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Joined:  06 Sep 2008
Total posts:  134
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Country (Nationality):  United Kingdom
Location:  United Kingdom
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Cerebus's dramas (56)
Akihabara@DEEP [アキハバラ@DEEP]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Great fun, a sort mixture of Scooby Doo and the UK series Spaced. Fast and frantic, and just the right level of silliness, although the final episode may taken things a bit too far.
Ame to Yume no atoni [雨と夢の後に]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Sweet story of the love between a dead father's ghost and his daughter. This gets better as it goes along, the initial standalone supernatural stories didn't really work, but once the main arc started things improved no end. Sentimental without ever being mawkish and it ended on the perfect note. Sawamura Ikki and especially Kurokawa Tomoka where excellent as the father and daughter respectively.
Aoi Tori [青い鳥]
Rating: 10/10 (Watched)
Absolutely brilliant. Deliberately paced, melancholic, heartbreaking, subtle, shocking, spellbinding, with a almost lyrical beauty in places. I can understand why some people didn't like the second half, but it worked for me. It's one of those programmes which stays with you long after it's finished. Fantastic cast, especially Natsukawa Yui and the child actors. Great music also.
Arifureta Kiseki [ありふれた奇跡]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
No stunt casting, no non-acting Johnnies, no flashy direction, just a superb drama about people drawn together after an attempted suicide. You get the feeling the characters are real people leading real lives and it is a tangible sense of melancholy running throughout. The script and cast are excellent and refreshingly I don't anybody is under thirty. It is very slow and subdued, and has some of the longest scenes and individual shots I've even seen in a j-drama. I swear that there was a single shot of about 5 minutes in the 3rd episode.
Ashita no Kita Yoshio [あしたの、喜多善男]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
A refreshing change from the usual J-drama. It's great to see something so well written which assumes the viewer has some intelligence. Pretty unique show which is a mixture of many genres. Veteran character actor Kohinata Fumiyo shows that he is able to carry a series, and Yoshitaka Yuriko is superb as the not very talented idol.
Bara no nai Hanaya [薔薇のない花屋]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Twisting and somewhat dark, another revenge mystery which doesn't make very much sense if you think about the methods involved. Somebody should tell Katori Shingo that staring enigmatically into the middle distance and talking like a robot doesn't equate to good acting. His awfulness is more than made up by Takeuchi Yuko who is superb and the blind woman.
Bus stop [バスストップ]
Rating: 5/10 (Watched)
Comedy romance about an idealistic bus driver a proud OL from different side of the tracks, who find lurve. Bit of a effort to finish this one through to it's inevitable conclusion. Mediocre at best, it's flimsy premise is stretched to breaking point. Uchimura Teruyoshi as the bus driver starts out endearing, but ends up being just annoying, and Yanagiba Toshiro is criminally under-used, although Iijima Naoko is stunning.
Coin Locker Monogatari [コインロッカー物語]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Pleasant 4 episodes where a girl left in a coin locker as a baby learns to grow up. Tends to deal with the darker side of modern Japanese life.
Densha Otoko [電車男]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
OK, although Ito Atsushi is a total gimp, and Ito Misaki a total wimp, and at no time do they feel like a couple. The best thing in this is Shiraishi Miho as the frightening, sex craved temp. The variety of characters on the message board work really well. The Specials aren't. The final one is an embarrassment.
Golden Bowl [ゴールデンボウル]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Fantastic central performances, both Kaneshiro Takeshi and Kuroki Hitomi are outstanding and have excellent chemistry. Their interactions and the complicated nature of their romance turned the show into something special. Nojima Shinji's script ranges from the profound and moving to just plain silly and dumb, I wish there could have been less of the latter, also I wish there was less bowling.
Gonzo - Densetsu no Keiji [ゴンゾウ]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Excellent police drama. Great writing, you get the feeling that the supporting and guest characters are real people, rather than a just means of progressing the plot or filling time. The initial wackiness was reduced, which improved things no end. The fourth episode was superb and the seventh episode was even better, and is one the the best single j-drama episodes I've seen. The plot was a little too neat, and it was easy to guess the culprit, but the characters more than made up for it.
Hachi-One Diver [ハチワンダイバー]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
The most vibrantly directed TV show I've ever seen. Good mixture between comedy and drama. Episode 3 is one of the funniest things I've even seen, it was just so gloriously non-PC. Naka Riisa was superb in her twin roles, especially when she transformed between the two. The story did drag towards the end, however.
