Friday, November 02, 2012

You're beautiful

(WikiLink)
What's it about?
Nun disguises as a boy and joins boy band. Lead singer is kind of a jerk, but hot. Do you need any more information?

What do I say?
If you needed any more information after reading the summary, this might not be the dorama for you. However if that is your sort of thing, run, don't walk and watch this series!! It is one of the best there is.

True, the nun never remotely looks like a boy, but she is kind of cute, and to watch her bicker with the guy she secretly likes (AND HE DOES TOO IF HE ONLY KNEW) is adorable. Also, hot kiss scene? Check. Of course, like all kdoramas, after episode 7 or 8 or so this devolves into Heartbreak-O-Rama featuring Angst City. And the end is kind of cheesy. But, hey, cheesiness is the reason we all watch "While you were sleeping" right around Christmas. What? *crickets* *cough*

Anyhow, I dare you to watch the main character a) being thoroughly lost while wearing an Afro wig b) being unwittingly celebrated on his birthday by the nun c) creating his own fan club, and not be thoroughly entertained. Also, this series makes fun of boy band fan fiction, which is awesome. The making fun of, not the boy band fan fiction, which, eww!

Also, fun fact: This series is very popular in all of Asia. Which sadly did lead to the main actor's ego going wild, claiming himself "Prince of Asia", and entering stages in a giant ridiculous Cinderella coach. No, not making this up. However, do not make the mistake of thinking he will be adorable in all his roles (please neither watch Mary Stayed out all Night nor the Korean version of You are my Pet if you are not looking for serious disappointment).

Due to its popularity, this series also spawned a Japanese remake which also should be avoided at all costs, as it stars the lead singer from Kismai, who is neither hot nor charming. Also, since it is half as long, it has none of the slow build-up of the original but feels like a "best-of" clip show replayed with mediocre actors.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gokusen (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Nerdy teacher really is a yakuza princess and helps her loser class by kicking ass. In three series. And a movie.

What do I say?
This actually is a must-watch, because it's so famous. Even if is totally formulaic: delinquent gets into trouble, Yankumi takes off glasses, beats down army of thugs, delinquent is instantly reformed. But nerdy Yankumi is cute and it basically stars more Johnny's than you can shake a stick at (if you like that sort of thing and why wouldn't you).

The first Gokusen is the best in that regard, as it stars MatsuJun as the main delinquent. MatsuJun, like he always does with the ladies, somehow manages to have oodles of chemistry with Yankumi. That led to a  romance plot being tacked onto the end of the show - in my opinion hastily rewritten after seeing the chemistry.

Alas, the plot never got anywhere as the Arashi train left the station right around that point and MatsuJun was swapped for Kamenashi Kazuya and Akanishi Jin in season 2. Who never have any chemistry at all with anybody. (Well, I guess that depends on how literal you want to get with 'chemistry', I guess, judging from the pictures that are circulating over the net). But anyhow, even so season 2 was kind of cute, too. Season 3 got somehow repetitive.

So go ahead and watch Season 1, and then, if you like the plot you can watch the others, too, as there will not be much change. Even so, I recommend fast forwarding every time you see Yankumi's father appearing.
First Kiss (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Stupid girl might die and before that happens she decides to annoy her brother she hasn't seen in a long time.


What do I say?
Sorry, I know a lot of people really like this, but I completely hated it. I usually love Inoue Mao, but her character was so grating that I actually started cheering for her illness. Her brother was the guy with the freakishly large head, and he also got on my nerves. He and his stupid roommate.

The whole thing was annoying and sappy. Sappily annoying if you will. This gets a huge "DONT" from me. Don't blame me if you do watch it. And I even watched all episodes (there are a couple of doramas where I quit watching after a few episodes. Not this one - I really tried!).
Dragon Zakura (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Losers want to get into Todai, Yankumi brilliant teacher helps them.


What do I say?
Don't look at me like that, I did not find this during a YamaPi spree, if you will believe it. I watched it for Masami Nagasawa - she seems to be Nino's girlfriend (from Arashi), and I read that everybody hated her. So I wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about. I actually later found out I had already seen her in the abominable "Kakushi Toride no San Akunin" where she joined everybody else in being terrible at acting, as well as in "Proposal Daisakusen", but it hadn't registered at the time. Notwithstanding, I actually quite liked her in Dragon Zakura.

OK, I admit I might have looked at YamaPi occasionally. There's also Teppei Koike, who's kind of cute in a quirky way. Also, Gakki, who I quite like. Oh, the plot? Well, it's pretty much the standard "Gokusen" fare with the added drawback that the teacher is a not-so-great mix between Yankumi and GTO. It got me wondering if it really was as easy to get into Todai as they made it seem! Kind of fun to watch, but not overly exciting.
Densha Otoko (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Nerdy guy saves a beautiful lady on a train and has no idea how to date her. His otaku friends help him via chat.

What do I say?
Allegedly a true story. A really famous jdorama, too, so kind of a must watch there. The story itself is indeed kind of cute, but the main character is really whiny which gets on your nerves after a couple of episodes. And  the girl looks way to old for him. On a side note, she has a fiance who is sold to us as "really good looking" but he's got that really weird beard and looks like he should wear a trenchcoat and lurk in dark alleys looking for unsuspecting school girls.

