Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Upcoming J Dramas in Winter 2008

My watch list for January till March

D-Addicts list of upcoming dramas for the new season

Remember in Japan the year's seasons are Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. So 2008 will start with Winter!

This line up may change depending on what I can get subtitles for :)

The layout of the list is title, genre then on to the leading actors (and some of the other series they have starred in).

Some of these are recommendations - while others of actors I am not familiar with - doesn't hurt to try new faces?

Bara no nai Hanaya, Human Drama
Katori Shingo (saiyuuki), Takeuchi Yuko (Lunch Queen, Style)

Hachimistu to Clover (Honey and Clover), Friendship & Romance
Narumi Riko (ruri no shima), Ikuta Toma (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, Akihabara@DEEP)

Saito-san, Comedy
Mizuki Arisa, Mimura

Binbo Danshi, Comedy
Oguri Shun (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e)

Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi, Comedy
Tamaki Hiroshi (Nodame Cantabile), Ayase Haruka (Hotaru no Hikari)

Daisuki!!, Human Drama
Karina (Bambino), Hiraoka Yuta (First Kiss)

Mirai Koshi Meguru, Comedy
Fukada Kyoko (Strawberry on the Shortcake, Yama Onna Kabe Onna)

Atsu-hime, Retro
Miyazaki Aoi

Sasaki Fusai no Jingi Naki Tatakai, Comedy
Inagaki Goro, Koyuki

Nodame Cantabile Special
Ueno Juri, Tamaki Hiroshi

I will update my google notebook with a list of soft subs as soon as the ball gets rolling! Thanks!


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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dream Again - J Drama Review

Finally finished a drama from the current season - worth the wait!

Dream Again 10

Read my preview of the series

About Kato Ai in this drama

Wiki entry @ D-addicts


Sorimachi Takashi (GTO) stars as Ogi Shunsuke & Asahina Takaya:Dream Again 01 2

Kato Ai (IWGP) as Ninomiya Satsuki:Dream Again 01 4

Shida Mirai (14 Sai no Haha) as Fujimoto Hina:Dream Again 01 3

Aota Noriko as Ushiyama Momoko:

Miyake Hiroki as Kumada Tsunehito: Dream Again 01 1

Watanabe Tetsu as Maeda Kenzo

Suga Takamasa as Hishinuma Tsukasa

"Ogi is a baseball home run hero for the Giants but is forced to retire due to a shoulder injury, but years later he has been busy with other jobs and retraining in the hope of a dream comeback into baseball.

But a sudden accident claims his life but he gets a 2nd chance but only in the body of another man! The show follows the man as he tries to get by with his daily life as a wealthy fund company manager but still trying to realise his dream of playing baseball again in his new body." Taken straight from the preview.

This series is classed more as a sports/human drama - it has subtle blends of family,sports,romance and human drama mixed in.

The opening episode is really well set up for viewers - the plot is something new and fresh as are the cast.

Shunsuke's fool hardy approach to try juggling work at the Asahina company and train to become a pro baseball player again wins him many fans from employees to his daughter - and Mirai does a sterling job as Hina, more on that later.

Shunsuke gets close to fulfilling his dream of pro baseball but at a price, Hina has been hiding her heart condition hoping she can live out her last few months in a family and she is in a critical condition on her 2nd heart attack.

Shunsuke passes the pro baseball test as he promised with Hina but she is not recovering, in an act of love and desperation he pleads with Tanaka (Kodama Kiyoshi) who is like the angel looking over Shunsuke to swap his life for hers - take his life in exchange for her to survive and live on.

At the last moments Satsuki learns from the coach Kenzo (Watanabe Tetsu) that he is going to trade his life with Hina's, teary moments ensue and Shunsuke says that chasing his dream was more important than making it reality, he regrets not being able to make her happy with his own hands.

The fact that Asahina starts to fall for Satsuki again mid way through the series and she starts to see more of Shunsuke in him adds complexity - because Shunsuke cannot reveal his true identity directly to anyone or risks losing his new body completely!

He dies and Hina comes back to life from the brink of death - no Shunsuke is cheering her on from the afterlife. Tanaka has seen a massive changing in Shunsuke and throws a spanner in the works by sending us back to the beginning of the show!

Now Ogi Shunsuke is alive and reconciles with Satsuki, and the past plays out differently - Shunsuke gets back to pro baseball, Kenzo gets to go out with Kayo, and Mirai is alive and living with the real Asahina who looks to be more mellow now.

For the whole of the last episode I knew he was going to swap his life for Hina but I thought there might be a minor chance of something stopping it - like Tanaka saying he was just testing him! But I truly didn't expect it to all rewind to the start!

