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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

きみはペット / Kimi wa Petto



You Are My Pet

     


2003 JDorama that was first manga about a ToDai grad with an awesome job as a journalist who is reaching 29 when her life takes this amazing and drastic turn.

She's seen as a tough bitch with balls, but the reality is she has inferiority issues and a somewhat unrealistic fear of being discovered as a fake.

Being shy, it's difficult for her to express her true feelings, though at the start of this 10 episode story, she hauled off and punched a superior in the nose after he suggested being able to stroke her fanny the same way he wants her to let their foreign clients get away with doing.

That move sends her packing for another department within the newspaper office, where she's met with more than just the scorn and jealous assumptions of her new co-workers.

The office betch who sucks helium and smiles all fake-like in order to snag a husband is on to Iwaya Sumire (Koyuki) right from the start, and when she finds out the tall, sexy woman with low self-esteem is the love interest of a man the entire building wants to see naked, she naturally sets out to steal said hot man from Sumire-san.

Tanabe Seiichi as Hasumi Shigehito is the hunky world reporter who has just returned from a stint in Rio de Janeiro and is overly glad to find his love in the same elevator as him.

He is Sumire-san's senpai, and she also had a huge crush on him while they attended Tokyo University - and right away, they begin their romance.

HOWEVER ~

Before that occurred, Sumire-san was struggling to get over a nasty break-up with another man from another area of the office - who was too weak to let her know he wasn't happy with their relationship or her, so he had an affair with another woman, got her pregnant, and when Sumire walked in on them, that was when he decided it was time to let her know he was marrying someone else.

When she arrives at her weirdly named apartment (Mom Paradis) one, rainy night, feeling dejected and alone, she finds a big box marked 'Hawaiian Bananas' at the entrance of the building, and when she peers inside the box, she finds a beaten unconscious, young man inside.

Matsumoto Jun as Goda Takeshi is a runaway, gifted dancer from a well-to-do home, (his best buddy is Eita, btw) and after shoving the heavy box into an elevator and sliding it inside her apartment, she gently tends to his wounds while wondering who he is and why he was inside the box.

She isn't over her latest heartbreak, but she did own a golden retriever when she was ten - a time in her life that she would rather forget except for the dog - so, when Takeshi begs to stay, she offers to oblige if he will become her pet and act like a dog, not a human.

Of course, he agrees to the weird offer and becomes 'momo' the human dog.

Her best (and only) friend is a pretty and laid-back woman with a baby girl, living in a great house thanks to a pilot husband who is never there, and Sumire-san relies on her for advice about what she's just done to herself and the life of a veritable stranger.

The whole point of this story was to show how humans relate to one another versus their relationships with animals.

The writer even tossed in an office psychologist who carried around an adorable Chihuahua as a way to drive home that point I suppose, but his role remained relatively imperative throughout the show since Sumire-san, and then her handsome lover, and eventually even Takeshi-kun ended up seeking his advice about their relationship troubles.

Am I the only one who didn't know that men see women who own a pet as unavailable or worse - unattractive - because they are using the animal as a replacement for the husband they don't have?

Sumire-san couldn't, under any circumstances, behave natural around Hasumi-san, and it was supposed to be because of the immense fear of her being rejected that made her act that way.

At home, though, and with Momo-chan, things were completely different.

Sumire-san could laugh, speak her mind, let down her hair, and even shed a few tears without that fear - which made ZERO sense to me, but then I may be the bad guy for not possessing that sort of a personality, who knows.

At the same time, though, I could totally understand where she was coming from: since I, on occasion, have felt that way and even acted that way around guys I thought were ten times better than I was, but resentment at feeling that way was what made ME walk away, and not the other way around.

I can't fake it, I guess.

Anyway, she wants to believe she truly loves Senpai, but even when he springs a pretty engagement ring on her, she remains tight-lipped and with that furrowed brow in his gentle and patient presence.

Momo-chan remained true to his own nature in a round-about kind of way; pretending to be a dog while also not ignoring the budding emotions that continue to grow for the sexy woman he is shacking up with, but to keep their relationship going, he avoids letting her know how he really feels until the sexual tension builds to the boiling point, he lets it out on her, she slaps him and tells him to leave ... and so he does.

