Ame to Yume no atoni [雨と夢の後に] There is nothing here that should make this all that special, but there is just some sort of magic that makes this one of my favorite dramas I've seen. The funny thing is though, that I was able to guess just about every plot twist. The big revelation in episode 9 I had already realized in the first episode, but I find it sort of satisfying that way. There was one episode in the middle where I thought the series would head in a frustrating direction that I couldn't accept, but it was resolved by the end of that very episode in such a beautiful way. Thats when I realized how much I loved this drama.
Aoi Tori [青い鳥] Hands down my favorite drama I have ever seen by a very wide margin.
If this were a novel it would be a classic of literature. The story is exceptional. But where Aoi Tori really excels is in using the J drama format to its fullest potential. Specifically I am referring to having ten or eleven episodes to tell a story as compared to the several hours of a movie or the near infinite number of episodes in western television. Often times J drama series will drag on and would benefit from being several episodes shorter, but what I loved so much about Aoi Tori was the two arc storyline. It really allowed it to have the perfect balance of detail. The series feels almost like a moral parable but from a more Buddhist spectrum than westerners will be used to. I realize some people may have problems with the actions of the characters but I think it's important to realize that the show is not condoning them, just portraying them, and everyone's actions have consequences (and it's always suffering). Even the "villain" isn't bad he is just another person suffering like every one else. The only problem I had was the ending, it seemed a little goofy, I think I would rather have seen either an entirely different approach or at least a more blatant one. But by any standards Aoi Tori is an absolute masterpiece.
JIN [JIN-仁-] I had a strong intention to dislike this drama going in. I had heard so much raving about it, and it all went something like this; "OMG it's about a doctor... WHO GOES BACK IN TIME!!! AWESOME!!!." I wondered at times if I weren't the only sane person in the world who realized that this idea was cheesy as hell. So I watched specifically with the intention of laughing at it, I wanted to come on here and say; "OMG this would have been so much better if it was about a veterinarian...who went back in time!!! AND SAVED THE DINOSAURS!!! The climax would have him MacGyvering some rocks and sticks together to stop the impending meteor!!!." But the problem is that this show pretty much is as good as everybody was saying. The idea really is cheesy, but as a history lover, something about viewing history through the eyes of someone who has the same point of view that you would have brings it to life, and makes it feel personal, and in a silly way actually more believable than a typical period piece with actors coldly portraying strange behavior that you can't relate to. It actually got me as soon as I saw the opening credits, where they juxtaposed historical photographs of Japan with what it looks like now, while playing beautiful traditional Japanese sounding music played by a large modern orchestra. I knew then that I had lost my little feud with this drama, and that everybody else was right.
Kamisama mou sukoshi dake [神様、もう少しだけ] This is really heavy stuff. Normally I try to stay away from dramas that deal with various mortal illnesses in this direct a manner, but something about someone as cute as Fukada Kyouko with aids in a love story seems like something I had to watch. The thing is that honestly her acting comes off less like a teenager, but rather more like a five year old. It’s the kind of thing a person is either really going to love or hate, and though I can understand people being on the other side, I am clearly in the camp of those who love it. I find her acting so adorable that I can totally see myself being a rock star like personality with my choice of hundreds of hot girls, but end up throwing myself off of bridges out of my love for some dumb high school girl with aids. Of course if you have seen any other drama she stars in, you won’t be surprised by her character, but what is different is seeing her usual childish character dealing with a such a serious illness.
Kou kou kyoushi [高校教師] The perennial classic of Japanese lolicon culture. But it doesn't stop there, add in incest, rape, homosexuality, infidelity, suicide, and a little murder and you have a deep cesspool of immorality. The thing that is so wonderful about this drama is very simply that they actually go there, so many dramas, which have come after this no less, only have the courage to toy with these issues, but back off before they depict anything that might actually offend people. This show is very responsible for inducing a lot of self-righteous rage in large groups of people. It's actually rather amazing to me, to watch people get more worked up over a relationship between a teacher and a student, than they do in response to the incest and rape. I can only conclude this is because they are fine watching things they know they would never do, but they get defensive about behavior that they themselves would do if they could...(food for thought) Taken as an immoral classic I love this series, but it really only has shock value as its reason to watch, and honestly it still doesn't really go far enough with that, though I am certain that's only because TV stations wouldn't have aired anything worse than this.
Last Friends [ラスト・フレンズ] Yes it is super melodrama...and yet it totally works. sadly they couldn't simply allow someone to be a lesbian without making excuses ( a problem in many anime as well ), but even then I couldn't stop watching. The OP is a work of art, "Prisoner of Love" is one of Utada Hikaru's best songs, and the ending was perfect, not too much, not too little. It's not the sort of thing you would consider greatness as a novel or film, and overdone melodrama is the most common complaint I have against J-drama, but Last Friends uses it to create an emotinally intense drama that somehow ends up really memorable.
LIFE [ライフ] A silly attempt to make BULLYING such a serious issue. You would think they would try to limit the ridiculousness of this drama. There are so many just plain stupid behaviors and over the top attacks that it comes of as unbelievable. I kept thinking why don't you do this or that. If someone wrote horrible things about me on the chalk board and threw all kinds of drinks at me, I don't think I would try to erase it, I would leave it for the teacher. What could she say, that I wrote it myself. I don't think anybody would put forth this sort of effort into hiding the actions of there attackers, not even in Japan. One of the silliest moments was near the end when Manami in order the slow her pursuers knocks over a very small can of trash. It's the kind of thing you would see in a comedy but here it was meant to be serious. I can't help but pick on it, but the real truth is that I love it. I loved instantly, as soon as it started. It was exactly what I would have wanted to watch. I was surprised to realize that I haven't seen anything else like it and I look forward to more shows that are comparable.
Lipstick [リップスティック] When I first started watching this I presumed I was not going to like it because of the whole "girls in prison" type of setting, but it became surprisingly good rather quickly. What I really liked was not the characters themselves so much as the relationships that develop between them. There are some cheesy moments, and I found the boys side of the story to be artificial and boring, but overall I really liked it. Also the music was exceptionally good. It just has a moody feeling that I really dig.
Love complex [ラブコンプレックス] One of the few if not only dramas that I can truly call art. Do not watch this if you need clear explanations in your plots. The plot here is open for debate, discussion and interpretation, but not in the typical narrative sense of I do/don't like how character X fell in love with character Y, this is abstract and symbolic. This is a drama comparable to Evangelion in the anime world, or Twin Peaks in the western TV world (or David Lynch in general.) It wins me over by being the only "art-house" J-drama in existence, but perhaps equally as amazing it wins me over as a comedy. I think I have never actually seen a single J-drama that I thought was actually funny outside of this. As a warning, this is a drama that would be nearly impossible to provoke a feeling besides extreme love or extreme hate. I just so happen to be firmly in the former camp.
Mitsu no Aji ~A Taste Of Honey~ [蜜の味~A Taste Of Honey~] I can just tell that this drama is going to be very polarizing and frankly quite despised by many people. But I simply must be the person to say that this is absolutely one of the best dramas ever, period. I happened to notice that it was written by the same person as "First Love", which was also strongly hated by many people, and which I feel is one of the most overly criticized series ever. There are many thematic similarities between the two series, even a lot of the dialogue is almost exactly the same. But most of the things wrong there, mainly the last few episodes and the over the top characters, are much better here, and one of the great things there, forbidden love, is so much more powerful and blatant here, because it's a love story between an uncle and his niece. I know this isn't the first time Japanese entertainment media has dealt with a story about incest, but television drama always has a tendency to toy with forbidden love themes, for example often times it's a student/teacher, but they usually only use it for enough shock value to get ratings but then back off before they might actually offend people. They don't back off here! And I couldn't be more pleased with them for that. I realize that something like incest is not something normal that most people would want to participate in in real life, but it makes for very moving drama if one will just accept it as a story. Another thing that's so excellent here is the way it builds to a climax and then halfway through reinvents itself. It allows the story to be more "epic" without either dragging on, or having to resort to trivial forms of conflict flip-flopping the story (which is exactly the problem with the last few episodes of the aforementioned "First Love".) In this way it reminds me of my absolute all time favorite drama "Aoi Tori." The story is actually very beautifully simple and straight forward, an uncle and a niece fall in love, but that is obviously not an easy relationship to have. That does bring me to the only flaw I can think of, and that is the over the top behavior of the jilted boyfriend and the power of tabloid magazines, but this is television so I don't feel like that is beyond expectation nor does it significantly harm the main plot. Kanno Miho's character is quite evil, but it's also equally believable and reasonable, and if anything, her eventual acceptance of the situation is the only thing that would be questionable in real life, but it's great for the story. Really I was rather shocked by this drama, I really didn't think they would so honestly portray a story like this and be willing to go all the way through with it. But it was a very good kind of shocking and the best drama I have seen since "Aoi Tori."
Natsuko no sake I once came across an excerpt and description of the Natsuko no Sake manga and found myself intrigued but I never actually had the opportunity to read it, so I jumped at the chance to watch the drama and I was not disappointed. Natsuko no Sake exemplifies everything that makes Japanese drama special. To an extent I would even go so far as to make the claim that it represents much of what makes Japan itself special. The series brings to mind often discussed but hard to translate words like Yamato-damashii, mono no aware, ganbaru, wabi-sabi etc. It's a simple story about growing rice and making sake but Wakui Emi personifies both innocence and perseverance so perfectly that the simple story ends up profoundly moving and it's hard not to cry every time she does. I don't think this is a drama for everyone however, I can imagine that a great many people would find it slow and boring. There's no action, plot twists don't go much further than rice growing, and it's blessedly free of members of boy bands, however I think Natsuko no sake is the exemplary Japanese drama, and a perfect test of whether someone has an actual interest in Japanese culture or whether it was merely superficial.
Teru Teru Ashita [てるてるあした] A spiritual sequel to Ame to Yume no Ato ni, a drama I wouldn't have expected to have been appreciated enough to have a sequel spiritual or otherwise, but was so happy to see it happen. It's not quite as good as the former but still is a close second.
It's really hard to explain this drama. It can be really cheesy, and yet I just smile. It becomes quite sad, and yet I just smile. Teru Teru Ashita is nothing amazing and yet it is really special. It stands out as a unique drama with lovable characters, and a light hearted take on traditionally darker subject matters.
14 sai no Haha [１４歳の母] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) The problems with this drama are exactly what I knew they would be when I first started watching. I knew it wouldn't end without stereotypical girls in a coma, baby's gonna die type of cliches. Thankfully they are few and short, so I was able to overlook them and love this show. the baby's father is a despicable human being, and that could have ruined it, but I suppose that is probably how most 15 year old fathers would be. Miki's father was also a little too goofy but he was still likable and surprisingly believable. But Miki's mother was fantastic, I felt that she was the real star of the show.
Aishiatteru kai [愛しあってるかい！] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Goof ball comedy that usually makes me roll my eyes, actually had me laughing here, most of the time anyways. The only significant problem is that the main actor, Jinnai Takanori, is totally inconceivable as the romantic lead in the love story that provides the background of the drama; thankfully they never let anything get very serious, and therefore mostly avoid the typical problem with comedy dramas, where they are funny in the beginning and stupid when they try to be serious in the end. That being said, it would have been better to have ended it at episode 10 and not produced the special, which fell right into that very trap.
Akumu-chan [悪夢ちゃん] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) As surprising as anything can possibly be. This has so many stupid cheesy things it should be beyond any possible redemption. Everything and everyone looks like a Mizuki Shigeru manga, and the special effects are about on par with the Power Rangers. And yet it's not only good, it's borderline great. And it's not one of those so stupid it is good things, it's clearly good in spite of it being so stupid. It's like everything outside of the stupid; the plot, music, cast, acting, etc., is so great that this is quite capable of being good. Really surprised.
Ame to Yume no atoni [雨と夢の後に] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) One of the best dramas I've seen. The funny thing is though, that I was able to guess just about every plot twist. The big revelation in episode 9 I had already realized in the first episode, but I find it sort of satisfying that way. There was one episode in the middle where I thought the series would head in a frustrating direction that I couldn't accept, but it was resolved by the end of that very episode in such a beautiful way. Thats when I realized how much I loved this drama.
Anata dake mienai [あなただけ見えない] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Horror on television is never very good. This drama actually does a decent job of not letting it get too stupid. The split personality thing was pretty interesting and there is a nice moody vibe that reminds me a bit of Twin Peaks (I am pretty sure it was an influence.) But truthfully I still found myself mostly bored, and was a little relieved when it was over, so that I could find something better to watch.
Anmitsu Hime: Special 1 [あんみつ姫] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) A perfect role for Inoue Mao, it's as if she was born to play this role. Only I don't want to insult her like that as it's not that great of a show. It's excesively goofy which could be cool only there's nothing actually funny about any of it. But I do have to commend the costuming and sets as they are excelent. I also wish Nakagawa Shoko would have had more screen time.
Anmitsu Hime: Special 2 [あんみつ姫] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Way more over-the-top than the first special, but with the benefit of actually being funny this time. It almost is a winner except that the big brutish barbarian villian dude is so stupid he litteraly ruins the whole thing. He is so so stupid.
Aoi Tori [青い鳥] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) If this were a novel it would be a classic of literature. The story is exceptional. But where Aoi Tori really excels is in using the J drama format to its fullest potential. Specifically I am referring to having ten or eleven episodes to tell a story as compared to the several hours of a movie or the near infinite number of episodes in western television. Often times J drama series will drag on and would benefit from being several episodes shorter, but what I loved so much about Aoi Tori was the two arc storyline. It really allowed it to have the perfect balance of detail.