I was really moved by Mirai's performance in the episode when she is on the verge of trying to end her life because she has no future thanks to her heart condition, while Kato was in a real wreck emotionally because she kept being dropped hints that Asahina was in fact Shunsuke, but when she overhears Shunsuke talking to Tanaka she is broken to hear that he is Ogi Shunsuke, and likewise when he is going to die she is a wreck too. You begin to feel for her as it must be an emotional rollercoaster ride!

Takashi plays his role well, sometimes he is a bit naive or arrogant - a reflection of the old Ogi Shunsuke, and is rather cold emotionally but you warm to his baseball related antics and his constant attempts to understand the stock market!

This drama didn't get high rankings in Japan but with massive amount of air time dedicated to these actors I was well satisfied with their performances and am looking for more from them in the future.

This is a really enjoyable and satisfactory watch especially during the cold winter evenings! I will give this a 7 out of 10 because of the great cast otherwise it would be a 6.5.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Joundan Janai - J Drama Review

A fun filled family comedy with a twist.

joudan janai ep 11

Wiki entry @ D-Addicts

Read my summary for a brief introduction.

Oda Yuji (Odoru Daisousasen, Last Christmas) stars as Takamura Keita and his young wife Ellen (Ueno Juri - Nadame Cantabile) along with Ellen's Mum and Keita's ex girlfriend Hirose Rei (Ohtake Shinobu).

Having finished watched the older Nodame Cantabile I find Ueno Juri has matured massively from her previous role but still retains that loli kawaii look and those cute gestures making her a much better all round actress.

Oda Yuji is of course superb as usual and is solid throughout the series.

There are plenty of love triangles or other love interests but notably is Hirose Rei and Nonomura Saeko (Iijima Naoko) but Saeko stands out a lot and is a pretty powerful and attractive presence despite her age (39).

Towards the end of the series the comedy is a bit thin while they try to make head ways with the plot. But it all comes together in the end and ends pretty well, although I was disappointed by the wishy washy attitude of Ellen - possibly over emphasising her young age.

I would certainly recommend a look at this series and I would rate it a modest 7 out of 10.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Smallville Season 7 episode 9 Summary

The messy filler like episode...

smallville s7ep9

Seems Clark disappeared for 2 days at the end of the last episode and now he is back and wants Lana to open up and reveal everything she has on Lex and project Psion. Meanwhile the bulk of this episode is made up of badly written and badly acted story of a stalker who contacts Louis forcing her to write his story about Luthorcorp, threatening her that if she fails to cooperate he will kill Chloe.

The story that he is trying to expose was that he was a clone made in Lex's labs and he was an inferior specimen (since he is rapidly aging), but when Louis confronts the Chief Editor (Grant or Julian) we discover that both this stalker and Grant are clones.

Clark saves Chloe from the bomb in her purse and she exposes her truth about her meteor powers to Jimmy and even demonstrates her healing powers to him.

We hear again how Milton Find is probably back thanks to the liquid in the last two episodes. But more serious is that fact the Clark in this episode was bizarro Clark while the real Clark is still imprisoned in the Fortress!

Smallville will be on the writer's strike and will be off till Jan 08 somepoint.

This episode didn't get me excited much, just that scene at the end (see picture) was the highlight.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Naruto Shippuuden 39 - Summary

The Hell Happened here?

naruto shippuuden 39

Sai scopes out the meeting point in advanced to make sure it wasn't an Akatsuki ambush and then Yamato uses a wood element based transformation to mimic Sasori and uses Sakura's help to imitate his voice.

The Akatsuki spy was none other than Orochimaru's right hand spy Kabuto! Seems as though Sasori had put a spell on him and sent him to Orochimaru.

Amazingly Orochimaru appears on the scene and Kabuto turns against Sasori and Yamato has to reveal himself as he tries to escape Orochimaru's attacks.

He has seen through Yamato's plans and asks him to call the three "rats" he has hiding, Yamato gives the signal and Sakura, Naruto and Sai jump in.

Orochimaru is pleased to see Sakura and Naruto again and feels he can have some fun here, taunting Naruto asking him if he has improved more than Sasuke.

The animation was so much better than the last 4-5 episodes and I hope it stays that way for the duration of the series.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bleach 151-152 Summary

We get some Bankai Action!

bleach 152

Ichigo engages in his fight with Fallen Espada Dordonii, who makes light work of Ichigo when he releases his Zanpakutou and wants Ichigo to release his Bankai and fight him at full strength.

It's only when Nel gets sucked into the fight does Ichigo release his Bankai and then Dordonii attacks Nel some more to get him to unleash his hollow powers.

