Saturday, October 28, 2006

Top 10 movies weekly ranking (22 Oct 2006)

1) Nada Sousou

2) World Trade Centre

3) Metro ni Notte

4) Black Dahlia

5) Eien no Hou

6) Hula Girl

7) 16 Block

8) Tenshi no Tamago

9) Snake Flight

10) Il Mare

Monday, October 23, 2006

Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari Autumn 2006 SP

Here's a review of the recent Yo ni mo Kimyou na Monogatari Autumn 2006 SP. Over the years, this has been one of the most long-running dramas I've been watching but sometimes, I don't have access to the shows so there are some seasons which I may have missed. For this season, there aren't that many big names except for Domoto Koichi who's trying his hand at this hit series for the first time if I'm not wrong. As for Uchiyama Rina and Hirosue Ryoko, they have made appearances in this series before but I'm not sure about Shaku Yumiko and Tanaka Misako. A significant difference in this SP is the introduction of short stories which are less than a minute long in between the 5 main parts. My favourite is the clip on the guy trying to bend the spoon with his supernatural powers and ended up bending Tokyo Tower instead! ^__^

First up is Kyoko-san starring Hirosue Ryoko. The name Kyoko is written as "kagami-ko" in kanji which literally means someone in the mirror. Hirosue's role, Morisawa Izumi is an intern at the Arisu Hospital where there was someone who died under weird circumstances just the previous night before she was due to report to work. Morisawa hears from her young patient about a chant which goes like this, "Kyoko-san, Kyoko-san, watashi wo kirei ni shite kudasai na" (Kyoko-san, Kyoko-san, please make me beautiful) and tries it out for fun at night in the toilet. However, this causes a woman in white to appear and slash Morisawa's arm in the end. Nobody believes that such a woman exists but Morisawa gets suspicious upon hearing some rumours about the hospital being a jinxed place and people dying suddenly without apparent reasons. She does some snooping around and finds out the unexpected truth through the woman in the mirror. This story is rather creepy and will no doubt leave you with goosebumps at the end.

Next is Shaku Yumiko and Ibu Masato in "Bucchou OL" who switch bodies due to lightning striking them. This begins a series of hillarious experiences for both who try to grapple with the differences in lifestyles especially at work due to their new identities. Previously, both of them were at loggerheads because of their inability to identify with each other's problems but through the short experience, they forge an unlikely friendship and eagerly look forward to the day when they can go back to normal. However, an unexpected happening occurs which creates more chaos instead of undoing the situation. After watching a scary story, this helps to relive some tension especially when funny situations are aplenty.

This has got to be my No.1 for this season's SP. Next up is Domoto Koichi in "Kinou Kouen" (Yesterday Park) where he starts off as a young guy, Yosuke playing baseball with his longtime friend Takao in the park. However, he is aghast to hear about Takao's death that evening after they parted ways. The next day, he goes back to the park and realises that after picking up a baseball which appears from nowhere, he is transported back to the previous day. Having the benefit of hindsight, Yosuke tries to prevent Takao's death but with each intervention, he ends up causing more dire consequences. In the end, Yosuke starts to question himself as to whether he should continue trying to prevent Takao's death and decides against it in the end. This results in everything going back as to normal and the cause of death reverting to that of the first occurence. However, years later, Yosuke gets a sense of deja vu when his wife Noriko asks him the same questions as what he asked Takao when he was trying to decide whether to save Takao...Frankly speaking, this story falls into the category of creepy and ironic at the same time. The ending brings Yosuke back to square one in a sense and makes him go through what his friend experienced. As for the ironic aspect, the more Yosuke tried to save Takao, the more problems he caused. Is this trying to say that we should not go against the will of heaven and let things take their natural course?

The fourth story is "Neko ga Ongaeshi" (The Cat Returns its favour) starring Uchiyama Rina. Well, I think this is the most boring story in the SP. It's rather predictable and doesn't seem that original after all. I remember seeing something rather similar in the past but I just can't recollect the details. Anyway, Uchiyama plays Emi who has just lost her grandmother and can't help but lament to her cat, Kuro that she wishes that it will turn into a human to stay with her. Surprisingly, a man appears before her and shows signs that he's Kuro which makes Emi very happy. Unknown to her, the man has a hidden agenda and isn't what he claims to be...