The series feels almost like a moral parable but from a more Buddhist spectrum than westerners will be used to. I realize some people may have problems with the actions of the characters but I think it's important to realize that the show is not condoning them, just portraying them, and everyone's actions have consequences (and it's always suffering). Even the "villain" isn't bad he is just another person suffering like every one else.
The only problem I had was the ending, it seemed a little goofy, I think I would rather have seen either an entirely different approach or at least a more blatant one. But by any standards Aoi Tori is an absolute masterpiece.
Arakawa Under the Bridge [荒川アンダーザ ブリッジ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) First I have to say that I have never read the manga or watched the anime, so I don't know how it compares, or how it would effect my opinion. Secondly, I am very fond of strange things so this almost has to be liked by me by default. That said, I really didn't find it all that great. Perhaps because it's weird and I feel like it's something I would make if I were to make dramas, I find myself overly critical; I like this weird thing but not that weird thing; this part is not weird enough, that part is too weird; etc. But really it's mostly just an issue of the characters not being very believable or developed. There's too many characters, and after the initial lol at their eccentricities they become boring gimmicks, and the series ends without any ending, or really without much of anything having happened at all. I suppose we will just have to wait for the movie to see if it makes things any better. Still basically worth watching for a change of pace from the norm, which is always a good thing.
*Update* The movie sucks. It recycles half of the same scenes from the series, and leaves me feeling like I'm watching just to try to find the little Easter egg scenes they randomly toss in. Takes an already underwhelming series and turns it into an absolute bore-fest.
Bara Iro no Seisen [バラ色の聖戦] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I was very attracted to the name of this drama, but sadly it doesn't quite live up. It's name lead me to believe this could be a drama that really focused on fashion, I was hoping something along the lines of Paradise Kiss, but this is about a lowly house wife trying to be a superstar. It still could have been quite good for what it is, if they would have avoided the blown out of proportion manga like garbage. I can understand someones husband may not particularly want his wife to be a model, but I seriously don't think he would lose contracts and be shunned by the whole world when someone finds out.
I was quite happy with the ending, however I wish they would have rubbed it in more.
Bara no nai Hanaya [薔薇のない花屋] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) So I was interested in watching this as a romance drama about a man who's wife had died, and while raising his daughter by himself, falls in love with a blind woman. May sound a bit boring to many, but seems like a good plot for a romance to me, but anyone who has seen this can tell you that it's definitely not what's advertised. It goes off into all sorts of silly overdone plot twists and intrigue. It presents itself as the type of drama I love, but turns into the type of drama I hate, BUT. Somehow it magically manages to make it all work well. It isn't what I signed up for, and I'm not sure how they made me like this, but I really did like it.
Beautiful life [ビューティフルライフ] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) This is the perfect example of the one complaint I have against Japanese television and films. The over abundance of portrayals of sick, crippled, cancer patients etc. And if you have seen one, you know how every other one will end. It's not that I always expect happy endings, but enough is enough already. I can never understand why it is that people always seem to rave about about these types of shows. It gives me the same feeling as when I visit someone in the hospital. Don't get me wrong, there's some really great acting and writing, and some of the dialogue is absolute genius. It really is a masterpiece, it's just a masterpiece I personaly wish I hadn't had the misfortune of having seen.
Beautiful Rain [ビューティフルレイン] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Nothing really done badly here. It's the type of show one will like basically depending on how they feel about the subject matter. Surprisingly it doesn't try to be too heavy handed in dealing with said subject matter, which was a pleasant surprise for me. The most impressive thing is the acting of the little girl. It's hard to believe that an eight year old could perform in such a role at all, let alone carry the weight of the whole show, as she does so well.
Boku no Imoto [ぼくの妹] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) In the beginning I thought this was going to be a serious mystery drama, but every time some new revelation was revealed, I thought "oh is that all". Next it was a medical drama, crime drama, love story...basicaly it was a train wreck. But I think I sort of get the point they were trying to make, that the only thing that stayed the same was the relationship of the two siblings. It's a decent idea, but the results are mediocre. But mediocre isn't bad, so it's worth watching if you like any of the actors.
Boys on the Run [ボーイズ・オン・ザ・ラン] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) This is primarily a comedy, but it's only mediocre at best as a comedy. On the other hand it actually works quite well otherwise. It has great pacing and development, interesting characters, and in particular, a decent story. It seems like so much happens in the course of this series, and it's hard to be bored watching it all unfold.
There is a major problem however. The old and tired plot of depicting one reject's determined quest for love has gone completely overboard here. They have succeeded in making him entirely pathetic and gross, but not in making him someone I can relate too. Or even feel much pity for really. The constant use of feces as a gimmick for his character didn't help much, nor did the repulsive expressions of his face. Sorry, but there is a limit to rooting for the underdog.
Chase ~ Kokuzei Sasatsukan [チェイス ~ 国税査察官] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Pretty decent, but not really my type of drama. The story fits really well with a six episode series. I couldn't help but hate the "good guys", because I, like every human (I hope), hate paying my taxes to the stupid government, but that is definitely one of the themes they explore here.
Cupid no Itazura [クピドの悪戯] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Knowing the basic plot of this before watching, a man who ejaculates rainbow balls and can only do so seven times for the rest of his life, I didn't have any expectations outside of maybe a laugh or two, and of course getting the chance to stare at Akiyama Rina's very famous butt. It's a very juvenile plot for sure, but it's actually also a really great love story, it would have been at least decent even if it were told in a more traditional way, though it would also certainly be rather bland, but being told through this perverse plot lets it stand out from the crowd of similar love stories. So the real charm here is precisely in using such a silly plot to tell such a conventional love story. The only problem I had with it is that I am definitely representing team "Oshirina", I don't find her annoying in the least, rather I find it an amazing portrayal of the type of girl that would seem attainable, but that would drag you into a whirlpool of obsession and eventual despair. I think it's a feeling only certain types of men would relate to. That being said, it definitely leads to a disappointment, but one that can be seen coming from the very beginning, so no surprises there.
Dare Yori mo Mama wo Aisu [誰よりもままを愛す] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) A decent family drama. The charachter types are good and the plot is touching, but it's hard to keep watching because it's mostly just boring. There's nothing exciting about it, it's not particularly funny, and when it tries to be serious it mostly only manages to be sappy. Not many good actors either.
Dareka ga kanojo o aishiteiru [誰かが彼女を愛してる] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) As much as I want to love this because of Nakayama Miho it's not possible. The problem lies in the fact that this is a plot that in and of itself is impossible to end in any satisfactory way. This should have been a love story about the father falling in love with a younger girl and his son appearing as a relatively minor road block to the romance and for comic relief. The son is too stupid to be the star here. I knew very early that there would be no happy endings or sad endings, there is no no way to go with this plot but toward letdowns, but knowing that fact in advance I suppose in a sense that I wasn't actually letdown.
Deka Wanko [デカワンコ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Tabe Mikako is the only actress I have seen play a detective who solves cases by sniffing things like a dog - while still remaining cute... There isn't much more that can be said really; there is nothing else that really stands out in this drama, it's certainly not a stand out crime drama, and it's not even particularly good as a comedy, but at the same time there is also nothing done wrong. It is a stand out light hearted, cute drama. Nothing that you will remember years later, but simple fun while you watch.
Enka no Joou [演歌の女王 (えんか の じょおう)] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I wanted to watch this series because I am actually one of the weirdos who likes enka. The problem is that I was hoping that it would actually be more about enka, but it really only uses it as an inconsequential gimmick. They could of just as well made her a rap singer or a baseball player and it wouldn't have made any difference. So when you take away the gimmick what are we left with? Just an average comedy. It has its funny moments and entertaining characters and it's definitely watchable but it lacks any substance and will likely be quickly forgotten.
First Love Rating: 9/10 (Watched) This is a drama that really had me charmed with it's stylish vibe, and over the top characters who somehow feel more believable than characters in other dramas who are much more realistic. Sadly the last few episodes drag the mood in the mud with its back and forth tug of war between the girls, and left me largely disillusioned.
Still I am surprised at the level of hate towards this show. I think there is still lots of really great things here, and I feel someone needs to come to this shows defense.
Friends Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Wakui Emi is always exceptional in any drama she stars in, and this is no exception. Takeuchi Yuko plays a role that is very different from what I am used to seeing her in, which is neat, but she doesn't suit it real well, but that may just be my bias. I am so tired of plots were people get cancer, but this is probably one of the better ones. There is a certain realism to this drama that I find quite refreshing, but it's the type of thing that a lot of people could find boring. Anyways, it's a bit the opposite of most dramas in that it gets better as it goes, rather than worse, in the beginning I thought it was bad, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Fukigen na Jiin [不機嫌なジーン] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I found the plot pretty much totally uninteresting, but it is a good role for Takeuchi Yuko, and her performance carries the show. It is also decently humorous, and I liked the sequential relationships she is involved in. However, both the male characters are frankly speaking assholes, and considering that, I think the ending was perhaps appropriate, but it certainly wasn't satisfying. I guess I would sum it up as sort of a "mixed bag".
Fuyu no Sakura [冬のサクラ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Great, another brain cancer drama. This is the one millionth brain cancer drama I have seen and it's basically exactly the same as all the other ones. They don't even try to let you think it will end any differently either, they literally tell you the ending in like the first spoken sentence. The woman isn't faithful to her husband, but also like a million other dramas, it's OK because he is an over-the-top psychopath. It has a scene where one of the star crossed lovers is going to get on a bus, the other one isn't going to come, but at the last second she goes running while emotional music plays in the background, only to arrive a second too late, to see the bus driving off - it's a scene that I see two or three times EVERY SINGLE DRAMA SEASON. to be fair it's actually fairly well written and acted, it's sad, emotional and meaningful. This probably would have been a classic that people would remember for years, and in reality I like it far more than I want to. But it's still all been done many many times before, and drama creators are going to have to come up with some new stuff to make me cry, if they want me to have much of anything positive to say about it.
Garasu no kamen 1 [ガラスの仮面] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Originally a manga and if you're a fan of it and/or either of the two anime series based on it, you will probably love this as a faithful adaptation. The problem is that it ends up extremely cheezy as live action, for example the dresses that Ayumi wears or the way people will talk about Maya in front of everyone but they act unaffected other than screaming at Maya "what's wrong" etc. I think Tanabe seiichi as Masumi is about as good as can be expected, appearance wise, for a character who seemed caucasian in the manga/anime but he could of acted "cooler", Adachi Yumi is maybe slightly off for Maya but she is so adorable that it works great. In summary great for fans but I don't know if non-fans will "get it".
Garasu no kamen 2 [ガラスの仮面 2] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) My biggest complaint with the first series was that it was often cheesy. The second series is much much worse about it. It's full of stupid wolf noises and ridiculous jumping. Furthermore the early episode plots are mostly boring. I almost got to the point of hatred, but it got quite good at the end. It finally became openly a love story, which was some what surprising considering how young Maya seems. ( I don't know how old the character is supposed to be, or how old the actress really is but she seems like...twelve. ) Cheesy but inappropiately awesome.
Garasu no kamen Special Ending Rating: 7/10 (Watched) We finally get to see the CRIMSON GODDESS!!! and whoops, they changed the actress for Ayumi. It's almost like all the acting the original actress did was all in vain. Also I got really sick of all the inconsistencies, which is not something that usually bothers me, but it's like "Oh my god Masumi is the purple rose man, I never would have believed it even though he already told me like 100 times..." or "Why are you being so nice to me? well geez I already told you I love you and I have been sending you purple roses for ever..." At the end of the second series Masumi's father told Masumi to not marry Shiori, to live his life his own way, and now he says marry Shiori, and Masumi is like "damn I'll have to give up Maya and marry shiori" after he had ended their engagement and sworn to be true his fellings for Maya. Really kind of annoying. But still it was a very satisfying ending. On a side note I can't help but notice that the secretary's hair gets shorter every time. If there was another sequel she would have to shave her head.
Going My Home [ゴーイング マイ ホーム] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Now this is something different. This was directed by a movie director and has a totally different feel than any other drama I've ever seen. It feels completely like a movie, full of pointless scenes of everyday life that serve only to add mood. There's really no noticeable plot, but rather just a sequence of things that happen. And no actually drama either, but instead there is lots of internal emotional conflict that is left unspoken but that is entirely relatable to. It's all very subtle and rather genius, but it can't be left unsaid that this is exactly like a movie but with the one major exception that it happens to be ten episodes long. And it is slow, really slow. If there is anyone who likes slow paced moody things it would be me, but even I occasionally felt it hard to keep watching. Almost like I was out of motivation. Point is that this is some of the best, and most artistic television you will ever watch if you have the patience to bear with it.
Gokusen [ごくせん] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) I don't have anything bad to say about this in particular, but I am at a complete loss as to what all the fuss is about it. The comedy is only maybe sort of half funnyish, which is admittably better than the average comedy series, since I usually found them not funny at all. The plot is nothing memorable. Nakama Yukie's "fighting scenes" are infrequent and underwhelming.
Having watched this quite a long time after it aired, I can't help but notice that nearly all the young actors in the class have gone on to very prominent acting careers, so I can't help but to guess that the only real reason for this drama's popularity was all the young pretty boy actors. Which is fine I suppose, but it's very shallow, much like this show itself.
Again, I'm not trying to call this bad, but I see nothing in it worthy of the level of fandom it receives.
Gokusen 2 [ごくせん２] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) So I never really understood what was so great about Gokusen in the first place. So how's the sequel? Same thing. I mean for real, it's the exact same thing. All new characters but doing the exact same things. This is definitely not a compliment, but I suppose I don't particularly dislike it, it's actually pretty much as good as the first series (after all it's the same thing), but that means ultimately I feel it's way overrated.