This was another of those dramas that I bookmarked YEARS ago but let the synopsis keep me from watching for so long.

I've learned my lesson and will NEVER do anything that stupid again, I promise myself.

Especially when it comes to anything out of Japan.

I must remember that the twits who write the synopsis are a-holes with no brain and not jump to any, irrelevant conclusions until I've given at least the first episode a try.

I wasn't, too fond of the OST or theme song, but there was one, underlying tune (usually played during pregnant pauses in the show) that I just HAD to hear again, and this time I got lucky - finding the entire soundtrack online for free, and as I type, I have that tune on repeat via WinAmp.

I'm not saying this was the greatest thing Matsumoto Jun ever starred in, but I will admit it wasn't the worst, either.

He looked damn fine in this show, too, and he had an amazing head of hair I jealously watched our Sumire-san get to run her fingers through and even shampoo several times.

Some day I'll have my own place again, and when that day comes, the FIRST thing I intend to do is buy a pet dog or cat - but, it won't be because I don't want a man in my life.

Friday, June 24, 2011

별을 따다 줘 / Byeoreul Ttada Jwo

Wish Upon a Star


2010 Korean Drama about a reckless girl running about life on a whim, not caring for much else besides her one-sided crush on a hardened attorney who works at the same insurance company she does -

Until her parents, who have adopted four, younger siblings and a toddler, die in a car accident, and suddenly our hapless and carefree Jin Pal kang (Choi Jung won) is faced with the unglamorous reality of an uncertain future.

She spent money she didn't have to buy designer things meant to capture the attention of the cold-hearted attorney; taking from her good friend (who also works at the insurance company) and even stealing from her younger sister in order to get her enviably long hair permed.

At the start of the show, a fat guy keeps chasing after her to collect some of that debt.


He was pretty funny, and I'm only sorry there isn't more info on the guy to give him some credit here.

Her boss (the Queen of Insurance Sales) wants her fired, and a prune-faced, rich bitch arrives to make things even more difficult for Pal kang.

Chae Young in as Jung Jae young


Anyway, the first episode had all the kids pooping and constipated, and the second episode showed our hunky attorney in the shower.

Naturally, I was under the impression that episode 3 would show us some chick puking up ramen alongside her sympathetic boyfriend in front of a bar.

This is a typical, stereotypical Korean story about poor, forlorn chick forced to face reality, grow up, and attain that eternally sought-after prize of Prince Charming for a hubby.

She is kicked out of her parent's house because, well, that's just the way it goes in heartless Korea - and as luck would (always) have it, her Team Leader (Shin Dong wook as Won Joon ha) is looking for a live-in housekeeper.

He is the younger, half-brother of the hardened attorney (Kim Ji hoon as Won Kang ha), and they're both fed up with the childish antics of their 'from America' cousin, Lee Kyun as Woo Tae gyu after the neighbors call the cops on him for lighting off fireworks in the exclusive and uppity subdivision.

He's supposed to be in college, but I never saw him leave the fancy house once, except to hang out at a local club with his musician friends.

Anyway, their initial intent is to kick out the cousin and have the housekeeper take his place, but the flighty cousin refuses to leave, much less get the message, and then he falls instantly and madly in love with our down-n-out Agasshi Pal gang.

She sneaks the kids inside the house, and the attorney isn't happy to see Ms. Go Nowhere outside the office while her loyal friends hope and pray that things will turn out alright for their down-n-out friend, Pal gang.


This wasn't tragic, but it did have its moments when I was forced to shed a tear or three, or at least get choked up and need some water to soothe my aching throat, but a majority of the time it was campy goodness with a few ha-ha's tossed in for effect.

All, three Won boys end up falling for Pal kang, but she's a changed woman now and insists all that matters is taking care of the kids.

Rich bitch who is the granddaughter of the halabeoji who has always walked in on the Jin clan to eat a free meal and annoy Pal kang while also delighting the little ones with his grandfatherly ways, is determined to marry the attorney with ice in his veins.

NATURALLY ~ she sets out obtaining this goal by first 'telling' him they'll get married, then forcing him to believe that it's only natural since they're both rich, and finally, by threatening him with a secret he's kept hidden for years.

