Monday, August 31, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (30 Aug 09)

1) 20 Seiki Shounen Final Chapter Bokura no Hata

2) Night Musuem 2

3) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

4) Gekijouban Kamen Rider Decade All Riders vs. Dai Shocker

5) Gekijouban Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl

6) HACHI Yakusoku no Inu

7) Summer Wars

8) Amalfi Megami no Houshuu

9) 96 Hours

10) Hottarake no Shima Haruka to Mahou no Kagami

Yakou no Kaidan DVD Box

Title: Yakou no Kaidan DVD Box
Price: 19,950 yen
Date of release: 16 September 2009
Total number of discs: 5
Total running time: 405 minutes
Produced by: Pony Canyon

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shiroi Haru DVD Box

Title: Shiroi Haru DVD Box
Price: 23,940 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 2 September 09
Total number of discs: 7
Produced by: Pony Canyon
Total running time: 500 minutes
1st press premium: Kowakawa mobile phone strap with a voice recording
Special footage: Production press conference, teasers, birthdays and end-of-filming footages, interviews of Abe Hiroshi, Endo Kenichi, Oohashi Nozomi, Shiraishi Miho, Yoshitaka Yuriko, Endo Yuuya and the scriptwriter Ozaki Masaya, boom-up SP, filming diary of Oohashi Nozomi and the art exhibition of Sachi

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kanryoutachi no Natsu's original novel

Title: Kanryoutachi no Natsu
Author: Shiroyama Saburou
Price: 580 yen (inclusive of tax)
Number of pages: 352
Published by: Shincho
First published in: November 1980
ISBN: 4101133115

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kanjani 8's Murakami Shingo to act in "My Girl"

Kanjani 8's Murakami Shingo will be acting in the autumn drama, "My Girl" which stars Aiba Masaki and begins on 9 October. He will play Shibata Tomoya, a teacher at the kindergarten which the lead character's (Aiba) daughter attends.

Source: Nikkansports

Romaji lyrics of 太陽と砂漠のバラ Taiyo to Sabaku no Bara by TOKIO (Theme song of Karei Naru Spy)

Title: Taiyo to Sabaku no Bara (The Sun and the Rose of the Desert)
Artiste: TOKIO
Lyrics: Shimizu Akio
Melody: Shimizu Akio
Theme song of Karei Naru Spy
Total running time: 5 minutes and 7 seconds

ano hi egaita sabaku no bara wa
mada mune no oku ni saiteru
itsuka are hatete yuku kono sekai wa
inochi no ame wo furi sosoide miro

nodo ni tsumaru nigai doku wo haki sutete wa
karappo na hitomi ni utsusu ki gakari na mirai wo
kawaki kitta kokoro to muki au sono tabi
moe tsuki sou na jibun no naka ni "nani ka" wo sagashiteta

aa... kyou mo mata sabi tsuite
toki hanatenu kase
kubi ni maki tsuketa mama
haizuri mawatte iru

ano hi egaita sabaku no bara wo
ima mune no oku ni sakaseru
kureru machi nami to kake nuketa hibi wo
kioku ni ume konde
make tsuzuketeku yume bakari de wa
aisuru hito sae mamorenai
sasatta mama no toge mada aru nara
inochi no ase wo furi sosoide miro

deguchi no nai kotae bakari ni iki tsuite
kore made nando mo tsubuyaita "fuzakenna" wo wasurenai

aa... tomo sureba iki no ne ga
tomari sou na kusabi
kanpuku naku utarete mo
tachi agari susunde yuku

dare ka wo mamoru dare ka no uso ga
gouman na yazashi mukeru
kaki nagutta seigi de tate wo kizuki
ikari no kane narase
hagane no you na chikara nakutemo
sono te de kusari wo hiki chigiri
uragiri no yami wo sasu yuuki aru nara
katameta kobushi furi kazashite miro

machi no akari ga nijinde iru hodo nigotta mizu wo kakkuratte
subete wo wasure samayotte genjitsu wa kiba wo muku
ukeiregatai kono mainichi wo kiri hiraku tame ni tatakai tsuzukero
kore kara mo zutto

ano hi egaita sabaku no bara wa
mada mune no oku ni saiteiru
hatasenu mama no yashin no kakaete
tobira wo koji akero
nigiri shimeteru sabaku no bara wo
itsu made mo karasanai you ni
ashita mo tsuzuku darou ibara no sekai ni
inochi no ase wo furi sosoide miro

shiren no you na taiyou no shita de

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top 10 movies ranking (23 Aug 09)

1) Night Museum 2

2) Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

3) Gekijouban Kamen Rider Decade All Riders vs. Dai Shocker

4) HACHI Yakusoku no Inu

5) Gekijouban Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl

6) 96 Jikan

7) Amalfi Megami no Houshuu

8) Transporters 3 Unlimited

9) Summer Wars

10) Gekijouban Yatterman Shin Yatta Maker Daishuugo! Omocha no kuni de Daikessen da Koron!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sakai Noriko finally comes clean about her runaway saga

After so many days of giving ambiguous statements, Sakai Noriko has finally come clean about the motive of her runaway saga. She had maintained earlier that she ran away because she was shaken and shocked by her husband's arrest. However, she has now confessed that her runaway saga was meant to rid her body of the leftover effects from the stimulants in an attempt to prevent the police from finding any proof of consumption. The police also suspect her for intentionally destroying evidence and obstructing the course of justice with the following actions she took or may have taken during the period when she was in hiding:

1) Sakai's handphone had been missing when she gave herself up. She claimed that she had thrown the handphone away as it was spoilt. This was very unnatural as she could have sent it for repairs. In addition, she was holding onto her son's handphone instead when she was on the run. When the police found Sakai's handphone, they discovered it was intentionally destroyed, possibly in an attempt to cover up how Sakai got her supply of stimulants and her circle of friends who might have also consumed the banned substances. The police are currently looking into how they may find information of her calls and emails from her service provider since the handphone is beyond repair. Sakai has not mentioned how she got her drugs through the interrogations so far.

2) Sakai's hair was visibly shorter than the time when her husband was arrested. It has been said that the length of the hair can determine how far back a person has been consuming stimulants. As such, with her current hair length, the investigators can only trace back to about 1 year and 8 months back. In addition, she deliberately dyed her hair whereby the chemicals used could actually flush out the stimulants' left behind in her hair. There is reason to believe that Sakai anticipated the police's move to test her hair for the drugs thus she cut her hair during her runaway period. She had also been giving conflicting accounts of when she started on the stimulants. At first, she said that she started last summer but now she is claiming that she started more than 1 year ago. However, her husband said that she has been consuming the stimulants for longer than what she claims.

3) Sakai knew that the police would not be able to find traces of the drug through a urine test if she stayed away for at least 4 to 6 days. As such, her runaway bid was a calculated move, rather than a sudden decision made in response to her husband's arrest.

Autumn 2009 Gekku drama - "Tokyo Dogs ~ Saiaku de Saikou no Partner"

Oguri Shun and Mizushima Hiro will be teaming up in the autumn 2009 FujiTV Gekku drama (Mondays, 9pm), "Tokyo Dogs ~ Saiaku de Saikou no Partner" (Tokyo Dogs ~ The Worst yet Best Partner) which begins its run in October. This is the first police investigative drama in Gekku history and Oguri's first appearance in this slot. Oguri plays an elite police detective working in New York City who rose through the ranks from the military. He works with a calm and serious attitude and is well-known for being rigid. When he starts to work on a drug case with the Japan police force, he ends up having to work with a gangster-turned-policeman played by Mizushima Hiro. Mizushima's character is a guy who is well-versed in various forms of martial arts and is the exact opposite of Oguri's cold character. In addition, he is a fan of group dating unlike Oguri who shows little interest in women. Yoshitaka Yuriko will also be in the lineup as a mysterious woman who holds the key to solving the case.

The 61st Drama Academy Awards (Spring 2009)

Best Drama: BOSS (FujiTV)

Best Leading Actor: Abe Hiroshi (Shiroi Haru)

Best Leading Actress: Amami Yuki (BOSS)

Best Supporting Actor: Takenouchi Yutaka (BOSS)

Best Supporting Actress: Aragaki Yui (Smile)

Best Directing: BOSS

Best Script: Shiroi Haru

Best Theme Song: Ashita no Kioku by Arashi (The Quiz Show)

The Television Special Award: Oohashi Nozomi (Shiroi Haru)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Review of MW (Muu) Chapter 0 The Devil's Game

Title: MW (Muu) Chapter 0 The Devil's Game
Official website: here
Shown on: 30 June 2009 (Tuesday), 9pm
Broadcast by: NTV
Theme song: MW ~ Dear Mr. & Mrs. Picaresque by flumpool
Main cast members: Satou Takeru, Tanimura Mitsuki, Koide Keisuke and Tamaki Hiroshi


As this drama is a prelude to the movie version starring Tamaki Hiroshi and Yamada Takayuki, you will notice that the main cast members in this SP are not appearing in the actual movie itself. Nonetheless, these characters are still linked to the plot of the movie in one way or another.

Satou Takeru plays Morioka Takashi, an orphan who has just lost his job in a factory and is troubled over where to find money. When he goes back to the orphanage he grew up in, he finds that it is facing finance problems as the orphanage's owner has just passed away. His daughter, Watanabe Yukari wants to keep the orphanage going but is helpless to do so. When the orphanage is forced to shut down, Takashi happens to bump into an ex-colleague Sakurada Kousuke who introduces him to a private courier job. Although Takashi has reservations about this job, he still decides to take it up since he needs money.

Subsequently, Takashi earns the trust of the boss behind the scenes, Yuuki Michio who tells him that he can change the world by working for him. Yuuki gets Takashi to commit some crimes in Robin Hood fashion where they seize dirty money from the rich and give to the poor. Although Takashi manages to get the orphanage back with the money he received from these jobs, he is constantly on tenterhooks and starts to get cold feet when he realizes that the police are suspecting him. At this time, Takashi then receives instructions from Yuuki about a job which is going to reveal his own past...