Gokusen 3 [ごくせん 3] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? All these questions and more answered here in this drama!... Oh wait, this is Gokusen 3? Never mind, this is just the same crap again. AGAIN! Why is there a third series to this? Did people really like a random GTO ripoff that much? It was never any good to begin with. Couldn't they change anything at all? Maybe she teaches nice kids this time? Or girls? Or space aliens? Or she fights space aliens? No. It's the exact same thing again. Why did they even bother filming this? Why didn't they just re-broadcast the original series over and over again, and just change the title screen? No one would have ever noticed the difference.
You will find no answers here. Please move along.
Great Teacher Onizuka 2012 [グレート ティーチャー オニヅカ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) So once upon a time there was a drama, called GTO, that was very popular and is still remembered today. So someone decides that instead of coming up with a new drama they will just remake GTO. Was it because it would be easy money? Because they loved the original so much? Because they are lazy and unoriginal? There's no real way to know and it doesn't really matter either. Their job was both easy and at the same time hard, because they had something to compare it to, it should be easy to have a good idea of how their remake compares, so both the creators and the audience will know very easily the level of their success. And so how does this compare? Answer: it's a total failure.
On nearly every single level this is not as good as the original. The cast is not as good, that's especially a problem for Onizuka. I think this actress for Fuyutsuki is way more appropriate, but then they mess it up by having her be nearly a pointless character. None of the side characters have any value or screen time. The coach in this seemed hilarious, but again he gets literally nothing more than seconds of screen time. Most importantly it's not nearly as funny, and it doesn't help that we have seen this all before. But then strangely it seems half the stuff in the original is missing here. I don't know what all they may have added, but whatever it is it isn't any good.
Judged as a show in and of itself, I suppose this could be considered pretty good, but judged as the remake that it in fact is, it's a total failure. I don't particularly enjoy being that harsh, but they set themselves up for it by trying to remake a classic that is just way better than they are capable of living up to.
GTO [麻辣教師] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Considered to be the best drama of all time in many polls, lists, and personal opinions. I am of the opinion that this is mostly because people really seem to like school dramas, and as a school drama this is certainly the best. The amount of shows that try to emulate GTO"s formula are uncountable, there is another one every year, if not every single season, and none of them can compare. personally, I don't really like school dramas very much, and that would be my only real complaint, but it wouldn't be fair to judge it by such personal standards, so if you have any interest in the subject matter what-so-ever, then this is THE show to watch.
Haken no Oscar [派遣のオスカル ~ 少女漫画』に愛を込めて] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I am a huge fan of "Berusaiyu no Bara", so I was very excited to watch this, but I also presumed it wouldn't actually be any good. I was pretty much right. There's not to much to say really, some decent characters, rather boring plot. It's pretty short, but I felt that was a good choice in this case as there's not enough to sustain ten or more episodes, but kept short it at least manages average.
Hana no Zubora Meshi [花のズボラ飯] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) First, this is a complete ripoff of Hotaru no Hikari. Second, watching her eat is totally disgusting, Half the show is extreme close ups of her mouth, moaning and groaning, stuffed with partially chewed up food, with all sorts of mayonnaise and grease smeared all over her chin and face. The other half is really cute and good. I would have totally loved this drama if they hadn't deliberately tried to make me sick.
Hana Yori Dango [花より男子] Rating: 6/10 (Bought & Watched) I must admit that as a male it may be unfair for me to say negative things about HanaDan, but really I think this may, just perhaps be the most overrated drama of all time. I understand that it has 4 super cute boys, but really there has got to be a better drama for that sort of nonsense. Still it ain't bad just overrated.
Hana Yori Dango 2 [花より男子] Rating: 5/10 (Bought & Watched) I thought the first series was the most overrated drama of all time, and this is not quite as good as that one. But this is still much much better than the movie which frankly sucks.
I will say on a positive note about both HanaDan 1&2 that that Arashi boy is dressed up pretty stylish. My favorite thing is when he messes up his Japanese, but I probably find it funnier than it really is, just because it's fun to have progressed enough in my studies to be able to get those jokes.
Hanawake no Yon Shimai [華和家の四姉妹] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) I had problems right from the start when they try to portray every one crazy in love with Mizuki Arisa, I couldn't tell if it was even supposed to be a joke or not, SHE LOOKS LIKE MS. PIGGY, FOR GOD'S SAKE! And furthermore she looks like a man in drag.
If I had been watching this week by week, I would never have made it past the first episode, but since I already had the whole series I felt obligated to finish it, and it does get better and better as it progresses, but it still ends up only decent at best.
Himitsu [秘密] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Based on a popular novel, it's kind of like the movie "Big", but with incest because it was made in Japan (OK, maybe only attempted incest.) It's a plot device that probably every one has seen, people switching bodies, but it's much more serious here, and it's quite surprising to me that it works. There is an older movie version of this, but this drama version is much much better, especially the ending, it's the same concept but the delivery of it has more impact. I could have done without the whole sub-plot about the bus driver and his family, but otherwise I really enjoyed it.
Hitori Shizuka [ヒトリシズカ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) This is absolutely brilliant. As seems to be common amongst dramas on WoWoW. The neatest thing is the way every episode has it's own plot going on with the same girl, Kaho, always sort of in the background. It feels like the main star is always the least seen of the cast, but with the overall cast being different every episode, she still stands out as the star of the whole series, and yet still remains mysterious and intriguing. It's really unique and makes this series truly excellent. The only problem I had was with the ending, which was weaker than most of the other stuff in general, and extremely rushed. Other than that though, this is absolutely perfect.
Hitsudan Hostess [筆談ホステス] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Good enough to be a movie. It was very touching without going over the top. The one thing I didn't like was the few times the main character did speak. I would have left in the "yamete" at the beginning just to show that her speaking was bad, and pretty much no where else. One scene she fights with her brother via nothing but notes, it was really artistic and beautiful. So I was somewhat disapointed that they had her speak during the final scene.
Hotaru no haka [蛍の墓] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I remember when I first watched the anime that I thought to myself how strange it was to be animation rather than live action ( and I know many others thought the same way ), I actually remember thinking that it would probably be better as live action. Well here we are many years later with the chance to answer that question, and the truth is... I don't know. I find it hard to even decide whether I like it or not. I can say I am glad they took a different perspective on the story, it gives some reason to appreciate it, but I don't think it quite works this way. It's presented from the perspective of Inoue Mao's character rather than directly focusing on Seita and setsuko. I can't help but feel that this obviously lessens the impact of the whole story. Another thing that is really bothersome is the horrible special effects. I realise that this is a made for TV movie and that it obviously isn't going to have a super high budget, but for a story as classic as Hotaru no Haka how can you skimp and not do it proper justice. Which actually sums up my main point quite well, and that is that while it was good and I did like it, I actually think they shouldn't have bothered remaking it, that they should have just left it alone.
Hotaru no Hikari [ホタルノヒカリ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Really quite funny, and quite good as well. I found it refreshing and enjoyable that none of the characters were evil or hateful, no villains here, all the antagonists were likeable human beings. Not every drama needs to be like this, but it seems a lot more watchable than the typical evil characters intent on ruining peoples lives that are in so many other drama series. But it did sadly feel somewhat empty and shallow. I think it had a lot to do with a lack of time and development of all the side characters. Usually I find side characters distracting and prefer dramas that keep a tighter focus on the main characters, but here I found myself feeling the opposite. Also most of the work related plot material was boring. This drama mostly deserves its popularity, but I feel it's just missing a little something that could have made it really exceptional.
Hotaru no Hikari 2 [ホタルノヒカリ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) As much as I may have liked Hotaru No Hikari there was absolutely no reason for a sequel. I definitely wouldn't go so far as too say this sucks, but it's entirely unnecessary and unwanted.
Much of the cast is entirely new, not a bad idea, but they all are inferior to the older cast, and the returning members have all been dumbed down. In the first series I actually complained that the supporting cast didn't receive enough attention, but now I wish that they would be ignored. Worse yet the relationship between the stars has turned into something unbelievable and uninteresting. It was fun rooting for their undeveloped relationship previously, now I find myself with little interest in the little details of their marriage plans. The two sides of Hotaru's personality are now to stark to be believable, and it feels like two distinct characters, except that this show seems to have a hard time keeping them apart and randomly mixes them for whatever convenience they find needed. The humor is often times great, but it's much more spread out and then overdone when it's there, rather than the constant lighthearted silliness of the original. And in the earlier episodes they literally just recycle gags and lines from the original.
Again I didn't hate this in and of itself, but the inferior quality of this doesn't live up to the first series, and even worse damages my memory of a series that I once really liked.
Hungry! [ハングリー！] Rating: 7/10 (Bought) Inagaki Goro is as always a detriment to any drama, but I was surprisingly not as bothered by him as usual. With the lighter mood of this drama, his character comes off more as a comic book style villain, so that his unrealistic creepiness doesn't ruin the whole thing, and to the extent that it is portrayed seriously, I find him largely redeemable. On the other hand I had some issues with how the romance was handled. I can understand that with it not being too serious a drama, that they would not want to develop the relationship of the main character and the younger girl. However, after they portrayed his girlfriend as such an unlikeable person, I can't feel satisfied with the ending. Unlike the villain, I found his girlfriend to be, while not truly evil, totally shallow and beyond redemption, and it feels very unsatisfying to have her casually except him in the end, and that be that. If they had her go through a more serious transformation, or just had them break up it would have been better.
Hyakunen no monogatari [百年の物語] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) What a wonderful idea for a drama. Matsushima Nanako's performance was great. Seeing her as three differant characters gives a strange impression, that lends an almost mystical quality to the story, which would have been lost if they had used different actresses. The only problem is the third story, mostly because the male lead is horrible and I find it hard to believe any one could fall in love with him. Also I feel that by taking place mostly outside of japan it sort of lessens the value of seeing the progression of time into the present.
Ienaki ko 1 [家なき子] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) A classic of Japanese drama if ever there was one. It does come of as sort of a rip-off of several other classic things, like the Dog of Flanders or Little Orphan Annie. There's also a lot of ridiculousness, particularly most of the stuff her dog does. The grown up's evils don't come off as humorous in spite of being quite over the top. The young star's acting is likewise convincing. This all adds up to a surprisingly realistic story, dog included. Though it's certainly on the "cartoonish" side.
If there was a museum of Japanese drama, this would be the second exhibit right after Oshin.
Iki mo Dekinai Natsu [息もできない夏] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) This was based on a really stupid concept, but that stupid concept was used to make a rather excellent drama. It's definitely a light plot, which could be considered boring, but I appreciate classier stories that don't need to use extremes to be interesting.
The only aspect where I feel they should have turned up the heaviness is in the very awkward and vague romance like thing they have going here. I in no way expected this to actually develop into a real love story, but I think they could have at least toyed with it a bit more. It's like there's no chemistry between the main stars, like there's no sign that there would be any feelings either way, but then the girl is crying in a corner every now and then. It's a little underwhelming, but at the same time it is also a part of the relaxed feeling of this drama that I enjoyed.
Ima Ai ni Yukimasu [いま会いにゆきます] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) One of the best stories around. In comparison to the movie version I think this is actually better, though it occasionally feels like things are changed just for change's sake. Also it seems like a beauty contest in that they made sure all the actors were more attractive than their movie counterparts. This Takumi is much better than the movie one, but I actually prefer the movie Mio even though this one is more appropriate. Overall this story works better with the length provided in a television series however my biggest complaint is that the romance is a little too slow and that hurts the emotional impact.
Imouto yo [妹よ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Wonderful cast of characters. Wakui Emi portrays innocence and purity that could never actually exist in this world. The mere fact that it could even be faked is a miracle. The show is at it's best only in the beggining however, when the simple story fits well with her acting. My problem lies with the later attempt to add drama and take some of the focus away from her and Takagi and focus on her brothers relationship. Once they come back and resolve Yukiko's romance much of the "cinderella" magic is gone. Frankly I feel that I would have prefered that the endings of the two respective relationships been reversed.
Innocent Love [イノセント・ラヴ] Rating: 4/10 (Bought & Watched) This show is a strange parallel universe to Last Friends. They are both super melodramatic, but where Last Friends succeeds in spite of it, this fails because of it. Last Friends used one of Utada Hikaru's best songs, this one of her worst. Last Friends ended simply and beautifuly, this in an over the top train wreck where my feelings have been burnt out and I no longer care. On another note this show has a creepy christian vibe thing going on, which is not something I expect from J drama. Overall I suppose it's not really that horrible but it demands comparison to its predecessor, and falls so short its almost sad.
Izumo no Okuni [出雲の阿国] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Historical dramas can be very hit or miss for me, this one is definitely a winner. One of the most common failures I see in historical dramas is a bad lead actor/actress, but they really did well here. The actress that plays Okuni is excellent, with an all around good cast to back her up as well. From what little I have read about the real Okuni, this drama seems to differ quite alot, which does bother me a bit, but then again I'm not an expert on Okuni or Kabuki so I can't legitimately say much about that.
JIN [JIN-仁-] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I had a strong intention to dislike this drama going in. I had heard so much raving about it, and it all went something like this; "OMG it's about a doctor... WHO GOES BACK IN TIME!!! AWESOME!!!." I wondered at times if I weren't the only sane person in the world who realized that this idea was cheesy as hell. So I watched specifically with the intention of laughing at it, I wanted to come on here and say; "OMG this would have been so much better if it was about a veterinarian...who went back in time!!! AND SAVED THE DINOSAURS!!! The climax would have him MacGyvering some rocks and sticks together to stop the impending meteor!!!."
But the problem is that this show pretty much is as good as everybody was saying. The idea really is cheesy, but as a history lover, something about viewing history through the eyes of someone who has the same point of view that you would have brings it to life, and makes it feel personal, and in a silly way actually more believable than a typical period piece with actors coldly portraying strange behavior that you can't relate to.
