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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Chichi no Umi, Boku no Sora / 父の海、僕の空

My Father's Ocean, My Sky

2004, hour-and-a-half long movie from Japan that stars Takizawa Hideaki as the son of a retired restaurant owner, and Taki-kun's character is forced to have to give up on his dream of becoming a musician when he learns about his father's terminal illness.

The whole thing is about how the estranged pair reunite and then learn from each other, and as good as I thought the movie to be, it didn't receive the same kind of reviews at, and I was the only one to even post a comment!

I don't know what is wrong with this one, but I enjoyed it ...

give it a chance and see if you might like it, too.

Propose Kyoudai / プロポーズ兄弟

Brother Proposal

2011 JDorama that is short, sweet, and to-the-point for four, brief episodes (approx half-hour each) that tells us about the way in which four sons end up getting married.

Personally, I enjoyed the last story best.

I also wish they made more dramas like this in Japan AND Korea.

マンハッタンラブストーリー / Manhattan Love Story

2003 JDorama that won a boatload of awards, and this comes as no surprise after watching, either.

It's about an unassuming but passionate man (Matsuoka Masahiro as Tencho) who runs a coffee shop near a television studio, and his patrons pop in regularly to conduct business dealing with affairs of the heart or the occasional business transaction - but to his utter dismay, NO ONE is there to savor his coffee.

In fact, a majority of the time these same patrons don't, even DRINK much less order the brew.

Tencho doesn't speak that often, and if it's necessary, he relies on the part-time worker, Tsukamoto Takashi as Gamo Shinobu, to do the talking for him.

It was far-fetched nonsense that managed to capture my interest for the duration, with a surprise ending I SHOULD have anticipated but didn't, other than to begin wondering why they always used the same, strange chick for all of the dream sequences.

This is a tough one to describe without giving away too much detail, but trust me when I say it was thoroughly enjoyable start to finish, and I think you will have as much fun watching as I did.

Seigi no Mikata / 正義の味方

Crime Avenger

2008 JDorama about a younger sister being bullied by her older sister, who happens to be drop-dead gorgeous, extremely intelligent, and who has no fear.

SHE is a high school dreamer who knows her older sister is annoying, yet in every episode, she lets the beauty push her around, tease her, and even chase away potential boyfriends by telling them secrets to include she can't come out right now because she's going poop, and when she's in the tub, she makes music by farting.

Every time the girl gets into trouble, though, the older sister appears out of nowhere to lend a hand - and when the dust settles, the entire town is there to congratulate and sing the praises of older sister.

There weren't any super-stars in this one, but that didn't matter - I enjoyed every episode, and I think you will, too.

いいひと。 /. Ii Hito / Good Man

Good Man

1997 JDorama about a guileless man (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi as Yuuji) who dreams of working for the sneaker company he is so fond of, and when that dream eventually comes true, he turns Tokyo upside down as well as shaking things up inside the mega conglomeration where he is relegated to the basement with the rest of the soon-to-be-fired employees the company deems useless.

Yuuji was hilarious without trying, his girlfriend was adorable without much effort on her part, and the two farm hicks who worked at the coffee shop no one ever visited were in perfect sync with them.

His goal in life is to make people happy, and without their knowing it, he does just that; even to the owner of the conglomerate ... eventually.

Ganbatte was the theme, and as far-fetched as the storyline was, I still enjoyed this, and I think you will, too.

めだか / Medaka

2004 Japanese drama about a woman slowly but surely going nowhere in life and still thinking that she'll find a man, get married, and settle into the life she was born to live.

Instead, she ends up teaching night school at a nearby high school, where she encounters a host of misfits, scholars, and drifters.

I figured after the first episode that each, subsequent episode would spotlight one of her students private life while also keeping us updated on the heroines personal problems, and I was right.

Eita is in this, and he happens to be a guy from her elementary school days, which shocked her at the start, but then they became good friends, and for eleven episodes I hoped they would get busy, too.

It wasn't a bad or boring drama, even if no one spectacular starred, and some of the storylines brought tears to my eyes while others made me groan.

