Just Watched: Watashi Kekkon Dekinainjanakute, Shinain Desu

I have yet to watch the ending of “Watashi Kekkon Dekinainjanakute, Shinain Desu” (It’s not that I can’t Marry but I don’t want to), a Japanese drama that tells the story of a thirty-nine year old single, successful doctor.  I have an idea how it would end and somehow, I expected it to go into that direction.

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Watching Miyabi Tachibana’s (Miki Nakatani) quest for Mr. Right was an entertaining experience. The story of her first love Yousuke Sakurai (Yoshimi Tokui) and her younger boyfriend Ryotaro Hashimoto (Koji Seto) were engaging and her banters with her mentor Seiji Tokura (Naohito Fujiki) were fun. Plot wise, it was something I have watched from different dramas (clichés included) but it was woven nicely that it has a charm on its own.

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Personally, I watched this drama because I could relate to the protagonist, a single, working woman in her late 30’s. Although living life successfully, people think that she is not complete just because she’s unmarried. When one reaches this age, society expects that you already married or at least in a relationship with someone. Some even consider this the last stage, the last chance if one still wants to have his or her own family. The pressure though is double on women because of that biological clock that they need to catch up to. I have experienced and heard from single friends stories of relatives persistently asking “why are you not married yet?” or “when are you getting married?” I have come with a dozen answers ranging from honest to sarcastic ones and I even used the title once or twice.

I have learned two important things upon watching this. First, self help books, relationship books or whatever you call those books that teach one how to get the ideal partner are useless. There is no guarantee that what worked for others will work for you because we are dealing with different people – different people with different values, personalities, upbringing, etc.  Like when Miyabi used that book on her first date with Sakurai and it ended badly, those tips might have worked for others. Sakurai is just not the type of guy.

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Second, some things are really just meant to be. Sakurai and Tachibana had their chances in high school but things went wrong. They met again when they were adults and for a couple of times almost got there but things happened. So as they say, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.

 

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Two old friends meet again…wearing older faces – that smile you have when you see someone you loved one-sidedly after a long time

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two old sweethearts, who fell apart somewhere long ago

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Maybe this time… it will be lovin’ they’ll find

As I said I haven’t watched the ending yet and I still don’t know who will end up with who. I still can’t say if I am satisfied with how they wrapped it up but one episode short I can say that it’s a worthwhile watch especially when I see this guy’s smile.

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everything else seems dim in comparison

Enoshima Prism (2013) – My Take

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Enoshima Prism is a 2013 Japanese film which stars Sota Fukushi, Shuhei Nomura and Tsubasa Honda. The three leads play childhood friends who are inseparable until Saku (Nomura) died due to his heart illness. On his second year death anniversary, his friend Shuta (Fukushi) discovered a watch which took him back in time, a day before Saku’s death. Shuta then resolved to prevent his death and change their destiny.

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Time travel is a favorite topic in fiction. Perhaps because some people want to change their pasts while others want to see their future and there are those who are just fascinated with the concept of watching history unfold. But what endeared this film to me was Shuta’s choice that led to this film’s poignant ending.

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Losing a friend is never easy. Shuta’s choice is painful, but it just showed how much he loved his friend. If I were given the same option, I would have done the same. It would be enough for me to be assured that he would live a long and full life even if it means I am and was not a part of it.

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This is why I believe in parallel universes. I would like to believe that he is happy and alive and living la vida loca somewhere else. RIP Ted. =)  mwah! mwah!

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BTW,  my favorite character has got to be Kyoko (Honoka Miki) – the loneliest among them.

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Norwegian Wood: My Second Look

Haruki Murakami is a recent discovery. I have read only two of his novels because to be honest, his books are rare to absent in second hand bookstores and the new ones are quite pricey in this country. Reading is one thing I enjoy doing but I have a ceiling price for books. Anyway, that is another story.