In-between all this Korean nonsense, she continues to put down, irritate, and harass Kal pang because ... well, because the poor, ugly chick is in the rich bitches way, I suppose.

After all, these years, you'd think I'd finally be able to discover the secret behind this mentality, and yet it still escapes me.

Joon ha has always been in love with the rich chick, but like all the other, hot babes in their life, she, too, only has eyes for Mr. Heartless.


He's a playa, but not by much.

The nice guy who always finishes last - or is he?

I thought the funniest thing about him was his height in comparison to everyone else on the set!

Boy towered over even his Hyung, for heaven's sake.

Dong wook-sshi is the reason I watched this to begin with, but as things progressed (and, this occurs often with Korean dramas), I began to form a new-found appreciation for and interest in his older brother, Kang ha.

This is a first for me with regards to ajusshi Kim, and I was impressed!

Kim Ji hoon as Won Kang ha


Once the siblings were discovered by the Won boys, the story became more interesting, and the fun started.

The little boy they referred to as 'the dark one', who walked in his sleep, peed his pants, and caused a lot of problems for everyone nearly stole the show, but it was his unexpected relationship with hard-ass Kang ha that helped to draw me closer to the guy and nothing more.

The only thing I 'didn't' like was his hair style - I kept wanting to comb it DOWN, making bangs or at least a lower side sweep.

Like most ALL Korean actors, he had a slammin' bod to go with his interesting gaze, and his acting wasn't all, that bad, either.

Shockingly, the guy who disappointed and didn't come across as the sexually enticing god he did in SoulMate Season 1 was Dong wook-sshi.

It's my fault, though, cause I just, don't like it when these hunks capture my fancy with their long hair, causal attitudes, and natural sex-appeal, then suddenly they're a year older and now serious-minded, stuff-shirt adults with short hair and a wardrobe that consists of gray suits and shiny ties.

"I WANT MY BABY BACK!"

Still love that sexy voice, though - and his adorable smile - his eyes, and that bod.

SOMEone over there with a lot of power is filling the heads of these gods with a lot of bull crap about being responsible or something ... but, it's just something else about Korea that I'll never understand, I suppose.

Anyway ... I think the moral of  THIS fairy tale gone stale but still making the rounds is that if you become a mature, responsible adult and always stick to your guns about doing the right thing, then good stuff will happen --- like, the grandfather you thought was nothing more than a useless bum turns out to be a billionaire and YOUR real hal-abeoji!

Prince Charming (even if he IS a dick at the start) will fall madly in love with you, but because of your new resolve, it'll be YOU who are in the driver's seat and not him.

And, of course, you can best believe the nasty hag who tried to put you down all this time will DEFINITELY meet with her cruel fate so that you can laugh in her ugly face or say 'aw, poor baby!' and take pity on her with your new-found wealth and over-abundance of unnatural graces.

If good guys finish last, then it stands to reason that good girls will finish first.

EH?

I also learned that getting scolded all the time means you'll live a long, long life, and that picky eaters will never prosper.

Go figure - I've lived all this time never knowing WHY my life is this way, and now I know.

LOL

Seriously, though, this story touched a nerve in that I was (and likely still am) a lot like our Pal kang when I was growing up.

I didn't come from a loving family, though, and I never met a wealthy, couple of hunks who helped to steer me in the right direction, either.

Lot's of bad things happened to wake me up from my fantasy life, but my direction always took me down dead-end roads and not the golden path of prosperity like it always tends to do in these KDoramaz.

I so, totally hate that.

My Boss My Hero / マイボス マイヒーロー




2006 JDorama (sort of) that starred Nagase Tomoya as the 30-something son of a Yakuza boss whose father decides that before he'll promote Sakaki "Tornado" Makio to the 3rd 'something' in the clan, he must obtain a diploma, or said position will go to his younger brother.

"Tornado" because when he's pissed off, Makio-kun turns into a crazy fighting machine, with not even the toughest bad-ass left standing in his wake.

Early in this 10-episodes of silliness, Makio has to go from a dark-clad thug to a uniform-wearing teen, and the first thing he learns about the private institution his father has paid heavily to slip his son into is that there are only a handful of treasured 'purin' cups available to the more than 100 students of the academy, and that if he doesn't move his ass at the bell, it isn't likely he'll get his hands on the sugary confection he's so fond of.

