Random Muttering 5/12/2015: Missin’ Masaki Okada

I miss Masaki Okada. I haven’t seen all his works and to be honest, inasmuch as I want to see more of him, most of the dramas he starred in are not my cup of tea. The only one I watched from start to finish is “Otomen” while the rest, I skipped episodes when I get bored. I was planning on watching “Honokaa Boy” and “Gravity’s Clowns” again but the real world needs me to accomplish tasks first so I just have to find some time later this week.

Though he was recognized in “Villain” and “Confessions,” Leo and Haru are the characters that stuck with me. I loved him as Takuma in “I Give My First Love to You” as well but that movie is just so sad.

I hope that I could see more of him soon. =)

Summer classes are about to end. Yey!

I am so excited to hit the beach before the summer ends. Woohoo!

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Halfway Thoughts: Mondai no Aru Restaurant

With a cast that includes the likes of Yoko Maki, Masahiro Higashide, Fumi Nikaido and Masaki Suda, it was hard to ignore. From the title I thought this is going to be about cooking like the KDrama “Pasta” or “Gourmet.” But it was something else and so far I am liking it.

The series opened with a group of people looking for Tamako Tanaka (Yoko Maki) in a run down rooftop. Each one telling how they met her and why they are there. In the course of their conversation, it was revealed that one of Tamako’s friend suffered an injustice from the company she is currently working for. It was also shown that the said company was dominated by males who sees women as inferior and sex objects. Tamako, infuriated by what happened to her friend took revenge on all the men who harassed her and was arrested. Bailed out, she decided to resign from the company and open her own restaurant with the women gathered there.

The next episodes focused on each of the characters. A divorced woman seeking custody of her child, a daughter wanting to be with her mother again, a university graduate who has her share of insecurities and a lady who let men do what they like to her for fear of ruffling feathers. Each script was well written, the characters are multi-dimensional and the degree of reality is high.

Somehow, even if they live in a different part of the world, we can find common things in our society. I can name a few Yumi Nitta’s (Fumi Nikaido), Airi Kawana’s (Mitsuki Takahata) and Kyoko Morimura’s (Asami Usuda). I’ve met them, interacted with them and even tried to be a Tamako for them. This is what kept me glued to this drama.

I hope to get to know more of the rest so I am looking forward to the next episodes. =)

JMovie: Bokura Ga Ita (We Were There) Parts 1 and 2 – My Take

Bokura Ga Ita (We Were There) is a Japanese romance movie based on a manga with the same title. It tells the story of a couple who met and fell in love in high school, their personal journeys and the trials they have to face. It was shown in two parts and I watched both, one after the other.

In Part 1, it showed how the Nanami Takahashi (Yuriko Yoshitaka) and Motoharu Yano (Toma Ikuta) met and fell in love. Yano’s ex girlfriend died in a car accident, Nanami fell in love with him only to realize how strong the past has affected him. Eventually he had learned to let go and love her fully. Until Yano’s mother’s decision to move to Tokyo separated them. At the end of part 1, it was revealed that the time when Nanami sent him off at the train station was the last time she saw him.

In Part 2, it was revealed that they have continued their relationship and remained in touch for six months after Yano moved to Tokyo. A lot of things happened during that time which led to their separation. In Nanami’s own words, “his problems were even bigger than him.” Six years have passed before they met again and with all the circumstances, were they able to go back to each other?

When I watched this film, I was expecting another run-of-the-mill love story. It was actually, in more ways than one. What I did not expect was to meet two unforgettable characters who grew up as the movie progressed and how I wanted them to be with one another no matter what.

Nanami was the class president and at the beginning of the film was shown to be not so smart. But she works hard and tries to help anyone who seems to need it. She’s not perfect and though she loves Yano wholeheartedly, she did not depend on him nor did she become pushy. Even when they were apart, she continued to study hard and live normally.

Yano was the most popular boy in school. Wounded in so many ways – an ex he thought cheated on him, a mother who had her to spite his father’s wife – but it doesn’t show. People around him are drawn to him as Nanami described him. He was a noble idiot because he believed that Nanami was strong enough to handle things.

I wanted them to be together because I wanted them to be happy. Nanami deserves it, Yano too. They both spent much time for others and they are the reward for one another.

Some of my favorite scenes were:

They had a misunderstanding and Nanami and they made up.