Norwegian Wood is the first Murakami novel I read and enjoyed. It was one of those books that leave one pondering even days after turning the last page for different reasons. Some find the characters relate-able, others abhor them. Personally, a lot of emotions were stirred in me because like Watanabe, I have a friend who took his own life.

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The film adaptation was directed Tran Anh Hung and stars three of my favorite actors – Kenichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara. It was a slow moving but beautifully shot film that run for 128 minutes.

Watanabe (Kenichi Matsuyama) and Naoko (Rinko Kikuchi) shared the pain of losing Kazuki (Kengo Kora). He was his best friend and she his girlfriend. On her twentieth birthday, they slept with each other and not long after, Naoko had to move to an asylum due to her depression. In between visits to Naoko, Watanabe hangs out and gets attracted to Midori (Kiko Mizuhara) – a typical college girl who has issues of her own.

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Overall, the visuals were really beautiful. There were some shots which were a tad too dark and some scenes which were too quiet but they highlighted the inner turmoil the characters experienced. Set in the 60’s the fashion, the feel were delightfully captured. The countryside settings were just a feast for the eyes. The actors, as expected, delivered. I would love to have Kenichi Matsuyama look at me that way.  (Sorry that’s the fan girl speaking).

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I don’t know if they were done for the sake of symbolism but I just don’t feel right about those scenes they did too much walking. I know Watanabe and Naoko walked a lot but Matsuyama and Kikuchi are almost running that I can almost hear them catching their breaths and sometimes I think I can almost spot a bead or two of sweat on their foreheads.

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Another concern was Reiko’s character. I liked her in the book but I guess the screenwriter thought differently. I was okay with them not showing her back story, it can do without it. However, if I remember it right, she was close to Watanabe. They exchanged a few good stories and had light conversations with Naoko around. In the film, the friendship was not established so it appeared that she just asked for sex out of the blue, like some sex starved weirdo. In my opinion, that part was essential because sometimes when people share grief, they tend to hold on to the nearest person and sex is a way of expressing that. Like what happened with Naoko and Watanabe, if I interpret it correctly, Reiko and Watanabe had similar circumstances. It just feels like an injustice is done to a likeable character.

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Some of those who read the book were not really satisfied with the film. However, I believe that reading the book and watching the movie are different experiences. Tran Anh Hung showcased a visually arresting story on the screen while Haruki Murakami gave us a coming of age/love story with magical words. I could say that I enjoyed both to a different degree. Norwegian Wood will be one of those favorites that I will forget but easily remember with the right flash bulbs.

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Kaseifu no Mita (2011) – My Thoughts

When looking for a new drama/series/movie to watch, I usually look for romcoms, those with a school setting or coming of age ones. I rarely look at family dramas because they tend to make cry too much. Sometimes, even if I love the cast, I can’t get myself to finish an episode.

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From somewhere in the web, I read about how popular “Kaseifu no Mita” in 2011. Curiosity took hold me so I checked it out, not really having much expectation since the plot is quite simple. A family who recently lost its mother hired a housekeeper who will eventually help them get closer and resolve issues even without directly advising them.

Mita Akari (Nanako Matsushima) is the housekeeper. She is actually an ideal housekeeper – she does housework perfectly, has a bag of things that are needed (like Hermione’s bag), can cook well and is not a blabbermouth. She can do almost anything, even play basketball or answer a difficult math problem. She does almost everything asked of her, as long as it is within her ability, and that includes even killing someone (or even herself).

However, she doesn’t show a hint of emotion, almost never blinks and moves like a robot. ). I think if she was a real person, she would have been admitted to a mental institution a long time ago. She didn’t even flinch when one of the kids and even grandpa hit her on the face and when she picked up a tin can from a fire. I have to give it to Nanako Matsushima. She made Mita likeable, mechanical as she may look like, she still felt human (though really…uncanny). As a viewer, I cannot really blame the Atsuda kids from wanting to get to know her better.

