The Queen of Asian Drama is Back with more Irreverent Reviews and Snarky Commentary.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kodoku no Kake / 孤独の賭け

This was a Japanese drama that I purchased online through, and which came as a special bonus on Christmas Eve, along with the Laurel CD that I also ordered.


Before I even watched Kodoku no Kake, I knew that I'd like it because it stars one of my all-time FAVORITE actors, Hideaki Ito.

sigh ... drool ... moan ... dream-on
S.E.X. gOD!!!

Anyway, after the holiday travel, I returned home and watched my DVD.

This is what I found ...

Turns out the subtitles were created by a Chinese person translating Japanese to English.

YAH! That makes WAAAY sense, huh?

So AGAIN I got burned ordering a DVD online.
It was $30 I could have used on anything else, TRUST me.
Still, I can't find many of his movies or dramas online, so for $30, I got to stare at him for three days (the amount of time it took me to watch the entire drama), AND, I got to capture a ton, more of his awesome images for my bulging ITO HIDEAKI pics folder!

He was exceptionally sexy in Kodoku no Kake because of his super-hot LONG HAIR!

The title theme, Kodoku no Kakera is sung by Angela Aki, and though to me she appears frumpy in street wear & nerd glasses, she possesses a beautiful voice.

The drama is about a young, successful businessman with a huge chip on his shoulder who is out to destroy everyone with the billions that he's made after climbing from the depths of poverty & despair.

KnK also stars Sakai Masato 堺雅人, whom I thought to be really cute, always grinning (especially his laughing eyes).

speaking of horrible subtitles ...

Here is the rest of the cast, in case you are interested ...

I enjoyed the mature theme, the mature content, and (thank you!) the mature ACTORS!
Not into the sappy, sweet, ditzy, airhead, bubble-gum chewing, kawaii sh*t that has inundated this market AT ALL.

Ito's character, Chigusa Teijiro, had a lot of sex at the beginning of this drama.

He's leaving a bar one evening when Inui Momoko (Hasegawa Kyoko) falls in front of his car and Chigusa gets out to see if she is ok.
We find out a lot later in the drama that he recognized her almost immediately as a character from his past; the daughter of the man who ruined his father.

Momoko has revenge on her mind too, though.
She believes that it was her uncle who ruined her life and caused her father to commit suicide.
Her older brother hung himself when he failed a college entrance exam, and since their mother was counting on him to raise the family back up in social status, she decided to set the house on fire.

Sakai's character ran into the house, and after getting his leg crushed by a falling china cabinet, he managed to drag a young Momoko from the burning home, saving her but gaining a bum leg in the process.

Sakai's Makita Jiro character takes over as the big-brother in Momoko's life, though he's crazy in love with her.
He lectures at a local university, but he always manages to find time to check in on Momoko and make sure that she isn't trying to ruin her own life any time soon.

Anyway, Momoko recognizes the gorgeous Chigusa from an earlier television broadcast about his latest business venture in America, and she tells him that she wants a boat-load of cash to compensate for the accident with the car.
She offers her body in exchange, too.

Momoko is a budding fashion designer who wants to make enough money to buy back the home she thinks that her uncle stole from her parents.

Jiro is naturally disappointed after Momoko tells him about the sex for $$$ deal that she made with Chigusa, but the smiling gimp only encourages her to change her mind before it's too late.

Lots of twists & turns in this drama, but again, to me the best part was getting to stare at my lusciously sexy Hideaki for three days straight.

I absolutely adored this necklace!

His apartment was pretty sweet, too.

I SO love Japanese cherry tree blossoms!

This guy was scary ...

He TOTALLY ruined the ending for me!!!

I'll leave you with what I can find of the WORST of the subtitles.

??? Is that even a number ???


s-s-s-say WHAT???


um ... WHAAAT???

Glitter Text Generator

Monday, December 22, 2008

Anego / アネゴ

An April through June, 2005 Japanese drama that stars Akanishi Jin of the pop group Kat-tun.