If you view this SP on its own (since I've also not been able to watch the movie yet), it gets quite thrilling whenever the parts of Takashi being manipulated by Yuuki's game are shown. The story zips between the current happenings and what led to the current situation. It does get a bit dry when the background of events is explained but tension starts to build up from the middle of the story. However, due to the constant mention of events 16 years ago which led to the wipeout of an island's inhabitants, it gets a bit confusing because we have little information as to what really happened. I believe the answer should be found in the movie. Never mind if you don't get what is going on. The SP is merely to entice viewers to find out the answer for themselves in the cinemas. This is a commonly used tactic these days to boost box office takings but I'm not sure if it helps a lot. At least it does stir up some interest for me but I doubt this movie will come to our local cinemas. Given the subtle hints of a homosexual relationship between Yuuki and Garai (Yamada Takayuki) and the generally violent storyline, I am wondering if our censors will let it pass, assuming if any film distributors want to bring it in.

Satou Takeru does impress me this time. Frankly speaking, his performance in Mr.Brain bored me to tears. I can't really blame him because he had a role which didn't have much room for development. This time round, he started off with a plain potrayal of Takashi who seemed so unaffected even when he got fired but as the story went on, he managed to show the various emotions of Takashi. However, his looks may stand in the way when it comes to future developments because it is easy to stereotype him as a delinquent guy based on his blonde hair and that heck-care attitude especially when he looks emotionless. There are lots of young actors these days who belong to the same category so competition is definitely keen. Hopefully, he can work on improving his acting skills and changing his image as he grows older or else he may find it hard to carve a niche for himself in this industry.

Tanimura Mitsuki is severly under-utilized this time because her role is very small. As such, it will be unfair to say that she did badly since she appeared as a damsel in distress for most of this SP. She is definitely capable of a better performance. Likewise for Koide Keisuke, since he was in the SP to make a friendly appearance (for the sake of Chiaki-sama?! ^___^), he too did not have much room to show his stuff. Frankly speaking, the most memorable performance I've seen from Koide was his potrayal of Masumi in Nodame Cantabile. Till today, I am still unable to forget that afro-style otome Masumi who pines for Chiaki (Tamaki). Maybe that's why Koide appeared in this SP on a friend basis.

Talking about Tamaki, he also did not have much airtime. However, as he is a key figure in the SP and movie, his scenes are significant enough to have an impact. At least I could see the major change in Tamaki as he moves on from comedy or romance genres like Nodame Cantabile or Love Shuffle earlier this year. Boy, he was so cold and cruel! There was absolutely no trace of emotion from his performance which lends credibility to the evil nature of Yuuki as potrayed in the manga. You certainly wouldn't be able to link Yuuki to Chiaki-sama or Usa-tan. However, it remains to be seen if he will be evil throughout the movie or will change for the better if his buddy/lover Garai (Yamada) manages to change him.

And my ratings for this drama SP...
Story: 7 out of 10 (As a teaser prelude to the movie, it fared OK. However, the inconsistency in pace would have turned people off from finishing this SP in the first place. This defeats the purpose since the best is yet to come.)
Acting: 8 out of 10 (For Satou Takeru and Tamaki Hiroshi)
Theme song: 5 out of 10 (I didn't manage to hear the song until the end of the SP and it didn't leave a strong impression on me.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6 out of 10 (Given that this is just a teaser, I guess funds are limited so there isn't much scenery or effects to speak of.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 6 out of 10 (Although Tamaki had less airtime than Satou, the latter was evidently overpowered when the confrontation scene came along.)

Total: 32 out of 50

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 10 tanned beauties (Oricon)

1) Asao Miwa

2) Amuro Namie

3) Murakami Rikako

4) Tsuchiya Anna

5) Kuroki Meisa

6) Natsume Masako

7) Kouda Kumi

8) Kinoshita Yukina

9) Wakatsuki Chinatsu

10) Date Kimiko

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Top 10 female artistes with the most admired lifestyles (Oricon)

1) Amuro Namie

2) Hamasaki Ayumi

3) Kawamura Kaori

4) YUI

5) Shiina Ringo

6) Yoshida Miwa (Dreams Come True)

7) Matsuda Seiko

8) Matsutoya Yumi

9) Tsuchiya Anna

10) ayaka

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yuka to act in "My Girl" as Aiba Masaki's ex-girlfriend

Yuka will be taking on the role of Aiba Masaki's ex-girlfriend in the autumn 2009 drama, "My Girl" which begins its run in October via TV Asahi. Yuka's character is set as Aiba's girlfriend who left him years ago and bore him a daughter before she passed away. As such, her appearance will only be in flashback scenes. Her daughter will be played by Ishii Momoka. This is the first drama Yuka is appearing since 2002 and she is particularly excited about playing a mother this time.

Autumn 2009 drama, "Real Clothes" - FujiTV

Karina will be starring in the autumn 2009 FujiTV drama (Tuesdays, 10pm), "Real Clothes" which begins its run from 13 October 09. The story is based on the same-titled comic by Makimura Satoru and there was an earlier drama SP made last autumn. Karina plays a woman who works in a departmental store but has no interest at all about looking fashionable. When she is sent to work in the ladies fashion department, she begins to undergo a transformation by Kuroki Hitomi who plays her fashionable superior. Filming is due to begin from 8 September and there will be location shooting done at the fashion capital, Paris. Set shooting will be done at Isetan which has provided their Shinjuku store for filming purposes. In addition, Karina's elder sisters, Nouse Anna and Erena will also be acting in this drama thus making it the first time for the trio to act together.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Matsuyama Kenichi caught spending the night at Koyuki's apartment

According to the 18th August issue of "Jousei Jishin", Matsuyama Kenichi was caught spending the night 3 days in a row this month at Koyuki's apartment. In addition, Koyuki was also caught driving Matsuyama's car. It is reported that Koyuki's parents are also staying with her thus leading to the speculation that their relationship is known to their families.

The two were first romantically linked in April this year when they were caught on a dinner date together. However, they denied that they were an item at that time. With response to this latest report, both artistes' agencies commented that since this is a private matter, they do not intend to interfere and will leave it to them to handle this.

Top 10 movies ranking (16 Aug 09)

1) Night At the Museum 2

2) Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

3) Gekijouban Kamen Rider Decade All Riders Vs. Dai Shocker

4) HACHI Yakusoku no Inu

5) Gekijouban Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl

6) Amalfi Megami no Houshuu

7) Gokusen THE MOVIE

8) G.I. Joe

9) Porto

10) Transporter 3 Unlimited

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shinohara Ryoko's new drama SP, "Hataraku Gon!"

Shinohara Ryoko will be making her return to the drama scene with a drama SP titled "Hataraku Gon" (Working Gon) via NTV. This will be her first appearance in a TV drama ever since she went on a maternity break two and a half years ago. She last appeared in the NTV drama, "Haken no Hinkaku" in winter 2007 before giving birth to her son in May last year. Shinohara plays a reporter in a TV station who has to support her 2 sons in primary school ever since her husband abandoned them 11 years ago. As a result of reporting on a boy's disappearance, she starts to pursue the truth behind the case and reflect upon her life as a single mother. This drama SP is due to be shown in autumn this year.

Official website: here

Review of Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji SP - Kyuumei-i Kojima Kaede

Due to the delayed telecast of Part 4, FujiTV came up with a 4-part SP focusing on Kojima Kaede and some of the characters from the past 3 installments. The timeframe was set to be exactly one year ago before Part 4 starts. Frankly speaking, I can understand why they chose Yashima Norito (Tsuji) and Sudo Risa (Sakurai Yuki) to appear in the SPs but Miyasago Hiroyuki (Baba-sensei) and Inoue Mao (Kokubo Sae) seemed rather out of place. Especially for Miyasago, his role had absolutely no interaction with Matsushima since she was missing from the Part 2 lineup. It just felt awkward for them to be thinking back to the days with Shindo when Kojima was absent. Maybe that's why they arranged for Yamashiro (Kimura Tae) to be around so that she could be that missing link between Baba and Kojima. Likewise for Inoue's role, she wasn't that significant in Part 3 (in fact, I didn't even remember her from then.) and coupled with the fact that Inoue only became a household name after Hana Yori Dango, it was a challenge trying to recall how important she was to Part 3. On the other hand, Tsuji and Yuki-chan were closely related to Kojima who was the focus of these SPs. Tsuji worked with Kojima when she was an intern while Yuki was a close friend to Kojima. As such, it felt especially nostalgic to see the two of them meeting Kojima, no doubt the reunion was a very short one.

Given that the fact that these SPs were merely fillers for the void left by the delayed OA, the bulk of the footage was taken from Part 1 to 3. I guess this was a cost-saving way to come up with the SP because it would be too time-consuming and expensive for the cast of Part 4 i.e. Matsushima Nanako and Kimura Tae to shoot the SP alongside with the filming of Part 4. They only needed to do a few scenes at the beginning and end of the SP. This resulted in a problem for the viewers. Those who have watched the past installments will probably have two types of reactions. Either we get bored at the huge volume of past footage or we get nostalgic as we run through the past events again. I admit that I was quite disappointed to see that there were so little scenes about the reunions of these characters but it was still enjoyable in a sense to see the past installments. It also gave me a refresher course on the huge number of actors and actresses who made up this successful series. To think I even forgot that some of them appeared in the previous parts! For example, I remember that Matsushima was missing from Part 2 because she was in the midst of her pregnancy or was still on maternity break but I just couldn't recall who appeared in Part 2 to be the female lead. After watching the SP, it finally struck me that Matsuyuki Yasuko was in Part 2.