Haikei, Chichiue-sama [拝啓、父上様]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Drama about the conflict between the old and modern set in a traditional restaurant. Ninomiya Kazunari is excellent in the lead, somewhat suprisingly as he is a Johnny. His character mainly acts as a go-between and commentator on the rest of the cast, most of whom are over 30, which is very refreshing. Yachigusa Kaoru is particularly good as the grandmother. The closing credits which simply consisted of a series of black and white photographs was particularly effective.
Hotaru no Hikari [ホタルノヒカリ]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Comedy based on the dubious assumption that if you dress down away from work, then you are some sort of social outcast. The supporting cast are nothing more than cardboard cut-outs. The best parts where the conversions and bickering between Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito. A special mention to DoReMii whose fansubs where superb and really caught the spirit of the show.
Iguana no musume [イグアナの娘]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
A modern fairy tale, and like all good fairy tales it's rich in allegory, in this case exploring the problems of adolescent shyness, low self-esteem, self-acceptance and also the emotional roller-coaster of first love. The young Kanno Miho is simply brilliant playing the rather pitiful lead. She is able generate real empathy and acts everyone else off the screen. Although it didn't help that most of the supporting characters were somewhat under written. You also got the feeling that most of their issues could be solved by simply talking to each other a little more. But this is Kanno Miho's show, and worth watching for her performance alone.
Ikebukuro West Gate Park [池袋ウエストゲートパーク]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
I nearly didn't get past the first two episodes as I don't think I liked a single character, but it improved greatly after that. Stylish, dark, comedic, violent, bizarre and definitely not your average Japanese drama. The ending was a little weak and the acting variable, but it was highly enjoyable.
Jikou Keisatsu [時効警察]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Hilarious in places, on a number of occasions I had to stop the recordings as I was laughing so much. Wonderfully quirky and absurd and it doesn't resort to either rampant overacting or stupid slapstick for laughs. The leads, Odagiri Joe and Aso Kumiko are both great, and have a real chemistry together. It must have been really difficult to sub, given the amount of puns and word play.
Keizoku [ケイゾク]
Rating: 7/10
A very odd one this, the first 2/3rds are very similar to Trick where rather implausible mysteries are solved in a semi-lighthearted way. Then suddenly it turns into a different show, very dark, shocking and compelling (though equally as implausible). And it works very well, the odd camera angels and strange asides which where where originally quirky suddenly become disturbing. The SP is OK while the film is a complete mess.
Kekkon Dekinai Otoko [結婚できない男]
Rating: 10/10 (Watched)
Absolute perfection, easily one of the best TV shows of any sort, from any country I've ever seen. Abe Hiroshi is brilliant as the antisocial architect, and Natsukawa Yui is as equally as good as the doctor who softens him. The supporting cast are excellent also. It just so well written and played, and it's the sort of show where the characters are far more important than the plot. The whole thing is pure genius from start to end.
Kisarazu Cat's Eye [木更津キャッツアイ]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Typical Kudo Kankuro mania. It often made very little sense, and often resorted to lots of running and shouting. That didn't really matter it was a lot of fun. I was a bit concerned that the leads where chosen for their haircuts rather than acting ability, but I needn't have worried as most where reasonable actors and a charismatic lot and they where clearly enjoying themselves.
Koi no Chikara [恋ノチカラ]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
A good cast headed by the dependable Fukatsu Eri and an intelligent script, but it never really "clicked" for me. I think there was rather too much time spent dealing with the advertising side of things rather than the central romance, but even that somehow didn't quite ring true. It wasn't helped by the utterly predictable plot either.
Konno-san to Asobo [紺野さんと遊ぼう]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
I don't think it's subbed, but then it doesn't have to be as it is pretty easy to understand what's going on with minimal Japanese. It's just a series of 10 minute shorts with Yoshitaka Yuriko goofing around, mainly silently, with a dry voice over by Sawamura Ikki. Very funny, and Yoshitaka Yuriko proves she is a talented comedic actress.
Koori no Hana [氷の華]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Yonekura Ryoko reprises her wicked woman-type role in this effective tanpatsu. Highly watchable, the time just flew with it was on, but unfortunately is was let down by a weak plot, which made no sense if you thought about it. All of the time I was expecting it to be far more clever than it actually was. Far too much use of talking head type exposition also.