It actually got me as soon as I saw the opening credits, where they juxtaposed historical photographs of Japan with what it looks like now, while playing beautiful traditional Japanese sounding music played by a large modern orchestra. I knew then that I had lost my little feud with this drama, and that everybody else was right.
JIN 2 Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Compared to the first series this series suffers in a few areas. First of all, it drags in a few points, particularly in the beginning. The first episode was good, but for several episodes after that they start going off on trivial tangents, like Jin in prison, things which would have been OK in the first series, but are quite annoying later on when I am expecting them to get on with things. I was actually quite worried that it would all go to ruin, but they do eventually get on with it, but that's where the second problem comes in; this series is noticeably cheesier than the first, but considering that the plot is about a modern day doctor in the Edo era, it's nearly impossible to not be cheesy. So I can mostly forgive that problem. Also the ending was upsetting to me, I'm not saying it's the wrong ending, and you can see it coming considering some of the earlier dialog, but it certainly didn't make me feel any better. But regardless of what I, or anyone else might say, both seasons put together make for one of the most epic, amazing drama series ever made. Definitely not to be missed.
Jotei [女帝] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I was really excited about watching a drama about hostesses. It is of course very sensationalistic as one should probably expect from the subject matter, it's the type of thing that often bothers me in other dramas but works very well here. I do have one problem, and sadly it's the worst problem to have, that is that the lead actress is totally wrong for the part. Just looking at her face, it's hard to imagine her even being a hostess, let alone a hostess out for revenge, or an "Empress". It's obvious that they wanted her to have a heart, and she does well at that, but they really needed someone with a different style to pull off the roles complexity. It's doubly sad because all of the rest of the cast was quite exceptional, especially the male actors. Otherwise, I found the story rather interesting in spite of, what I felt to be, rather weak motivation for the characters behavior. I especially liked how they had her changing cities and clubs frequently, as it kept it from growing stale. It had a major flaw for me, but I stayed intrigued, mostly because of the subject matter.
Jotei Kaoruko [女帝 薫子] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Comparing this to the previous Jotei series, I found this to be better at the one thing Jotei lacked, a good lead character, actually two of them, but all the other characters sucked, again opposite the original. I also missed the traveling from club to club aspect that was in the first series. That may seem like a silly complaint, but for some reason that was just something I really liked. But overall again, while this isn't exactly a work of art, it's just kind of cool and hostessy, and was just fun to watch.
Juui Dolittle [獣医ドリトル] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I love animals and I love Inoue Mao so I was really looking forward to watching this, but I was also hesitant because I have yet to watch a drama with Inoue Mao that I actually considered good. I don't think this can be called a masterpiece but I was pleasantly surprised. There is some real hokiness going on here, particularly whenever an animal is sick and they use really bad looking stuffed animals; there was also a CG bird in one episode that was really stupid. But otherwise, I was sincerely impressed with the moral questions and teaching moments presented here, one could tell that there was some real animal lovers writing for this series, and I would like to see many people watching this and thinking more about how we treat animals. Each episode was largely stand-alone, without too much connection, the larger plot was mostly pointless for it, but I feel it allowed each episode to be stronger.
Kagi no Kakatta Heya [鍵のかかった部屋] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I have been getting really tired of the Fuji Monday 9 drama for awhile now, in part because I feel it should be renamed the Fuji Monday Arashi drama, and also because they seem to have abandoned the idea of ever making a more serious drama ever again. I fully expect this time slot to feature trendy dramas but I still feel serious can be done in a trendy way. The most recent drama in this slot that I liked was "Nagareboshi", and on the other hand, the drama that most epitomizes what I am growing to hate would definitely be "Lucky Seven." With that in mind it should be obvious on what side of that equation I thought this would fall, but the results were quite surprising.
This is definitely not my style, but it does have a lot of style. It's lighthearted and silly, but it comes together very well and just feels like a lot of fun. The music is particularly different and adds a lot to the mood. I don't usually like dramas that feel episodic, but it works well here. The last two episodes weren't very good and seemed like just another random mystery not worthy of being an ending, and the fact that it was dragged out for two episodes heightened this complaint, but the surprise ending was pretty much awesome to me. I think the weakest point of this series is that it's built on a rather simple and somewhat bizarre gimmick as its premise, locked rooms, it allows it to be episodic, but also demands the solutions to be well written. Most of these mysteries don't succeed that well. They come across as silly and overly convoluted. You won't feel bad when you couldn't guess things like that a man kills someone in a rage and then covers it up by shooting golf balls with a machine through random holes that are just so conveniently in a wall?!
While this wasn't an amazing drama for me, it's still the best Fuji has had to offer for this time slot in a very long time.
Kaitakushatachi [開拓者たち] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) The first half of this was so good. It was one of the best things I have ever seen, but then they had to F it up, and F it up bad.
It starts simple enough, and when it gets to the point where the Japanese are fleeing through China where everyone wants them dead, it's obviously very dramatic, and it can handle that very well considering the subject matter. But once things calm down they try to drag it on with melodramatic garbage at a point when frankly they should be winding down to a close. At this point they're switching between too many characters scattered around the world. The primal fight to survive is now replaced by overdone personal issues that they try to present as heavy as the former stuff, and it turns into a mess. Then after I was thoroughly disillusioned and thought it couldn't possibly get any worse, they decide to pull out the cheese, and dress everyone up in bad, old people makeup, and go out with sappy fake conversations with ghosts.
This was such a huge disappointment. You should literally just watch the first half and then shut it off and pretend that's all of it. That way this would be one of the best dramas ever.
Kamisama mou sukoshi dake [神様、もう少しだけ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) This is really heavy stuff. Normally I try to stay away from dramas that deal with various mortal illnesses in this direct a manner, but something about someone as cute as Fukada Kyouko with aids in a love story seems like something I had to watch. The thing is that honestly her acting comes off less like a teenager, but rather more like a five year old. It’s the kind of thing a person is either really going to love or hate, and though I can understand people being on the other side, I am clearly in the camp of those who love it. I find her acting so adorable that I can totally see myself being a rock star like personality with my choice of hundreds of hot girls, but end up throwing myself off of bridges out of my love for some dumb high school girl with aids. Of course if you have seen any other drama she stars in, you won’t be surprised by her character, but what is different is seeing her usual childish character dealing with a such a serious illness.
Kazoku Hakkei [家族八景] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I really loved this drama. It is something truly original, mixing humor and the grotesque together into a strange blend that is rather hard to clarify one’s feelings about, but definitely intrigues and makes you want to keep watching. I had recently seen the lead actress, Kinami Haruka, in “Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro” and really liked both her laid back, quirky behavior, and cute but slightly strange appearance, and at the time thought that it would be really great if her acting career grew so that I could see her in more things. Well, the creators of this not only saw her potential but cast her in the lead role in a drama that is perfectly suited to her style. It’s so perfect that I can’t imagine any other role that she may have in the future could ever be able to top this.
Sadly, it doesn’t feel like a complete series, the episodes are only thirty minutes each, and it feels like there is so much more to happen. (The series is based on a series of novels I believe, so it can’t really be helped I suppose). A sequel to this would be awesome but that’s probably only wishful thinking on my part, I don’t think the ratings were all that good, but it can’t hurt to hope.
Kimi no hitomi ni koishiteru! [君の瞳に恋してる] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Everybody is so shallow and trifling that it's real hard to care much about the development of any of the various relationships. To make it worse the primary romance is totally stupid; she should have went with the other guy. I watched this because I'm a fan of Nakayama Miho, her character sucked but I still like her enough to keep watching. Actually the nerdy girl, Teruyo, was probably the best part of this drama.
Kimi wa Petto [きみはペット] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I don't like either of these characters, and I don't like either of these actors, BUT these dislikable actors perfectly portray these distasteful characters...? And somehow that's just the way it should be. I really do hate Matsumoto Jun and nearly every drama he stars in, and I just cannot accept that just because he is pretty that he could be so stupidly popular in spite of his crappy smirky personality, his stupidity, and above all his blatantly horrible acting. Drama producers tend to be at least a little smarter than the fan girls and at least cast him in suitable roles such as here where he appropriately plays a dog. Koyuki is another actress that I tend to dislike for some vague unexplainable reason, but usually, just as I do here, I find myself growing some sympathy for her.
Point is that while I would rather hate this show, there's a nice vibe that just allows it to be enjoyable, and while I will never accept Matsumoto Jun's popularity, I can basically forgive this show itself being so popular, and largely by extension Matsumoto's appropriately stupid role in it.
Koishite Shinitai [恋して死にたい] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Basically this is an entirely bland, generic, superficial and shallow love story. Not that it particularly copies anything but it's just a bunch of random plot devices like boxing, flower shops, various unrequited loves, evil conniving sluts, etc. etc. etc. strung together for no purpose whatsoever. BUT the way I see it this is nothing more than a vehicle to showcase the unbelievably ridiculous adorableness that is Fukada Kyouko. So if you are the type of person, such as me, whose heart melts at said adorableness, then you will happily smile at watching her portray memorable moments such as calling out of work sad and walking along dangerous ledges in order to prove her love. Otherwise I would suggest finding something with a bit more substance to watch.
Koizora [恋空] Rating: 7/10 (Bought & Watched) My main problem with koizora is that I watched the movie first and the movie was much better. There are some major changes in the order in which information is revealed and perversely these changes are what sort of ruin it, and yet are the best reason to watch if you have already seen the movie. Also both of these main actors are poor imitations of their movie counterparts. Still I did like it, just watch the movie first.
Koori no sekai [冰の世界] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I'm not a big fan of mysteries, and this drama is a good example of why. There really isn't a lot of characters and you will be constantly wondering, "who did it?", "who did it?". Well, through simple process of elimination it ends up narrowed down to only a very few possible people, but it would be stupid to the plot if any of them were the murderer. And how does it end?... Hmmm...
But there is a nice mood to the whole thing, and I really liked the idea of someone falling in love with a woman they are afraid they may be murdered by.
Kou kou kyoushi [高校教師] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) The perennial classic of Japanese lolicon culture. But it doesn't stop there, add in incest, rape, homosexuality, infidelity, suicide, and a little murder and you have a deep cesspool of immorality. The thing that is so wonderful about this drama is very simply that they actually go there, so many dramas, which have come after this no less, only have the courage to toy with these issues, but back off before they depict anything that might actually offend people. This show is very responsible for inducing a lot of self-righteous rage in large groups of people. It's actually rather amazing to me, to watch people get more worked up over a relationship between a teacher and a student, than they do in response to the incest and rape. I can only conclude this is because they are fine watching things they know they would never do, but they get defensive about behavior that they themselves would do if they could...
Taken as an immoral classic I love this series, but it really only has shock value as its reason to watch, and honestly it still doesn't really go far enough with that, though I am certain that's only because TV stations wouldn't have aired anything worse than this.
Kou Kou Kyoushi 2003 [高校教師 2003] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) A sequel ten years in the making. Things have changed since then, and in an attempt to catch up、they decided to make this about brain cancer, because that's what every drama in the last ten years was about. But in all fairness they did introduce a interesting plot device, by having the teacher lie to the student, and tell her that it was her who was dying.
Trying to judge this in and of itself isn't so easy , but comparing it to the original is, and I feel justified in doing so. The original made a name for itself pretty much entirely by throwing in every type of scandalous and shocking subject matter imaginable. It wasn't necessarily the best way to make a good story, but at least it was entertaining. This by comparison is mostly tame, I kept asking myself, "where's the incest?, the lesbians?, the suicide?". Heck, even a teacher sleeping with a student doesn't seem as shocking when the student is Ueto Aya.
The one thing this version does do more than the original is being even more polarizing, which is no small feat, but the teacher's lies to the student actually succeeds in pissing more people off than his sleeping with her. It didn't bother me so much because it at least made for an interesting story. But what I really would have liked is for it to have ended the same way the original did, well it does from the standpoint of vagueness, but I'm saying from the standpoint of what supposedly happened to the original characters. If you pay attention, there is several lines of dialog here that would have set it up perfectly for that same type of ending, and then even more people would have been infuriated, and this would have been a proper second coming...oh well.
Kuro no Onna Kyoshi [黒の女教師] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) It's kind of hard to form an opinion on this one. Basically I find this incredibly stupid, it is however a pretty cool kind of stupid, but then again not nearly as cool as it wants to be. It definitely has it's moments, particularly near the end, where you can see glimpses of said coolness, but there's more than it's fair share of yawns in between. I'm also a fan of quite a few of the actresses here, but most of them are either cast in inappropriate roles, or just plain bad ones. Overall I guess I would sum this up as something I don't hate nearly as much as I feel I should.
Kurumi no Heya [胡桃の部屋] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) The most interesting point about this drama is that it's set in the 80's, which is a very weird thing. Usually fiction is set in either the present, or distantly enough in the past (or future), that the audience will find it different and intriguing, whereas while the 80's wasn't exactly yesterday, many of us can still remember it. None of this is meant as a complaint though, quite to the contrary I really loved it, but rather than feeling like the 80's it felt like a strange timeless world where everything from the late 1800's till the present were mixed together.
I was not that interested in the father and mother and their whole story, but the three daughters were all wonderful. Also I love the six episode length, it's long enough to do just about anything justice, without dragging on, or going off on flip-flopping, melodramatic tangents that ruin many of the more usual 10+ episode series. I really wish this length would become more common.
Last Friends [ラスト・フレンズ] Rating: 9/10 (Bought & Watched) Yes it is super melodrama...and yet it totally works. sadly they couldn't simply allow someone to be a lesbian without making excuses ( a problem in many anime as well ), but even then I couldn't stop watching. The OP is a work of art, "Prisoner of Love" is one of Utada Hikaru's best songs, and the ending was perfect, not too much, not too little. It's not the sort of thing you would consider greatness as a novel or film, and overdone melodrama is the most common complaint I have against J-drama, but Last Friends uses it to create an emotinally intense drama that somehow ends up fun.