Ichigo wants that he will only see it for a second and it proves right when he beats him with only one hit.

They try to help the downed Dordonii with Nel's healing spit (lol) but Dordonii only gets ready to fight back.

Nice to see just pure fighting for most of this episode even if it was just Ichigo getting whacked around!


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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mop Girl - J Drama Summary

A Kawaii new star in this funny but cute comedy.

mop girl ep2

Wiki Entry @

Review at (possible spoilers)

"Kitagawa plays the part of the slow but hardworking Momoko, a low-ranking employee at a funeral services company who carries a mop as part of her job. However, Momoko happens to possess a strange ability. Whenever she comes across the corpse of someone who has left strong feelings behind, she travels back in time to save that person from his or her fate".

Pretty new to the Japan Drama scene is model Kitagawa Keiko who plays Hasegawa Momoko a slow but energetic young woman who gets demoted from a Wedding planner company to a funeral one and now is part of a team who clean up murder scenes after the police have checked the scene.

Keiko is almost like a younger more rounded Ito Misaki, but in this role she is almost like a anime character making bizarre but cute noises and actions.

I felt after episode 1 that this might be similar to Jikou Keisatsu mixed in with the time travelling elements of Proposal Daisakusen, since it has murder solving elements which only span 1 episode. But the comic script allows you to see past the cheesy murder mystery and enjoy a good laugh and admire the cute Keiko Chan.

Episode 2 is more of the same but Keiko is really fitting well into the role and you can see there is virtually zero plot, but its good fun never the less.

This is being soft/hard subbed by TimeLesSub at a now standard winter pace of only 2 episodes thus far (sub thread is here).

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When to grow up from high school dramas...

Isn't it about time the same old faces stop trying to be 16 year olds?

dream again 03 2

Read my preview of Dream Again

Ninomiya Satsuki played by Kato Ai plays a pretty and sensitive lawyer who has lost her boyfriend in the freak lightening death of Ogi Shinsuke. Kato Ai played a teenager in Ikebukuro West Gate Park (special review) but this drama is clearly showing that you still retain your class and gain respect and elegance when you play an adult.

Cant say the same about the current series Yukan Club as you can see in the shot below there are faces in there that were in Gokusen 2 (2005), played a teacher in My Boss My Hero (2006) while there's one guy is 26!! Give it a break! This series would have been just right as University students instead..

yukan club ep1

One the other hand Shida Mirai who plays the terminally ill Fujimoto Hina has come on leaps and bounds and is a really pivotal character in the Dream Again show as she radiates confidence and displays 2 distinct before and after personalities.

dream again 03 1

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J Drama REWIND: Strawberry on the Shortcake

A bizarre but intriguing love story with an unusual twist.

 Strawberry on the shortcake ep1

Wiki entry @ D-Addicts

This aired in 2001 and is voted in at number 34 all time Japanese drama by viewers at

Takisawa Hideaki plays final year student Irie Manato, who has become so withdrawn that his outward "persona" is completely different person.

One day he meets a strange girl - Misawa Yui played by Fukada Kyoko, who is totally up front and honest and helps him put his "persona" behind him.

He gets drawn towards Yui, but is caught in limbo when he finds out his father is remarrying and the woman's daughter is non other than Yui!

No matter how hard he tries to resist he ultimately gets drawn to Yui's vibrant personality.

The drama also stars Uchiyama Rina as Sawamura Haruka (the Girl next door who has a long unexplained longing for Manato)and Kubozuka Yosuke as Saeko Tetsuya (IWGP, GTO) who eventually becomes the person Yui chases after and ultimately Manato's nemesis.

No matter what Manoto tries or who ever else gets between him and Yui his feelings increase to such a point that he will do anything to protect her and keep her happy - even turning against his friend Tetsuya.

The last episode kind of reminded me of Hana Yori Dango Season 2's finale - trapped in a snow storm and being forced to find shelter in a safe house till the morning.

I guess the only down side is the Manato and Haruka relationship which is complex and subtle but kind of branches off into nothingness and Haruka's final demise is a bit sudden and not very well laid out as the Manato x Haruka or Manato x Yui or Yui x Tetsuya or even Tetsuya x Mariko (the class English teacher).

It is an interesting watch - only 10 episodes, and moves along at a slow day to day pace almost - which is good to see once in a while as you get to see the character interactions and the pretty decent written script.

I would give this a 7 out of 10 since it wraps up nicely at the end not leaving you dissatisfied or wanting more.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

ERIKA - Destination Nowhere

Opening Theme to the new J Drama - Mop Girl


Sawajiri Erika releases her 2nd hit song which is the opening theme for the currently airing in Japan.