Last but not least, we have Tanaka Misako in "Kazoku Kaigi" (Family meeting). A family of three meet with a serious traffic accident which leaves them with life-threatening injuries. They find themselves back at home safe and sound as if nothing had happened. It turns out that they have been told to kill one of their family members within 3 days so as to keep the other two alive. However, this is a tough choice to make as the deadline draws near and rifts start appearing among them...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nihon Chinbotsu Review

I finally got the chance to catch this movie so quickly in Singapore despite it being shown in Japan just this summer. As the official screening will only be next Thursday i.e. 26 Oct, the sneak previews are held this weekend thus explaining why I got to watch this today. Due to the fact that Kusanagi Tsuyoshi's face is not shown on the chirashi uploaded online (i.e. the Johnny's Jimusho ruling that their artistes' faces cannot be used on websites), I took a picture of the poster at the cinema. As the place was rather dim, the lights happened to be near the poster and I used a camera phone, that explains why the resolution is not that satisfactory. There were 3 other versions of the posters pasted on the same pillar but those did not have pictures of the cast so I decided against shooting them. Be warned that there will be plenty of spoilers in the following content so do not proceed if you want everything to be kept in suspense until you watch the movie.

From the way I see it, Kusanagi being featured against a blue blackground while Shibasaki Kou shown in front a fiery red blackground has a lot to do with their occupations. Kusanagi's role Onodera Toshio is a submarine pilot which means that he works in the sea while Shibasaki works as a resuce team member constantly faced with disasters or fires so that explains the contrast.

One thing I'm not too pleased about is the direct translation of the movie title which sounds really crude in a sense. I'm just being picky here...

As compared to what I observed today versus Death Note which I watched last Saturday, there were some significant differences. First of all, although it was rather late at night, there were many youngsters watching Death Note while for Nihon Chinbotsu which was an afternoon session, there were many families consisting of the elderly and the children. It seems to suggest that the composition of viewers both movies attract don't really overlap. I noticed that promotional efforts for Nihon Chinbotsu weren't as intensive as Death Note which could also explain why the first 4 rows of the cinema were empty as compared to a full house for Death Note.

Coming to my views of the movie, I must say that I enjoyed this to a certain extent but I do have some grouses about some aspects.

With regards to the CG disaster scenes, the impact was strong and very impressive. It will no doubt leave a deep impression on you. However, the story leaves much to be desired because it seems to have paid too much attention to catch the viewer's attention with the visuals. Here are the points which I don't feel too good about:

-The relationship between Onodera Toshio (Kusanagi) and Abe Reiko (Shibasaki Kou)
There should have been more screentime allocated to them. I just don't comprehend how they developed such a strong relationship when the movie only showed them meeting for the first time as Reiko saved Onodera during an explosion after an earthquake. The next time we see them together, Reiko mends Onodera's jacket and goes to his workplace specially to return it to him. And then, we see Onodera going to Reiko's place to visit Misaki (Fukada Mayuko) whom Reiko also saved at the same time. Nothing really points to the fact that they started dating and yet we suddenly see Onodera asking Reiko to go with him to England when everyone is evacuating overseas?! Especially when you see how they parted ways when Onodera had to go on a mission of no-return, it suggests that they have very deep feelings for each other. I really would have wanted to see some happy scenes for Onodera and Reiko rather than them being subjected to the pain of parting just when they finally reveal to each other how they really feel. I think this was also one of the grouses from Japanese viewers who wanted to see more romance in the movie.

- The hurried pace of the story
Frankly speaking, the movie seemed to be rushing from the start. In less than 20 minutes, so many earthquakes and explosions had taken place that I was looking at my watch and wondering what content would be left for the movie to explore if they showed the CG scenes at one shot at the beginning. And true to what I expected, the ending was extremely unsatisfactory, at least to me. If Tadokoro (Toyokawa Etsushi) had thought of a way to solve the problem long ago, I don't see why the story had to drag it till the very end before he provided his suggestion to Takamori (Oji Mao). And it felt as if a simple solution was all it needed to resolve the tough situation. So why did all these people die if rectifications could be done much earlier? And it seems like the movie was more interested in dishing out visual shock to the viewers in terms of the CG disaster scenes rather than focus more on human relationships in the face of danger or spend more time to explore how they solved the problem.