Legal High [リーガル・ハイ] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I almost skipped this drama because comedies aren't really my thing and I had no interest in a legal drama, but I tried watching it because Aragaki Yui was in it, and I'm very glad I did. Actually everything is pretty much perfect with this drama. It's funny and it stays consistently funny, even in the end where most comedies fall into a train wreck at attempting to become serious. It has a great balance of "episodicness" while decently pulling off a larger plot. The individual cases were interesting, and I enjoyed listening to the logic of the individual arguments. And did I mention it's funny? Again I was quite impressed with the ending, shows like this so often take a random episode just like all the others and try to package it as more serious this time because IT'S THE ENDING! Whereas here the last three episodes led up to a truly more serious ending but at the same time turning it into a flip-flopping mess of hilarity.
It's still not really my type of drama, but that's no fault of the show itself, and so I don't think I can find one real negative thing to say at all. Quite impressive.
LIFE [ライフ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) A silly attempt to make BULLYING such a serious issue. You would think they would try to limit the ridiculousness of this drama. There are so many just plain stupid behaviors and over the top attacks that it comes of as unbelievable. I kept thinking why don't you do this or that. If someone wrote horrible things about me on the chalk board and threw all kinds of drinks at me, I don't think I would try to erase it, I would leave it for the teacher. What could she say, that I wrote it myself. I don't think anybody would put forth this sort of effort into hiding the actions of there attackers, not even in Japan. One of the silliest moments was near the end when Manami in order the slow her pursuers knocks over a very small can of trash. It's the kind of thing you would see in a comedy but here it was meant to be serious. I can't help but pick on it, but the real truth is that I love it. I loved instantly, as soon as it started. It was exactly what I would have wanted to watch. I was surprised to realize that I haven't seen anything else like it and I look forward to more shows that are comparable.
Lipstick [リップスティック] Rating: 9/10 (Bought & Watched) When I first started watching this I presumed I was not going to like it because of the whole "girls in prison" type of setting, but it became surprisingly good rather quickly. What I really liked was not the characters themselves so much as the relationships that develop between them. There are some cheesy moments, and I found the boys side of the story to be artificial and boring, but overall I really liked it. Also the music was exceptionally good.
Long vacation [ロングバケーション] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Probably the most generic story possible for a drama. however I feel that it being so generic is partly what allows it to be such a classic. It also has exceptional writing and casting. and probably the best dialouge I have ever seen. Even if you hated ever single actor in it, it would still be worth watching.
Love complex [ラブコンプレックス] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) One of the few if not only dramas that I can truly call art. Do not watch this if you need clear explanations in your plots. The plot here is open for debate, discussion and interpretation, but not in the typical narrative sense of I do/don't like how character X fell in love with character Y, this is abstract and symbolic. This is a drama comparable to Evangelion in the anime world, or Twin Peaks in the western TV world (or David Lynch in general.)
It wins me over by being the only "art-house" J-drama in existence, but perhaps equally as amazing it wins me over as a comedy. I think I have never actually seen a single J-drama that I thought was actually funny outside of this.
As a warning, this is a drama that would be nearly impossible to provoke a feeling besides extreme love or extreme hate. I just so happen to be firmly in the former camp.
Love generation [ラブジェネレーション] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I will now proceed to spoil every Kimura Takuya drama ever made. He stars as a super sexy, super cool Japanese James Dean, he is madly in love with some girl but in spite of his super sexiness he can't have her, and instead settles for some average girl with a crappy attitude. The end.
It's a formula they repeat infinitely, so that girls, no matter how worthless they may be, can believe that someone as suteki as KimuTaku will fall madly in love with them.
In comparison to his other dramas this one is exceedingly simple, and is quite possibly the most generic J-drama there is. But at least this time they show their cards early and therefore it doesn't feel as frustratingly random when he ends up with the girl. It actually is a very pleasant drama, that is up until the end where they throw in all the emotional back and forth that normal dramas would have spread out through the series. The last two episodes were nearly unwatchable, you know how it's going to end, but they keep jerking you around for an eternity. My statements may sound rather negative, but it is sort of a classic, so everybody should still see it.
Lucky Seven [ラッキーセブン] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) I feel the Fuji 9:00 drama has been going down hill for a while now, but this is absolutely the worst I have ever seen in this supposedly prestigious time slot. It has gone completely from "trendy" to "trivial".
Matsumoto Jun is as sucky as he always is, and fairly ruins the show by himself, but what's worse is that I can't think of a single redeeming quality outside of him either. Well there was one thing, Eita's character, but as everyone else noticed he isn't even in half of it. The only thing good about the show at all and they get rid of him! What a waste.
Mahiru no tsuki [真晝の月] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I really appreciate older dramas like this. As a previous commenter said, there isn't a lot of plot twists, which is exactly what I like. It presents a serious, emotional story that progresses realistically and deliberately. Watching Takako Tokiwa's performance can be frustrating, but it is precisely because of how real it is (I have dated girls, who while certainly not as extreme, still very much so behaved in a similar manner, due to their own traumas and what not.) I was sadly rather disappointed in the male lead, Oda yuji, not so much for his acting as much as that he seemed mostly like a dumb jock, and it was hard to see him being sensitive or caring. Still overall a very excellent drama.
Maison Ikkoku [めぞん一刻] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Kyoko is cute and Yotsuya is funny. I haven't read the manga or seen the anime, but this has a very anime/manga feel to it. The only character I don't really like is the ronin though, or it would have been better.
Meitantei Conan: Sayonara Made no Prologue [名探偵コナン- 工藤新一への挑戦状] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) I really don't have any qualifications to judge this as I have never read the manga, nor watched the anime. I only watched it because I am a fan of Kurokawa Tomoka. Doesn't seem too bad, but the second special is pretty stupid.
Misaki Number One!! [美咲ナンバーワン!!] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) My original comments on this drama were going to be about how incredibly boring it is. I was really struggling to finish it; I wanted to stop, but I don't like giving up on anything half way. So I had to force myself to watch each episode, and it took forever. Every single character was uninteresting. Every episode was basically a stand alone story, equally as uninteresting. But something mildly miraculous happened. I finally made it to episode nine, which was the second to last, and it was pretty good. I considered it to be just a fluke, and proceeded to watch the final episode. They tried to turn it all serious and emotional, AND IT WORKED! I actually kind of forgot just how boring it was up until that point. But of course in reality, I do still remember, and would never think of trying to watch it again.
So basically I would have given this show a 1, but episode 9 and 10 were worth 5 points. Weird experience.
Mitsu no Aji ~A Taste Of Honey~ [蜜の味~A Taste Of Honey~] Rating: 10/10 (Watched) Without a doubt one of the best dramas I have ever seen, though I fear I will be one of the few people that will feel that way. The most blatant depiction of forbidden love I have ever seen in a J-Drama, and truly amazed they were willing to completely go through with this story without getting cold feet.
Mother Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I had some issues with the pacing; I think they should have spent more time wandering around at the beginning before they end up at the mother's house in Tokyo, and the flashback episode about Rena's real mother was horrible; the entire episode should have been cut. Also the melodrama increases as the show progresses which is disappointing but to be expected from J-drama, thankfully it never goes overboard enough to ruin it. But regardless of any flaws it's an extremely emotionally moving drama, enough so that I more than once found myself experiencing a distinct teary-eyed sensation, something that pretty much never happens to me. It's really not quite "the greatest drama ever" that a lot of people are making it out to be, and I think it will largely be forgotten in time, but it is definitely a must see.
Mou Yuukai Nante Shinai [もう誘拐なんてしない] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Pretty much just a goofy show case for the members of Arashi + Narimiya Hiroki + Aragaki yui. i.e. let's try to be as trendy as possible.
Mukashi no otoko [昔の男] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) So this is exactly the type of drama that I love. I like stories about affairs. I mostly love all the cast. Great music. Great opening credits. And just an overall mood and style that I love, it feels very classy like a black and white film from the 50's. It get's way overdone near the end, and I do mean way overdone. When they have the wife dressing up as little red riding hood and everybody just accepts it, no one can possibly imagine it's fake???!!! And in general it's also just too fast paced near the end. All this sort of kills the vibe it had going, but honestly watching it didn't feel half as bad as it seems putting it into words. So I still really loved this.
My Boss, My Hero [マイボスマイヒロ] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I don't usually watch comedy dramas, because even if they are funny (and they usually aren't) they lose their humor as they progress, and end up failing at both comedy and drama. After hearing how funny My Boss My Hero was, I finally broke down and watched it. I found it to live up to it's reputation and be the first drama I actually found funny. But they really messed something up here, and it wasn't the serious parts which were surprisingly decent, I don't know what happened, if they changed directors or writers or something, but at exactly episode six it becomes totally stupid, the whole style of humor changes to retarded absurdity, the kind of comedy only a child could find funny. It gets a little better at the end, because as I said it's a decent story, but it's such a disappointment, since the first five episodes were so good.
Nagareboshi [流れ星] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) By the end of the first episode it is entirely obvious where this is headed, and while watching, I would occasionally stop and think about how many episodes I had already seen with still no significant development of the relationship between the two characters. Surprisingly though, I wasn't very bothered by it. It's a very deliberately paced drama, and both the leads have a similar nonchalant attitude, it's almost under-acted, with the two leads standing around looking cool and worried all the time. It's a style that could be aggravating to some, but I found it to have an intriguing quality to it. The antics of Ueto's psychopathic brother were over the top, they were integral to the plot, but I wish it could have been written to be a bit more believable. With that this may have been a masterpiece for me because I actually prefer more slow paced dramas, but even still I quite enjoyed it.
Namae o Nakushita Megami [名前をなくした女神] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) The world view of this series is that every single mother is an evil, back-stabbing bitch. Or if you're not, then you will have to commit suicide or something because your life is going to be hell. The cutest mom, who seems to be an airhead, is actually the worst, and the only one who is a decent human being literally has a face that looks like a snake (but they of course "fix" that contradiction eventually.) The question I have is who was the intended audience for this. The only people I can think of who would be interested in watching crying kids and the schemes of mega-bitches would be housewives and mothers, but if I was one of them I would be insulted at the way I was being portrayed as a group. But then again, I guess they are expected to relate to the main character. It does get better at the end, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could be as forgiving as the main character.
Naniwa Shonen Tanteidan [浪花少年探偵団] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Tabe Mikako is great as usual. The rest of the cast is decent as well, But it's also an absolutely stereotypical role for Tabe Mikako (i.e. Deka Wanko's sniffing detective), starring in a throwaway plot. I don't care that it's based on Higashino Keigo novels. I don't care that everyone has an Osaka accent. Nothing was funny. Nothing was interesting. I completely forgot about this show's existence the second I finished watching.
And what's up with all the food smeared faces this season. I watched this right after Hana No Zubora Meshi so I feel like I've been treated to a buffet of food face.
Nankyoku Tairiku ~Kami no Ryouiki ni Idomunda Otoko to Inu no Monogatari~ [南極大陸〜神の領域に挑んだ男と犬の物語〜] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I love animals. I love history. And I love Japan. So this series has everything going for it, but I knew they were going to royally F something up and I knew it would be the dogs. Basically knowing the outcome of this from the beginning, I knew we would end up with either something amazing, or we were going to end up with basically Milo and Otis. They do a respectable job for more than the first half...and then it begins...
Dogs bringing fish back to sick comrades. Dogs looking at former dog enemies in danger, and then making the decision to save their life. DOGS THROWING THEIR CHAINS DOWN TO DOGS FALLING OF A CLIFF AND PULLING THEM TO SAFETY! ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS! And it leads to stupid inconsistencies like, if the dog is smart enough to chew through another dog's collar to save it's life, then why did he leave a bunch of other dogs tied up to die?! The opening credits were so beautiful and felt like, and the music sounded like the opening to Jin, and the first half was so good, I thought this was going to be great, but oh well, what can you expect.
Natsu no Koi wa Nijiiro ni Kagayaku [夏の恋は虹色に輝く] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) I know people will want to kill me for saying it, but Matsumoto Jun really is a very lousy actor. The creators of this show must have realized this, because he appropriately stars in this as a bad actor. Yuko Takeuchi is, as always, excellent, but there is absolutely no chemistry between the two. This drama was obviously conceived in a meeting, as some sort of acting musical chairs. They must have sat around pulling names out of a hat, until they realized that every actress has stared with every actor, except for these two. It doesn't work very well. I do have to commend it though for being very watchable anyways; it has a realistic pace to the romance, that keeps building gradually, rather than jumping straight in and then going back and forth like the average drama does. In summary, a horrible idea that's pleasant to watch.
Natsuko no sake Rating: 10/10 (Watched) I once came across an excerpt and description of the Natsuko no Sake manga and found myself intrigued but I never actually had the opportunity to read it, so I jumped at the chance to watch the drama and I was not disappointed. Natsuko no Sake exemplifies everything that makes Japanese drama special. To an extent I would even go so far as to make the claim that it represents much of what makes Japan itself special. The series brings to mind often discussed but hard to translate words like Yamato-damashii, mono no aware, ganbaru, wabi-sabi etc. It's a simple story about growing rice and making sake but Wakui Emi personifies both innocence and perseverance so perfectly that the simple story ends up profoundly moving and it's hard not to cry every time she does. I don't think this is a drama for everyone however, I can imagine that a great many people would find it slow and boring. There's no action, plot twists don't go much further than rice growing, and it's blessedly free of members of boy bands, however I think Natsuko no sake is the exemplary Japanese drama, and a perfect test of whether someone has an actual interest in Japanese culture or whether it was merely superficial.
Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de [謎解きはディナーのあとで] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) The characters were all interesting. The actors were all well cast and performed well. The humor was actually reasonable funny (quite the rarity for me). And most importantly the mysteries were all fun and it was exciting to try to solve them as they progressed. It was really pretty excellent, but on the other hand it totally fails at inspiring me to have much of anything meaningful to discuss about it. It's like; Oh that was cool...Next.
Nemureru mori [眠れる森] Rating: 9/10 (Bought) My opinion on this, while very positive, is sort of the reverse of the general consensus. Like many I decided to watch this because of the writer, but not because of Koori no Sekai (which at the time of writing this I have not seen, but it will be the next thing I watch), but rather because of Aoi Tori, which I consider to be the best drama ever made. I am really not a fan of murder/mystery/suspense type of dramas so this was not all that enjoyable to me overall, but what I actually liked, contrary to most other people, was the ending. I admit it seemed to come out of left field, and felt very WTF, but considering the two main characters relationship, anything else would have been either a let down because they were clearly in love, or disturbing to most peoples sensibilities. Furthermore it does fit in with the dark and disturbing mood of this drama.
Between this and Aoi Tori it is clear to me that this writer had a very active and different imagination. An interesting point, for people who don't know, is that this writer actually ended up committing suicide (by hanging I believe). If you realize that while watching, it definitely puts a different spin on his work, and makes you realize that the strange and dark nature of his work was obviously a very real and personal matter.
Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo [日本人の知らない日本語] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) Pretty much can't recommend this to anyone. I had actually already read the books that this was based on, and when I heard about it being dramatized, I was quite perplexed as to why anyone would think this to make a good drama. For someone who was studying Japanese, I couldn't recommend the books enough, they are incredibly funny and informative, but it's not the type of humor that works as a show. Furthermore, they just plain made every thing really really stupid here. To top it off, if you don't understand Japanese, none of these jokes will make any sense to you, let alone be funny. Also, I wanted to kill myself every single time one of these foreigners spoke Japanese, and that's probably half the show. So stay away from this unless you are studying Japanese, and then again, even if you are, still stay away!
Nobuta wo Produce [野ブタ。をプロデュース] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I came into this with the lowest expectations possible. I presumed that this would be a series existing solely to showcase boy-band eye candy. There is some truth to this, but I found it to be surprisingly good, so surprising in fact that I wonder if it really is good or whether I was just so set on it being bad that the "shock" is clouding my vision. I was really happy with the Mariko character I thought it was going somewhere else with her but she ends up being really great. However the ending was horrible
(spoilers...) not as in bad but as in just to brutal, to cruel. It was heading in a not very happy direction and I was fine with that, but then it flipflops and ends up much worse, but I suppose many would find it to be the most appropriate outcome. I am quite surprised to say it but it's a highly recommendable drama.
Ohisama [おひさま] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) This is the first morning drama I have watched so I can't really compare it to others, but I really loved this so maybe I should watch more. The main reason I have avoided the morning dramas is because they are loooooong, well that could be good or bad depending on how much you like it, but the reason I wanted to watch Ohisama was because I really like Inoue Mao but I felt that she's never really been in anything that great. I had a problem in knowing she will probably always be remembered for her role in Hana Yori Dango, which was obviously extremely popular, but personally I don't care much for it. Anyways, this has definitely fixed that; this is a perfect show for her, with a very different type of audience, and that is really noticeable when she hosted the red team on the Kouhaku shortly after Ohisama finished airing.
As for the show itself; I really like World War II era Japan so that was a big plus. It's about some pretty average people and like most family dramas it gets overly sappy every other second, but it thankfully avoids being overly traumatic. The main complaint I have is actually the modern part where the main character is old and telling the story; it's stupid and an annoyance, and every time they come back to it I get angry. They should have just stuck with the story as it is rather than trying to frame it around some gimmick and it would have been near perfect.
Omiai kekkon [お見合い結婚] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) One of my favorite aspects of Japanese drama is that even in mediocre shows there is a tremendous sense of balance. They tend to give you just enough frustration to make the happier resolutions meaningful, and they will linger there just long enough before adding some more painful moments. Omiai kekkon throws this right out the window. They torture you eternally. Every single episode consists of Setsuko telling Kotaro how horribly sucky he is before running away, and he always responds by doing exactly nothing. Every now and then they will try to spice it up by having Setstuko decide by herself that she totally loves him, at which point he will run away. At every single second of watching this I wanted to kick in my television screen. But, the big but of all this is that I still loved it. These were some of the absolute best characters and actors, and they all worked so well together as a whole. The effect was like a drive through beautiful scenery on a very bumpy road. I wish it had been more enjoyable to watch, but it is still forgivable for such wonderful characters.
Omoni Naitemasu [主に泣いてます] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) While watching this, I'm reminded of another bizarre drama also based on a manga, and which I had high expectations for which were not met, Arakawa under the bridge. The main difference between that one and this one is that this one is actually good. This is a perfect example of how strange comedy can be done right. The situations and characters are all over the top yet the characters all have real depth and personality. It's one of the funnier things I have seen. The story is nothing special itself, but again, even though everyone is quite strange, I find that I actually care about what happens to them.
Osen [おせん] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Rather decent. I have never seen a drama about cooking before so it is fairly original to me. But not so original is the plot which tries to make cooking come off as something way more important than it is, almost spiritual. Likewise, while the main character, Osen, is interesting, she is far from believable as the Okami of a first class traditional Japanese restaurant. None of this is really bad, it's just typical where dramas try to sell characters you wouldn't expect teaching you lessons in life from subject matter you wouldn't expect. In other words it's totally expected.
A few other points of interest; it is occasionally educational, and if you are interested in cooking it could be really interesting; also the traditional buildings, artifacts, clothing, etc, are absolutely beautiful and provided at least half the enjoyment I got from this show.
Sadly the ending was weak. I am not complaining about the open-endedness, which I felt was touching, true to life, and totally appropriate, but rather I was upset at how random and rushed it all was. It was just another random plot device where Osen tries to save a specific method of making dried bonito of all things, and next thing you know everybody is crying, dude is quitting (again), restaurant's going about of business, ZOMG, the end.
PRICELESS ~Aru Wake Nedaro,n namon!~ [PRICELESS ~あるわけねぇだろ,んなもん!~] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Even though I usually have quite the contrary personality, and dislike popular actors, I have always been rather fond of Kimura Takuya, and always look forward to a new drama he stars in, though it seems to me that he doesn't quite bring in the audience like he used to. Anyway, the plot here was good and it had really nice pacing and development. The problem is that it's also incredible bland, not quite boring, but it so completely just does not stand out in any way, that it doesn't do anything for me at all. The ending was a complete mess, and rushed, and full of so many silly drama cliches. Also there's supposed to be a romance here, but you won't even notice it at all, which is fine in and of itself, but then why bother even trying to put it in there? Again this isn't a terrible show at all, I would probably even consider it quite good, but overall I am not really interested in thinking about it long enough to even judge it.
Pride [プライド] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) First, Kimura Takuya and Takeuchi Yuko are as always superb, even if they are pretty much playing the same type of roles as they always do. They work really well together as a couple; it definitely makes a lot of sense to have two of the best stars acting together in a well done love story. It's also as generic as humanly possible, and quite often overdone and cheesy. Really that sums it up rather easily.
The only other things I feel a need to mention are that it's about hockey, and I absolutely hate sports. I would literally rather watch grass growing than to watch sports. Also the music is so unbelievable bad that I cursed God for creating me with ears. It's all some crappy cock-rock (I think it's all Queen), that perfectly matches something awful like sports. I do realize that not everyone has the same tastes as me, so I am not going to be to critical of these things, as in I can't fairly call them flaws, but they did make it very hard for me to watch. I had to fast forward through the opening credits every single time, because I couldn't bear it.
Ranma 1/2 [らんま1/2] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Never really watched the anime or read the manga, but I'm relatively familiar with it (of course who isn't.) It's as goofy as you would expect of a live action Ranma but still pretty fun.
Reikan Bus Guide Jikenbo [霊感バスガイド事件簿] Rating: 2/10 (Bought & Watched) Horror and comedy don't mix. Really that should be rather obvious. What's worse is that this drama totally fails both aspects. I never so much as giggled at anything, and I have seen scarier things in refrigerators. If you want to know what this is like, then watch scooby doo cause that's what this is, it even has one episode where someone rips off their mask and gasp it's someone else ( and they probably would have got away with it if it weren't for those pesky suzume bus tour people ); actually even scooby doo was better than this, because at least stupidity works when it's animated. The only thing I liked at all was the uniforms.
Renai Neet ~Wasureta Koi no Hajimekata~ [恋愛ニート~忘れた恋のはじめ方~] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) This drama is so old. And I don't simply mean that I have seen this all before, because that would describe 90 + % of all dramas. Specifically, I mean that I have seen this all before back in the 90's! That being said, the average drama in the 90's was better than the average drama today, so it's not a total loss, but definitely not anything to write home about.
Rich Man, Poor Woman [リッチマン、プアウーマン] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Staring an actor everyone loves, and a wonderful female lead that I have seen, but never in the lead role before. She is really excellent. She is extremely great at being cute and fragile and at the same time hilarious as well. It's a rather complex role that many actresses couldn't pull off. She is one of the few that can convincingly portray all sorts of extremes just with her facial expression.
There is definitely a lot of borrowed material that forms the basis of much of the plot and events. Half the time I felt like I was watching Tsuki no Koibito again, there was some strong similarities. There's also a bit of Hana Yori Dango, and the manga/anime Kimi Ni Todoke.
The theme song is excellent and a wonderful fit, it seems to match the heroine's personality perfectly.
It had nice pacing, with large scale developments rather than the often annoying, over dramatic plot twists of many dramas. Actually I feel I am noticing a trend amongst recent dramas toning down the plot twists and melodrama, which is very pleasing to me. It feels like, when watching this, that a lot changes over time. but that it does so in a way that feels like real life, rather than something scripted attempting to force emotions out of me. Also the characters definitely receive lots of development, it leaves the impression that they have all grown into very different people than where they started. Even if this drama is not amazing, the format is a recipe for success that I hope to see more dramas follow. However, the one place they fail is at the most important part: the romance is to slow. It drives me nuts. I don't understand why so many romance dramas feel the need to delay the actual romance until the literal last second. Do they really think people enjoy this level of frustration?
Overall, the biggest point for me though is simply the fact that this drama made me feel that the Fuji Getsukuu drama has finally made the come back I have so been waiting for. There is one huge flaw for me, but even flawed it feels like the type of flaw I would expect from a Getsukuu drama and I was able to still find it overall quite enjoyable.
Rikon Doukyo [離婚同居] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) Pretty bad. they get off on a bad foot right from the start by jumping into a divorce from a marriage we have no idea what was like, meaning it feels like "who cares." They try to use this to their advantage by having flash-backs presenting the marriage as really good, really bad, or really inconsequential, depending on what serves their interests at the moment, again I felt "who cares." There is some more "who cares" in the middle and then it's time for the end. And oh my God!, who cares! There really was only one appropriate ending which is obvious from the beginning. Let me sum it up for you, the series is about a man who doesn't realize how much he loves his wife until she divorces him. You see, you already know how it ends. They could try to shock you, and that may be good or bad, but if they end it in the way you expect that's totally fine, just make it emotionally satisfying and everything will be fine. So they give that emotional satisfaction for a minute and then add a big "BUT"... "WHO F&%!ING CARES!" and then they go out playing their stupid Hee-Haw sounding theme song, laughing about how they wasted your life. I actually feel insulted by the creators of this crap.
Ruten no Ouhi - Saigo no Koutei [流転の王妃・最後の皇弟] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) If it wasn't for some for some silly special effects, and a few scenes like a person's hand being shot off, this would be perfect. I love history, and I love love stories that are complicated, ill fated, forbidden, etc. One thing I would like to point out is that this is a good example of how much music can effect the feeling of a drama (or movie or anything for that matter), they use a very beautiful melody very often, often played on a Chinese fiddle, it really brings so much emotion to the story, without it it would have only been a fraction as good as it is.
Saka no Ue no Kumo [坂の上の雲] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Three year epic historical masterpiece, or at least it's supposed to be. The problem is that it's just not really that good, and not really for any particular reason. They sort of get the epic part right, big budgets and special effects, and the historical locations seem so real, lots of big battle scenes with epic music that always seem to end in the most anti-climatic sorta wins or sorta losses, while on the other hand major victories and defeats are often glossed over and abbreviated by simple narration. None of the characters are interesting, and they'll spend too long on them doing trivial things, occasionally melodramatic stuff happens, then they'll switch to the older brother you haven't seen in ages and he will be told "go be the badass cavalry that you are", they will go off riding on horses with epic music playing and a map with a line on it is superimposed on the screen, and then they arrive somewhere and it'll be like "cool we arrived somewhere." Then they'll spend an eternity with some random historical figure who has no importance to the plot other than he's a historical figure, but since he's a historical figure they feel the need to put every poem and letter to friends he ever wrote up on the screen. There is lots of romance going on but none of it is any good, except maybe the dude who goes to Russia but he's only supposed to be a side character, but he's ten times more interesting than the main characters. In the first series farting seems to be one of the main plot devices and it feels like a Japanese comical adaption of Star Wars, then in the third series it's a bloody, graphic depiction of war in excruciating detail. I could go on and on, but my analysis will turn into what this is: an epic long mess.
I really wish I liked this as much as I would like to like it.
Shiawase ni Narou yo Rating: 7/10 (Watched) Exceedingly generic and almost pointless. Most of the cast was boring and there were very few characters I took any interest in. Some of the comedy was quite good, but those moments are few and far between. I actually was more interested in the sort of "villains" of the series, the lawyer and his wife, than in the main stars.