Kou kou kyoushi [高校教師]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Dark and shocking but with a degree of subtly you don't get in modern dramas, and not a pretty boy in sight. Apparently it was very controversial at the time, and it's easy to see why. As with the sequel it does leave a bad taste in the mouth over how some of the characters are made sympathetic despite the despicable things they do. I just hope this isn't a real indication of what happens in Japanese schools.
Kou Kou Kyoushi 2003 [高校教師 2003]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
Possibly the most morally ambiguous and non-judgemental TV show I've ever seen. The way the two teachers treat their students is just so twisted, but it was so compelling to see what injustice would happen next. It was a bit like watching a car crash. Ueto Aya redefines cute to a whole new level and Kyomoto Masaki quite possibly has the worst haircut in the history of the world.
kusenosu [クセノス]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
As this is a late night Tokyo TV show there is the prerequisite oppai and dodgy acting from gravure and AV idols, but beyond the boobies there is a rather good dark and twisted revenge/mystery thriller. It is much darker and seedier than the usual J-drama. The direction and editing frequently flips between inept and inspired, but when they get it right there is a real disquieting quality to the show, such as the kinky nurse and the side story of the policewoman.
LIAR GAME 2 [ライアーゲーム 2]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Certainly not as good as the first series. The games where a little disappointing, especially in the first half. The first half also lacked the character interaction and mystery which made the first series so interesting. It's the closest thing to a live action anime you're likely to get. Unfortunately it also was incomplete as the final of the games will be in a film.
LIFE [ライフ]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
School bullying drama which is dark, shocking and about as subtle as a brick, but also is both compelling and involving and has some real depth. Kitano Kii is first rate as the lead, but the acting by some of the male cast stinks. The ending was particularly effective, showing there are never any easy solutions. Great direction and use of music.
Long Love Letter [ロング・ラブレター〜漂流教室]
Rating: 2/10 (Watched)
Oh dear, this is dire. When science fiction is done badly, it is really bad. Nothing makes sense, explanations appear from nowhere, the school kids are a bunch of interchangable non-acting Johhny's and idols, people's actions are completely arbitrary, and the writing stinks. I fast forwarded through most of it.
Love Shuffle [ラブシャッフル]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
After an iffy first episode Love Shuffle grew into one of the best doramas I've seen. Nojima Shinji must be the best writer currently working in Japanese drama. It has excellent plotting, pacing, characterisation and dialogue. The show grows into much more something complex and compelling once it goes beyond the initial idea of the Love Shuffle and delves deeper into the lives of the protagonists. Yoshitaka Yuriko proves she is one of the best young actresses around without saying a word, and there is a real chemistry between Tamaki Hiroshi and Karina. The real surprise is Matsuda Shota who I never rated before, who shows given the right material he's a pretty decent actor. His photo-shot confessional scenes where superb.
Majo Saiban [魔女裁判]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
A typical cliche ridden mystery/thriller based around a murder trail. The protagonist runs everywhere, the main bad guy just grins and laughs manically, nothing makes very much sense and for some reason the police are never anywhere to be seen. The direction got rather tiresome with certain actions, mainly reaction shots, repeated about 10 times from different camera angles every 5 minutes or so. The ending however is fantastic, if a little rushed, and makes up for some of the preceding short comings.
Moso Shimai ~ Bungaku Toiuna no Motoni [妄想姉妹 ~ 文學という名のもとに]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Basically a series of dramatisations of sections of famous Japanese poems and prose from the last 100 years of a little more, ahem, adult nature. Nothing too gratuitous, and the quality varies wildly, but when it works it has more than once reminded me of Kar Wai Wong's excellent film In the Mood for Love. The linking story doesn't quite succeed and only really works in the final episode.
Muri na Renai [無理な恋愛]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
Fantastic comedy drama about love between generations. Natsukawa Yui is even better than she was in KDO. Tokui Yoshimi is also excellent as her dead-beat boyfriend. This show is really about not regretting the past, but rather thinking about the future. The plot offers nothing original, but it is excellently written. It is completely free of cynicism, and the characters are the sort of people you would actually want to spend some time with in real life.