- The unsatisfactory ending
I don't understand why the hero of such stories have to die ALWAYS at the end. It's almost an unwritten rule that unless you die, you can't be considered as the hero in this type of movies. And surely you don't need me to say who died so I'll leave it for you to find out how he died.

With regards to the cast, here are my comments about some of them:

- Kusanagi Tsuyoshi as Onodera Toshio
Well, he's one of the main reasons why I wanted to watch this. ^__^ Kakkoii! However, his screentime is terribly limited where the disaster scenes appear more than the cast does. Nevertheless, he sure showed his acting skills despite the limitations since Onodera doesn't show too much of his emotions except when he had a showdown with Reiko and wanted to know her feelings for him just before he left for his mission. Too bad there weren't many romance scenes for the leads. Come to think of it, Kusanagi doesn't have that much kissing or intimate scenes even for his dramas...

- Shibasaki Kou as Abe Reiko
This is where you see her with long hair before she snipped it off to a short bob. Her role is a gutsy lass who's not afraid of danger but scared of loving someone and losing him in the process. Like I said, if there were more emotional scenes, it would have probably given her the chance to show her depth as an actress.

- Toyokawa Etsushi as Tadokoro Yuusuke
That hairstyle sure reminds me of Kuzu in "Bengoshi no Kuzu" although the movie was shot much earlier than the drama. And the blend of some frivolous with the seriousness makes the resemblance more striking. He's a charismatic actor but his role seems kind of helpless at times instead of looking the part of a leader in the operations to stop the disaster.

- Fukuda Mayuko as Kuraki Misaki
Being dubbed as one of the tensai koyaku (genius child actors) these days, Fukuda does make her presence felt on screen as a cute girl who looks her age. Some of her past roles usually make her seem like a girl who's much mature than her actual age so it's nice to see the smile on her face. However, there's not much room for her to show her stuff in this movie which is really a pity.

- Oji Mao as Takamori Saori
This tough lady is simply gorgeous for her age. If not the fact that she is the ex-wife of Matsudaira Ken, I would never have paid notice to her name prior to this movie. If I'm not wrong, she's also in her 40s or nearing 50 just like Kuroki Hitomi and she looks almost as good as Kuroki. Maybe it's because she doesn't appear as much on TV like Kuroki so not many people know her. Anyway, I think she has one of the meatier roles in the movie where she appeared more times than the leads did but of course, comparatively, the leads had more screentime despite the limited appearances. Too bad there wasn't any focus on her relationship with Tadokoro after the teaser about them being an item in the past appeared in the movie.

- Oikawa Mitsuhiro as Yuuki Tatsuya
This guy also has limited screentime but he does leave an impression on me. Frankly speaking, I think Micchi is very charming on screen as compared to off-screen where he tends to be a bit too gentle or feminine for my liking. I admit that I'm quite attracted to him or rather his role in this movie. ^__^

- Ishizaka Koji as Yamamoto Naoyuki
Haha, this guy proved to be a surprise for me. I was wondering why he is labeled as a special guest in the cast and after watching the movie, you will understand the rationale. He appears in a rather important role BUT he will fade out in a grand fashion. That's why they got a pretty well-known actor to take up this seemingly insignificant but still important role.

On the whole, I must say that I do feel disappointed with the movie especially with regards to the feeble storyline. However, it's still worth watching it if you fall into the categories:

1) You like the cast members
2) You like disaster films
3) You are prepared to forgive the not-so-impressive storyline for the sake of the "powerful" CG scenes dished out

Last but not least, I have posted the covers of the DVDs to be released on 19 Jan next year. The limited edition (catalog number: GNBD-7381, price 7140 yen) consists of 3 discs, dual-track explanations, making-of footage, replica of the director's script, image boards and illustration cards. There will also be comparison images with the 1973 original movie with this remake in one of the discs. As for the normal press (catalog number: GNBD-7389, price 3990 yen), it features the leads on the cover and consists of the movie only. The special in this edition would be an interchangeable 3D DVD casing jacket.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Top 10 movies weekly ranking (15 Oct 2006)