Anmitsu Hime / あんみつ姫

2008 Fuji TV 'special twice' anime adaptation about a princess from a fake land who runs away from the castle to discover true love and ends up finding it in the form of a commoner with no parents who takes care of other orphans on the street.

It was gay, but in a fun, take-me-away kind of way that I didn't, actually feel offended by, so I guess it's up to you what you take away from it if you give it a go.

MY guess is the Manga is probably the best, and the anime is likely to be more worth watching, but that's just a hunch.

Que Sera, Sera / 케세라, 세라

Que Sera Sera

2007, 17-episode Korean drama that starred Eric Moon (Shinhwa) as an average guy trying to make it in high-society Korea and thus loses his soul as a result of his efforts.

At the start, he's entangled with a rich chick who has given up on true love and uses her money, influence, and appearance to keep men at her side.

At the same time, he and the prerequisite mousy chick bump into one another in the hallway of their shared apartment complex, and they don't hit it off.

She ends up getting a job at the same company where Eric's character works, and which the rich chick's father owns.

He hates the mouse / he loves the mouse / he uses the rich girl / he chooses the rich girl / he lies to the mouse / he confesses to the mouse / he tries to dump the rich girl / rich girl gets even / several episodes of angst ........ etc.

This one also had the foolhardy oma who gambles away the family fortune, a deceased ahpah, and a Dong-saeng with a terminal heart condition.

Perhaps this was about the time when this formula had already run its course and even the ahjumma set were getting tired of watching the same, old sh*t day after day, I don't know - but I do know I'm over it, and the next time I decide to watch something that even REMOTELY resembles this scenario, I'm gonna pass and look for something else to waste my time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

신입사원 / Shin-ip Sa-won

Super Rookie

2005 Korean Drama that starred Eric Moon as Kang ho, the super rookie who lands a job at world-class LK Corporation despite his slacker mentality and the simple but complex fact that he scored a big, fat ZERO on the entrance exam.

A computer glitch no one at the prestigious corporation wants to admit to, much less take the blame for or let the secret be told for the whole world to hear forces the big-wigs to take Kang ho in and hide him away in an unused office until things calm down or Kang ho decides to walk.

Unfortunately for them (or maybe not) Kang ho isn't the type to just sit by idly and let the world pass him by even if he is a slacker!

He's already met with some interesting characters before landing the to-die-for position in the Administration department, and one of them is a mousy chick he caught trying to throw her heartbroken ass off a bridge after being dumped by her boyfriend - Kang ho's old elementary school chum.

Oh Ji ho plays Park Bong sam; a dashing but ruthless character hired by LK through their up & coming prodigy program after having paid for his overseas education and all.

Oh is full of himself and latches onto the daughter of the LK Corp owner, so it seems obvious to him he has to get rid of old baggage (namely his school chums who didn't, quite make it in high society, and the mousy chick working as a temp at the same corporation).

Suh Hyun ah (Ye So yeon) is beautiful in every sense of the word; even when she's wearing Clark Kent glasses and ahjuma ankle socks to go along with the drab, tan uniform required of all temps at the Corporation (so as to distinguish themselves from the upper crust, no doubt).

(An aside ~ I watch Tokyo Fashion Express on a nightly basis, and it never fails to make me giggle when, at the end of almost every episode, they bother to show off the 'latest trends' in office/school uniforms - even going so far as to claim that some students/workers try to get in based on said uniform.

um ~ LOL!)

As the show went on, she did begin to unshed the mouse and transform into a lovely swan, getting to wear chic garb instead - but by the last, few frames some office hags put their fat feet down and Hyun ah was forced to don the drab uniform again.

Anyway - this is the story about a go-nowhere dude pushing 30 who ends up working at this world-renown firm because of a computer malfunction, and instead of letting the man stomp on him, Kang ho takes things in stride while also managing to thwart one disaster after another without the aid of brains, experience, or even foresight.

He's simply 'the man' and has amazing connections is all.

He's a happy-go-lucky type who always manages to land on his feet despite himself, and to the utter consternation of Bong sam and those in power at LK.

He's got the hots for Hyun ah, who is taking her time getting over Bong sam, who has since been dumped by the upper-class bitch so she can pursue Kang ho.