Well, although it was unfortunate that Kyuumei 4 will have to be shortened to just 8 episodes and began much later than expected, I think of it as a blessing in disguise. Instead of screening all three parts (over 30 episodes) to refresh the viewer's memory, FujiTV used the opportunity to show heavily-edited scenes from the past. I think this may help the viewers to get into Part 4 more easily although I would say that the link between each part isn't that significant. It was said that the SPs would contain information as to why Kojima is sued for malpractice at the beginning of Part 4 but the description is really hazy. I would say that we are none the wiser as to what happened so if you are looking specifically for this information, I guess you will be disappointed. The first episode of Part 4 explains this clearly so it is probably best to go straight to Part 4 instead of watching these SPs first.

Given that the bulk of the SPs are filler-material, I will not give my ratings on them since there's limited new and original content. Do keep a lookout for the review of Part 4 instead on this website!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Summer 2009 first episode ratings report

Now that all dramas in Summer 2009 have begun their run, it's time to assess their performance based on their debut episode. Here is the ranking of the dramas:

1) Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4 (FujiTV) - 20.3%
It's for the story, Eguchi Yosuke + Matsushima Nanako and a stable of competent actors in the supporting cast. I have high hopes for this and expect that it will not let me down.

2) Ninkyou Helper (FujiTV) - 17.5%
The concept is quite interesting - the underworld and the elderly healthcare sector. Coupled with the fact that Kusanagi Tsuyoshi is back, it increases the hype about this drama. HOWEVER, there are some flaws here and there so I'm not completely satisfied so far. More on that when I write the review. I guess the biggest redeeming factor is that they do not make Kusanagi's role clean and wholesome right from the start especially after that scandal but it will be boring if Tsubasa Hikoichi does turn over a new leaf completely at the end.

3) Karei Naru Spy (NTV) - 15.6%

I'm at a loss for words about this. At least for the first episode, it tries to balance tension, suspense and humour at the same time. HOWEVER, some of the jokes are seriously lame. And the retro style of fashion and things amidst the modern time setting seems quite out of place. I will give it a chance over the next few episodes to see if it still interests me.

4) Buzzer Beat (FujiTV) - 15.5%
Although I entertained thoughts of watching this for Itou Hideaki, I think Yamapi + Kitagawa Keiko is enough to keep me away. And the story doesn't interest me at all, especially when I hate seeing weak guys as the lead character.

5) Kanryoutachi no Natsu (TBS) - 14.5%
Very serious theme but there's a strong cast of actors holding things afloat. Still watching this.

6) Kochikame (TBS) - 12.2%
No matter how big a hit is Kochikame (in terms of anime or manga), I am still not drawn to it. The story seems cliche (hero saving the situation etc) and I am not particularly fond of the cast except for Karina who impressed me in Love Shuffle. The moral of the story is, I'm not watching this.

7) Tonari no Shibafu (TBS) / Orthros no Inu (TBS) - 11.4%
Tonari no Shibafu reminds me too much of Double Kitchen starring Yamaguchi Tomoko years ago. No particular interest.
Orthros no Inu seems OK so far but I have my reservations about some areas. Refer to my detailed Ep 1 review for more info.

9) Otomen (FujiTV) - 9.6%
Other than Liar Game, Life and SP which interested me, this timeslot's selection usually doesn't appeal to me.

10) Meido Deka (TV Asahi) - 9.5%
Not keen.

11) Akahana no Sensei (NTV) - 9.4%
Although Kobayashi Satomi appears here, Ooizumi Yo and the story doesn't really interest me.

12) Dandy Daddy (TV Asahi) / Call Centre no Koibito (TV Asahi) - 9.3%
Not keen.

14) Koishite Akuma (FujiTV) - 8.5%
A Japanese remake of Twilight?!

15) Saru Lock (NTV) - 7.3%
Not keen.

The titles which I highlighted in purple are those which I've started watching or am going to watch. It is surprisingly that my selection for this season so far are managing to stay afloat above the 10% mark but it is still too early to judge. The first episode's rating is rarely an accurate indication of what is to come as the season progresses. Here are two trends that I noticed based on the figures:

1) Johnny's Jimusho artistes out in full force?
Just look at it, we have the veterans like Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Katori Shingo, Nagase Tomoya, the half-seniors with some experience like Takizawa Hideaki, Nishikido Ryo, Yamashita Tomohisa and newbies like Nakayama Yuuma. Of course, a drama's success or failure does not depend solely on the cast or lead actor. However, it certainly doesn't look nice to have most of them struggling to keep things going. Nakayama's drama has been languishing in single-digit category, Yamapi, Katori, Takki, Nishikido all came up with ratings which went exactly the opposite way of expectations. Especially for Katori where TBS is said to have dumped lots of money and attention on Kochikame, the figures certainly don't justify the investment. Currently, based on the situation so far, only Ninkyou Helper looks set to stay above the 15% mark and may give Kyuumei a run for its money when it comes to the battle for No.1 this season.

2) The trend of irregular first broadcast gets more prominent
As I've mentioned before, TV stations are now showing the first O.A. at a different date as compared to the usual starting period. This season, most dramas began in the period of 1 July to 18 July. However, other than Kyumei 4 which was delayed due to Eguchi Yosuke's injury, the rest of them seemed to have done it on purpose: Saru Lock (23/7), Orthros no Inu (24/7), Meido Deka (26/6), Kochikame (1/8) and Otomen (1/8). Close to half of the dramas this season had vastly different starting dates. What was the rationale for the delay? Did it give the crew more time to do their work? Was it unfair to those who began their run on time to fit the regular season? And it certainly isn't fair to compare ratings especially when adhoc events can skew the ratings. If the dramas aren't shown in the same period, these simply isn't any point to compare.

It is still early to say who will win the race at the end. Hopefully, the first ratings report can give you some insight into who are looking like favourites and who are the dark horses. Do feel free to write your views in the comments section!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First episode of "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" crosses 20% mark

The first episode of "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" has achieved a high rating of 20.3% which makes it the first drama in Summer 2009 to cross the 20% mark. This drama was initially scheduled to start on 7 July but the lead actor Eguchi Yosuke got into a motorbike accident thus leading to the delay to the OA. This series started in 1999 and Part 4 is the new installment since 4 years ago.

To fill the void left behind by the delay in the OA, there was a 4-part special featuring Kojima Kaede played by Matsushima Nanako. The ratings for the four SP episodes were 13.1%, 15%, 12.5% and 13.4% respectively.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ito Misaki getting married soon?

Ito Misaki is getting married to pachinko machine maker, Kyouraku Industrial Holdings Co., Ltd.'s CEO, Enomoto Yoshinori who is 8 years older than her, according to a report on Nikkansports today. The couple are said to be intending to hold their wedding in Hawaii during November where only close friends and family members will attend. The official marriage announcement is expected to be released soon.

Ito had met Enomoto last year in November during artiste, Uematsu Mami's wedding. Ito and Uematsu had become close friends after working on the 2001 NTV drama, "Beauty 7" so Ito was at the wedding as the bride's friend. Enomoto was the bridegroom's friend thus they were introduced to each other by Uematsu and her husband.

However, Ito's agency commented that they had not heard about this impending marriage from her and that Ito had told them Enomoto was just a friend.

Source: Nikkansports

(Updated as of 8.29pm)

Top 10 movies ranking (9 Aug 09)

1) Gekijouban Kamen Rider Decade All Riders vs. Dai Shocker

2) Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

3) Gekijouban Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl

4) HACHI Yakusoku no Inu

5) G.I. JOE

6) Amalfi Megami no Houshuu

7) Porto

8) Gokusen THE MOVIE

9) Gekijouban NARUTO

10) Summer Wars

Monday, August 10, 2009

Updates to Sakai Noriko's case - 10 August 09

Now that Sakai Noriko has finally started confessing to what she did instead of the attitude she displayed on Saturday, this should probably be the last update to her case until she goes to court or new significant developments arise.

Due to Sakai Noriko being arrested for possession and usage of stimulants, her record company, Victor Entertainment announced on 9 August that they were stopping all future releases of Sakai's CDs and recalling all available stock in the market. There will no longer be any shipments of her CDs to the record stores. In addition, distribution of her songs via online media like iTunes Store will be stopped. As a result, Sakai's hit song "Aoi Usagi" shot up the daily downloads chart on iTunes on 10 August (as at 1pm) to a high position of No.2 before it was taken down by the site. In addition, her albums "Sekaichuu no Dare Yori Kitto" and "Daisuki - My Moment Best" were also ranked No.4 and No.5 on the Top Albums chart. As of now, none of Sakai's songs can be found on iTunes anymore.

Meanwhile, Sakai Noriko revealed further details about her drug abuse habit. She mentioned that she was persuaded by her husband to try the stimulants since last summer. Her husband Takasou Yuichi has also confessed to buying the stimulants from a foreigner and mentioned that he always noticed that Sakai looked thinner whenever he met her. Although Sakai said that she was pretty new to the drug, the fact that there were at least 42 straws, a glass pipe and used aluminium foil meant for drug consumption found in her apartment seems to suggest that she has been a long-time user. She also mentioned that she had been following news reports of her case through TV and had wanted to go to the police in the first place. However, when she sent her friend to see the situation outside the Shibuya Police Station, she was aghast to know that the media was there in huge numbers. (Well, this is really obvious given the hoo-ha over the case. Surely it doesn't take a genius to realise that, right?) Just when she was still deliberating on whether to show up, news of the arrest warrant startled her so she decided that it was time for her to surrender. She contacted a lawyer through her friend who then informed the police that Sakai was preparing to turn herself in.

When investigators asked Sakai why she disappeared, she said that she was shaken by her husband's arrest. She also mentioned that she was in the Shinjuku and Chuo Wards of Tokyo as well as Yamanashi Prefecture during her 6-day disappearance.

According to the police station, Sakai was sent to the Prosecutors' Office today and will held in custody until 19 August. Her case is unlikely to be tried under the jury system which only handles cases with punishment leading to life imprisonment or the death sentence. In this case, the imprisonment term will not exceed 10 years if she is found guilty. However, her urine test results are negative which could make it difficult to prosecute her in court for consumption of the stimulant especially if she changes her statement in future.