Yano lying and telling Nanami that he found someone else. My chest is tightening and I want to slap Yano and shout “Baka!” in his face.

bgi 1They spent a day around Tokyo and said goodbye. Hand me more tissue please.

Kudos to the filmmakers and to the actors. Part of the love I have for this movie were Yuriko Yoshitaka’s and Toma Ikuta’s acting. In part 1, they made me smile and go aaww, teen romances are just so heart fluttering. In part 2, both of them are smiling and laughing with their friends but you can see the sadness and pain in the corner of their eyes and you just want to reach out and tell them that it’s going to be okay.

“We Were There” is a good one. Simple yet realistic story and easy to relate to. The cast was good and the characters are loveable. It made me believe once again in that one great love. Oh well, that was too grand. (But I sincerely believe that right now. =))

JMovie: LD-K (2014)

My disappointment over my long weekend being cut short led me to LD-K. It is a high school romance movie based on a manga and stars Ayame Gouriki and Kento Yamazaki. I was looking for something light and scream worthy and I was not disappointed.

Aoi Nishimori (Gouriki) is a typical high school student living away from her family due to some reason. Shusei Kugayama (Yamazaki) is a transfer student, a hearth throb and her best friend Moe’s (Rei Okamoto) crush. Turns out Shusei is living alone like Aoi and (surprise!) they are neighbors. Due to some accident, Shusei’s unit is not liveable so he moves in (surprise again!) to Aoi’s room. Eventually, (tadaa) they grew to like each other which both of them try to deny at first. Until such time they admitted that they really do like each other.

Okay so it was a stereotypical teen love story. Cohabitation is also not new to the said genre. The conflicts were common too like an ex who can’t move on and a guy who stays just because of some promise. But what made me stay for 113 minutes? Kento Yamazaki! Something in me just feels gooey when I look at him. He was able to convey the quiet, sometimes arrogant, a bit of a tease yet cold Shusei. All he needed to do was stand there and work with those eyes (okay fine! take his shirt off too).

Overall, LD-K is not bad. It’s something to watch if you’re in that I-want-to-feel-like-a-highschool-girl mood. You can skip some of Gouriki’s scenes and just focus on Yamazaki and stop yourself from screaming.

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Random Muttering 1/18/2015 – Why I Prefer Romantic Comedies

Romantic comedies are my cup of tea. Light and funny ways of relating love stories are much preferable than heavy dramatic (and sometimes even dark) ones.

Some people think I am shallow and this I will not deny. I watch TV and movies and read novels to entertain myself, why do I need to do deep thinking and waste my neurons? Besides, I deal with a lot of intellectually challenging decisions and dramatic situations in real life. Give me a break.

I watch serious films too and I can appreciate them. There are dark films that disturbed me and left me pondering about them for days. It was a good experience, to learn and grow through those films but nevertheless, I would still choose something that would make me feel good and giddy even for a short while. It’s like choosing candy over vegetables.

I believe in the statement “to each his own.” Go and nibble on your carrot sticks and just let me lick my chocolate covered lollipop.

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Japanese Actors: My Personal Favorites

Japanese doramas and movies are not as popular as Korean ones. I have only started watching them a few years ago. I was hesitant at first because I had the impression that they are either weird or outrageously wacky but I was wrong. There are normal ones too and as I discover and enjoy more of them, I developed biases for certain actors and their works.

And as I grow to admire these men, my appreciation for the weird, wacky and even dark films improved. I’m not as disappointed as I was before for unhappy endings. I guess I am growing up as a TV and movie fan.

This is a list of my favorite Japanese actors, why I love them, which of their works I enjoyed. I haven’t explored all of their projects but the ones I watched have left me with a lasting impression.

  1. Shun Oguri – His fans have labeled him as a chameleon and rightfully so. He can be the dreamy second lead (Hanayori Dango), an eccentric, childlike CEO (Rich Man, Poor Woman), a teenager full of angst (Crows Zero), shy and hesitant director (The Woodsman and the Rain) and so on. I just find it funny that at 30 (and a father), he played a high school student in Nobunaga Concerto. Still, he managed to deliver what is expected and that is what I call talent.

2. Eita – With his unruly hair, I thought that Eita is one of those outlandish actors. When I watched his works (Nodame Cantabile, Hard to Say I Love You, All About My Siblings, Monsters Club, Hara-Kiri Death of a Samurai), I understood why he has starred in a lot of films and doramas. He can make you laugh, cry and sympathize with his characters.