The Atsudas are like any other family in the sense that they are a picture of an ideal one but are dealing with problems of their own. The father, Asuda Keiichi (Hasegawa Hiroki), is one confused loser who had an affair and led her wife to suicide. I cannot get myself to like him not because of my personal issues with cheaters but more so because of being a coward who cannot face the consequences of his mistakes. Though he redeemed himself towards the end, it still is hard to trust a father like that.

The kids – Yui (Shiori Katsuna), Kakeru (Taishi Nakagawa), Kaito (Shuto Ayabe) and Kii (Miyu Honda) are all adorable and not like the kids in other dramas that talk and act like dysfunctional adults. The aunt, Urara (Aibu Saki) was irritating as heck but she served her purpose.

“Kaisefu no Mita” tackled issues like bullying, adultery, parenting and forgiveness. There were a lot of teary moments but not the cry-your-eyes-out type. Some funny scenes are inserted and it does not look forced or contrived. There were instances that will let you go WTF- is-happening-here but it is a drama after all. To sum it up, it was an easy watching experience, not much emotional roller coaster and personally, it put a smile on my face when it’s over.

Random Muttering 7/9/2015: Floods, First Impressions: “Death Note” and “Oh My Ghost!”

It’s the typhoon season once again and while I welcome the lower temperature and the vacation due to class suspensions, I am a bit edgy due to waters rising. Last I checked the Marikina River is down to 13.9 m so I can relax a little. I have been checking the nearby drainage since last night because in my experience, once the water reaches the road, wait a few minutes and it will be inside our house. Darn climate change!

Just watched the first episode of “Death Note.” I must say I’m impressed, it was worth the hype. The thing is my only background on this was the 2006 movie. Compared to that, I have more sympathy for Light Yagami in this series. Perhaps because there were more motivations for his character that was shown unlike in the movie where I thought he was just this conceited kid who thinks he knows better. Masataka Kubota keeps impressing me – the facial expressions, the gestures. Kento Yamazaki as L is doing a great job and many fans (including myself) are raving about his performance. I love the manliner, the hair could have been better but he’s still hot. I can’t wait for the next episode!

I also began watching “Oh My Ghost!” starring no less than Park Bo-young (who IMO, is one of the best actresses of her generation along with Shim Eun-kyung). She made me care for the boring Na Bong-sun and she made me laugh as Shin Soo-ae.

Should I start watching “Game of Thrones”? I am four years late. hmmm…

JW: As The Gods Will (2014)

The first week of classes is over! After weeks of preparation, I met my new kids and I am quite excited to spend the next ten months with them. It would be busier than ever but right now, I leave my worries for tomorrow because I am just so glad that I was finally able to find time to just sit back and enjoy a film and even write a little something. Though this is not what I normally watch, I can’t say that I did not enjoy it. Here’s my two cents on Takashi Miike’s As The Gods Will. =)

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The Darwinian Theory has inspired a lot of death game films such as Saw, The Hunger Games and Battle Royale. Though they differ from one movie to another, most involve an evil or just plainly insane game master, a group of players – usually innocent people, a controlled environment and lots and lots of gore. Takashi Miike’s “As The Gods Will” is another one of these death game films.

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Takashi is well-known for making films that has a lot of blood-spluttering action. Less than five minutes into the film and he delivered what his followers expect, blood and more of it. Let me make it clear that I don’t enjoy violence and I am the type to giggle over flowers, butterflies and anything cute and fluffy. The opening scene would have been enough to turn me off; however, it made me want to see more. This talking doll-head (called Daruma) is playing stop-go. The class can move when it is turned away and when it faces everyone, anyone who is not standing still can say bye bye to their heads.  The game stopped only when Shun Takahata (Sota Fukushi) was able to press the button behind the head and he was the only one who survived.

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Survivors from other classrooms gather and played another survival game. This time, they wore mouse costumes and their goal is to shoot a bell in the hoop around a giant cat’s neck. You know that cat displayed in Chinese stores, the cute waving one. Along with Shun, his schoolmates Ichika (Hirona Yamazaki) and Amaya (Ryunosuke Kamiki) survived.