As an aftermath to the scandal, sponsors are terminating their dealings with Sakai and may file for damages amounting to at least 1 billion yen against her and her agency. Her record company Victor Entertainment has already recalled her CD and visual releases and stopped all distribution of her songs via digital media stores. In addition, the promotional movie for the jury system has been banned from release so the government stands to lose more than 70 million yen just based on the production costs alone. Toyota has also cancelled their CM deal with Sakai. Another company Noushin which produces aspirins is also planning to cancel their CM deal. If both companies decide to sue her and her agency for breach of contract, compensation damages may be more than 100 million yen. Last but not least, the fashion brand which Sakai had produced i.e. PP rikorino had its merchandise pulled off the shelves by supermarkets across the country as early as on 8 August.

Top 10 movies ranking (2 Aug 09)

1) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

2) Gekijouban Pocket Monster Diamond & Pearl

3) Amalfi Megami no Houshuu

4) Porto

5) Gekijouban Naruto Hi no Ishi wo Tsugu Mono

6) Gokusen THE MOVIE

7) Summer Wars

8) Evangelion Shin Gekijouban: Ha

9) He's Just Not That Into You

10) Tsurugidake Ten no Ki

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Updates to Sakai Noriko's arrest

Frankly speaking, from sympathizing with her, I think many people will be angry with her by now. By hiding for 6 days and dumping her son with a friend (supposedly her husband's lover), she is still being difficult by refusing to cooperate with the police. This will probably make it an uphill task for her to return to showbiz since she doesn't seem to have shown any remorse about what she did. Although her husband's behaviour of exposing his wife's deeds isn't something many people approve of, I think both of them are equally to blame for what has happened. I feel that the biggest victim is her son who must now bear with the stigma of having his parents charged and possibly jailed for a number of years.

Sakai Noriko arrived at the Tomisaka Police Station on 8 August at around 7.55pm, accompanied by her family members and her husband's lawyer. She is now formally arrested by the police for possession of 0.008 grams of stimulants and usage of this banned substance. However, Sakai is not being cooperative and has given ambiguous accounts to the police.

Apparently, the police had called for Sakai's surrender through Takasou's lawyer and the latter called the police at around 4pm yesterday, indicating Sakai's intention to surrender. Later that evening, Sakai showed up with her relatives and lawyer in tow. It is also said that Sakai had deliberately chosen to give herself up on a Saturday as the scale of media reports is said to be lesser on a weekend i.e. Sunday.

When asked about the stimulants, dozens of straws and aluminium foil used to consume the drug, Sakai did not confess readily and gave an ambiguous answer, "if you found it in my home, then that's mine". Later that night at around 9.30pm, Sakai was then sent to the Shibuya Police Station for more questioning and an urine test. Results for the urine test are expected to be revealed in 3 days. When asked about her whereabouts for the past six days, Sakai refused to say anything. As such, even though there were reports that she had been in a friend's house in Tokyo all along, it is unknown whether she had been to Yamanashi since her mobile phone's signal was detected there.

Meanwhile, her agency, Sun Music held a press conference early this morning where the president revealed that Sakai has to be fired if she is prosecuted in court and found guilty. He was also very upset that Sakai had not come to him for help despite knowing and supporting her for over 20 years. The president said that apparently, their relationship was not as close as what he had thought and hoped that Sakai will be truthful and reveal whatever she has done so as to repent for her mistakes.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Sakai Noriko surrenders herself at 8pm, Japan time

Sakai Noriko has surrendered herself at the Tomisaka Police station located in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo at around 8pm tonight. She is currently undergoing questioning by the police.

Updates to Sakai Noriko's case - 8 Aug 09

Sakai Noriko who had been known as a cheerful idol and a leading mama-idol figure in recent years, is said to have displayed signs of her widely different personal life which deviates from her clean image. Her last work assignment was the shooting of the CM for "Kake no Ue no Ponyo" in mid July. At that time, she looked haggard and had lost a lot of weight. The most shocking thing was the lotus tattoo she had on her left calf which displayed very openly. To prevent this tattoo from appearing in the CM, the staff had to do some editing to the footage. Apparently, she had this tattoo done about 5 years ago which made her agency quite unhappy. In fact, she had hid it from her agency for as long as until February last year when they happened to see it during her concert. Besides that, Sakai was also unusually excited at work on several occasions which led the people who had worked with her to link that behvaiour to the drug abuse habit rumoured to be going on for a couple of years.

The media has also made some shocking revelations about the events surrounding Sakai this week. First of all, the friend whom Sakai left her son in the care of is said to be her husband's lover. Initially, this friend was Sakai's friend and she later got involved with Takasou. Surprisingly, Sakai didn't divorce her husband and continued to be friends with this woman. In addition, she even brought her son to meet this friend on a regular basis thus resulting in her son being quite close to this lady. On the day when Sakai handed her son to her friend, she also passed 500,000 yen in cash to her which investigators believe to be living expenses for her son.

Subsequently, Sakai was said to have rushed home to pack her things and she was seen leaving her apartment in the early morning of 3 Aug with a big bag. She then proceeded to withdraw a total of 400,000 yen in cash through the ATM over 2 times. Sakai was also seen to have gone to a hypermart to purchase large amounts of underwear, cosmetics, instant food products and mineral water which could signify that she was prepared to hide for a long period of time.

Meanwhile, police had searched Sakai's apartment where they found a small amount of stimulants and some equipment used in the consumption of such drugs. The DNA found on these items matched those of Sakai's. Apparently, Sakai was in such a hurry to escape that she did not dispose or bring these items with her which were found in a pouch. In addition, Takasou also said in his statement that he rarely went to Sakai's apartment in Tokyo and the drugs found in the apartment belonged to Sakai.

At the moment, there are no useful leads to locate Sakai and the police suspect that someone could have assisted in her escape or could be hiding her. As such, they are going to question her friends and family in an attempt to find Sakai's whereabouts. The police have reason to be uptight because of the fact that Sakai's escape could be an attempt to get herself off the hook. This is because a first-time user of stimulants will need about 2 days for the traces of the drug to be removed from the body system. Given the fact that Sakai is said to be a regular user, she would take about 1 week or 10 days for the drug to be completely removed from the body. If so, even if she surrenders herself after this period, the police would not be able to find traces of the drug abuse in her urine test. Although they can resort to testing her hair for the drug abuse, this will require a body search warrant which is unlikely to be given out if the urine test is negative. In addition, they are also worried if Sakai will resort to suicide especially if she succumbs to the pressure of the big-scale manhunt for her.

It is also revealed that Sakai's younger brother was just arrested last month on the same charge in Fukuoka. Her brother, Sakai Takeshi (30) was arrested on 17 July in Fukuoka on the charge of extortion and he was a member of the yakuza organization, The Yamaguchi Group. Sakai Takeshi had threatened a friend and made him surrender his car worth 200,000 yen and cash of 3,000 yen on 29 June. When the police arrested him for extortion, they found that Sakai Takeshi was behaving strangely and decided to make him undergo an urine test which he tested positive. The younger Sakai has since been charged in court.

Review of BOSS - Spring 2009

To me, this is the best drama in Spring 2009, at least among those which I've watched. If not for Mr.Brain, this would have been the No.1 in terms of ratings. Till today, I still do not accept the fact that Mr.Brain grabbed the No.1 spot with such a lousy ending. It still makes my blood boil when I think of it.

Although there were some episodes in BOSS which I consider to be lacklustre (especially from Ep 2 to 5), the good episodes managed to balance out the entire feel of this drama. The ending was done so well that I think it managed to eliminate the bad feelings I had towards the unsatisfactory episodes. Here's a list of the episodes with their guest stars and why I like/dislike it. By the way, if you do not wish to know the outcome of the cases, it's better to skip this episodic review portion:

1) Takeda Tetsuya
The momentum of this first episode set things off to a good start. Although this was an extended episode, the story did not do a plain introduction of the main characters before they entered into the case facts. I feel that interweaving discoveries about the characters' traits with the progression of the case is a good way of not losing pace. In addition, Takeda Tetsuya's showdown scene with Amami Yuki was done in a sleek manner. It was so exciting to see them exchanging blows and Amami outsmarting him when the viewer least expected it. That was when I started to think: Boss is probably going to be different from the detective dramas I've watched so far. Most of the time, we see the interogation progressing in the manner of the culprit's emotional defence being destroyed by the police officer and then he/she confesses. That's kinda cliche and overused. This time round, the culprit gets cornered by the facts he is presented with and his own mistakes during the interrogation. This was definitely more exciting than a culprit sobbing miserably about his/her mistakes.

2) Nomura Hironobu
This episode did shake my confidence in BOSS for a while. Reason being, the story's pace was relatively slower and it was pretty easy to guess that things were not as simple as it seemed. Too predictable. In addition, this episode made the biggest mistake by making someone who was out of the running as a possible culprit in the first place, become the criminal at the end. It is taboo for thrillers to do this. Remember what happened to Koori no Sekai and Triangle? I was quite unhappy that the police officer turned out to be the culprit. That's being unfair to the viewers because we were not given any clues as to his identity and yet gets the facts shoved into our faces. And for the first time, it seemed that the team was left out of the whole case while Amami Yuki's role, Oosawa Eriko hogged the limelight. It would have been better to allow everyone do what they are best at.

3) Sakai Wakana
This story is even more predictable than the 2nd episode but at least there were clues to show the viewer who the real culprit was. Frankly speaking, the showdown between Sakai and Amami was really boring. Sakai isn't up to standard yet when it comes to acting skills so she was practically overshadowed by Amami.

4 & 5) Yamada Takayuki
Another boring episode. Taking the police on a wild goose chase doesn't warrant the use of 2 precious episodes. 1 episode would have been sufficient. That was a big waste. In addition, I hated seeing Yamada in that sloppy image. For heavens' sake, he should really do something about it. I simply don't think people who are ostracized by others and wallowing in self-pity should look like that all the time. The producers should break out of this stereotype and show us something different for a change.