1) World Trade Centre

2) Nada Sousou

3) Black Dahlia

4) Hula Girl

5) 16 Block

6) Eien no Hou

7) Il Mare

8) World Speed x 3 TOKYO DRIFT

9) Gedo Senki

10) The Centennial

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Death Note Real Life Movie Part 1 Review

After months of waiting, I finally got the opportunity to watch Death Note in our local cinema! Well, the movie was only supposed to be screened from 19 Oct but there are sneak previews this weekend thus I jumped at the chance to catch this last night. As compared to the situation for Umizaru which was shown about 2 months ago at three locations, Death Note is screened at GV cineplexes which are located strategically in the city area and heartlands so I think this will be a big boost to its takings. Besides, Death Note enjoys a very strong following among local manga fans. I noticed that there were many groups of guys coming to watch the movie together and girlfriends accompanying boyfriends who are manga fans (the guys sitting around me seemed to be occupied with explaining the story to their girlfriends ^__^ )so I assume the strong turnout is largely due to the popularity and fame of the manga itself. Last but not least, the advertisement billboards started appearing in places like MRT stations since last month so the publicity has helped to generate hype over the movie's release significantly.

Another piece of good news is that the local cinemas will be showing the second instalment i.e. "Death Note - the Last Name - " next month which I suppose should be in conjunction with its release in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong! This means that the local distributor must have deliberately delayed the release of Part 1 to Oct instead of going along with Hong Kong and Taiwan which screened the movie in about 1 month after the Japan screening in June, so as to keep the story fresh in viewers' minds and ensure that they will continue to watch the sequel. Watching Part 1 on its own only lays the foundation and background of the story and it ends with a cliffhanger. The real action i.e. the battle between Light and L will be the essence of Part 2 and I can't wait to find out if the ending will be different from the manga.

Coming to my views of the movie, I won't go into too much details of how the story progresses but do be warned that there would be plenty of spoilers in the following content as I express my thoughts about the movie especially when it comes to the comparison between the manga and movie.

First of all, the setting of the movie is significantly different from the manga especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships and backgrounds.

For example, Light was a 17-year-old senior high student in the manga but he becomes an university student reading law in the movie. I guess that's partly due to the fact that Fujiwara Tatsuya doesn't look like a senior high student now so instead of sticking blindly to the original setting and being slammed for not looking his part, it was a smart move to adjust Light's background to suit Fujiwara's physical attributes and image.

Names of characters were changed like Raye Penber became Raye Iwamatsu (I didn't see the rationale to do this though since Raye was an American after all in the manga) and some characters whom were supposed to be here ended up at another point in the story. For example, the guy named Shibuimaru Takuo was the one who got knocked down by a truck after he was chasing after a woman to harrass her but he took on the form of a child murderer in the movie and Light deliberately stood before the guy to write his name on the Death Note. Well, Light was furious about the fact that this guy was unrepentant about his misdeeds and that's why he had the strong urge to kill Shibuimaru as soon as he found out that the Death Note really had the power it claimed to have.

And the so-called key person in this movie i.e. the newly created character Akino Shiori didn't seem that important if you consider the limited airtime she gets. However, her presence is somewhat like a litmus test which gives you an idea of how Light views the people around him and how his character and morals had changed from his initial motto of changing the world for the better. It's obvious that Light doesn't love her at all which is why he could sacrifice her easily. He didn't seem that affected by her demise. To me, Light didn't have the intention of killing Shiori until the presence of Misora Naomi became a serious threat to exposing his identity. As such, he probably saw Shiori as someone whom he could use as a pawn anytime. Besides, as seen from his dialogue with Ryuk who asked what Light would do if Shiori found out that he is Kira, Light simply shrugged nonchalantly and said that Shiori will understand his intentions one day. If Shiori had meant something to him, I guess he would have given some thought about her feelings rather than expect that she accepts his new identity as a dictator of death without any reservations. As such, Shiori's importance in the story is subjective, depending on how you see it.