There was a lot of 'English' in this drama, and as a Linguistics/English major, I found myself shaking my head and groaning a lot to say the least.

They even made it a point to poke fun at the sorely lacking skills of the educators over there, who managed to drop the ball in that regard (though I still can't figure out why or even how, other than they use native-born Koreans to teach English, and THAT won't work).

Anyway, between Kang ho saving the day, getting into scraps with Bong sam, and trying to win Hyun ah's heart, we have a lot of inter-office BS going on to include collusion, insider trading, espionage, and moonlighting to mess things up even more.

Honestly, by the end of this MARVELOUS drama, I had to ask myself why ANYONE, let alone Kang ho, would want or even desire to work at such a place (madhouse is more like it, but whatever).

Personally, I'd give a rat's ass if they paid me a billion bucks a year to work there, the answer would undoubtedly be N.O. loud & clear, thank you very much.

These shows continue to give me a twisted, if not completely unrealistic view of what life is REALLY like over there - but anymore, I'm not so sure they are straying that far from the truth now.

Everyone hates everyone else, no one wants to see anyone succeed, they've all got a massive chip on their shoulder, and no one knows how to be nice or say a kind word to their kin, much less a stranger on the bus or beside them at the corner pojangmacha.

I would work my fingers to the bone day in and day out, til late at night and the ruination of my marriage for THAT?

If it had been me in Hyun ah's place, I'd have told everyone there to kiss my big, fat, white ass five HOURS after being hired and not wait five, long years of being trampled on, overlooked, and abused by pompous jerks at the top, but that's just me.

That aside, she lived above the coolest, run-down bar in all of Seoul, with two of the cutest, if not unbelievable bar maids in all of Korea.

Better still, the Yakuza doing all of Miyazaki's bidding was none other than Kim Hun goo from the earlier and BETTER days of 2 Days and 1 Night!

She also had a bad case of zits atop her forehead while the guy mucking up the works for everyone at the Corporation had a herpes outbreak that couldn't be denied.

Kang ho's younger brother (Suh Dong won as Kang min); the Bruce Lee wannabe, almost stole the show, he was that funny.

Also gave me a bad case of the munchies every night I watched, until I began to crave chicken wings since Kang ho and his educated but unemployed buddy tended to eat them every time they got together to bitch at one another out of spite.

How many chicken bones DID he chuck at Kang ho in the course of this drama, anyhow?

(do they REALLY talk with their mouths full over there?)


For the first time EVER, I actually hated Oh Ji ho's character start to finish, and I never thought that would ever happen, either.

As for the star of the the show, I still don't know what to think - I know he's the lead singer for one of my favorite, KPop bands, and at that time he had a mighty fine head of hair - but, I just, don't know how I feel about him in the love-interest category.

Let's just say he isn't bad and leave it at that.

He could certainly pass for Rain's older brother if they every decide to put those two together in a movie or drama!

It might not sound like it, but the longer that I watched this drama, the more involved that I became until I found myself staying up til WAY past my bedtime just to find out what would happen next.

LOVED it, and I think you will, too, if you haven't watched yet.

시크릿 가든 / Secret Garden

Secret Garden

#5 (last five-star review)

November 13, 2010 to January 16, 2011 KDorama that starred Hyun Bin and Ha Ji won as (here it comes again) star-crossed lovers who met years earlier but had no idea this was the case (at least she didn't, anyway).

She is a stunt actor working on a period drama and he (Kim Joo won) is a spoiled rich guy who wanders onto the set looking for a woman and mistakenly (or so it would seem) believes that Ji won's character (Kil Ra lim) is that actress.

Natch, the pretty actress is also a snotty bitch with low self-esteem who picks fights with girls 'beneath' her as a way to combat this affliction of a personal character flaw.

Ra lim is the target.

Joo won lives in this totally rad glass house on oodles of acres of land owned by his bitch halmeoni who insists everyone do everything her way or suffer the dire consequences (have you heard this one before, cause if you have, I can stop now).

Yes, Ra lim is poor but cool in an unaffected sort of way, and at the start she wants nothing to do with snot-nosed Joo won or his ilk, but that FATE thing keeps popping up to put the kybosh on her desire to be as far away from rich folk as is humanly possible.

