Posted in Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

J-Drama Review: Boku to Star no 99 Nichi

99 Days with the Superstar / 僕とスターの99日 [Boku to Star no 99 Nichi] (2011)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Masahiro Kunimoto, Tomomi Okubo
Writer: Takeda Yuki
Cast: Nishijima Hidetoshi, Kim Tae-hee
Japanese w/ English subtitles

Available to watch for free on AsianCrush (Canada & USA only)

Synopsis

A man who loves astronomy but works for a security company is hired as a bodyguard for a rising Korean actress who’s in Japan to shoot a drama for 99 days. However, she is also searching for someone from her past and proves to be more than a handful for the bodyguard. In spite of their numerous clashes and near non-stop bickering, a growing attraction between the two develops.

Review

The overall story is quite predictable. The setup is also nothing particularly original. But the characters are likeable and have funny interactions. The development of their feelings is done well with a gradual buildup of moments and small selfless gestures that bring the two closer to each other bit by bit. It’s an opposites attract scenario with the underdog and the seemingly unattainable star that actually ends up being fairly believable by romcom standards.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, Trailers, TV, Video

Warrior – Season 1 – review [Recommended]

Warrior (2019)
10 episodes (approx. 45 mins each)
Creator: Jonathan Troppe
Cast: Andrew Koji, Olivia Cheng, Jason Tobin, Dianne Doan, Joe Taslim, Kieran Bew, Joanna Vanderham, Hoon Lee

Synopsis

Based on an old pitch by Bruce Lee, it’s set in 1870s San Fransisco’s Chinatown during the Tong Wars. Chinese immigrants are hated by the Caucasian majority including the police and by the Irish who are unemployed due to the cheaper wages given to Chinese workers. The main character, Ah Sahm, comes to this city, literally fresh off the boat, to find someone but ends up being entangled in the Chinese triads.

Review

This is an entertaining show with some sharply written characters. Each with their own views and agenda with no shortage of conflict. Ally or enemy, it can change depending on the day. The first four episodes do a good job of introducing all the major characters. Episode 5 is like a filler or break episode as it is pretty self contained but then for the rest of the episodes it continues the main story.

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Posted in *Recommended

April’s Fool’s and Coronavirus & COVID-19: the good, the bad and the predictably stupid

If there was one thing not to joke about or make pranks about on April Fool’s day, it was the Coronavirus & COVID-19. I have not scoured the internet for such April 1st shenanigans and in fact, I deliberately avoided reading anything on April 1st because of this. Here are some that I randomly encountered recently.

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Posted in *Recommended, Music, Reviews, TV, Video

J-Drama review: Amachan [Recommended]

Amachan / あまちゃん (2013)
[156 episodes, approx. 15 mins each]
Directors: Inoue Tsuyoshi, Yoshida Teruyuki, Kajiwara Toki
Writer: Kudo Kankuro
Cast: Nounen Rena, Koizumi Kiyoko, Miyamoto Nobuko

This is an asadora (aka morning drama). I’m not familiar with these and this is the first one I’ve watched. Although there are a lot of episodes, each episode is only 15 minutes and airs 6 days a week. The six episodes in a week all have the same title so they kinda form a larger 1.5 hour episode. In terms of total running time, you’re essentially looking at the equivalent of about 2 seasons of American TV of 20 episodes each, more or less.

Amachan stars Nounen Rena. It was apparently her breakout role although I first saw her in one of her later works, a live action film adaptation of Princess Jellyfish in 2014. It was her last movie before she mysteriously disappeared from the entertainment world. Very little info can be found about it but it seems likely that leaving her agency resulted in her being blacklisted from TV and film. She only recently returned in the last few years under a new stage name “Non”. She released some music and there is an “I am Non” youtube series about her making a film. In early 2020, she starred in a new movie, Stardust Over the Town. Her long absence was so disappointing but she’s still young and hopefully she’ll continue to get more movie and TV work.

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Posted in *Recommended, Reviews, TV

J-Drama Review: Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko [Recommended]

The Man Who Can’t Get Married Season 2 / まだ結婚できない男 [Mada Kekkon Dekinai Otoko] (2019)
[10 episodes, approx. 45 mins each]
Directors: Yoshishige Miyake, Komatsu Takashi, Ueda Hisashi
Writer: Masaya Ozaki
Cast: Abe Hiroshi, Yoshida Yo, Inamori Izumi, Fukagawa Mai, Tsukamoto Takashi
Japanese w/ English subtitles

I was very surprised to find out a sequel season was recently made to Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. The added word “Mada” meaning “Still” or “Not Yet” so one could possibly translate this title as “The Man Who Still Can’t Marry.” That in itself will certainly disappoint some fans of the original which debuted 13 years ago. Abe Hiroshi returns in the main role of Kusano as do his family members except for an older actress who portrays his now teenage niece. The actor who portrayed his assistant also returns and he’s now Kusano’s partner at the architecture firm. None of the main female lead characters from the original return. But for those who wanted to see a happy ending for Kusano and the doctor, I would suggest watching the 2009 Korean remake (He Who Can’t Marry / 결혼 못하는 남자), which follows the same story very closely but then actually goes further with episodes where they date.

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Posted in Adaptation, Reviews, TV, Web

J-Drama Review: Densha Otoko

Train Man / 電車男 [Densha Otoko] (2005)
[11 episodes, approx. 45 mins each + 2 post-series special episodes]
Directors: Takeuchi Hideki, Kobayashi Kazuhiro, Nishiura Masaki
Writer: Muto Shogo
Cast: Ito Atsushi, Ito Misaki
Japanese w/ English subtitles

This a pretty well known drama that is supposedly based on real events where an otaku rescued a beautiful woman from being harassed on the train. This lead to them dating with the Train Man asking for advice on an internet message board due to his lack of experience with women. There’s also a book, multiple manga adaptations and a live action movie. But I will say right off the bat that if you’ve never watched a Japanese TV drama before that this is absolutely not the one you should start with. It’s extremely exaggerated in a way that feels quite Japanese. It’s also a far-fetched fairy tale romance and while these stories can definitely work, this one is full of overblown, cloying moments and an annoying main character. No matter how fictional, a romance story only works if the couple feels somewhat believable.

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