to return. Actually, Shomei's trying to save the wandering lambs in the storm. The storeroom bearing the items for the festival has a broken door and in order to prevent the rain from spoiling them, Shomei blocks the door in the storm and ends up being hit from a fallen lamp post. It is only till some time later before Kawashima manages to find him but it is too late...

Ruri is very upset at losing one of her best friends and cannot seem to accept the truth. Kawashima finds Izumi's letter in Shomei's pocket and they find out that Izumi is persuading her mother to return to Hatomijima. However, Shomei passed away before they could reunite...

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 6

Ep 6 O.A. 21 May 05
Ratings: 12.3%

Although I thought that we would know more about Kawashima, they only revealed a little... I still don't know why he's intent on hiding his identity. Does he have something to do with the death of the real Kawashima Tatsuya?

Kawashima receives a call from the Tokyo police and is quite scared as he thinks that it may have to do with his friend's death. However, they are looking for him because Shomei has been admitted to the hospital. Kawashima decides to fetch Shomei back even though he's apprehensive about going back to Tokyo. Ruri hides in the boat and makes Kawashima bring her along as she's worried about Shoumei.

When Yuzo finds that Ruri has tagged along, he borrows money from the village chief, Arakaki to go to Tokyo too. Arakaki raises the idea of adopting another child and asks Yuzo for his opinion. He agrees that it would be good for Ruri to have someone close to her age living on the island and rushes to Tokyo.

Kawashima and Ruri meet Shomei who is disappointed at not being able to meet his daughter Izumi. As such, Ruri promises to bring Izumi to the hospital to visit Shomei but Izumi refuses to do so, saying that she is not related to Shomei by blood. And she uses "ano hito" (that person) to refer to Shomei which reminds Ruri of what she used to say when referring to her mother.

At the same time, Koji decides to confront Natsumi on whether she really regrets marrying him. After an argument, they finally understand how they feel for each other and reconcile.

Ruri decides to find Izumi again so that she can visit Shomei. Yuzo happens to see someone calling Kawashima by the name of Takahara and asks him about his identity. Kawashima finds it hard to talk about his past and says that he just wants to start a new life on Hatomijima. Yuzo does not probe further and has no intention of revealing this secret to anyone. However, he tells Kawashima not to leave Ruri suddenly since she's very dependent on him as a good friend.

Ruri goes to Izumi's school and reads out the letters that Shomei wrote to her but were returned subsequently when she moved house. Izumi goes to the hospital and reveals that she did read some of his letters but couldn't reply to Shomei because she didn't want to make her mother upset. Shomei returns home happily with Ruri, Yuzo and Kawashima after seeing Izumi.

When Ruri and Yuzo returns home, they see a little boy in their house and are rather surprised at his appearance...

Friday, February 04, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 5

Ep 5 O.A. 14 May 05
Ratings: 13.3%

As usual, a good episode where we have improvements in the relationships between some people slowly but surely. However, there are also new potential conflicts coming up between some people.

First of all, Mizuki (Igawa Haruka) discovers that she is pregnant but her boyfriend, Shigeru refuses to take responsibility. Actually, the islanders are very happy over this since it would mean that there will be someone to attend the primary school in future once Mizuki's child is born. However, the cold attitude by Shigeru makes Mizuki disappointed and she decides to leave the island but he rushes to stop her at Ruri's persuasion.

Somehow, I have this to say about the scene which Shigeru swam towards the boat to stop Mizuki. As she was pulling him up, she also fell in the sea. Well, didn't the story state that she is pregnant? Then why let her fall into the sea too? Forgive me for being fussy on such details but I think letting Mizuki fall into the sea seems to be illogical and redundant.

Anyway, this matter somehow makes Ruri feel like it concerns her. Maybe she feels for the unborn child who seems to be unwanted by the parents just like she feels discarded by her mother, Nao. And when Mizuki is left to fend for herself in the beginning and the look of loneliness in her eyes makes Ruri feel the pain as she has been lonely for most of her life. That's why she's willing to do so much to get Mizuki and Shigeru to patch up.

On the other hand, another couple on the island, Natsumi (the employee of the provision shop) and her husband, Koji are having problems. The village chiefs keep hurrying them to have babies but they have a problem. When Natsumi was trying to convince Mizuki to keep her baby, she reveals that she was pregnant once but aborted the baby thus resulting in her inability to have babies. And she regrets marrying Koji which is overheard by him. Since then, Koji has been unusually cold towards Natsumi who cannot comprehend the sudden change in behaviour.