3. Okada Masaki – Such a pretty, pretty man – he is even prettier than some of his leading ladies. He also looks so young that even at the age of 25, he still play high school roles! He is such a sweetheart in “I Give My First Love to You,” “Halfway,” and “Honokaa Boy.” He can also be dark and vulnerable like in “Gravity’s Clowns” and “Life Back Then.” And a big pain in the you- know- where like in “Confessions,” “Villain,” and “Apology King.”

4. Satoshi Tsumabuki – The Exceedingly Handsome Guy in “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.” His acting in “Villain” has been recognized by Award Giving Bodies as well as in “Josee, The Tiger and The Fish.” I also enjoyed his performances in “Tears for You” and “The World of Kanako” as well as in the TV Drama “All About My Siblings.”

5. Shota Sometani – An award winning actor at such a young age, I can’t help but admire this guy. Many of his films that I watched are dark and gloomy such as “A Liar and A Broken Girl,” Himizu,” “Life Back Then,” “Lesson of The Evil” and “The Snow White Murder Case.” It was quite refreshing to watch him in a light yet meaningful film like “Wood Job!”

6. Keisuke Koide – He often plays supporting roles but he always makes a good impression (Parade, Koizora, Nodame Cantabile, Gokusen). Even so, Keisuke Koide showed that he is also good at playing lead like “Surely Someday” and “Cyborg She.”

7. Jun Matsumoto – Matsujun may not be as drop-dead-gorgeous as his Korean and Taiwanese counterparts in “Hana Yori Dango” but I daresay that he is the best of them. He is the type who does not look handsome at first glance but once he starts acting, you can see his appeal. He is one of the few idols who can act. I watched him in TV dramas “Shitsuren Chocolatier,” “Lucky Seven,” and “Smile” and the movie “The Girl in the Sunny Place.”

8. Kazuya Kamenashi – “Perfect Girl Evolution” is the first dorama that I watched. Like Matsujun, Kame is the type who gets attractive once he is in character. Apart from the mentioned dorama, I enjoyed his performance in “Nobuta Wo Produce” and “Gokusen 2.”

9. Takeru Sato – I sometimes confuse him with Kame. He is Kenshin Himura, my favorite samurai. He impressed me with his action in Rourouni Kenshin and he made me fall in love in “Beck” and “The Liar and His Lover.”

10. Haruma Miura – I first watched him in Gokusen 3 which was shown in 2008, it’s been almost seven years and I think he still looks the same. I liked him in “Koizora,” “From Me to You,” and “Tokyo Kouen.”

Have you watched Japanese movies and dramas and discovered these fine young actors? Who do you think is the best?

Revisited: Bandage (2010 Japanese Film)

“Bandage” is a Japanese film shown five years ago. I remember checking it out after watching “Anego” and being all crazy for Jin Akanishi. Unfortunately, I was turned off by the shaky camera, thinking that the copy I found was not a good one. It took me some time before I sat down and finished it.

The movie was set in the nineties and it revolved around the indie rock band LANDS. Asako (Kie Kitano) is a high school student who became an instant fan of the band when a friend introduced them. She and the said friend watched their concert and managed to sneak backstage. Asako was hoping to get a close look at her crush, the lead guitarist Yukiya (Kengo Kora), but was noticed by the lead singer Natsu (Jin Akanishi). As Asako hangs out with the band, she became their sub manager for a while and becomes a witness to their rise to fame and all the conflicts that they encountered.

I consider the 90’s my time and just like in Japan, here in my country, alternative rock bands were on the rise during that time. In spite of the blurry story line, I held on because it touched some personal strings in me. However, there are some things that I don’t get like why did the band think that Natsu’s so called relationship with Asako is ruining the band. In the first place, were they really dating because as far as I can understand, she is an assistant manager and they rarely spend time alone together.

I understand the ending. It was hanging but logic tells me that it was a happy one. But then, it was disappointing because I was waiting for a much more heart fluttering and emotional one.

So why should you watch this movie? The characters are likeable though a bit lacking in dimension. The music is good, the acting as well. And of course, Jin Akanishi – even with unruly hair and dugyot clothes – who makes you want to hug him at every scene and say, “I’m here.”