She works at a 'combat' or action school of sorts, where people of her caliber study hard to make the action dramas we adore so much seem all the more real, and the leader of this troupe is one HELLA hot guy (Lee Philip as Im Jong soo).

Jong soo played the suave, silent loner type no lady in her right mind could resist falling head over heels for, but our Ra lim is too serious about becoming successful in her career to take the time to stop and sniff them damn, fine roses!

That is until our bumbling but determined Joo won butts his way into her life one, too many times and forces her to have to think about things other than swinging from cables, beating the crap out of opponents, and what to order for dinner that night.

EVERYONE loves Ra lim! but, she's a tad on the clueless side when it comes to such things as that, and maybe because her late, firefighter abeoji is about the only man she remembers or wants to remember that has her so fickle, who knows.

Joo won is stupid but cool, and despite his acerbic nature, he always tends to come out smelling like roses in this one - a glaring flaw in my opinion, but by the end of this ab-fab drama, I didn't care anymore.

Another show-stealer (imho) was his older and much hipper cousin, Yun Sang hyun as Oska - an aging but not yet fading pop star who glides in and out of the story for all, twenty episodes to delight, dazzle, and mesmerize.

Oska was madly in love with the girl Joo won is currently entangled with until his burgeoning career and the demands of his gay-ass fans get in the way, spoiling it for them for about ... oh, what was it? sixteen or six years? something absurd like that, but what the hell - it's a drama and not real.

The Korean authorities are determined to force the 'NO MARRIAGE UNTIL YOU'RE TOO OLD TO ENJOY ANYTHING ABOUT IT' mentality.

Regardless of the ploy to brainwash their people, that aspect of the show was actually believable, and in the most unexpected and MATURE fashion I've seen yet with one from that part of the world.

Later in the show, ANOTHER dude appears to dazzle the senses in the form of a brooding and smart-ass, young punk with singing as a way to make a living on his mind.

It wasn't, quite clear, either, but I believe Lee Jong suk as Ssun was supposed to be gay and had a mad-on for our oblivious and looks-more-like-a-gay-than-Ssun Oska.

Someone keeps spreading rumors about Oska that actually work in his favor at the start, but then no - and then he's almost forced to have to high-tail it for parts unknown (at least until the fury dies down), and in-between all this mayhem, he continues to try and remember why it was he and the chick had to part ways to begin with.

Meanwhile, we start to learn a tad more about Joo won's past and how it's tied with Ra lim.

The title has to do with their wandering into a strange and unfamiliar forest, happening upon this snarky, old woman who feeds them and offers them a drink of some really, pretty potion, which they both consume.

From there, every time there is an electrical storm, the two switch mind, body, and soul and are forced to have to cope with each others opposed lifestyles until the next storm arrives to break the spell.

It was during these switch-overs that I found the drama most entertaining.

In her body, he was the biggest bitch! Not even the most seasoned Korean actress bitch had anything on this guy!

HYUN BIN is the sharpest, most believable actor from Korea that I've seen (with Jang Hyuk being a super-tight second and Rain a distant third).

When he's on the screen, it's nearly impossible for me to believe he's acting out a character but more that he's being himself but under varying circumstances.

Funnier still, I don't, particularly care for the guy - and, there are only two dramas so far that he's starred in that have captivated me - this one, and My Lovely Samsoon.

The ratings for this one were actually high over there in Korea, which surprises me considering their taste in storylines is nothing like mine.

I'm having trouble trying to decide if I liked this one more than, as much as, or perhaps a bit less than Gumiho ...................... jury in my mind is still deliberating on that one.

If anyone else got the odd sense of Wizard of Oz meets Grimm's Fairy Tales while watching this drama, let me know and that way I won't feel so isolated.

The soundtrack was good, the acting was superb, and the storyline just this side of believable, so all in all, I give this the coveted 5-heart rating, and if you haven't yet, I urge you to watch this drama WITHOUT the preconceived notions floating around inside your head to distract you from what you should do as opposed to what you think you need to do.

(yea, I liked this one so much, I didn't find the time to screen capture anything, I was that mesmerized for the duration).