6) Shida Mirai
This was when it changed my opinion of BOSS and made me give this a 2nd chance. I was really prepared to drop this drama despite liking most of the cast members. The last 3 episodes was a big test to my patience. Fortunately, the reunion of "Joou no Kyoushitsu" alumni i.e. Amami and Shida spiced up things. Their battle of wits was something worth checking out and the tension was as good, if not better than what was presented in Episode 1. Shida has really matured a lot over these years and she was great at playing this haughty genius who was fragile emotionally.

7) Tomita Yasuko
This time round, it was quite obvious who the killer was. However, the issue now becomes how she did it. As such, the focus on the killer was there all the time and the approach to solving the case was the key of this episode. Much as I thought that Tomita and Amami were on par, the sparks this time paled in comparison to what Ep 6 had presented.

8) Konishi Manami
Well, it wasn't too difficult to guess the culprit. Again, the issue lies in the motive. There wasn't any direct interaction between Konishi and Amami so there wasn't even a showdown to speak of.

9) Namase Katsuhisa
This was another well-crafted episode. The story seemed quite simple but in actual fact, the ending wasn't. It left a pretty big impact on me and I really liked the acting of Namase in this episode. Most of the time, when it comes to nabbing the criminal, it would usually be a great sense of gratification to see that all ends well. However, this episode was a bit of a contrast with the rest of the episodes in the sense that I really felt sorry for the criminal no doubt his actions were despicable.

10 & 11) Sorimachi Takashi
Well, I liked the ending of this drama not because of Sorimachi Takashi. Although the press focused a lot on the showdown between Sorimachi's character and Amami's character Oosawa, I thought the interaction between them was a bit lacking. What got me more excited was to see the ex-Beach Boys together on screen again. Again, this was an episode where the culprit is known but I would say this was partially. I guessed that something wasn't quite right at the end of Episode 10 and then at the beginning of the finale, I already knew the direction it was taking. Nonetheless, it was still nice to see everything falling into place nicely just as I had expected. That ending was truly in sync with the usual style of BOSS: unexpected, a clean wrap up of things and truly memorable indeed. Takenouchi Yutaka was so funny in this episode and his exaggerated way of acting is a far cry from his usual serious roles over these years. Coupled with the fact that he had great chemistry with Amami Yuki, it was a joy to see them outsmarting the criminal. From the way it seems, there could be a SP or sequel since Sorimachi's character "predicted" that he will meet Oosawa Eriko very soon again. Hmm...I wonder how long would that be?

With regards to the main cast members, I would say that Takenouchi Yutaka's role, Nodate is my favourite. Although he looks like a frivolous chap, he hides his true self under this facade and shows that he got to this position with his strengths. Amami Yuki's role Oosawa Eriko was also very outstanding and I liked the interaction between Nodate and Oosawa very much. There was this article about this trend of male and female leads in dramas or movies having a platonic relationship instead of the past trend of making them fall in love with each other. Luckily, the scriptwriter didn't force Nodate and Oosawa to get together. It would have been a nightmare just to imagine it because it just didn't blend with the story and the characters' traits. I like the idea of having them taking the roles of buddies who have nothing romantic between them and their chemistry truly captivated me this time.

Toda Erika was pretty good this time too as Kimoto Mami where she toned down on her glamour side and showed the clumsiness of Kimoto when it comes to dealing with people and sticking to regulations. This was a pretty great change from her pretty and appealing image in "Ryuusei no Kizuna". Nonetheless, she still got the chance to flaunt her looks in the opening credits where everyone was dressed to the nines and featured in a glamour party of sorts. Another interesting character was Kendo Kobayashi who played Iwai. Up till now, I am still not sure whether he's gay or not in real life because he really fitted the role of Iwai with so much ease until I have reason to suspect that he's like that all the time ^__^ Either he's a good actor or he's just bringing his real life antics into the story. Nukumizu Yoichi's potrayal of the absent-minded Yamamura was also eye-catching. On the other hand, I got a bit bored of Tamayama Tetsuji because he was trying too hard to act cool. Likewise, Mizobata Junpei's role also got on my nerves a lot especially with his flamboyant dress sense in the drama. Why is that people like Amami, Takenouchi, Toda or even Kichise Michiko can look so stylish while Mizobata looks so weird with the mish-mash of colours? The stylish-in-charge can probably provide some answers to that.

Talking about the credits, I thought it was a brilliant idea to put fashionable in this context. Usually, when we talk about police dramas, the stereotype is of police officers who wear dark colours, look so stern and gruffy all the time and the whole atmosphere is sombre. However, in BOSS, we are shown the glamorous and stylish sides of these detectives. I guess this was to distinguish BOSS from the competition. In addition, it was to emphasize the message that the people who make up the Special Crimes Unit are a bunch of extraordinary people who couldn't fit into the rigid structure of an organization which focuses on discipline.

With regards to the theme song, it didn't leave a deep impression on me at all which I thought was a pity. The short intro in the opening credits was quite good though.

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 8.5 out of 10 (It was a bit lacking in consistency with regards to quality but the good episodes and strong ending made up for it.)
Acting: 8.5 out of 10 (This is mainly for Amami and Takenouchi. Also kudos to the guests who did especially well i.e. Takeda Tetsuya, Shida Mirai and Namase Katsuhisa)
Theme song: 5 out of 10 (If for the short intro in the opening, I would have failed BOSS in this category.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 7 out of 10 (Nothing particularly interesting in terms of scenery but I liked the fashion displayed as well as the set design for the Special Crimes Unit.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 9 out of 10 (Three cheers for Oosawa and Nodate!)

Total: 38 out of 50

Friday, August 07, 2009

Yada Akiko announces her divorce from Oshio Manabu

Yada Akiko has divorced Oshio Manabu and announced this through a fax statement to the media on 7 August. Yada signed off the statement personally and stated that although they had differences in values and arguments about Oshio's affairs with other women, Yada had not made the decision to divorce him yet despite being separated from him for the past 6 months. However, the recent arrest of Oshio and the trouble he has caused to the people around him as well as their son caused Yada to make up her mind to divorce him. Although Yada knew that everyone was waiting for her to talk about this matter publicly, she revealed that she is still shocked by the sudden nature of this matter and is in no condition to speak in public. As such, she asked for everyone's understanding that she can only make the announcement through this method i.e. the fax statement.


Although we shouldn't rejoice at others' misfortune i.e. divorce, I think it's good for Yada to make this decision in consideration of her future and her son's. At least this should keep her out of the picture if Oshio makes any more trouble in future...

Updates to Sakai Noriko's case - 7 Aug 09

Frankly speaking, this is very shocking. From someone who was feared to have been innocently implicated by her husband's actions to one who's equally guilty, nobody could have guessed that Sakai Noriko's disappearance had to do with her using stimulants as well. I just feel sorry for her son. His father is arrested while the mother is now a fugitive...Unless she turns up voluntarily to explain what happened, I think the whole case will be to her detriment if she gets caught.

The Organized Crimes Unit 5th Section has obtained an arrest warrant for Sakai Noriko on the suspicion of possessing stimulants. Her husband Takasou Yuichi was arrested on the same charge in the early hours of 3 August but Sakai has been missing since then. The decision to list Sakai as a wanted person was based on the discovery of some stimulants in her home and Takasou's statement that Sakai was also using stimulants.

On the morning when Takasou was stopped for questioning, he called Sakai to come to the scene. She arrived with a male friend and tried to persuade the police to let her husband off. The police had searched Takasou's body and wanted to check a bulge in his pants. Sakai claimed that it was some medicine meant for the lower body but the police insisted on checking it. It was then they found the stimulants hidden inside Takasou's underwear. Sakai was asked to go to the Shibuya Police Station with the police and her husband but she refused to do so. In addition, she also rejected a request to do a urine test as well.

Although it was thought that Sakai had disappeared with her son, it turned out that she had left him in the care of a friend as confirmed yesterday evening. She had even called her friend on 5 August asking to speak to her son. However, she did not say where she was. According to the police, Sakai had withdrawn a few hundred thousand yen through the ATM and this could be used as funds during her runaway.

In response to this sudden twist of events, Sakai's agency, Sun Music held a press conference in the afternoon of 7 Aug swarmed by at least 100 members of the media where the president said that they had not received any updates from the police. They were still hoping for Sakai to come forward and explain herself. In addition, they mentioned that they were completely unaware of the fact that Sakai herself is also a drug abuser. When bombarded with questions as to whether the agency was feigning ignorance about Sakai's whereabouts and whether they are planning to fire her, the president ended the press conference hurriedly in less than 10 minutes.

Companies who are working with Sakai or have CM deals with her are also undecided as to what they should do next. Her record label, Victor Entertainment is discussing whether to cancel the release of her best hits album "Golden Best" due to be released on 16 September. The album lists 19 of her past hits and preorders of the CD are already made through Internet shopping sites. As for her previous 14 singles and 27 albums, the company is still deciding to stop sales of all her CD releases. The company spokesman said that the company was actually worrying about her safety but her becoming a fugitive was something they had not expected at all.

As for companies who have CM deals with her e.g. Toyota, they are still deciding what to do with their CM contracts with Sakai. Although the CMs have either been pulled off screens or ended their runs, the contracts are still in effect.

Sakai Noriko wanted as a suspect for possession of stimulants

An arrest warrant has been made for Sakai Noriko under the charge of possession of stimulants as she continues to be missing since 3 August. The police announced today that as there is reason to believe that Sakai was involved in the possession of stimulants, an arrest warrant is now out to find her. Meanwhile, her husband is still in police custody pending investigations while her son has been found at a friend's place.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Sakai Noriko's son found in Tokyo

Sakai Noriko's son has been found in Tokyo as announced by the Akasaka Police Station earlier this evening at 7.15pm. Apparently, Sakai left her son in the care of a friend on 3 August and she is still yet to be found. Earlier investigations had found that her handphone was switched on once at around 3pm near Mount. Minobu on 4 Aug but she has not been found to date.

