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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bambino! / バンビーノ!

2007, 11-episode drama from Japan that is based on a Manga by the same name about a young, brash college student named Ban (Matsumoto Jun) who lives in Fukuoka Prefecture and works at an Italian restaurant.

This means he thinks he's the greatest chef alive, so when his boss gives him a chance to spend spring break working at a high-class Italian restaurant in Tokyo, he jumps at the chance to show off his mad skills.

Turns out he's not so great after all, and our cute but clueless, high-energy Ban is suddenly pitted against some of the finest, most skilled professionals in the business, making poor Ban look bad and ridiculous at the same time.

Sato Ryuta as Katori Nozomi kicks Ban's ass rather early on,

I really like Sato Ryuta!

and then Karina as Hibino Asuka steps in to dump on him further still.

It's for his own good, though!

Poor Ban ...

Matsu Jun looks great in pink!

For me, though, the highlight of this drama was the head waiter and a familiar actor from the Galileo series ...

Kitamura Kazuki as Yonamine Tsukasa

This is a prime example of why I'll always prefer a man with long hair.

Anyway, some of the 'complaints' at included the fact that Ban was so gung-ho about his career when ... excuse me, it wasn't simply PASTA he wanted to make, but ... yea, you guessed it ... a CAREER.

If this had been about a guy working his way up the corporate ladder and he had the same gusto, would they have said the same thing, I wonder?

The cooking portions actually made me hungry until I ended up trying to make Asuka's broccoli & Italian sausage pasta, and I must admit it came out rather well and tasted as good as anticipated, too.

Ok, after spring break ends and Ban is out of the chaotic kitchen now, the young, impetuous fool decides he wants to be a famous chef, so he drops out of college and returns to the high-class restaurant in the big city.

However, reality smacks him in the face (with Nozomi's help), and instead of getting the head-chef position as he hopes, he is first relegated to the dining hall, where he has to wait tables and greet customers.

Ban is as crushed as he was after finding out to his utter dismay that he isn't quite so great as he first assumed, and now he has to struggle with the task of learning how to be someone he doesn't want to be.

Naturally, this is all done by the owner of the restaurant and the best friend of the guy Ban worked for in the tiny prefecture outside Tokyo so that Ban can learn, grow, and mature into the person he wants to become.

It takes him a really long time to figure that out, and even longer for him to perfect the waiter job, but once he realizes the importance and connection between the front of house and the kitchen, things begin to go his way.

At last, he is assigned to the kitchen after a year, and again, Ban is crushed to find out that it isn't to cook his favorite dishes, but to assist the 'dolce' pasticcere.

Again, it takes him some time and effort, but Ban figures out after making batch after batch of nasty-looking and heartless-in-effort meringue that is always dumped in the garbage until he stumbles upon the mute pasticcere's recipe book and Ban learns what it means to be a serious dolce maker.

Like his love for pasta, Ban waits every morning for the shy, mute pasticcere to leave his apartment so they can go shopping together for fresh ingredients, and they become friends.

Eventually, Ban ends up in the kitchen again, and still not as head chef, but with a new understanding of his role in life and the necessary steps he needs to take in order to realize his dream.

I liked Bambino! and I enjoyed watching Matsumoto do his thing, too.

Give this one a chance as I'm sure it'll impress you.

Smiling Pasta / 微笑 Pasta / Wei Xiao Pasta

2006 Taiwanese drama about an average girl (Cyndi Wang as Cheng Xiao Shi) running a losing streak in the love department ever since the guy of her dreams cursed her, stating she would never get anywhere past three months with any, particular guy.

The guy of her dreams (Gino as Ah Zhe) doesn't, even like her, but despite her klutzy and totally immature ways, she is a determined girl who vows to always smile even in the face of certain adversity.

On the day her seventeenth boyfriend decides to dump her for a hot chick, a black cloud descends upon Xiao Shi, and as she is running from it, she bumps smack into a teen pop idol (Nicholas Teo as He Qun) on the lam from his overbearing and anal publicist (Di Zhi Jie as Vincent Ge).

As luck (or fate - or Taiwanese teen-bop dramas) would have it, she falls on top of disguised teen idol, thereby initiating the unforced and unanticipated lip lock that is supposed to signify their ~ destiny ~.

Now, despite He Qun being a super-star, he attends a normal college with normal students, and yet it doesn't seem like his billions of sighing and screaming fans care that he is among them, unlike Korea or Japan, where they would no-doubt line-up every day to watch him walk a red carpet whilst screaming to near fainting at the mere sight of said idol.

Not only is our He Qun a pop idol, he is also the son of a prominent Parliament official, so natch, he's from very good stock as well as rich beyond his or anyone else' wildest dreams.

And, here's a twist ... of sorts ... Ah Zhe, the thug, rebel, bad-ass who treats Xiao Shi like sh*t is also He Qun's big bro.

Before I continue with my smart-ass, err, sarcastic ... I mean REVIEW, let me show you how fine this dude is:

Guy's def got it goin' on in the looks, bod, hair, eyes, face ... what HAVE you departments!

Ok, so Ah Zhe is the black sheep of the respectable family, so naturally his old man hates his guts while he also hates He Qun for whatever reason.

Well, actually there is a reason, but it's like this total misunderstanding that no one can seem to come to terms with or agree upon, much less get out in the open and apologize for ... so it goes on and on for a few episodes (like, maybe 10 out of 17 or something like that).

Add to this dilemma the fact that Ah Zhe hates He Qun, too.

See, when they were younger, they formed this band, and then the stupid lead singer whom both brothers adored ended up dying, and while He Qun felt personally responsible and sad, Ah Zhe blamed him and thus a rift grew into a proverbial chasm until alas, the band broke up and the brothers bid one another a nasty adieu.