But I digress. On the plus side, the main theme by ELO is really catchy ("Twilight" - if you ever go to Tokyo, Akihabara, this will be blasting from speakers everywhere - otakus love their "Densha Otoko"). Also, it stars a couple of people before they became famous, like Oguri Shun, Hayami Mokomichi and Horikita Maki. Overall, OK to watch, but not brilliant.
Coffee Prince (WikiLink)

What's it about?
A girl adopts a boy's identity to work at a coffee shop and falls in love with the owner. Who has her pretend to be his gay lover to get his grandma off the idea of marrying him to various women. But then he falls in love with her (the girl who is pretending to be a boy, not his grandma). Which makes him depressed about his homosexuality. Will he overcome his predicament?

Seriously. That's the plot. It's excellent.

What do I say?
I really really really love this kdorama. The girl is really cute (even if she does look like a boy) and the coffee shop owner is appropriately macho, and they have excellent chemistry together. And there is just the right amount of will they - won't they, it's not endlessly dragged out like in other doramas I could mention (coughBoysOverFlowerscough). Plus, the coffee shop looks great and the other guys who work in the coffee shop are funny. There is a side story of a love triangle between the coffee shop owner, his cousin and the girl they both like(d) that drags a bit in places, but that doesn't really matter. Highly recommended, go and watch it right now.
Code Blue (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Flying doctors. Well, actually interns who want to get on the brand new shiny Doctor!Helicopter. But they are all stupid. Except for YamaPi, who is some kind of genius. But especially the girls. And that guy with the glasses.

What do I say?
OK, this pretty much tries to be "ER", but isn't really. I personally - but that might be my western world view - was totally annoyed by the fact that all the other characters (especially the girls) were whiny idiots, and that the YamaPi character couldn't do anything wrong. So all the episodes were like "Stupid idiot does stupid things and then YamaPi glares at them and saves the day". And the medical mysteries - "House" it ain't either; even I had been yelling "M√ľnchhausen syndrome" at the TV for some time when they recognized that one case. So a bit of lack of excitement, there.

Much has already been written in various places about how ridiculous the too young actors look as doctors, and about the bangs of Erika Toda and Gakki, so I'm not saying anything about that (even if I agree). But I liked the girls, overall, and I liked the guy with the glasses, and I liked the gruff Not!Dr Cox, and I liked YamaPi. Plus, I cried at the scene with his Grandma. So this gets an OK with a tendency towards the top of the OK list.

Stay away from the special, though, which promises a lot ("TRAIN ACCIDENT DEAD PEOPLE BLOOD") and does not really deliver. Which actually is the case with most jdorama specials. Well, not the promise of a train accident, but you get my drift.
Buzzer Beat (WikiLink)

What's it about?
Well, some would say it is about a basketball team and a couple of people who fall in and out of love. Another point of view is that it is about YamaPi playing basketball, and then showering. A lot. (Sometimes he's also in the bathtub, but who's picky?)

What do I say?
As I write this the dorama isn't finished yet (Pi fell victim to swine flu and the last episode will be broadcast next week), but I guess I've seen enough that I can say something about it. It's OK but a bit boring - there's not much happening other than the predictable people falling in love (maybe the last episode will surprise me and all will be different). The main characters always seem to be moping around, and the only person who couldn't be replaced by a cardboard cutout is the main girl's roommate.

Yes, girls, I am sorry, I like YamaPi, but if he's cast as the romantic lead he always has as much chemistry with the girl as a rock. A very uncharismatic rock. Maybe a rock with moss growing on its (impressive) pectorals. Compare that to MatsuJun who may very well be not!straight, but who would have chemistry with a wooden chair if he really had to.

I don't really know why that is - however, I once saw YamaPi in a talkshow where he was asked what he liked about girls. At first, he was somewhat at a loss, then he blurted out "Oppai!" (boobies). That's probably not a very method position to come from if you have to imagine yourself as a romantic lover. Maybe he'll get better (I suspect he has a girlfriend...after being treated to "I ate noodles/fish/burgers and then I went boxing" day after day on his nikki, we got "the weather is so nice and I love music, and we all should be shiny happy people" the other day for at least a week).

Back to the series at hand: Method, schmethod, YamaPi is nice to look at, and the love story is kind of cute, and I like the chainsmoking proseccodrinking "evil" Ueno Juri character and her diminuitive lover. So this gets an OK. Even if it stars that one guy from "First Kiss" with the freakish large head / hair.
Akihabara@DEEP (WikiLink)

What's it about?
A couple of otaku misfits (is that a pleonasm?) found a "detective agency" in Akihabara, and solve cases. Weird cases. And they all have secrets. Weird secrets.

What do I say?
I watched this in my Toma Ikuta phase right after watching HanaKimi. I adore Toma Ikuta, even though he can't act his way out of a paper bag. Even if this is one of his better efforts, this is not one of my favorite jdoramas, because it's mainly wacky and not very coherent. Plus, Toma Ikuta was not enough to make me get over my hate for the Duruma character. The wackiness is occasionally hilarious though, so if you like that, it's not a complete waste of time. At the bottom of the list, though.
I've decided to use this blog to write stuff about jdoramas (etcetera). Note that this is supposed to be for fun and games - if you disagree with anything I say, go ahead and leave a comment, but death threats or something like that will get your comment deleted. And I will laugh at you. Well, at the computer screen, but you get the picture.

I'm going in alphabetical order, by the way, not in order of preference. Suggestions are welcome, if you think I might have left out your favorite thing in the whole world.