I tend to gravitate to slower, less over-the-top types of drama such as this, so I largely liked it by default, but really the whole relationship was unbelievable. They were very cold and formal towards each other throughout, and I was very annoyed by the tacked-on, color by numbers type of drama that they threw in during the last two episodes, and equally by the spontaneous reconciliation of what feels like acquaintances more than lovers.
Shokojo Seira [小公女セイラ] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) Some of the highlights of this drama are, computer generated rats, Indian people speaking badly lip-synced Japanese, and lots of screaming. It's ostensibly a kids drama, but it begs the question - how many kids watch drama? It's actually a bit like the drama version of Morning Musume, A band that should be for young girls but really is just made for pedophiles, which is fine, except I always wonder why they can't write the poor girls a decent song. I have seen some of these actors act decently before, so it's obviously the fault of the director, whose ideals of good acting involves "more screaming", Seira can't even read a fairy tale without raising her voice. Surprisingly, it does become a lot better as it progresses, mostly that just means instead of screaming everyone starts crying all the time, but Japan has been known to produce entire game shows based around girls crying so there must be something special about it.
Shokuzai [贖罪] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) There is some really awesome stuff happening in this series. First is the fact that it's only five episodes combined with the format where each episode is somewhat stand-alone. Also there is a real high quality and beauty to the filming; the muted and whitish color to nearly every scene gives it a really artistic feel. Since each episode tells a different story there is a relatively large cast for only being five episodes, and almost everyone is wonderful. The only problem I have is that the episodes do get progressively worse. It starts out wonderfully bizarre with psychological conditions manifesting into not all that realistic physical phenomena, it's sort of like a very modern, horror-fairytale, it's very original and I loved it, but with each new episode it gets more and more tame. Though there is still plenty of interesting eccentricities, for example there is one murder where the perpetrator just gets away with it, it's clearly wrong and yet there is no judgment about it whatsoever, it's not the sort of thing you see in television very often. But by the final episode, which is the one that ties it all together, it's pretty much just an average murder-mystery, though I must admit that the plot still resolves itself in a bizarre and random way that still left me very happy that someone was willing to create such a unique drama. I'm a big fan of strange and artsy things, and I am usually complaining that drama series would be better if they were half the length, so this is about as good as it gets for me.
Soredemo, Ikite Yuku [それでも、生きてゆく] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I was not very happy with how this ended, which is really a shame because otherwise this is one of the best series I have ever watched. Everything is handled exactly the way it should be, this is drama, not melodrama, it's told through characters and emotions not through plot twists. Probably the most interesting thing about this drama is how socially awkward the two leads are, they don't come off as idols or TV stars but more like people you would meet at a Star Trek convention. It's entirely different, and the wacky things that they say could be a turn-off to some, but I would say they simply don't "get it".
But again, back to the ending; when I think about it I guess I can understand why it went this way, and I am not the type of person to prefer one type of ending over another, but it just feels like they sold it short. I imagine I was hoping for a happy ending, but really it was even set up well for a very serious tragic ending. Either way this middle of the road stuff killed something for me.
Strawberry on the shortcake [ストロベリー・オンザ・ショートケーキ] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I can sort of understand why a lot of people would be angry at this drama A) Fukada Kyoko's very existence seems to do that to people often (not me however) and B) female favorite Takizawa portrays a rather weird and probably not all that attractive role. But, I think this is actually sort of a perfect drama, not a perfect film, novel, etc., but a perfect TV drama (emphasis on the TV.) It's all slightly vulgar, sensationalistic, and melodramatic, not necessarily things I look for in fine art, but perfect for this format.
I will point out that the ending was quite a shocker. I have never seen a show try to foreshadow tragedy so strongly. I suppose I am glad about it, because secretly I like to feel happy, but if I were the writer/director I would have went with the more appropriate tragic ending that they were hinting at the whole time.
Taira no Kiyomori [平清盛] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) My primary reason for watching this was that it was set in the Heian period, which I have an interest in and which is surprisingly not often used in Taiga Dramas. The problem is that they waste this great setting by trying to make everything covered in dirt, apparently in an attempt to fix the common complaint that Gou was too "pretty", which I don't personally find to be a problem. They eventually get over this dirt phase, and start showing things in a better light, but the damage was already done, and I feel they never showed off the potentially beautiful costumes and settings that could have been.
Another big problem which is common to most Taiga drama is in casting a popular trendy type of actor in the lead. It ends up meaning that most of the supporting cast is better than the lead. Though he actually does a relatively decent enough job, and quite surprisingly is better at portraying older versions of Kiyomori than younger, which is kind of insane. Of course this does not include the last 5 or 10 episodes or so when they start dressing him up in old people makeup, which is just stupid. And they're inconsistent about it, his age seems to go back and forth minute by minute, and he appears much older than people who are actually supposed to be older than him.
Also the show has pretty much a fundamental flaw in having a character almost universally depicted as a villain as the "hero." It might be okay if they started off with him as a sort of anti-hero, but they try to make him out as some sort of emo rebel humanitarian who ends up a vicious psychopath in the end, for no good reason at all, and it's very jarring to watch.
It's hard to say anything good about this show in particular, but it is what it is, a year long Taiga drama, it's long and epic. it has its ups and downs, but overall I don't think it's nearly as bad as its ratings would suggest.
Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta [大切なことはすべて君が教えてくれた] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) I have two basic problems with this drama. First, and I saw this coming from the very beginning, is what I can't consider to be anything else but cowardice. This drama isn't about what they want you to think it's about. The creators want to get your attention with shocking subject matter, but of course they back off from it. Portraying something is not the same as condoning it, the teacher could have been portrayed as someone who made a mistake and this series would have been much better, instead they erased the whole point of the series.
Secondly, there is enough material here for twenty different dramas, but they felt it necessary to have one drama with just that many plot twists. Again, this was probably done to make up for the fact that the selling point was a farce. Every single episode has someone dropping a seriously heavy line of dialog that feels like a game changer, and I guess they all are, but without any long term consequence. All the characters outside of the main three have some secret, or past pain or what not, and each one reveals it like a big dud. Not one single side character added anything of value.
From a critical standpoint these problems really ruin it for me, however like a pun on the series' name, it taught me something important. That is that I am not watching art, it's only TV, and I didn't have to try to remember that while watching, it's just plain enjoyable to watch. So as long as I wasn't thinking about it, I was loving it.
Tatta Hitotsu no Koi [たったひとつの恋] Rating: 4/10 (Watched) Pretty much total garbage. They gathered up a nice group of pretty faces, and didn't worry about anything else. I don't know if any one else noticed, or said it, but the whole thing is mostly a rip-off of the movie Titanic (even the music sounds the same), with other random cliched plot devices from every other J-drama thrown in half-heartedly to bad effect. There is major revelations like the main actress being sick, can't have children and may even die, but it has nothing to do with the plot other than allowing them to say it for dramatic effect. Even the characters are inconsistent, changing for whatever situation arises, like the younger brother being in a wheelchair, which is all serious for like two seconds, and then he's playing baseball, because, you know, he's feeling pretty good today. However, you will probably find at least one face pretty enough to stare at, and that will probably shut you up, but then they pull out the kitchen sink for the ending, at which point it's time for the whole can't be together, years pass, nonsense that is overdone in any drama and just plain stupid here. Regardless of how it is, a lot of people will still be suckered into watching this because of the cast, and so we can all look forward to more crap like this being made in the future.
Tempest [テンペスト] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) One of the biggest cheese fests I have ever seen. It was really hard to keep watching. Everything was overdone, the acting was horrible, and the pacing was all over the place and insane. However, largely because it was different to see a historical drama set in Okinawa, I stuck with it, and it definitely improves; the pacing becomes more reasonable, and there is an interesting story here, it's just a shame the delivery of it was such a mess.
Teru Teru Ashita [てるてるあした] Rating: 9/10 (Bought & Watched) It's really hard to explain this drama. It can be really cheesy, and yet I just smile. It becomes quite sad, and yet I just smile. Teru Teru Ashita is nothing amazing and yet it is really special. It stands out as a unique drama with lovable characters, and a light hearted take on traditionally darker subject matters.
Tokkan Tokubetsu Kokuzei Choushukan [トッカン 特別国税徴収官] Rating: 3/10 (Watched) I watched this because Inoue Mao was in it, and she didn't disappoint, nor did the rest of the cast, who were all pretty good.
The problem is that I can't watch this without dwelling on the subject matter. I am 200% on the side of all the various "bad guys." The arrogance of tax collectors who have special powers to barge into people's homes and confiscate peoples property at will are not some kind of super hero to me, they are a crime against humanity. There are even portrayals of such things as these tax collectors taking things from their own friends, as if they were gods pronouncing judgement. Where I really can't stand it is in the end when the "heroine", after seeing the many horrors committed by her organization, is even given the chance to side with someone fighting against it, but chooses to remain true to her little organization of bullies. I do feel it is unfair to judge this show on such personal opinions, but there is nothing I hate more in this world than government bureaucrats, and watching a show attempting to not only portray them as OK, but as a sort of hero put me in a very foul mood. Watching this was a real misery.
TOKYO Airport [TOKYOエアポート] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) So this is about air traffic controllers, and how interesting could a drama about air traffic controllers possibly be? Well, the first episode had me really surprised. I liked it so much I was really excited to keep watching, but just as quickly, by episode 2, I was reminded that yes this is in fact a drama about air traffic controllers, and no that can't possibly be all that interesting. But near the very end the excitement started to pick back up and I was really loving it again, only to find that it fizzled out again with a very lackluster final episode. Surprisingly, this show avoids much of the suspense that one would expect in regards to planes, i.e. crashing, and goes almost out of it's way to remain as tame as possible, though I actually appreciate that because I hate melodrama, and I don't want to be scared of flying for the rest of my life, which I suspect is the very reason they wrote it this way. I actually rather enjoyed the series overall, but it still is a drama about air traffic controllers.
Edit: After watching this. I discovered that it's actually a sequel to a drama called Tokyo Control. I was able to watch it, and it was rather decent itself, but I still prefer this one, Tokyo Airport more, mostly because I think it has a better cast, and because being set more in the actual air control tower lends a more real and urgent feeling than the larger central control room setting in Tokyo Control. But had I seen it beforehand, I think I would have been a little less impressed with this one because it reuses a lot of the same type of emergency situations, and having already laughed a bit at the concept of a drama about air traffic controllers, I would have seriously questioned the need for a sequel, though in all fairness I would have been pleasently surprised, as infact I am now.
Tokyo Zenryoku Shojo [東京全力少女] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Wow, this was really a surprise. When I first started watching this I thought it was going to be incredibly stupid, largely just because I don't care too much for comedies. I'm not sure exactly when, but probably around when her father tried to get her to sell her panties, and she proceeded to do so, I found myself in love with this show. I found this series genuinely funny, quite the rarity for me, and there were some moments of uncontrollable laughter that I couldn't repress. But more than anything I would say the word that best describes this drama would be "fun", it's just a lot of fun, and it even made life in general seem just a little bit better while watching.
I feel strange raving so much about a show that is as shallow as this, I generally prefer drama with more depth and seriousness, but I feel there is enough room in the TV world for something like this too. There is one flaw I find, and it's the exact same flaw as nearly every comedy series. The necessity to develop the plot and have stuff happen interferes with the humor and lightheartedness in a progressive manner, like a cancer, and I find myself liking it less and less as it goes along. But I don't see much that could have been done differently about it, and they handled it as well as could be in my opinion.
Toshi Densetsu no Onna [都市伝説の女] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) This wastes no time and jumps straight into it. Straight into a pile of bad acting, writing, directing, etc. etc. I find it's pretty much bad all around, but in particular I was put off by the shows indecisiveness about whether it wants to attempt to portray supernatural phenomena or not. Most of the time they have it so that the main character is searching for something stupid like a Tengu or a Kappa and while that ends up not being true of course, the mystery still ends up solved due to her. That's not a bad way to handle things, with maybe a final supernatural event at the end, but here they randomly throw in ghosts coming out of walls and stuff, and then switch back to usual stuff. It's bad. If I try to force myself to find something good here, I guess a lot of the urban legends are interesting, especially since I was already aware of most of them, and surprisingly I caught myself laughing here and there. Still it's mostly all bad.
Tsuki no Koibito [月の恋人] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) Extremely well written and acted, as one should expect from a drama Kimura Takuya stars in. The outcome was too predictable , judging by his previous dramas, and i found myself hoping it would go the other way the whole time I was watching. It of course didn't and it really disappointed me, and nearly left me an emotional wreck, but I can't be too hard on it for personal preferences, as it is definitely one of the better drama series to come out in quite a while.
Umareru. [生まれる。] Rating: 5/10 (Watched) First of all, it's very easy to see where the idea for this drama came from, it's basically an inversion of the 14 year old mother, in which Tanaka Misako portrayed the mother (i.e soon to be grandmother, not the 14 year old),she really stole the show in that one. Now they have her as the 51 year old mother (which is what they should have named it for the sake of honesty), as much as I may like Horikita Maki, who plays the daughter, she definitely doesn't steal the show, the best performance is still Tanaka Misako, which has made me realize that she really must be a superb actress, and outside of her, every performance was mostly abysmal. The plot was crappy, and it's real hard to sympathize with this family of liars. Who in the world thinks it's OK to have every word that comes out of your mouth be a total lie. From there, we get to see how disrespectful and hateful they can all be to their mother, right after their father dies. And then they have all these goofy, sappy family moments where they all love each other, and they're the GREATEST FAMILY IN THE WORLD. If people in my family talked like that I would throw up, and we aren't a group of evil liars.