I never saw AkaJin star in anything before, so Anego intrigued me.
It's about a young man (Jin's Kurosawa Akihiko) who graduates college and finds a job at a Trading company, where our leading lady, Noda Naoko (played by Shinohara Ryoko) works.

I guessed that young Kurosawa fell head over heels in love with Noda, because the story itself did not, actually hint at anything more than a mild, sexual attraction quite common in a twenty-two year old male.

See, Noda is ten years older than Kurosawa, and she has these convoluted, Asian notions in her pretty head about things like age discrepancy, societal morays, what her parents will think, and ... stifling things like that.

Again, she IS supposed to portray a ... thirty-two year old woman.
And again, I don't get it ... being an American and all.

Aside from my inability to grasp the Asian concept of what is right & what is wrong, Anego was fun to watch!
It had a terrific storyline, about Noda, the office go-to gal, who works diligently, smiles graciously in the face of adversity, and is always there to lend a helping hand to her coworkers, be it professional advice or personal advice.

Kurosawa sits across from Noda in the quirky, fast-paced environment, and though she thinks that he is kawaii, Noda is quick to realize his age, and therefore decides at that moment not to have anything to do with Kurosawa.

He studies Noda carefully, as she buzzes about the office, doing this, helping with that, averting a disaster here, helping a tearful coworker there.
Jin's character is, indeed, kawaii.
He plays the awkward, shy-guy to the hilt!

Still, something in his gorgeous eyes conveys the fact that he isn't, quite as bumbling as he seems.

Anego means older sister in Japanese, and it's the name that Kurosawa gives to Noda, saying to her that he doesn't want to think of her as an old woman, and that it's because she behaves in an older sister fashion.
Her behavior does intrigue him, though, and several times in the ten-episode drama, he asks Noda why she does the things that she does.

Soon after she meets Kurosawa, she is helped on a subway train by this guy ... Kato Masaya as Sawaki Shoichi
A drunk guy is harassing her in an annoyingly funny way, when Sawaki walks up, yanks the guy to his feet, and suggests that he get off at the next stop.
Both men exit the train, and then Sawaki gets back on quickly, as the doors close, leaving the drunk & bewildered man behind.
Everyone aboard the train claps, and our aging Noda gets that glazed over expression in her dazzled eyes.
Her knight in shining armor has arrived!
All, too soon however, (as he's leaving the train actually) she sees the dreaded gold band on his left ring finger, and her hopes are quickly dashed.

Twists & turns abound in every episode, and Noda gets involved with Sawaki's wife, Eriko (Tomasaka Rie), a nut-job with zero self-esteem, who snagged Sawaki in an arranged marriage.

The flaky Eriko befriends Noda, but she is naturally suspicious of her wayward husband.
We don't know who is the liar or the cheat in this loveless & cold marriage, which I think was supposed to drive home the fact that arranged marriages are no good?

Off-topic, I couldn't decide whether Kato Masaya was handsome or not.
Sometimes, he looked really hot, and then other times (I think a majority of the time) he didn't appeal to me at all.

So, Noda vacillates between Kurosawa and Sawaki, the married man with a strange wife, too much money, and not enough time on his hands. I mean, he had no time to talk with his crumbling wife, but he always had time to talk with or meet Noda.
He worked constantly, never there for his feeble-minded wife, and yet he had time to take Noda to Kyoto for her thirty-third birthday (while his estranged wife hid out at her childhood home, contemplating divorce).
Turns out that it is Sawaki that plays around behind Eriko's back, and Noda discovers this when she meets another woman from his past, who repeats his lines to her, which finally (thank GOD) snaps our mixed-up Noda from her warped sense of reality.

I didn't get this right away, but Noda falls madly in love with Sawaki, yet she ... has sex with Kurosawa almost immediately in the drama.

Then, she lets him move in when his flat-mate starts having a fling with one of the other girls in the office.