Updates to Sakai Noriko's disappearance - 6 Aug 09

Sakai Noriko and her son are still missing after her husband Takasou Yuichi was caught for possessing of stimulants. Although the police detected that her handphone was switched on at one time in the evening of 4 August near Mount. Minobu in Yamanashi, there are no signals from her handphone now. This could mean that she has switched off her phone or she is at a place where there are no handphone signals. Sakai's father passed away in a traffic accident in May 1989 at the time when he was residing in Yamanashi. As such, Sakai visits the area often and has some relatives living there.

On the other hand, details of Takasou's arrest and Sakai's appearance at the scene are made known by the police. Takasou was stopped by the police in the early hours of 3 August at Shibuya for regular questioning. However, Takasou was very uncooperative and even called Sakai to come to the scene. Sakai drove to the scene in her car and tried to persuade the police to stop questioning Takasou. She even said that he did not do anything wrong and asked the police not to be too harsh on him. According to witnesses, Sakai was even crying at one point. However, when the police wanted to take Takasou back to the Shibuya Police Station and asked Sakai to come along, she claimed that she needed to make arrangements for someone to take care of her son and left in her car. Soon after that, she talked on the phone with Takasou's mother and subsequently disappeared without a trace. As her car is still parked at home, it is believed that she could have taken a taxi with her son to another place.

It has been 3 days since her disappearance and the police are calling upon the public to provide information if they see Sakai and her son. Flyers containing their information are already distributed to taxi companies and hotels.

Updates to Oshio Manabu's case - 6 Aug 09

Investigation into Oshio Manabu's case of MDMA abuse (also known as Ecstasy pills) has revealed new facts. Although Oshio is still denying that he consumed the illegal drugs knowingly, he was actually the one who made the deceased woman consume the pills. If it is found that he forced her to do that, he may be charged with inflicting of injury leading to death.

The deceased was a woman of 30 years old who worked as a hostess in a high-class club in Ginza. Oshio had come to know this woman 2 years ago at the club and they started having an affair about 6 months ago. This was around the same time when Oshio moved out of his family home in Kawasaki.

According to Oshio's statement, he had consumed the pills with the woman together (one pill for each person) at the Roppongi Hills apartment they were in. However, when the woman consumed a second pill, she started to lose unconsciousness. The pills they took are commonly known as Ecstasy and had the effect of inducing hallucinations and increasing excitement. It is widely used as a booster during sex to increase enjoyment. According to the police, the estimated time of death was around 11 am on 2 Aug.

However, Oshio's manager called the police at 9.19pm shortly after he received a call from Oshio to come to the scene. The medical personnel confirmed the deceased's death at 9.27pm. It is unknown what Oshio had been doing during these 10 hours before he contacted his manager.

Oshio claimed that he did CPR for the woman when he realized that she was unconscious. He left the scene after calling his manager and headed to his new home in Minato before he was picked up by the police. The police searched Oshio's family home in Kawasaki, his new apartment in Minato as well as the crime scene and confiscated items which could be of help to the investigation.

According to Itakura Hiroshi, a honorary professor in criminal law, although Oshio may not be prosecuted for forcing the woman to consume the pills, he may be charged with abandoning of the corpse because he ran away from the crime scene. In this case, he may be facing imprisonment for more than 5 years if found guilty.

On the other hand, the deceased's funeral was held at her home in Gifu Prefecture where about 100 family members and friends gathered. The woman was a tall and slender beauty who was about 1.7m too. She was known to be a cheerful person with many friends. She aimed to be a nurse when she was in senior high school but later went to Tokyo to learn nail art. She was also a divorcee. Her parents did not want to be interviewed and blocked the media's access to the funeral. At the same time, the 6th August issue of "Friday" has a photo of the woman and a report of her relationship with Oshio. The deceased also had tattoos on her back just like Oshio who has his on his chest and arms.

Review of Orthros no Inu Ep 1

"Orthros, a double-headed dog in Greek mythology. His name means speed and one who flies quickly in Greek. Being the son of Typhon and Echidna, his elder brother is Cerberus, the guardian dog of Hell. He is black in colour with each strand of its beard made up of snakes. Orthros is rash and hot-headed. When he was guarding the bulls for Geryon on Island Krete, he was beaten up and killed by Hercules. Orthros fathered 4 sons and 1 daughter with his own mother while he was alive."

From the way it looks, the reason why Orthros was chosen as a figure to personify the drama's theme could be the fact that he is double-headed. If the power to heal or kill someone is represented by Orthros, the two heads would probably signify the good and evil natures of human. The same power can be used differently among individuals so switching the stereotypes of good and evil is what makes this drama interesting, at least on paper before the season started.

On one end, we have Ryuuzaki Shinji (Takizawa Hideaki), an evil man who has been in prison for three murders he committed when he was 18. He doesn't show his true feelings and would do anything just to achieve his aim. Having the power to heal, he doesn't think that he should use this power without gaining anything in return. On the other end, we have Aoi Ryousuke (Nishikido Ryou) who is a Japanese language high school teacher. He has a kind personality but has the power to kill by touching someone. He seems to realize that he had this power some time ago but would only use it to protect the people he cares for. As such, we have one man who's more than happy to use his power for his desires and the other who seems reluctant to use his power even when the situation calls for him. If not for the fact that police detective Hasebe Nagisa brought about their fateful meeting, things may not have gone out of control...

Frankly speaking, I liked the concept of the story before the season started. It seems like a story which could go against expectations and present lots of twists and turns in the process. I like such stories which can spring surprises on me. However, some portions of this first episode made me wonder why there are so many illogical developments and similarities with other works.

Firstly, Ryuuzaki's resemblance to Yagami Light in Death Note is simply hard to disregard. I am not talking about appearance but rather their motives and characters. Although Light initially had good intentions of improving the world with his Death Note, I always felt that deep down, he looked down on people who were not as good as he was all the time. If not for his elitist mindset, he wouldn't have killed people without batting an eyelid. Similarly, Ryuuzaki thinks that in order to achieve his goal, anything can be sacrificed. It is still not known whether his behaviour is by nature or induced by some events but his theory about being God and trying to improve the world by being heartless is definitely twisted like Light's. Yeah, right! It is just a loser's attempt to justify their actions, in my opinion.

Secondly, the idea of having two male characters who should never have met and chaos is bound to happen as a result of their meeting reminds me a bit of Maou. Remember that in Maou, we have Naruse (Ohno Satoshi) and Serizawa (Ikuta Toma) whose fates are interwined in a tragic manner and they ended up dead together. Likewise in this drama, based on the trailer for the 2nd episode, it seems to suggest that Ryuuzaki and Aoi could have met with something during their childhoods which led to them possessing their powers to heal and kill. If this is indeed so, does it mean that the ending will be something like this i.e. Aoi kills Ryuuzaki and then commits suicide because he feels bad about killing people? If so, doesn't this look too similar to what was in Maou?

Thirdly, I can never fathom why Aoi is so stupid. Ryuuzaki was right. Being able to heal someone doesn't mean the dead can be brought back to life. And being kind doesn't mean being gullible, right? I don't know why the scriptwriters had to make Aoi a guy who cannot think logically. Oh well, if Aoi wasn't senseless, how could Ryuuzaki have managed to break free from prison? I guess I have to accept some illogical events so that the story can progress. Then again, given Ryuuzaki's intelligence, he might have come up with another way to break free of prison one day even without Aoi's "assistance".

Last but not least, the significance of Hasebe Nagisa (Mizukawa Asami) is quite similar to Shiori's position in Maou. All Hasebe does is to run around like a mad woman and get fooled by Ryuuzaki. Sooner or later, her life is going to be in shambles now that she has one foot into the animosity between Ryuuzaki and Aoi. Something may happen to her sick daughter (maybe Ryuuzaki blackmails her to do something or he would not save her daughter?) or her boyfriend may leave her (either he betrays her or he is killed in the process?). At least these are some of the developments which I can guess based on the information so far. I seriously think that it is a waste for Mizukawa to be relegated to such an unimportant role but I don't think setting her up with the guys is a smart move too. It makes me cringe just to think that the two leads will fight over her. It has nothing to do with their ages or appearances but rather from the fact that their characters are arranged in such a way that forbids any romance to bloom between them i.e. Ryuuzaki being so evil and Hasebe having a daughter and a boyfriend. As such, it's best to keep romance out of the picture and focus on the dynamics of manipulation instead.

As for my views on this drama so far, I would say that this is on a KIV list. For a start, I do not like Takizawa Hideaki at all. Although his monologue was pretty good at conveying the coldness and ruthless nature of Ryuuzaki, I don't really fancy seeing him on screen especially with that long hair. I can understand that his hair grows longer because of Ryuuzaki being in prison for a long time but surely there are barbers in prison, right? Then again, Ryuuzaki is probably categorised as someone who's too dangerous for the barber to approach. Now that he's out of prison, he should head for a haircut ASAP. I really hate it when guys have such long hair especially when they don't look good in it.

In addition, this story is full of loopholes so I may not be too happy with the developments if this goes on. For a suspense thriller, logic is a key ingredient to making it work. For heavens' sake, it is not a romance story (romance doesn't need too much logic ^__^) so I hope that the scriptwriters do not treat the viewers as idiots. No doubt the concept is relatively far-fetched but still it should not deviate from the norm too much. The way this drama is written is said to be quite different from the normal process. Usually, most dramas will have one chief scriptwriter but some will also have a few sub-writers for a small number of episodes. In this case, there will be 6 writers who come up with the outline for the episode. 3 of them will then be selected to write their individual scripts. Subsequently, the good parts from each writer will be picked out and put together into an entire script by the show runner. Let's see if this drama will do well by using this method of script writing usually seen in American dramas.