There is a kindly, old nurse who is always on hand to offer warm tea and sage advice to the students, along with a shy boy and confused girl who quickly become Makio-kun's friends.

Makio wants desperately to take over his father's position, but his younger brother has returned from University in the states and makes no bones about his desire to have the same thing, so it's up to Makio to enlist the aid of that ever-present 'gambatte' spirit if he ever intends to succeed.

This was meant as a light-hearted comedy with a message, and it may have succeeded had it not been for Tomoya-san's overly acted and Jim Carey-esque antics that ruined it for me.

He was too spectacular in Ikebukuro West Gate Park, so my expectations for him were too high, I think.

Don't quite know what happened, but aside from Futari, I haven't seen him do anything worth bragging about.

However! his resume is impressively long, so there is still hope if I can find more of his work at aznv.tv.

Triangle / トライアングル



2009 JDorama that was meant to be suspence/thriller/murder mystery all rolled up into one, amazing story - and, it delivered & then some!

For starters, the star of the show was hunk-da-fied (even as he ages as fine as wine) Eguchi Yosuke from Lunch no Joou (my introduction to the gorgeous man).

Dude's got that '...not, really trying' attitude that works to draw a woman to him all the more, and I ADORE that in a man.

Besides Mr. Tall, Dark, and Gorgeous, the writer of this drama did a few things that made me enjoy the show, and the one that stood out most for me was the not pushing it at any point in this 11-episode whodunit.

Until the latter half of the final episode, I had no IDEA what the hell was going on, but that was alright!

Until each of the suspects is cleared in one form or another, we are left guessing at the end of each episode about who did what, why, and even how.

When the culprit finally was revealed, I kinda chuckled to myself and thought, "See, you sort of knew that around episode 3, didn't you?"

But - that's just because the truth played me for the fool, so I had to say SOMEthing to appease my otherwise astute nature in the mystery solving department.

Someone at aznv.tv made the ridiculous comment about the soundtrack not going with the show, and it made me laugh.

I also commented about it in my own review there - but, only to say I couldn't disagree with him/her more.

LOVED the OST and am still on the hunt for it online, too.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't watched this yet, it's about a ten-year-old boy who has a secret crush on the cute girl seated beside him in class, and on the day their teacher asks that they all write a letter to their 20 yr old selves, that girl is found dead near a ravine by that boy.

The story begins, though, with him as a grown man leaving a surgeon's position for an FBI spot in New York City, where he learns tons before being transferred to INTERPOL in France.

Finally, he returns to Japan and at once sets out to solve the statute ended case of the unsolved murder mystery.

We are introduced to new and old people, but we also get to look a bit deeper into this man's past, that of his relationship with the dead girl, and also to learn a bit more about the friends both associated with and still do.

Of course, we eventually discover Goda-sama's inner feelings, the pain he's had to live with most of his life, and why he behaves the way he does as a result.

There is a love story of sorts, but our Goda-sama is too, wrapped up in the mystery to let anything else stand in his way.

Hirosue Ryoko plays Sachi, the adopted daughter of the murdered girl.

She's the chick who starred alongside Takanouchi in the early days of the 21st Century, and after watching all of his stuff, I wondered if she ever did anything about that wild canine tooth of hers - and after viewing Triangle, it amazed me to discover that she hadn't!

Sakai Masato as Shimano Takaya, (Mr. Laughing Eyes from Kodoku no Kake,) is a wealthy curator who has this strange attachment to the new Sachi, is one of many suspects, and Tanihara Shosuke as Tomioka Yasushi (Love Shuffle, Mop Girl, Konkatsu, Yama Onna Kabe Onna and others) is a good friend of Goda's from elementary school who becomes a publisher and wants to write his own version of the murder but he can't, seem to get things started.

Goda's little sister (Aibu Saki as Goda Yui) is trying hard to take good care of Aniki without falling too deeply for his reluctant and befuddled, new partner (Inagaki Goro as Kuroki Shun) at the West Branch where his father happens to be some big-wig chief.

Kuroki's father was also assigned to the 25yr old case of the murdered, little girl, so our Goda Ryoji doesn't trust the son any more than he can believe what the father is trying to tell him (or not).