Anyway, for all seventeen episodes, our unlikely heroine proceeds to do and say one stupid thing after another, yet despite her openly embarrassing ways, hunny-hunk-idol dude He Qun falls slowly and deeply in love.

With this ...

Cyndi Wang and her weird eye

Cyndi Wang and her not so attractive face

I'm sure every thirteen to seventeen-year-old fan will dis this - so mea culpa and let's get on with the show, shall we?

By now I'm sure a lot of you have come to recognize the 'secret' formula to a so-called successful Taiwanese drama, which is to pit a poor, lonely girl who is straight-lace, prim, loving, and pure against a mega-rich, super-popular, total hunk dude who at first can't stand the sight of her (for obvious reasons) but who slowly and hypothetically comes to realize just how great someone of her caliber actually turns out to be.

This is probably done so that the millions of twelve to seventeen-year-old bubble gum chewers who watch and adore this sh*t can cling to their pie-in-the-sky dreams of having the same thing happen to them in real life.

So, Xiao Shi comes from humble stock, where her parents, grandfather, older brother and his wife work and live at a Pasta restaurant (hence the title).

Since discovering her encounter with the teen idol, they root for her on a daily basis to succeed in love while dollar signs continue to appear in the eyes of her money-grubbing parents who are also virtuous, don't forget that!

Grandpa is silly but wise, Papa is doting but cautious, and Mama is ... well, Mama is Mama through and through.

Xiao Shi doesn't like He Qun at first, but the more she gets to know him and finds out more about his dark past, the more her loving inclinations tend to make her want to help him until he starts to see how virtuous and pure she really is while he continues to struggle against the 'desire' creeping up on him against his will.

I give this one high marks for Gino and Nicholas Teo since they were both nice to look at for seventeen episodes, and I must admit, there were a few highlights or memorable moments as well.

Nicholas reminds me a ton of Rain, don't he?

gee, how lucky am I?

sweater over the shoulders is still in style?

smokin' hot Nicholas Teo

Ok, well, maybe not a LOT like him, but I'll bet he's got some Korean blood floating around inside him!

Then there was this guy ... who just made me laugh, but he's still really cool, and I love his hair.

Di Zhi Jie as Vincent Ge

Lastly, here are some pretty things I want for myself:

This drama was viewed approximately 162,979 times at, with more than 714 five-star ratings being given as well, and naturally, a majority of the reviews there gave it two thumbs-up while also gloriously singing its praises.

Personally, I don't get it, but I can imagine the age-group of the fan base, and this comes as no surprise whatsoever.

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it as long as Taiwan continues to produce this caliber of entertainment, too - for a country comprised of a myriad of awesome, aged like fine wine stars, you'd think there would be more to offer in the mature story category at least.

In Korea, you have two choices at least ... sappy sweet romance with the ubiquitous tragic ending or soft-core porn action.

In Japan, there are basically three categories to choose from: high-school twit stuff, coming-of-age romance, and serious action-packed drama.

Taiwan, however, seems like a one-way street that only offers the viewer a chance to look through the eyes of a dopey thirteen-year-old girl and watch as her inner desires come to fruition on screen.

I, for one, am not interested.

Case in point: the annoying tri-moves, and the unnecessary, intense music:

Hero (the series)

2001 JDorama that stars Kimura Takuya as Kuryu Kohei, an off-beat defense attorney working for the city (prefecture).

I watched the 'special' before I found this (the original, eleven episode series) at, so at first I was a little confused.

Also, the DVD cover above has the number 5 after the title, and that confuses me as well, but it was the biggest picture I could find, so ...

One thing I noticed in the disparity department was that in the special, Abe Hiroshi's character kept telling everyone that his daughter hated him, but in the original series, he kept talking about his only child as being his 'son' ...

Anyway, in both the series and the special, they made it a point to show all of the attorney's gathering inside the elevator, and this time I was able to get a somewhat decent shot for your enjoyment

He's so tall.

In this series, Takuya's Kohei takes care of one, baffling case after another, and while no one in the office seems to like or even notice him at first, he always ends up saving the day - or in this case, an innocent person's life so that by the end everyone wants to help him out.

I especially liked that he was addicted to the Home Shopping Network and always ordered everything related to exercise equipment.

At the beginning, he made a few references to an experience he had in school when some body builders came for a demonstration or a contest or something, so it made me wonder if that wasn't why he kept ordering and trying out the equipment.

What was hilarious about it, though, was that the 'hosts' of the home shopping channel were European (and ugly) while they talked in Japanese using dub.

Whatever ~ I really liked the series and the special, and I think you will too if you give it a chance.


Kekkon Dekinai Otoko / 結婚できない男

He Who Can't Marry

To be honest, I wish I had watched this version first and not the Korean re-make.

Verbatim from start to finish, but because I really, REALLY enjoy watching Hiroshi Abe star in anything, the tedium was a bit, more bearable.

Korean dramas tend to take a long time to tell a story by including every aspect of life (including watching people walk in silence, ride on a bus while pondering a dilemma, etc.) while Japanese dramas have a wonderful habit of taking you on a precise journey through a fictitious character's life start to finish without leaving you confused or exhausted.

In short, they leave things to the imagination and let the viewer draw their own conclusions on occasion.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the Korean version, because I did!

I liked this version as well, but I'm still not sure if seeing this, particular story told twice was a good thing or not.


I did capture a few images, though.

pretty lamp

pretty view, though the background almost seems photoshopped

kawaii cactus centerpiece

always LOVE to see a man in this color

These are strange text (and the subtitling was ok at the start, then it got really stupid bad)

this is Sheila and she is supposed to be a popular model, but I don't get it