Last but not least, I seriously hope that this drama will try to do something extraordinary. If the ending is what I predicted above or if it turns out that Ryuuzaki repents, I think this could be quite boring. Frankly speaking, I am hoping that Aoi will change for the worse because his character is too boring. I liked Nishikido best for his performance in "Last Friends" where he balanced evil and good very well. In this first episode, I simply detested the sight of Aoi. He is someone who we can hardly find in real life so I do not like the idea of having someone who's so angellic until we cannot find fault with him. It will be interesting if Aoi becomes bad because of Ryuuzaki's doings and the evil fight the evil in the end. If Aoi continues to be goody-two-shoes throughout the drama, I can safely say that viewers will only take notice of Takizawa's performance and forget all about Nishikido in the end.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sakai Noriko and her son still missing; her husband lied about his credentials?

Sakai Noriko and her son remain missing as police find out her handphone was last switched on near Mount. Minobu in Yamanashi Prefecture in the evening of 4 August. It is believed that she may be in that area. Sakai resided in Yamanashi for a period of time when she was living with her father.

Meanwhile, it is also revealed that Sakai Noriko was actually near the scene where her husband Takasou Yuichi was arrested. She was seated in her family car, apparently waiting for Takasou when the police informed her of their find of drugs on him. Subsequently, she and her son were nowhere to be found.

On the other hand, Takasou has been exposed to have lied about his credentials as a professional surfer. According to the Japan Professional Surfing Association, they have been flooded by calls asking about Takasou's credentials. The JPSA has clarified that Takasou was never a member of their association, be it as a professional or amateur surfer. They are angry that Takasou has called himself a pro surfer despite not being registered with the JPSA. In addition, he has never taken part in any domestic surfing competitions. Although he may have taken part in such competitions overseas, it is strange because most surfers would start from domestic competitions to gain exposure. The JPSA is upset that this scandal has cast them in a bad light as well since Takasou has been calling himself a pro surfer as early as from 1998 despite the absence of a registered status with JPSA.

Oshio Manabu denies the charges; will be in police custody for another 10 days

Oshio Manabu admitted that he consumed a pill given by a friend at the Roppongi Hills apartment with the female deceased but still insisted that he was not aware of the fact that he was consuming Ecstasy pills. In addition, the identity of the deceased has been revealed to be a 30-year-old club hostess working in Ginza. She had met Oshio 2 years ago when he visited the club she worked in.

On the other hand, the prosecutor's office has decided to keep Oshio in police custody for another 10 days so as to facillitate investigations. He is scheduled to be released on 14 August.

The most anticipated young actress ranking among high school girls

1) Yoshitaka Yuriko

2) Aragaki Yui

3) Horikita Maki

4) Toda Erika

5) Kawashima Umika

6) Ayase Haruka

7) Kitano Kii

8) Tabe Mikako

9) Eikura Nana

10) Kaho

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sakai Noriko and her son missing; police report already filed by family members

Sakai Noriko and her son are now missing as family members and her agency try to find her whereabouts after news of her husband's arrest broke on 3 August. According to her agency's boss who called for a press conference in the evening of 4 August, Sakai was last seen by her manager in the middle of July where she applied for a month's break to spend time with her son who is on summer vacation. She was scheduled to be back at work at the end of this month. However, after news of her husband Takasou Yuichi's arrest was made known, Sakai couldn't be reached on her handphone anymore. When her agency staff went to her apartment, she and her son were nowhere to be found.

In the past, Sakai would always inform her agency whenever she goes on a holiday. This time round, nobody including her family and friends heard anything about an impending holiday. After discussing with Takasou's mother, they decided to file a missing person's report at 2pm this afternoon in the Akasaka Police Station.

Sakai's agency said that they hoped that nothing had happened to her and her son. Even though this trouble was caused by her husband, Sakai is known to be a very responsible person so they are worried that she may feel guilty about the trouble her husband had caused. Her agency's boss called upon Sakai to contact them once she watched the news on TV and said that they are willing to help her in any way they can.

Yada Akiko's agency releases comment on Oshio Manabu's case

Yada Akiko's agency released a comment statement on 4 August where they mentioned that Yada herself and her agency were very shocked about what happened to Oshio. They admitted that Yada had been living separately from Oshio for about half a year. Although Yada had no knowledge of what Oshio had been up to, she felt responsible for what happened to her husband. At the moment, she is in no condition to face the public and would reserve her own comments till a later date.

More updates on Oshio Manabu's arrest

With regards to the arrest of her husband for narcotics abuse, his wife, Yada Akiko has chosen to remain silent even as members of the press are gathered outside their family home in Kawasaki since the afternoon on 3 August when news broke. Her agency's boss, Toyoda Kouzou revealed that even when Yada received news of the matter over the phone from the agency, she still insisted that Oshio was innocent. However, even though she sounded strong over the phone while protecting her husband's innocence, she was clearly saddened by the incident.

Oshio and Yada are living in a condominium in Kawasaki which is just next door to Yada's home. Their son will be 2 years old in November this year. The family of three lives with Yada's mother. Yada was off work on 3 August and she couldn't leave the house at all because the press were gathered outside.

Oshio and Yada has been married for about 3 years but it has never been a smooth-sailing journey for them. During the pre-marriage holiday to Hawaii, Oshio had scolded vulgarities at the press who were at the airport. In addition, Yada was photographed applying lotion for Oshio at the poolside. Their relationship was seen as a big dent to Yada's clean image and she was taken off several CMs despite being at the peak of her popularity at that time.

Despite the objections of everyone including her agency, Yada chose to marry Oshio and bore a son for him. She had just been back to work in January this year with her appearance in the drama "Voice" and was scheduled to act in several movies and dramas. However, her agency boss said that this incident has a major impact on her career and it will not be surprising if Yada is dropped from these projects.

Yada's boss also revealed his views about this matter. Although he understood that Yada believes in Oshio and does not want her son to grow up fatherless, he thinks that it is time for Yada to decide if she wants to continue with such a life. Yada is said to be preparing a written comment on this matter once the details are made known and she may even hold a press conference after weighing her options.


According to the police, Oshio was in the condominium apartment at Roppongi Hills with the lady who was found dead. Apparently, this apartment was rented by Oshio and he had entered the apartment separately from the deceased as revealed by the surveillance camera footage. However, he later found that something was wrong with the lady who was in her 30s. As such, he called his manager frantically and asked the latter to come and check on the lady before leaving the apartment. He was then hauled up for questioning at 1 am on 3 Aug. However, the police noticed that he was showing signs of drug abuse as Oshio was shivering badly and his face was pale. As such, he was then made to undergo urine tests for drug abuse. After evidence was obtained of his usage of drugs, he was then officially arrested at 10.35pm last night. Oshio claimed that he received the drugs from a friend and did not suspect that they were drugs when he consumed them.

The police revealed that the phone call by Oshio's manager was made at 9.19pm on 2 August where it was mentioned that a woman in her 30s was found dead in one apartment located within Block B of Roppongi Hills Residences. The medical personnel found the woman dead on the bed without her clothes. From the initial autopsy, the woman had been dead for about 10 hours and the cause of her death will only be out in 2 weeks' time.

Oshio was famous for many scandals and problems with the most notable being his announcement to stop being an actor in Dec 2005. This led to his ex-agency Ken-On terminating his contract. In addition, he had clashed with the media at times and was known to be a troublemaker. He was also caught for nude photos with a couple of female artistes and was well-known as an idol hunter.

The police said that they are investigating the woman's death both in terms of an accident and criminal incident until the full autopsy is out. However, they think that it is a serious matter for Oshio to leave the scene despite knowing that something was wrong with the woman so they will be looking into how Oshio was involved in the death of this woman.

In addition, the police announced that they will be conducting searches at various spots including Oshio's apartment in Kawasaki and the crime scene in Roppongi Hills this afternoon.

Sakai Noriko's husband arrested for possession of stimulants

Sakai Noriko's husband, Takasou Yuuichi was arrested in the wee hours of 3 August on the street of Shibuya for possession of stimulants. The Shibuya Police Station announced that Takasou was being stopped for regular questioning when he was found to have stimulants on him. Takasou is now the owner of a ski and snowboard shop named "CORE SIDE" in Minami Aoyama.

Takasou and Sakai got to know each other in 1998 through a famous DJ friend and got married that year as Sakai was pregnant. After the birth of their son who is now 10 years old, Sakai returned to work after a 10-month maternity break. However, rumours of their impending divorce have been circulating all these years.

With response to this matter, Sakai's agency, Sun Music has said that they are unable to contact Sakai at this point in time.

Meanwhile, Takasou has confessed that the stimulants were for his personal use. He had hid the plastic bag containing the stimulants inside his underwear. At the same time, Shibuya Police Station has done a search of his home and will be investigating how he got the stimulants.

*The picture in the article was taken in 2001 when Sakai and her family were back from a holiday.

Kiina Official Soundtrack

Title: Kiina OST
Price: 2,500 yen (inclusive of tax)
Date of release: 25 February 2009
Number of discs: 1
Total running time: 73 minutes
Produced by: Vap

Monday, August 03, 2009

Oshio Manabu to be arrested for narcotics abuse

Oshio Manabu is due to be arrested for narcotics abuse as Azabu Police Station files an arrest warrant against him in court. Once the warrant is out, Oshio will be officially arrested.

The whole incident arose because of a phone call to the emergency hotline 110 on the night of 2 August. When the police officers got to the scene at a condominium in Roppongi, they found a naked woman dead on the bed and Oshio was present at the scene. After he was brought in for testing of narcotics abuse, he was found positive for consuming the banned hallucinogen, Ecstasy.

Earlier this afternoon, his agency, Avex Management had announced that they were terminating their contract with him with immediate effect because he had committed something which went against the contractual terms. It is believed that Avex was referring to this matter.