Nanase Futatabi [七瀬ふたたび]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Both the acting and the script range from adequate to terrible, but the pacing and plot draw you in initially. Unfortunately the first couple of episodes are by far the best, and after about half way through I lost interest. It is a sort of a Japanese version of the US show Heroes, with a tenth of the budget and a tenth of the cast, but about ten times the cohesion. Great music by Kawai Kenji.
Narita Rikon [成田離婚]
Rating: 5/10 (Watched)
A romantic comedy that's neither romantic, there is zero chemistry between the leads, nor particularly funny. It's one of those dramas whose thin premise is stretched to breaking point. I watched it as it has Fukatsu Eri and Abe Hiroshi is supporting roles, but they were given very little to do.
Nemureru mori [眠れる森]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Very good dark twisty drama until you start thinking about the plot, and then the actions of some of the cast make no sense whatsoever. The answer to the mystery of the connection between the two leads was particularly satisfying and clever, however. Nakayama Miho was simply stunning, I could watch her all day.
Ninkyo Helper [任侠ヘルパー]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
The basic premise is dumb (a group of Yakuza work in an old folks' home) but this was one of the most involving and sometimes intelligent and realistic doramas I've seen. It is at its best when it deals with the consequences of old age and dementia on people and their friends and family. This is done in a considered and thankfully non-overly sentimental way. Also, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and Natsukawa Yui (as ever) are both excellent and their (and her son's) problems and relationships where handled expertly. The Yakuza part of the show was just silly. This isn't helped by the fact that most of them where played by non-acting interchangeable pretty-boys (and one non-acting pretty-girl). I've never seen a bigger bunch of wimps in my life. There's no way they could survive a fight with a rival gang, in fact I think some of them would be lucky to survive a particularly strenuous bowel movement.
Odoru Daisousasen [踊る大捜査線]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
A refreshing change from the average cop show. Often the cases where solved by a simple confession or even by accident, it's almost the anti-CSI. Healthy degree of cynicism of the vertical structure of the Japanese police system. The attempts at comedy didn't really work.
raiaa geemu [ライアーゲーム]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Fast paced, manically directed, and a good story. The games are extremely clever, I forgot the number of times I had to hit the pause button to follow the strategies and counter strategies. Almost ruined by Matsuda Shota who simply cannot act and spends most of his time staring through his fringe.
SCANDAL
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
A character based mystery show with an excellent cast and writing. Everybody has some to hide, and it's the revelations of these secrets which drives the plot, but at no time does it feel forced. It's been described as a Japanese Desperate Housewives, but it's a completely different sort of show, and much much better. The ending was a little anticlimactic, but satisfying.
Shika Otoko Aoniyoshi [鹿男あをによし]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Superb drama/comedy which has excellent central story and pacing. It manages to make a talking deer to be the most natural thing in the world. Great ensemble cast playing an odd selection of characters. Quirky, but it never resorts to the over the top style which ruins so many j-dramas.
Shiroi Haru [白い春]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
Abe Hiroshi continues to prove he is the best actor on Japanese TV at the moment, playing the strong but silent Haruo, and Ohashi Nozomi is also excellent as the 9 year old Sachi and gives one of the most naturalistic child performances I've seen for some time. They're helped greatly by the script, which allows Abe Hiroshi to remain taciturn and to expertly silently emote his way through most scenes without the need for any unnecessary dialogue (I suspect the part was written especially for him). Sachi is also superbly and realistically written, not once does she say a line that only an adult would say and remains heartbreakingly innocent throughout. Sentimental? definitely, but never manipulative or mawkish, it's one of those dramas which is likely to stay with you long after it has finished. It had this old cynic wiping away the tears on more than one occasion. The only issues where that Yoshitaka Yuriko's character is rather under written and acts mainly as a plot device and that the ending was rather random and very abrupt.
Shomuni [ショムニ]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Light fluffy and enjoyable even if every episode did have the same basic plot. It's just the sort of thing to cheer you up after a bad day at work. The confrontations between the secretaries and GA 2 are great, especially the interactions between Esumi Makiko and Toda Naho.
Shukan Maki Yoko [週刊真木よう子]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
A collection of single 25 minute dramas of every genre imaginable, all starring Maki Yoko. In general, I preferred the more serious ones, episodes 1, 7, 9 and 11 where my favourites. If there was one general failing it's that the majority of the stories had weak endings. Great to dip into when you have a a spare 30 minutes.