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They were then transferred to a giant cube where they meet other players. Then we learn that these cubes also appeared in other parts of the world and their adventures are televised for the world to see.

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They played more games with cute toys like those dolls that look like rolling pins (kokeshi dolls), a surfing polar bear, and those dolls with dolls inside (matryoshka dolls). All along, the kids do not know why in the world they have to fight. All they can think of is survival.

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Though Fukushi’s surprised look gave me an almost Kris-Aquino-horror-movie experience, Kamiki’s Amaya gave me the creeps with that evil (almost insane) glint in his eyes.  The bloody parts were tolerable, my eyes were open all the while but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a few ughs and eews. It was generally entertaining, like watching someone play a video game. It has that certain “angas” that I am looking for in these types of film.

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Just don’t take it seriously, there’s no need to dig too deep.

Currently Watching: Bits and Pieces of Asian Dramas

Most drama watchers will agree that after watching a good series, the next problem will be what to watch next. There are seasons that nothing seems good and there are seasons when everything seems worth checking out. I recently started watching a few Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese series and here are some of my midway thoughts and first impressions.

Korean Dramas

1. Divorce Lawyers in Love
After “Marriage, Not Dating” I wanted to see more of Yeon Woo-jin, thus I checked this out. He stars opposite Cho Yeo-Jong. She was a feisty divorce lawyer and he was her office manager and things happened so their situations were reversed. A strong woman and a nice guy dynamic, it got me watching. However, the chemistry between the leads seems to go on and off. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not.

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2. Warm and Cozy
A Hong Sisters’ drama which stars two promising young actors, how could I resist? Previously titled Jeju Island Gatsby, the first two episodes are still hazy but basically the plot is about two young people from the city who will try to live and settle in Jeju Island. Since it’s the team that made “The Greatest Love,” I am sure it will be good.

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3. The Producers

Gong Hyo-jin, Cha Tae-hyun and Kim Soo-Hyun – I’m sold! I don’t even care what it will be about because the cast was enough. The good part is, it’s also entertaining and interesting. GHJ and CTH are veteran PD’s of the variety department of KBS while KSH is a rookie PD. It is presented mockumentary style ala “The Office.”

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Japanese Dramas
1. Fuben na Benriya

I really, really miss Masaki Okada so I had to check this out. I kinda feel dumb because I don’t get what this show is trying to say and I feel shallow for LOLing at almost every scene. My favorite is the one in the hospital. When the leads found a guy frozen in the snow wearing Jun’s jacket, they brought him to the hospital. When they heard he is safe, everyone started cheering. A nurse came out to shush them, they stopped then continued to cheer without voices and I was ROTFL. The absurdity of the situations just got me cracking and I can’t stop watching.

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2. Tenno no Ryoriban

Takeru Satoh plays the role of Tokuzo Akiyama, a restless young man who would later become the Emperor’s chef. All those yummy looking food are making me hungry, though the focus is of course on Akiyama’s journey. Toshiko (Haru Kuroki), Akiyama’s wife, is my favorite character so far.

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Taiwanese Drama

1. In Time, With You
And since my all time favorite Korean actress, Ha Ji-won, will be doing a remake of this Taiwanese Drama, I also checked out “In Time with You” which aired in Taiwan in 2011. It stars Ariel Lin (It Started with a Kiss 1 and 2) and Bolin Chen, who I only remembered from two Japanese films “Sugar and Spice” and “All About Love.” It has only 13 episodes which run for about an hour and a half. I am getting a little impatient and fighting the urge to skip to the ending. It’s a story of two people who friend-zoned each other even if everyone around them sees that they are perfect for one another. Even they see it, but both deny having feelings and even made a bet who will get married first before they reach thirty-five. So far, I like the character dynamics. The plot is something many modern-day singles can relate to.

itwy1I am crossing my fingers that all these series will turn out good and I wouldn’t have to drop anything in the middle. And I sincerely hope that there will be more promising and interesting ones to come. =)