Pretty decent song, as you can see it was released around Halloween time - hence the theme.

I would like to see Erika back in the Dramas but currently her pop and movie career have taken off since she did the songs in her last Drama "Taiyo no Uta".

Mop Girl Summary is going to be up soon as I finished watching episode 2 so I can give a more unbiased view of this interesting series.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Twitter updates

Can I draw your attention to the Twitter updates bar on the right hand side of the page?

It contains mini updates from me from time to time about what I have been watching or what has been keeping me busy, since I can post Twitters from my mobile phone I can post all sort of stuff pretty quickly.

Not to mention I have twitter integrated into Netvibes - my online RSS aggregator site - so I can update while reading the news..

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Wonderful life - J Drama Review

Sorimachi Takashi in another Baseball related Drama...

wonderful life

Wiki entry @ D-addicts

Sorimachi Takashi plays high flying baseball star Kirishima Akira who is falls victim to a career threatening injury - forcing him to retire, his family abandon him, and he left penny less.

On a whim he takes on a vacant coaching position at a school kids local baseball team, the team is on the verge of falling apart.

"Mizuki is a girl who wants to become a lawyer. Her brother plays on Kirishima's team, but can't stand the sight of Kirishima. She hates men who fool around, and especially those who deceive children. Will Mizuki and Kirishima be able to come to a mutual understanding?" --Fuji TV

It is an easy going, warm drama subbed by Sars fansubs. Kirishima manages to turn the team into tournament winners, but along the way he has to overcome his natural tendencies to be arrogant, flirt and waste money and become a more honest and humble person who leads by example.

The main setting for the series is at this pretty lifeless old shopping district and you get an insight in to most of the player's families and issues, amazingly I loved the bizarre chemistry between Kirishima and Mizuki.

Definitely a satisfying watch - although the last episode kind of encompasses about 2 years! I would rate this 7 out of 10 - the quality of the video is a bit low for a 2004 series, the audio is nothing special. Most of the cast are well known comic/drama stars and its mainly Kirishima and Mizuki's strong personas which stand out.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Byakuyakou - J-Drama Review

Just how far can you go for your first love?


Wiki Entry @ D-Addicts

Yamada Takayuki stars as Kirihara Ryoji
Ayase Haruka stars alongside as Karasawa Yukiho

D-Addicts have a very simple and straightforward introduction for this series:

"Yamada plays Ryouji who finds out that his first love, Yukiho is forced into child pornography by his own father and kills him. To his horror, the object of his father's perversion is Yukiho, whose mother forced her to do so to relieve their dire economic straits. Yukiho also retaliates in similar manner by staging a suicide for her mother as well as herself. They grow up attempting to keep it secret and ride out the statute of limitations. In order to protect Yukiho and improve her life, Ryouji enters the world of vice and dabbles in crimes to support Yukiho."

This is a sad yet powerful and dark drama about a couple of kids who kill there own parents to protect one another, in the hope of living out the rest of their lives in peace the past keeps creeping up with them - namely in the form of a persistent detective - Sasagaki Junzou - and Ryouji and Yukiho resort to all sorts of evil deeds to cover their old tracks but at the same time creating new cases against them.

It gets to a point when Ryouji now 16 and out of School enters the underground world (so to say) in order to keep Yukiho out of harms way and making sure she doesn't have to commit anymore crimes.

It gets to an extraordinary point where you just cannot imagine how further these two will sink just to keep the truth hidden and their love intact.

You start to feel for Ryouji who is stuck in this world of killing and wants to get out - at the same time Yukiho exhibits many different personas leaving you guessing as to which one is real and which is fake.

This is probably a 16/18+ age rating - lots of killing, bare flesh etc. I didn't think Japanese drama could get this complex and serious - this has to rank in the top 50 all time J-dramas!

Each episode takes place of many different scenes and even towns (after about episode 3), so many strong characters and moving soundtrack has you wanting more by the end of each episode.

Yamada really has a go at his role in this and it shows with some of his dialogue - while Ayase is a bit more on the quieter side, you feel her voice is a bit too mellow for her character.

But the junior Yukiho (as in the flashbacks) is exceptional and played by Fukuda Mayuko (Joou no Kyoushitsu) and really there are almost 2 whole decades portrayed in this series - and very well too!

Only down side would be the sudden gaps in the timeline towards the end of the series.

Definitely a must watch if you are into Japanese Drama/Film! I would rate this 8 out of 10, the time gaps which leave you a bit clueless is the only minus.

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