Something which bothers me was the fact that they used a middle-aged man to play the fake L on TV when the manga obviously used a much younger man. Again, I don't see the reason for the change but anyway, it doesn't affect the story at all. It just irks me to see changes which are not necessary.

Another thing was the inclusion of a female detective in Yagami's team. The self-introductions by them to L were conducted quickly but I remember clearly that the lady's surname was something I didn't see in the manga. Another newly created character, I guess.

Amane Misa was not as ditzy as what she is in the manga. I guess Toda Erika doesn't have much time to show off the characteristics of Misa yet so we should be seeing if she can match up to the irritating traits of the manga Misa.

Before I rave about the good points of this movie, let me point out one major disappointment and grouse I have. It's with regards to Misora Naomi. As you may have known, she is the fiancee of Raye and a former FBI inspector. In the manga, her interaction with Light was a very exciting part of the story where Light showed how clever he could get and Misora had protected herself right to the end until she revealed her name to Light as she let down her guard. Even though Misora did disappear or should I say die because of Light's manipulations, it was done in a very classy manner, absolutely no gore and leaving much to imagination. However, the movie oversimplified Misora and made her seem like a rash woman who exposed her background to Light too easily. As we find out later, Misora giving away a major piece of information about her identity proved to what killed her in the end. It was a waste to see her die in that fashion which was contrary to what she should have been. Too bad for Seto Asaka too...she could have done much better if the movie didn't design Misora to be such a brainless and reckless woman.

On the whole, I think that the story was handled pretty well especially for the following parts:

- The finale where L ate consome potato chips in front of Light at the arts museum. It was an obvious taunt at Light by L that the latter had seen through the mobile TV trick.

- Raye being ordered by Light to write down names of the FBI detectives on the Death Note. No doubt it was a little shortened, it was still exciting to watch.

- The moment L started appearing and his fervent eating of sweet stuff. That part where he stringed doughnuts, cakes and various snacks on a barbecue skewer and offered it to Yagami Soichiro was simply hillarious! L really provided lots of comical relief in the movie. Another favourite part was L saying that he and Light had something in common: both of them are childish and hate to lose. This has got to be one of the most classical lines in the story spoken by L. ^__^

- The bus-jacking incident, especially when Ryuk scared the wits out of that criminal

As for the characters/cast, my no.1 favourite would be L played by Matsuyama Kenichi. He's really a dead ringer for L in the manga especially his mannerisms and how he devours the sweets and snacks. Using a lollypop as the stirrer for his tea was really true to the "spirit" of L who has an unusually sweet tooth. Although I cringed at how he was eating (the thought of eating so much sweet food gives me the creeps), I wasn't put off by his performance and liked his potrayal of L very much. He's the most outstanding actor in the cast although I would have preferred to see more of him.

Second would be Nakamura Shido who plays Ryuk. Well, we don't get to see his face at all but his voice is really close to the image I have of Ryuk while reading the manga. And it is difficult to convey the emotions of the character just by using his voice so I'm very impressed by his performance (not by his private life scandals though!).

Fujiwara Tatsuya comes third for me. He does have the feel of Light to a certain extent but I think he is somewhat stuck in the middle at times. Right from the beginning, Light is supposed to have a tinge of innocence and childishness when he hasn't changed completely to a devil. In this regard, Fujiwara doesn't seem that "pure" after all. On the other hand, at this stage of the story, Light has not yet evolved into the epitome of complete evil so Fujiwara doesn't have the chance to show off his "evilness" as yet. I've seen the trailer for Part 2 and that's where I think Fujiwara will perform much better since the gap between Light's evilness and kindness will be very wide and this will be a big test of his acting skills. It will be interesting to see whether he or Matsuyama Kenichi will turn out to be the better actor at the end of the series. Nonetheless, I still think he did a pretty decent job although he was limited by some parts of the story at this point in time.

By the way, for those who are expecting to see something at the end of the movie, there's only the credits. I stayed till the end and was expecting to see some behind-the-scenes footage but was disappointed. Maybe there will be some for Part 2?!

On the whole, I'll rate this movie 9 out of 10. Except for some minor disappointments and some changes made to the setting which seemed redundant, this performed above my expectations.