Ruri is learning the sansen (a musical instrument with 3 strings) in order to make Yuzo happy. And through this learning experience, the village chief offers to teach her how to play while Sanae helps Ruri to keep this a secret from Yuzo. Seems like Sanae and Ruri are getting closer ever since that episode when Ruri fell into the hole.

At the same time, Shomei who had gone to Tokyo to meet his daughter, Izumi fails to see her since his ex wife says that he has no right to see her as he beat her up in the past whenever he was drunk. And Shomei ends up being walloped by the street gangsters when he bumps into one of them...

The next episode will see more light being shed on Kawashima aka. Takahara's(Takenouochi Yutaka) past since the police from Tokyo are looking for him. Ruri and Yuzo are also in Tokyo to bring Shomei back so it should be quite interesting to see what exactly Kawashima is running away from.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 4

Ep 4 O.A. 7 May 05
Ratings: 13.0%

The mood of the episode is quite different from the last which was rather emotionally heavy. This time round, there is a group of 5 students from Naha (capital of Okinawa) who are in Hatomijima for a study tour and Ruri is supposed to be with them when Sanae-sensei brings them around. Yuzo worries whether Ruri will be bullied by those kids for not having her real parents around but she assures him that she is fine. He also gives her a white dress which she puts on happily to go to school. She is on cloud nine when Kawashima praises her for looking pretty in that dress. And this episode also marks an improvement in Ruri's acceptance of Yuzo and his wife as her parents when she tells the Naha kids that her father catches squid (i.e. referring to Yuzo).

Somehow, I get the feeling that Ruri seems to like Kawashima a lot after all these times when he stood by her when she was having problems. Her first love? Being praised by the person you like would no doubt make you feel elated. I share her joy...

Anyway, the islanders regard this visit from the Naha students as a chance to promote Hatomijima to them in the hope that more would come here to study. Seems like those chief islanders can't wait to get someone to replace Ruri. I know she made a bad impression on them when she created trouble on the first day she arrived at Hatomijima but to behave like that towards a child as if she's unwelcome is very hurting. Well, those kids from Naha are not too friendly and one of them in particular, Teppei keeps making trouble for Ruri and even spills curry on that white dress she is wearing. Ruri is so angry that she wants to thrash Teppei but Sanae slaps him on her behalf because she couldn't stand his attitude.

That night, Teppei tries to run away in order to make trouble for Sanae and Ruri goes after him to make him drop the idea. Although Ruri and Sanae are usually hostile to each other, Ruri certainly doesn't dislike Sanae that much and doesn't want her to get sacked. On the other hand, I think she can sense that Sanae can't wait to leave Hatomijima and stop being her teacher so there is this rejection feeling in Ruri towards Sanae too.

Ruri and Teppei fall into a hole in the forest but are saved by Kawashima and Sanae who had come looking for them. As a result of this incident, Ruri and Sanae seems to have resolved their differences where the latter tells her to place more trust in her as the teacher. And Sanae drops the idea of leaving Hatomijima for the time being, most probably due to Ruri.

I think Sanae started looking at Ruri in a different light after seeing her mother, Nao and realized that she did not behave the way she did because she was just plain rebellious. It is the constant sense of betrayal and abandon from her mother that resulted in Ruri not being able to trust adults. And because of this incident, it has brought them closer but probably they aren't going to be best friends yet.

Something's been bothering me. If Hatomijima is really that secluded and backward as what they say, how come handphones can work there? Did NTT build some transmission towers there? I don't see the islanders watching too much TV either...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 3

Ep 3 O.A. 30 Apr 05
Ratings: 13.2%

An emotionally heavy episode, I would say.

From the last episode, we know that Ruri's mother, Nao comes to Hatomijima to look for Ruri. However, her appearance is not a simple visit after all as Yuzo realizes it after knowing what's she's like when he saw her in Tokyo. There's no way she could have come all the way to Hatomijima just to see Ruri. That is why he is wary about letting Ruri hear what they have to say and sends her off to school. Ruri has a lot of questions to ask Nao as to why she appeared and becomes very lethargic in class. Sanae-sensei doesn't understand why Ruri is behaving like that and even asks her to write a composition on her mother.

Nao tells Yuzo that she's pregnant and will be getting married soon. As such, she would like to remove Ruri's records from hers as Nao's future husband does not know about Ruri. Yuzo is quite upset with Nao who sees Ruri as just a name which she can remove anytime even though Ruri is her own flesh and blood. Nao says that she will break the news to Ruri directly and asks Yuzo to take in Ruri officially as his daughter by putting her name in their family register.

Sanae finally realizes Ruri's complicated feelings towards Nao and sees her in a different light. She seems to be genuinely concerned about Ruri's plight and tries to help if there is an opportunity. Seems like Nao's visit does have a good effect afterall since it helps Sanae to see Ruri differently and bridges the differences between them.