Kurosawa is persistent, if anything, and when he asks Noda out, she accepts the date after deciding that Sawaki isn't the man for her, (though she still loves him).

Lot's of kissing! Well, stolen kisses actually.
Kurosawa stays true to his young, horny roots, let me tell you!

Kurosawa kept telling Noda that he wasn't interested in marriage, but that her age had no bearing on his feelings for her.
I suppose the writers/director had to make the point that twenty-two is waaay ignorant compared with thirty-two, and that thirty-two was supposed to act her age (being a snob) while twenty-two was supposed to act his age (a clueless, selfish, and horny bastard).

In retrospect, Noda probably really dug Kurosawa from the start, but because of the constant hints that her co-workers dropped about the age difference, Noda had little choice but to remain aloof with our adorably persistent Kurosawa.

In keeping with Asian custom, Anego's Noda, (as a woman, probably), sacrificed her own happiness by making the right decision about not seeing a married man, and she kept her warped notion about age difference by spurning our lovable Kurosawa.

He was transferred to Mongolia, where he worked to get a Cashmere factory up & running while sending Noda emails on a daily basis.
She quits her job after the 'scandal' of her 'affair' (with Sawaki) becomes public (though numerous, other 'affairs' are going on around her, and she's trying to help the women work things out).

Anyway, aside from enjoying every moment that Akanishi Jin appeared on screen, Anego showed us a bunch of Asian morays about love, sex, marriage, fidelity, and social standing.
Things that seem mixed up to an American Catholic like me.

This may sound contradictory, but ... while I can understand the reason for 'message' dramas & movies from Asia, based on everything that I know about that side of the world (from the movies & drama's I've seen so far) ... I can't help but wonder if some things are taken out of context on purpose, or if the writers/directors of these stories are being deliberate in their attempt to 'drive home' the message that things and people need to change over there.

I like the family values thing, and I know that equality is making a slow but steady introduction in Asia, but ...

Maybe it's the lack of religious upbringing there that has me so confused.
It's ok to have an affair, even knowing that society frowns upon the thoughtless decision to gamble with happiness.
YET ... it's not ok to show affection in public.

It's ok to commit suicide when things go wrong, but to go against the wishes of your parents is somehow astrologically profound and extremely taboo.

Is it me, or is this thought process somehow backwards & distorted with reality ... or common sense?

Anego was fun to watch, trust me.

It just left me feeling rather confused about a lot of things, and things that I'd rather not waste my time thinking about, like weird notions about life, love, and the pursuit of something as pointless as 'happiness' in a worldly context.

OH! Fate! How could I possibly forget THAT old chestnut?
It was practically crammed down our throats in Anego!

If something happens once, it's curious.
If something similar happens again, it's coincidence.
And, if it happens a third time, this is somehow ... destiny.

Yah ... right!

Bumping into the same guy three times means that he's your future husband.

Got it!

I figured it out, what is so confusing to me about the Asian way of looking at things.

There is no LOVE in the equation!

What about the sparks, the heart flutter, and the heated blush that radiates off your cheeks the first (or maybe even the seventh) time that you look him in the eye?
Doesn't anyone over there get to know someone well enough to be able to form a conscious and rational decision about whether or not you can see yourself growing old with the man seated across the table from you?

What about frickin' CHARACTER?

I give up.

More pics of the guy from the pop group Kat-tun
Though I think that Akanishi (nicknamed Bakanishi ~ which is funny to me, since Bakana means idiot in Japanese) is a handsome guy (I love his hair and his eyes), I don't know that he's as cute as two of his counterparts in the group.

Junnosuke Taguchi

Kamenashi Kazuya

Honestly, I think they all look like little boys to me
Too effeminate for my taste, but they're not ugly or repulsive, so I guess it's ok to feel a little something for the younger generation.
You go, girl! If nothing else, the sex can be phenomenally FREQUENT while you search for that Mr. Right to settle down with and raise a few babies, eh?