Seems like there is a rush of Japanese movies to be screened this year. Nihon Chinbotsu comes on next from 26 Oct and I'll probably go for the sneak preview. There's also the Japanese Film Festival starting this month which has pretty recent films like Kamome Shokudou and Hakasei no Aishita Suishiki. And I am keeping my eyes wide opened for the exact screening date of Part 2 for Death Note...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Top 10 movies weekly ranking (8 Oct 2006)

1) World Trade Centre

2) Nada Sousou

3) Hula Girl

4) Il Mare

5) Eien no Hou

6) The Centenial

7) World Speed x3 TOKYO DRIFT

8) X-MEN: Final Decision

9) Lady in Prada

10) Ultraman Mavis & Ultra Kyoudai

Sunday, October 08, 2006

PV of "Sorafune" by TOKIO

Here are some screenshots of the PV for "Sorafune" by TOKIO which is the theme song of My Boss My Hero:

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Something worth mentioning is that Matsuoka Masahiro is the director of this PV. It is not the first time that Mabo has done directing for TOKIO's PVs and I must say that most of them, if not all, turn out to be very good. Besides, I guess as a member of the band, it's easy for him to try things which the other members will be willing to attempt or accommodate ideas from others more readily as compared to getting a director who doesn't know them well. That's why the result is usually satisfactory or even exceeds expectations.

Nagase Tomoya hogs all the attention (again!! ^__^) but he's also not spared from being drenched from the rain for most of the PV. Given his "sacrifice", he gets to put on a kakkoii look in the centre of the room while singing with his members surrounding him. I think it's worth it after all.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Romaji lyrics of "Sorafune" by TOKIO

Title: Sorafune
Artiste: TOKIO
Theme song of: My Boss My Hero

sono fune wo koide yuke
omae no te de koide yuke
omae ga kiete yorokobu mono ni
omae no ooru wo makaseru na

sono fune wa ima doko ni
fura fura to ukande iru no ka
sono fune wa ima doko de
boro boro de susunde iru no ka
nagasare maito sakarai nagara
fune wa idomi fune wa itami
subete no suifuu ga osore wo nashite nigesatte mo

sono fune wo koide yuke
omae no te de koide yuke
omae ga kiete yorokobu mono ni
omae no ooru wo makaseru na

sono fune wa mizukara wo sorafune to wasurete iruno ka
sono fune wa maiagaru sono toki wo wasureteiru no ka
chihei no hate suihei no hate
soko ga fune no rikuchiten
subete no minato ga akari wo keshi damari kon demo

sono fune wo koide yuke
omae no te de koide yuke
omae ga kiete yorokobu mono ni
omae no ooru wo makaseru na

nan no shiken no jikan nanda
nani wo sabaku hakari nanda
nan wo neratte tsukiaun da
nani ga fune wo ugokasunda
nan no shiken no jikan nanda
nani wo sabaku hakari nanda
nan wo neratte tsukiaun da
nani ga fune wo ugokasunda

sono fune wo koide yuke
omae no te de koide yuke
omae ga kiete yorokobu mono ni
omae no ooru wo makaseru na
sono fune wo koide yuke
omae no te de koide yuke
omae ga kiete yorokobu mono ni
omae no ooru wo makaseru na

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Recap of the Summer 2006 season

The summer 2006 season is finally over and here's a recap of some highlights in this season where 5 dramas went below the 10% mark and 2 of them had to be shortened due to their lacklustre results:

Ranking in terms of average ratings

1) My Boss My Hero 18.91% - Generally good but I felt that the ending was too long-winded at certain points.

2) Kekkon Dekinai Otoko 16.93% -
Quality of the episodes wasn't too consistent and developments were slow at times. However, it was still entertaining and good acting from Abe Hiroshi, Natsukawa Yui and Takashima Reiko. That anti-climax ending really got me so exasperated though. ^__^

3) Sapuri 14.24% - Biggest problem lies with the uninspiring acting of the leads. Next comes the script. Clearly the biggest flop this season despite the ratings which I think should have gone lower. It certainly doesn't deserve a No.3 placing.

4) Fushin no Toki 12.91% - I think the scriptwriter doesn't know whether to make this a messy affair about straying spouses or a funny story about how these people go around in circles for no purpose. This is how I feel as of finishing Ep 5 so far...Maybe I'll feel differently when I finish this.