The most enjoyable aspect of this show is really from an educational standpoint. There is a lot of information and statistics on older age mothers, and medical treatments for infertility, and what not. But of course that presumes that the information is even accurate. I don't see myself dropping lines in a conversation where my source material came from the drama "Umareru", especially when that drama is about a family of liars. So you can pretty much throw out the whole compliment I gave it. On a similar note, I enjoyed the interviews with real mothers at the beginnings of each episode, it was a very original idea. They could have made a real documentary about the subject and it probably would have been better than the drama, and when I think about how interested I would be in watching a documentary about old age mothers (not very much at all), I realize that again this isn't a very good compliment.
Umechan Sensei [梅ちゃん先生] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) The main point of this show SHOULD be: Umeko is stupid and ditsy, and she struggles in everything that she does. Horikita Maki plays that role very well.
That said, I feel this drama sold itself short. It's much better in the beginning when she is struggling as a good natured and strong willed but mostly incompetent girl trying to become a doctor, rather than actually as a doctor. It really weakens her character. Not that I would think they should leave out the "payoff" of her development, but they should have delayed it. Likewise the hard aspects of establishing her own practice are underdeveloped, and too quickly she is a success. And in general it seems like this show lacks any major plot developments, like they are trying to hurry up and sweep all the important things under the rug so they can quickly get back to their intense focus on the mundane. Though that sounds harsh, in reality, it is part of the charm this show still has. There is a lighthearted and pleasant vibe throughout the entire series that I did love, and that fits very well with the morning drama format.
Utsukushi Rinjin [美しい隣人] Rating: 9/10 (Watched) I haven't watched many suspense dramas like this, probably in large part because I would presume that they wouldn't be able to sustain ten plus episodes without becoming either way too melodramatic, or at best, really slow and draggy. Certainly this is a slow paced drama, but it is wonderfully done, and by no means boring. Actually, the only time I started losing interest was during the last few episodes, when things started to really pick up, because it somewhat destroyed the somber mood that was so beautiful in the beginning. But, the ending was absolutely perfect, one of the best endings I have ever seen (in any form of media for that matter), and it mostly accomplishes this feat simply with ONE WORD; one word so haunting that it gave me goosebumps. That, and the few scenes after it, were so great they tied up this already impressive drama into something quite amazing.
Also, I should add that, while I imagine it will come as no surprise to anyone, of course Nakama Yukie is naturally able to perform in this type of role perfectly.
W no Higeki [Wの悲劇] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) Just a totally unimpressive, silly mystery. The plot points that could be interesting enough to handle some convoluted explanation, such as why two girls look exactly the same, were all pretty simple and clean cut, followed by murder mysteries and such that I didn't even know were supposed to be mysteries until they were solved in retardedly convoluted ways. The series is only eight episodes long, which is sort of a weird length, but it keeps it from dragging on. Also, while it's full of very potentialy cheesy material, it somehow manages to mostly not make me want to vomit, which is impressive from the standpoint that dramas built on much better and more serious plots often do.
Wagaya no Rekishi [わが家の歴史] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) Apparently, the writer or director of this made some really great dramas and a lot of people were dissapointed. I can't comment on how it compares, but personally I loved it. It works so well as a three part drama, and has an epic quality that is similar to classic movies such as Gone with the Wind. It has some of the absolute best actors, all of whom are in perfectly suited roles, even Matsumoto Jun was able to somehow not suck a true first in world history. The last episode was definitely the weakest, which I swear happens in every three part drama I've ever seen. Also it's somewhat trivial, but I don't know if I like the whole gimmick where they meet all these famous people over the years; it probably would have been more serious and respectable without it. But regardless, I found it to be near masterpiece status.
Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu [私が恋愛できない理由] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) About as bland of a story as possible for a drama. Some girls live together and have their various romantic adventures. There are three main female characters and each one of their respective stories taken by itself would be a contender for most boring drama ever. It feels like they took rejected drama scripts that were lying around and worked them up into one show with a decent cast to make it sell. Obviously my comments sound very negative, as they in a sense should, the whole concept is much more gimmick than substance, but in reality it is a gimmick that works pretty well, because a bunch of boring stories is still better than one mediocre story that drags on. I hope the creators are not particularly proud of this series, and I hope to see better stuff in the Fuji 9:00 time slot again, but at least this was entertaining enough.
Yakusha Damashii [役者魂] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) It's kind of hard to say much about this, usually when I watch a drama there will be some good things and some bad things, and my problem is that I will focus on the bad things and let it ruin the whole show for me. There is nothing bad here but there is nothing particularly good either. I kept waiting for Honnoji to get cancer and die at the last moment or something, but the show stays middle of the road.
Yamato Nadeshiko [やまとなでしこ【大和撫子】] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) This definitely qualifies as one of the most over-rated dramas of all time. And the problem is basically all with Matsushima Nanako, but it's not really her fault, I blame whoever wrote such a ridiculously fake character. They want to portray a story about learning that love is more important than money, and while I certainly have no problems with the attempt to teach important lessons in a drama, this is kindergarten level morality. I'm sorry but I am not emotionally moved by someone's transformation from an exaggerated caricature of a person with issues into an average human being, and I was agitated that the main male lead wouldn't "settle" for the totally decent girl Wakaba. I am rather surprised that people would feel any differently than me, and that this show would have been such a success.
Actually, all of this would have worked better as a comedy, and when this series focuses in that direction it actually is pretty good, but sadly the romance is the main focus, to huge detriment.
Yuusha Yoshihiko to Maou no Shiro [勇者ヨシヒコと魔王の城] Rating: 8/10 (Watched) How much you like this is pretty much going to be based on if you play Japanese role playing games, Dragon Quest in particular. If you fall into that category this is going to be hilarious, if not then probably not so much so.
Zenkai Girl [全開ガール] Rating: 7/10 (Watched) The thing I would like to say about this drama, that I haven't seen anyone else notice, is that it is an absolute rip-off of the older, extremely popular drama "Yamato Nadeshiko". The plot is almost an exact duplicate, even a lot of the details are the same, they even refer to a girl as a "yamato nadeshiko" several times! As if they were trying to give themselves away.
And in my opinion, if you are going to rip-off another series Yamato Nadeshiko is NOT a good choice, it may have been popular, but that doesn't mean it was any good. The story was trite and simple. However I will admit that Aragaki Yui's character is an improvement over the original in that at least her motivation comes off as more believable and less shallow. Otherwise the biggest difference is that they tossed some kids into the story, which is neither good nor bad really, it's pretty much just random, it could have been puppies with no significant effect.
But it's still not a bad show, and has some good characters and moments, I just felt someone needed to at least call the creators out on their blatant plagiarism.
Zutto anata ga suki datta [ずっとあなたが好きだった] Rating: 6/10 (Watched) I had some problems being sympathetic to the plight of the main female character. If you are in love with some one else and get married to a really creepy dude through an arranged marriage, who you have never even slept with, you probably shouldn't be too surprised when he turns out to be a psychopath. And then if you decide to give him a second chance and end up pregnant with his demon child, it's now officially all your own stupid fault, sorry. A couple of other small points; I am okay with chance encounters, but every time this girl walks out her door, it's "Oh my God, I can't believe I ran into my former love......ten thousand times", and why is it that every older drama has to have the main male character play some stupid sport. I suppose they figure that they need romance to attract a female audience, and they better throw in some sports to attract a male audience as well. It gets old after a while. Without trying to spoil anything, I was somewhat surprised by the simplicity of the ending. There was a certain logic that was being presented that, if this were a modern drama, would have lead the characters the other way. I was glad to see it end this way, and that alone alowed me to not hate this series, but then again, it felt a little unresolved.
occultangle's drama reviews (3)
First Love First Love [Rating: 9/10] This drama gets a lot of hate that I feel it doesn't deserve. I do admit that Wakui Emi's character is rather shocking, but to me that seems to be only because she has always played such innocent roles before. I can't see though how having such a villainous character in a television drama is in any way strange or unexpected, let alone bad. Nor do I feel she should have been seen as un-redeemable.
Watabe Atsuro's character is indeed exceedingly goofy, and it's hard to imagine girls falling in love with him, especially to this extent, but it's the type of role he usually gets cast in, and this drama succeeded in using him to his fullest extent, specifically it was very interesting to see him as a teacher of classical Japanese, his recitations of poems and his cheesy yet profound dialog really made it somewhat believable that a young girl would develop a crush on him.
Fukuda Kyoko's character is out of this world adorable, her facial expressions range from a deer caught in headlights to a pouty child, and every word that comes out of her is whiny and worried and makes you want to cuddle and spoil her like said pouty child. Of course that's not to say it's particularly believable, but her and the rest of the characters make for a sort of caricature of very real feelings that people have, and in the world of TV drama I feel a very strong ability to relate to them and in turn they become surprisingly real and believable people.
The most stand out part of this series however has to be just the overall style. There is a beautiful mix of modern day chic with traditional Japanese esthetics. And I think the one point where almost every one can agree on is that the theme song by Utada Hikaru is wonderful and really helps set the mood and deliver emotional impact at the end of every episode when they play it. Without this song the series wouldn't be half as good.
I will concede that there is one major flaw in this show however, and that is that it falls apart in the last few episodes. I think Wakui Emi's issues should have been resolved after her suicide attempt rather than dragging them all the way to the altar. It definitely does feel like they have yanked the audience around one time to many, and leaves the entire series with a sense of unnecessary meandering. I think it would have been so much better if this series had been several episodes shorter, but that's actually true of most dramas. And at least here they only go too far in the end, where so many other dramas just flip flop the whole way through for no good reason other than one comment by one person, and I don't usually here people complain about it to this extent. At least here there is good reason for the characters to waver in their decisions.
So, I am somewhat disappointed in a sense, but if it weren't for the last few episodes I would be screaming that this was one of the best dramas ever, so I can at least contend that it is too harshly criticized.
Mitsu no Aji ~A Taste Of Honey~ [蜜の味~A Taste Of Honey~] Mitsu no Aji [Rating: 10/10] I can just tell that this drama is going to be very polarizing and frankly quite despised by many people. But I simply must be the person to say that this is absolutely one of the best dramas ever, period. I happened to notice that it was written by the same person as "First Love", which was also strongly hated by many people, and which I feel is one of the most overly criticized series ever. There are many thematic similarities between the two series, even a lot of the dialogue is almost exactly the same. But most of the things wrong there, mainly the last few episodes and the over the top characters, are much better here, and one of the great things there, forbidden love, is so much more powerful and blatant here, because it's a love story between an uncle and his niece.
I know this isn't the first time Japanese entertainment media has dealt with a story about incest, but television drama always has a tendency to toy with forbidden love themes, for example often times it's a student/teacher, but they usually only use it for enough shock value to get ratings but then back off before they might actually offend people. They don't back off here! And I couldn't be more pleased with them for that. I realize that something like incest is not something normal that most people would want to participate in in real life, but it makes for very moving drama if one will just accept it as a story.
Another thing that's so excellent here is the way it builds to a climax and then halfway through reinvents itself. It allows the story to be more "epic" without either dragging on, or having to resort to trivial forms of conflict flip-flopping the story (which is exactly the problem with the last few episodes of the aforementioned "First Love".) In this way it reminds me of my absolute all time favorite drama "Aoi Tori." The story is actually very beautifully simple and straight forward, an uncle and a niece fall in love, but that is obviously not an easy relationship to have. That does bring me to the only flaw I can think of, and that is the over the top behavior of the jilted boyfriend and the power of tabloid magazines, but this is television so I don't feel like that is beyond expectation nor does it significantly harm the main plot. Kanno Miho's character is quite evil, but it's also equally believable and reasonable, and if anything, her eventual acceptance of the situation is the only thing that would be questionable in real life, but it's great for the story.
Really I was rather shocked by this drama, I really didn't think they would so honestly portray a story like this and be willing to go all the way through with it. But it was a very good kind of shocking and the best drama I have seen since "Aoi Tori."
Tsuki no Koibito [月の恋人] Disappointed with the direction, but still excelle [Rating: 9/10] I thought Kimura Takuya's character was basically a more extreme version of the type of roles he's usually played before. I wouldn't have thought it a good idea, but the result was perhaps his best role ever. However it was Shuumei who really stole the show, or at least that's what I would like to say, but the show's biggest failure was the lack of screen time she actually receives. Instead we get more of Shinohara Ryoko's character, Maemi. I have to admit I never much cared for her as an actress in general, but it's especially aggravating when I want to know what's going on with Shuumei, but she's always locked up in some hotel room. Which is perhaps why I found the first episode totally amazing, and found myself progressively more disappointed as the show went on. In reality, the whole drama is a not very thinly veiled commentary on the recent economic advances China has seen. I remember reading a quote once about how yamatodamashii was a sort of action oriented, common sense compared to Chinese learning. This is clearly represented by Rensuke who like a great Daimyo must spill some blood for the greater good, but who is inherently caring and righteous, and who is ultimately betrayed by his close friend, who of course has Chinese blood. (I am not trying to state my personal opinions on this either way, just merely reflecting on what I felt the story's message to be. And I would like to point out how ridiculously obvious it becomes when chairs made in China start EXPLODING. Also I don't feel it's necessarily an anti-Chinese message as Regolith is initially the clear aggressor, and Rensuke clearly says that he did "the same things", but I do feel there is an intended parable in Rensuke's development, for how Japan should view themselves in the changing modern world. ) Although the final episode was very well done, and contained some of the series finest moments, the ending was nonetheless particularly disappointing to me. It was exactly the cliche ending I started expecting from the second or third episode, cliche from a general Japanese drama perspective, but even more so as a Kimura Takuya drama. I felt it ended like nearly every other drama he's ever stared in. But it is even further evidence to support my claim on what the the show's message is, and has to be considered a success, at least from that perspective.