Poor guy remained in Goda-sama's shadow throughout this show, but he still did a great job of portraying the loyal, trustworthy, and respectable police detective whose only thought is to get the job done the right way and nothing else.

From the start, the guy had to struggle not to lose his cool with the aloof, seemingly pushy Goda, and then he's forced to have to ponder the uncomfortable notion that his old man may have done something unsavory in order to climb that high, that fast in rank over the years.


Personally, I enjoyed watching for the eye-candy, but the story was worth the time, and I think you'll enjoy it if you give it a go.
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ラブシャッフル / Love Shuffle



2009 JDorama that is supposed to be about a young man who went from nothing to something after falling in love with and becoming engaged to the daughter of a prominent businessman.

He's got an office job at the in-law's corporation, but the fiance's aniki is constantly harassing him and threatening him with a lay-off if he doesn't get his act together.

He's Tamaki Hiroshi of Nodame Cantabile fame, and I've yet to watch that, so this is a first for me after having gone over his career record.

Anyway, before I stray too far off-topic, let me get back to the show.

What this is really all about is Usami Kei and his inability to let go of the woman who dumps him at the start of the show.

He lives in this swingin' pad in a ritzy complex somewhere in the city, and on a stormy evening when he and his neighbors board a glass elevator together, they get stuck inside due to a lightning strike power failure.

They've shared the same floor of the apartment complex for awhile but are only now meeting one another.

They exchange business cards and learn that one is a psychiatrist, another is a fashion photographer, and SHE is a translator for a television station.

Since he's just been dumped, and the girl is wavering with a latent lover of her own, and the photographer tends to screw all the models who pose for him ... the topic easily turns from awkward introductions to sex.

They decide then and there to play a game they call Love Shuffle - where they get their partners to agree to go out with each of them for a week at a time, and that if by the end of the month, when original partners return to each other, if there is still a connection then great - if not - oh well then.

I'm not all that great at Japanese, but a running theme in this one was word-play, and that word was PANDA.

Yay, Panda!

The end of one word is pan, while the beginning of another is da.

I can't, even begin to think how we'd play something similar in English, but oh well, it was really kawaii and something I wish I understood better.

The sexually manipulative photographer is none other than Matsuda Shota from Hana Yori Dango fame and (for me, anyway) LIAR GAME.

He's grown up in both height and talent, I must say - and his deep, resonant voice is a mismatch, but oh well!

His Sera Ojiro character plays all the ladies at the start, but as the story unfolds, we discover he's not, quite the heartless jerk-ass we were led to believe about him.

Tanihara Shosuke plays Kikuta Masato, the psychiatrist who doesn't include his lover, but a patient of his - a wack-job 19 yr old artist who insists she'll commit suicide on her 20th b.day.

He was also the dorky senpai in Shiawase ni Naritai.

I must admit that from about ten minutes into the first episode, it became obvious that our leading man would end up with the leading lady (because, well, that's just the way it ALWAYS goes in a drama or movie, right?)

She is floating through life as a shadow, unable to let go of the past and a certain incident that left her unable to commit or fall in love.

Her partner, however, (and again, in my own opinion) nearly stole the show.

DAIGO is Oishi Yukichi, a nerdy guy who wears horn-rimmed glasses and carries a briefcase filled with fake money as a way to impress people and buy their affections.

He seems to be as in love with his girl as our lead, Kei, is for his flippant fiance, Mei, but once again, things are NOT always as they seem.

Yukichi quit school when he couldn't take being bullied anymore, and via a home computer, he learned the stock market, where he winds up becoming a billionaire trader buying up all the corporations where ex school mates who bullied him now work.

He doesn't fire them, and he insists he holds no grudge, but the whole point of his buying those corporations is to keep the bullies guessing on a daily basis about their future job prospects.

He appeared in episode 8 of Stand Up! but, I don't recall, and it seems he's rather new to the business, but I look VERY forward to seeing more of what he has to offer, sho nuf!

For a reason that escaped me, all the ladies are first drawn to the timid and calm doctor - who ALSO ends up not being quite the mild-mannered gentleman with a huge brain as we were led to believe.

Actually, it made sense toward the end of the show - but, if I explain that to you here, it'll give away too much of the plot, and I don't go there, so .......