Slow Dance [スローダンス]
Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi [空から降る一億の星]
Rating: 10/10 (Watched)
The first J-drama I saw, and still one of the best. At first it looks like a simple romance, but in reality the show is about the bad side of the human psyche and everything gets darker and more twisted as the show progresses. All the characters are flawed, and no one is as they first seem. The final two episodes are just jaw dropping.
Taju Jinkaku Tantei Psycho [多重人格探偵サイコ]
Rating: 9/10 (Watched)
Also called MPD Psycho. It is directed by Miike Takashi, so it isn't Nodame Cantabile. What it is however is dark, strange, disturbing, complex, twisted, confusing and sometimes hilarious. Apart from some lazy plot exposition in the final episode it is fantastic, Miike at his weird best. It is certainly is not for everyone. Unfortunately the official R2 DVDs have very bad picture quality and subs.
Teru Teru Ashita [てるてるあした]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
Shares much of the producers and cast of Ame to Yume no Ato ni, and it's fun spotting the references to it. A coming of age story whose attempts at magical realism are only partially successful. The plot slight is slight and meandering, but at least the performances are good, Kurokawa Tomoka is a charismatic young lead. It just lacks sparkle and that certain something to make it special.
The Quiz Show [ザ・クイズショウ]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Effective little dark psychological drama. It improved as it went on as the main story evolved and finished with some satisfying twists. The actual quiz show parts did get a bit tedious after a while however, but as each episode was 25 minutes it never outstayed it's welcome.
Top Sales [トップセールス]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
This works best when dealing with recent Japanese history and how this affected the lives of central group of friends. It taught me many things I didn't know about Japan in the last 30 or so years. What isn't successful is when it tries to use the buying, selling and ownership of cars a a metaphor for people's lives, and the resulting interventions from the car sales people, which where just sometimes toe curling. But is the end it was entertaining, educational and starred Natsukawa Yui, and what more could you ask for? (apart from a better script).
Triangle [トライアングル]
Rating: 5/10 (Watched)
A mystery drama, which after a promising start goes rapidly downhill. The main problem is the plot which is contradictory, nonsensical, contrived, badly paced, full of coincidences and is completely unoriginal. For a plot driven show, this is a bit of an issue. People suddenly appear to give information and then disappear, or characters remember important facts at just the right time to progress the story. Every other phrase is "ni juu go nen mae". At least the music is good.
Trick [トリック]
Rating: 8/10 (Watched)
Entertaining comedy mystery show somewhat reminiscent of the UK show Jonathan Creek. Abe Hiroshi is on top form as the the assistant professor, and he has excellent chemistry with Nakama Yukie. The humour is somewhat random, and definitely Japanese. The running joke about the relative size of certain body parts of the protagonists is hilarious. The only problem is the pacing which can be a little haphazard.
Utahime [歌姫]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Improved as the show progressed, especially when the main plot started, and the wackiness level has been reduced. I very nearly gave up on this during the first episode, and it took me 3 or so episodes to "get" it, but I'm glad I stuck with it. The ending did seem rather rushed, but I think it worked. Refreshingly different from the usual j-drama.
Warui Yatsura [わるいやつら]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
Dark drama which is only 8 episodes long. A few good and shocking twists along the way, but it seemed to be lacking some substance. Certainly worth the effort.
Watashitachi no kyokasho [わたしたちの教科書]
Rating: 6/10 (Watched)
A school/courtroom/mystery dorama which is a real Curate's egg, good and bad in parts. It works best when dealing with Kanno Miho's personal relationships (I wish they spent more time on these) and the mystery plot which is less full of holes and not as implausible as most Japanese TV mysteries. The worst part is Itoh Atsushi, a truely rotten actor playing a truely annoying character, but he is what the fast forward button was invented for. It's also full of incredible long and incredibly dull monologues, and the sub plot involving the head mistress' son is plain dumb, but on the whole it kept me watching, just.
Yasuko to Kenji [ヤスコとケンジ]
Rating: 7/10 (Watched)
A joy from start to finish, although nothing is queit as good as the opening scene. Wonderfully over the top. Matsuoka Masahiro is a fantastic physical comedic actor. Hirosue Ryoko and Tabe Mikako provide ample support, although Okura Tadayoshi was a bit of a wimp. Plot-wise it is rather repetitive, but it is able to make you both laugh and cry with relative ease.

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