5) Hanayome wa Yakudoshi 12.03% - Kind of boring. Shinohara Ryoko is trying hard to keep this afloat but then the story is quite dry. Doesn't bring out the best in her. I might just drop this halfway...

6) Kuroi Taiyou 11.15% - Didn't watch this but heard that this is quite good. Then again, I'm sick of stories about hosts or hostesses especially after dramas like Kurokawa no Tecchou and Yaou.

7) Dare yori mo Mama wo Itosu 10.40% - Rather boring but I find Uchida Yuki and Kobayashi Satomi quite appealing. Too bad, that is not enough to sustain my interest so I dropped this befoe the halfway mark.

8) Taiyou no Uta 10.28% - The first episode is enough to make me puke, literally. For heaven's sake, can Yamada Takayuki do something else for a change? I fail to fathom why Sawajiri Erika's single got Oricon No.1 when her vocals aren't exactly impressive?

9) CA to Oyobi 9.51% - I wasted my time on the first episode and that's it. Mizuki Arisa is just not my cup of tea.

10) Dandori ~ Dance Drill ~ 8.95% - Still watching but I simply can't stand Eikura Nana's performance. Kato Rosa, Morita Ayaka, Kokubun Taichi and Kanno Miho plus the promised finale cheerleading scene are the only reasons keeping me from throwing this into the recycle bin.

11) PS Rashoumon 8.85% - Still watching. Judgement to be passed later.

12) Shimokita Sundays 7.30% - Same as above

13) Regatta 5.47% - Terrible. Hayami Mokomichi went overboard on the angst of his character and the story felt so excruciatingly painful instead of spreading a positive image for summer. Definitely not suited for the warm weather.

*Those in green - above 15%, in red - below 10%. Comments in purple.

My Boss My Hero and Kekkon Dekinai Otoko were the clear winners, be it in terms of ratings or critical reviews and it was a two-legged race right to the end. However, for the rest, it was more like a race to see who could go lower in terms of ratings. Given the fact that 5 out of 13 went below the passing mark, it gives an idea of the quality of dramas we had in this season which failed to pull in the viewers.

Traditionally, summer dramas tend to do not as well as other seasons' offerings due to the summer vacation where most of the students are not at home. Due to the severity of the problem, many magazines had features or post-mortems to see where the issue is.

Frankly speaking, I don't think it's a problem with adaptations since there are many good stories around in the form of novels, manga, anime or even foreign movies. Just look at what My Boss My Hero managed to achieve. Adaptations can work both ways. It has a sound structure to attract a core fanbase but if you spoil the feel of the original, brickbats are to be expected. As such, given the current trend, we will definitely see more adaptations coming our way.

Original scripts are now a minority especially if you consider that only 4 out of 13 are fresh stories. And the results aren't exactly encouraging since Kekkon Dekinai Otoko is the sole survivor to go beyond 15%. Which just serves to tell the TV stations that they should not bear the risks of dishing out more original scripts?!

I'm rather disappointed with what I've seen this season except for the Top 2 so I think the autumn season which promises much more should be a reversal of fortunes for J-dramas.


Highest rated debut episode: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (20.2%)
Lowest rated debut episode: Regatta (9.5%)

Highest rated single episode: My Boss My Hero Ep 10 (final) - 23.3%
Lowest rated single episode: Regatta Ep 5 & 7 - 4.3%

Greatest rise in ratings: 6% for My Boss My Hero Ep 6 (from 14.6% to 20.6%)
Greatest fall in ratings: 6.9% for Taiyou no Uta Ep 2 (from 13.8% to 6.9%)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top 10 movies weekly ranking (1 Oct 2006)

1) Nada Sousou

2) Il Mare

3) Hula Girl

4) Lady In Prada

5) X-MEN: Final Decision

6) Eien no Hou

7) World Speed x 3 TOKYO DRIFT

8) Ultraman Mavis & Ultra Kyoudai

9) Sugar & Spice Fuumi Zeka

10) Gedo Senki

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Kekkon Dekinai Otoko Ep 4

Looking at how Kuwano lays out his work-related items on a table before packing them into his bag, I really think it's a waste of time to do this. However, seeing how serious Kuwano goes about doing this, it makes me laugh at the great lengths he would go to because of his perfectionist trait.