Does Kei end up with Mei or the leading lady?

Does Yukichi finally get what he really wants out of life, and will she commit suicide on her 20th birthday?

Who ends up with whom, why, and how?

This received a paltry 8.7 viewer rating in Japan, and that comes as a huge shock to me.

WHY?

What was wrong with this one that no one wanted to watch?

I, for one, loved it - and the standings at aznv.tv clearly indicate that I'm right about this one being a hit, too.

Go figure.

Of course, 2009 was a banner year for JDorama, so I wonder if that had anything to do with it?

Something even better than this was airing at the same time maybe.

If you didn't watch because of bad reviews, don't be silly and give this one a go ... see if you agree.

Egao no Hosoku / 笑顔の法則


Living Today for Tomorrow



2003 JDorama that stars Abe Hiroshi as an eccentric (kind of) anime artist and a young girl in search of a job.

She's late for an interview after attending a friend's wedding, and while still in a pretty, red kimono, she ends up getting the rented garment stuck inside the door of a van in front of the office tower where she's supposed to have the interview.

Abe happens along and is immediately reminded of a pet goldfish he once had that liked to race around the bowl before leaping to apparent freedom.

Natch, the interview doesn't go, too well, but when Abe's character sees her trying to leave the building, he insists that she be the one to assist him on his latest endeavor - which is to leave the city and hide out for about 3 months at a quaint Onsen so that he cannot be persuaded to work for anyone else since everyone in the publishing industry is dying to contract with him, and he can't say no.

She tells them she will do the job if they book a room at the Onsen her brother (head chef) works.

I must quote the synopsis for this drama:

Yumi (Yuko Takeuchi) is a 23-year-old office worker. Out of the blue, she is fired from her job. A few days later, wearing kimono, she is rushing to an interview for some part-time work at a publishing company. She was at a friend's wedding that went on a bit longer than expected and she has no time to change from her kimono.

In another room at the publisher, popular comic book writer Reijiro Sakurai (Hiroshi Abe) is having an editorial meeting with some staff. He is planning to lock himself away at a hot spring for the next three months to concentrate on his next project. Yumi stumbles into the room, looking for somewhere to change out of her kimono. Sakurai comments that if Yumi were to join him he wouldn't mind being away for so long...

Sounds totally creepy and a bit on the hentai side, don't it?

If this is what kept you from watching (like me) then forget it because THAT is not quite how the story goes.

From start to finish, I enjoyed nearly every second of this show.

The storyline was credible as well as refreshingly different - the characters were believable - and the director didn't stray or even dwell too long on aside characters issues.

The whole point of the story was about acceptance, change, and tolerance, which the writers tackled with finesse and made things all the more entertaining as a result.

Abe will always be one of my favorite, Japanese actors, and this is twice now where I've enjoyed Yuko's performance.

Give it a chance and see if you don't agree. ^^

Shiawase ni Naritai / 幸せになりたい!

I Want to be Happy!

2005 JDorama about a young girl and her two, younger brothers whose once-prosperous otoosan is heavily in debt and ends up committing suicide, leaving their bed-ridden okaasan to shoulder the responsibility.

While she was still the daughter of an upstanding businessman, she was tutored by a handsome senpai who now works for UBS in the city, and after the funeral - when two seemingly nasty debt collectors steal the offerings as partial payment - senpai offers her a job at the television station.

She dumps high school and goes to the glass tower seeking employment; starting out first as a janitor and then QUICKLY becoming a member of the drama staff.

Senpai's bujo is a female trying to make her way up the corporate ladder, but that isn't likely in (modern-day) Tokyo.

She isn't happy with senpai's lackadaisical attitude or his inability to finish anything he's expected to do, and as unrealistic as it sounds, she turns to the high school drop-out for support.

Her making some obvious mistakes along the way and even getting canned a few times was no-doubt meant to help us swallow the above-mentioned pie-in-the-sky scenario, but while it was far-fetched, I still enjoyed watching this drama.

The only believable aspect of this show was the mother giving up on life and not bothering to try anymore, while the rest of the story was as hokey and ridiculous as they come - with even the debt collectors being not, quite what they seem.

STILL - I watched clean through and found myself enjoying the show.

Maybe you will, too.
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