Oshio made his debut as an actor in 1998 and was affiliated to the agency Ken-On. He had appeared in many popular dramas like "Love Revolution" and "Kunmitsu no Matsuri". He was also active as the vocalist and leader of rock band, LIV. He married actress Yada Akiko in 2006 and they have a son. Oshio moved to Avex in May last year after leaving Ken-On and was on his own for some time. He was scheduled to revive his music career with a CD release under LIV's name this year.


So this is what happened...

This is not the first time that someone in showbiz has been caught due to such an offence. Nobody learns their lesson even though countless people have been caught before. And they always come up with excuses like stress to justify their actions. Frankly speaking, I don't think anyone cares why Oshio consumed drugs. I think people are more keen to know what he was doing with a naked woman in an apartment and whether he was the one to call 110.

HOWEVER, it looks like this will be a tricky issue because someone ended up dead at the scene where the drugs were consumed. At least from what it seems, Oshio is a goner. Nobody will want to have anything to do with him especially for his well-known defiant attitude when he was dating Yada Akiko and his bad-boy records. Anyway, even if someone wants to give him a chance in future, he has to buck up and make a difference. As it is, he didn't have much to show even though Avex gave him a chance last year. All the news he was generating had much to do with his wild and womanising ways. On the other hand, Ken-On must be counting their blessings that they do not have to handle this tricky issue since Oshio was out of their doors years ago.

I guess more details will be revealed once the arrest is made official.

Meanwhile, I think many people are dying to know how Yada Akiko will respond. It is not the first time that her husband is making the news for bad things. However, this time round, it is going to be a criminal offence. As it is, everyone was already saying that this marriage is bad for Yada because she lost a lot of jobs and money because of this relationship with a well-known bad boy. She still has not made up for the lost ground compared to the time when she was hot property. Will she follow the examples of people like Hirosue Ryoko and Takeuchi Yuko to dump their disappointing husbands and concentrate on bringing up her child? Will divorce mean a fresh start to her career? Much as most people don't encourage others to get a divorce, I guess there may be times when moving on is better rather than hanging on. We will see what happens then.

Avex Management fires Oshio Manabu

Avex Management announced on 3 August that they were terminating the contract of Oshio Manabu with immediate effect because he had committed an act which went against their management contract. Oshio left a major agency, Ken-On because of issues about his relationship with then-girlfriend Yada Akiko at that time. After they got married in Nov 2006, Oshio joined Avex Management in May last year with the hope of reviving his acting and singing careers. He was scheduled to release a CD this year under his music career project name, LIV.

So what exactly did Oshio Manabu do? Note that this announcement was made in the afternoon. News of what Oshio did so wrong were out at night. More updates about that in my next post.

Press conference of "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4"

The production press conference of "Kyuumei Byoutou 24 Ji Part 4" was held on 3 August 09 at the headquarters of FujiTV in Odaiba. Cast members Eguchi Yosuke, Matsushima Nanako, Yusuke Santa Maria, Kimura Tae and Kitano Kii made their appearances in their medical personnel uniforms. The OA of this drama has been delayed for about a month due to Eguchi's motorcycle accident on 10 June.

When asked about this accident, Eguchi revealed that exactly 10 years ago, he also suffered a fracture to his left leg due to another accident so he deeply regrets the inconveniences caused this time. However, he thinks that it may be a blessing in disguise since he got a short break to refresh himself for this drama. At the time of the accident, he was very worried about causing a delay to the OA but was surprised by the expected encouragement from the emergency medical personnel who sent him to hospital. As a result of the decision to show a digest version of the past 3 seasons plus new developments, Eguchi was thankful for the time given to concentrate on his rehabilitation.

On the other hand, Matsushima Nanako who had to shoulder the responsibility of being the sole lead for the 4 episodes of the digest SP, expressed relief now that Eguchi is back. She said that it was tough trying to remember the lines she said 10 years ago and it was more of a challenge for her physically rather than mentally. She even wondered if she had the stamina to continue with this drama at one point.

Autumn 2009 drama - "My Girl" starring Aiba Masaki from Arashi

Arashi member Aiba Masaki will star in the TV Asahi autumn 2009 drama, "My Girl" which begins in October and will be shown in the Friday, 11.15pm slot. This drama is adapted from the comic by Sahara Mizu which has been serialized in "Shuukan Comic Bunch" since 2006. Aiba plays a cameraman's assistant who has been pining for his ex-girlfriend over the past 6 years. One day, he gets to know that his ex had given birth to his daughter. From there, he starts to live with his 5-year-old daughter and get to know more about her and his ex-lover's life. This is the first drama which Aiba is starring in a leading role and his first drama since "Triple Kitchen" 3 years ago.

Kiina Clear File

Title: Kiina Clear File
Dimensions: A4
Price: 315 yen
Available at: NTV web shop

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Kiina Notebook and Bus Pass Case

Title: Kiina Notebook and Bus Pass Case
Price: 735 yen
Available at: NTV web shop
Materials: Plastic cover with a paper notepad
Dimensions: 22 cm x 7.4cm (when opened) / 11cm x 7.4cm (when closed)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Review of Kiina ~ Fukanou Hanzai Sousakan (Winter 2009)

Well, this is another of my long overdue reviews. There are more to come so please do keep coming back for more.

I'm just glad that I finally got the time to write the review for Kiina and explain why I like this much better than Voice. Although both dramas are from different viewpoints i.e. the police officer vs. a pathologist, both have a major similarity i.e. trying to use scientific logic and facts to resolve things which seem impossible to happen in real life. However, Kiina handles this in a better way. Why is that so? The key lies in the central theme i.e. "this drama is made from true facts このドラマは“事実”から生まれた". If not for this, I believe Kiina might have gone out of focus in the middle of the season. At least, this guiding principle helped them to stay grounded and ensured that they did not deviate too much from the theme.

As such, we get this drama which is very factual. Everything has a clear explanation with examples and historical facts to back up. And they do not do it in a boring manner. Kiina's narration and explanations are usually peppered with humour points e.g. using words to express uncertainty when asked about the legitimacy of her arguments. It never fails to tickle me when she says words like "tabun" or "kamo" which both mean "maybe". It is not done in the same way as Voice where Eita's character, Daiki suddenly thinks of something and says that the truth should be as what he said. I wasn't too convinced by Voice's approach. On the other hand, Kiina does it slowly and nicely. For example, they would not shove the facts in your face right at the end and expect the viewers to take it at point level. Instead, they give you some insights into the issue at various intervals of the story and then tie up the loose ends nicely at the end. And I prefer that they do less lecturing as compared to Voice i.e. saying all those beautiful theories about what is best for the deceased or what the people involved should do which sound really jarring to me. Those lines are too old-fashioned and should not appear anymore. I really don't need an ethics lesson every time I watch a drama. However, it doesn't mean that Kiina doesn't do this too for dramatic effects. My point is how to handle it in such a way that it does not go overboard and feels like something which is forced upon the viewer.

It also helps a lot that Kiina is a better developed character as compared to the lead character in Voice who strikes me as a busybody. There are lots of conflicting traits about Kiina which makes her personality stand out. She's cute and sweet in terms of appearance but is seen as an eccentric weirdo especially from her colleagues' viewpoints. Although people would assume that Kiina will be popular with guys, she keeps getting dumped by guys who are put off by her personality of putting work first and the nature of her job. To top off the list of ironies, she is still pining for a man widely viewed as unattractive in the eyes of everyone. The multi-dimensional view of Kiina makes her more endearing to viewers rather than showing a single facade of a character. It also helps that Kanno Miho brought out the essence in Kiina especially when it comes to balancing the logical and ditzy sides of her character. Even though she's already in her early thirties, she doesn't go overboard with her ditzy performance of Kiina. Some actresses try too hard and it really gets on my nerves all the time. Thus, it is no wonder that she won the title of Best Actress for the winter season.

As for her buddy Yamazaki played by Hiraoka Yuuta, I think he did a decent job but the sparks between Yamazaki and Kiina were kinda weak. It is hard to find actors of a similar level of calibre to be buddies or enemies in a drama or movie. Given Hiraoka's inexperience, he seemed to be pulled along by Kanno just like what Yamazaki had been subjected to during the drama. As such, the bantering between Yamazaki and Kiina could have been more interesting if Hiraoka could be on par with Kanno in terms of acting skills. Nonetheless, I still think he did an acceptable job and has room for improvement.

On the other hand, I thought Kanno had great chemistry with Tsukaji Muga instead. Tsukaji played the role of Kudo, the researcher who always helped Kiina with her investigations and was her ex-boyfriend. The two of them were really hillarious on screen and it was a joy to see them. No doubt Tsukaji is not the typical handsome guy in dramas, his acting was good enough to create sparks with Kanno whenever their characters meet.

On the whole, I think that this is a drama not to be missed by the following groups of people:

1) Those who derive joy from watching investigative dramas based on facts rather than shaky guesswork
2) Those who like Kanno Miho (she's brilliant in this drama)
3) Those who are of the practical type and never believes in the supernatural (this drama will show you why some things happen even though they are said to be unbelievable)

And my ratings for this drama...
Story: 9.5 out of 10 (I like it for the fact that it stays true to its theme and presents logical explanations to everything)
Acting: 8 out of 10 (This is largely for Kanno and Tsukaji. The rest of the supporting cast didn't get too much time to show off their mettle which I felt was a bit of a pity. Kiina is simply too outstanding to be overshone by anybody.)
Theme song: 4 out of 10 (The theme song didn't leave a deep impression on me. I don't even remember the melody to date.)
Visual effects / Scenery: 6.5 out of 10 (Generally nothing special to speak of because there were quite a lot of indoor shots. I like some of the studio sets though.)
Teamwork / Chemistry: 7 out of 10 (Although Hiraoka Yuuta was supposed to be Kanno Miho's partner, I thought Kanno had better chemistry with Tsukaji. Nonetheless, it was a good effort by Hiraoka, considering his inexperience.)

Total: 34 out of 50