When Nao finally breaks the news to Ruri, she fights back her tears and wishes Nao happiness. It is heartbreaking to see a kid like her going through such an ordeal and you would really sympathise with her. Ruri is so upset that she skips school after Nao leaves but when Kawashima and Shoumei (the guy who is a bit bonkers after alcohol poisoning when his wife and daughter left him) brings her to the beach to watch the birth of the turtles, Ruri manages to pick herself up and go on with life although she is still hurting from her mother abandoning her again.

In my opinion, Nao is really a terrible mother. No doubt she has the right to pursue her happiness. However, by saying that she wants to remove Ruri's name from her own register, it's like treating Ruri as a blemish in her life where she can just erase off at her own will. Ruri is a human being who has feelings. No wonder she feels betrayed and abandoned at the thought of this. Yuzo also has a legitimate reason for being angry at Nao for treating Ruri like some rubbish to be dumped and I think he's really a kind fatherly figure who loves Ruri like his own daughter.

And by watching how the turtles struggle to crawl to the sea soon after being born, Ruri seems to draw strength from this and realises that she has to move on with life even though Nao is gone from her life. I think the staff of this drama really put in a lot of effort in this particular scene because they showed in detail how the turtles climb out from the sand to the beach in fumbling steps. God knows how long they waited to capture this heartwarming scene on film?

It's getting better by each episode but the only grouse I have is that Takenouchi Yutaka appears so little in each episode... I would love to see more of him... Oh, before I forget, there is another revelation about his character and the supposedly real Kawashima where he actually was with the real one sitting in a wheelchair at the harbour. So something did happen between them which led to him falling into the sea and the real Kawashima dying....

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Review of Ruri no Shima Ep 2

Ep 2 O.A. 23 Apr 2005
Ratings: 11.8%

No doubt, a big drop in ratings from the debut episode which is unexpected (at least to me) but I feel that this drama has a potential to get better as it progresses.

Things will definitely be smooth-sailing for Ruri and the people around her. It's not a simple case of a child comes to the island to live and all the problems facing the island would go away. First of all, Ruri had earned a bad reputation for herself when she went wild during her welcome party and crashed the boat into the clif. Thus, her teacher's attitude towards her is rather hostile while the village chief thinks little of her and keeps bugging Yuzo to send Ruri back to Tokyo and get another child from Okinawa main island instead.

Actually, due to the fact that Ruri has never been loved as a child, she is rather pessimistic about relationships and keeps everyone at bay without opening her heart to them. No doubt she believes that Yuzo and his wife, Megumi treat her well and care for her, she cannot express herself well enough. Coupled with the fact that she's still in the transition period of trying to adjust to life on the island which has a serious lack of facilities available in urban Tokyo, her frustration coupled with the distrust for the people around her makes Ruri try to be difficult. By creating trouble for the islanders, she hopes that Yuzo will send her back to Tokyo. I don't think she wants to go back anyway since her mother didn't care to come to the school term beginning ceremony but she is having doubts whether she can fit the role of helping the island with her presence and probably thinks that it would be best for Yuzo to get someone more obedient and lovable than her.

However, when Ruri realizes that Yuzo is trying very hard to convince the other islanders about letting her stay and he had to work to pay off the repair bill for the boat Ruri smashed, I guess this finally lets her know that she is being loved by someone and this would no doubt boost her self-worth. Just at this time, her mother comes to the island and it's going to create more confusion and tension within Ruri on how to accept her mother's presence.

On the other hand, Kawashima's real name should be Takahara and he's a hairstylist according to the video we saw in this episode. He is definitely acquainted with the deceased Kawashima Tatsuya but it's still not clear why he attempted suicide in Ep 1 and took on the name Kawashima as well as staying on the island and not going back to Tokyo. Takenouchi's character is full of question marks and he speaks very little in this drama. I think more information about him would be out as the drama progresses but I really hope to see more of him.

This drama, Anego and Koi ni Ochitara are my definite titles on the to-watch list. NTV's two offerings this season has got my total attention while for last season, I struck off Gokusen 2 and 87% from my list right from the beginning. Although NTV dramas do not usually get very high ratings, (Gokusen was one of the exceptions) they do have a number of good dramas from past seasons and it seems like they do very well in adapted stories. Both Ruri no Shima and Anego are adapted from best-selling novels. Note the similarity? Last year's hit, Hikari to tomo ni was adapted from a manga of the same title along with other past manga-to-drama titles like Kindaichi, Ginro, Psychometrer Eiji. They have a knack for creating magic from adapted stories, I guess.