This inability to speak his mind can also be seen in his daily dealings with others. For example, when Eiji was troubled over whether he should cancel his date to come back to work for the weekend, Kuwano was trying to be considerate by telling Eiji that he's not needed and he could go for his date. However, the manner he said this just makes people unable to comprehend his true intentions and ends up offending others to a certain extent. If not for Sawazaki explaining the hidden meaning behind Kuwano's words, Eiji would not have understood what Kuwano was trying to get at.

On the other hand, Kuwano also needs some education in how to speak his mind without embarrassing people or hurting their feelings. During the day-trip on a bus, Kuwano kept correcting the tour guide's explanation and butted in with his comments which not only embarrassed the tour guide and made the latter lose confidence in herself. Although he did not mean anything bad, I think there is a suitable time and place to say certain things instead of being too frank. The thing is Kuwano doesn't seem to think that he is in the wrong and ends up making Hayasaka mad at the same time.

With regards to spending off-days alone, I don't really think that this is a bad idea since there are times when it's hard to find people to go out with you at the last minute. In addition, there are some activities which I feel that it would be better to be done alone e.g. watching movies which your friends may not be interested. It's better to enjoy yourself rather than dragging uninterested people along for the sake of having some company. However, the drama points out correctly that there is this thinking that people who spend their off-days alone are pitiful or lonely. It really depends on personal viewpoints and the situation so I don't think a sweeping statement applies in this case.

The later part of this drama reveals that Kuwano wants to enjoy watching the fireworks alone but ends up having to share his private spot with Hayasaka, Mitsuru and Co. Well, he did try to ask Hayasaka to join him indirectly at the rooftop of his office building where the fireworks can be seen clearly but ends up offending her again. As seen from this, it's evident that Kuwano cares about how Hayasaka feels to a certain extent or else he would never have bothered apologising.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dandori ~ Dance Drill ~ Ep 1

Before watching this drama, I had my reservations about this due to two main factors. First of all, this seems so much like a gender-reversed version of Waterboys no doubt it features another little-known sport in Japan. Secondly, the cast doesn't look that appealing after all and I wasn't sure whether Eikura Nana could pull her weight as the female lead. However, I felt that this deserved a little chance since the cast had promising young actresses like Kato Rosa and Morita Ayaka as well as Kokubun Taichi who's making his return to a drama after a pretty long absence and Kanno Miho who appears as a special guest.

Frankly speaking, I do not feel that Eikura Nana has what it takes to be a female lead yet. Her expressions seem rather unnatural especially when she tries to flash her megawatt smile. Seeing it in photoshoots may be OK but to see that in moving motion doesn't feel that good. Besides, given her height which makes her tower over her co-cast, it just seems really awkward for her to act as this chirpy young thing Aikawa Kaname. As such, I couldn't help but cringe whenever she tries to show off her cuteness because it sends shivers down my spine literally.

However, Kato Rosa and Morita Ayaka seems quite promising. Compared to Eikura's role, Kato's role as Futaba is more appealing to me because she seems very down-to-earth and sure of what she's going to do. I like people who have a clear idea of what they are doing. On the other hand, Morita didn't really impress me with her past roles because it gave the idea that she was like an accessory to Ueto Aya most of the time i.e. Ace wo Nerae and Attack No.1. Nevertheless, Morita showed that she can do more than that so I'm looking forward to seeing more development in her role.

With regards to the storyline itself, I do not have that much confidence in it being able to hold my interest right till the end though. I just hope that my dislike for some aspects of this drama will not prove strong enough to make me give up before seeing the climax cheerleading scene in the final episode.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Top 10 female celebrities with the best complexion

Results from Oricon Monitor Research:

1) Koyuki

2) Ito Misaki

3) Kuroki Hitomi

4) Momoi Kaori

5) Matsushima Nanako

6) Nakama Yukie

7) Shinohara Ryoko

8) Ueto Aya

9) Hamasaki Ayumi

10) Kato Ai