Drama Review: JIN (TBS, 2009)

The Doctor Is (J)IN!

or, Love in the Time of Korori and Syphilis (and Penicillin, too!)

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Osawa Takao, Ayase Haruka, Nakatani Miki, Uchino Masaaki, Takeda Tetsuya, Koide Keisuke, Aso Yumi, Kiritani Kenta, Kohinata Fumiyo

In a Nutshell:
A run-in with a mysterious patient leads to a freak accident that zaps Tokyo neurosurgeon Minakata Jin back through time and into 19th-century Edo, where he finds himself in the turbulent last days of the Tokugawa shogunate. Bent on finding a way to return to the present, Jin must meanwhile learn to survive in this strange world of samurai and courtesans, assassins and revolutionaries, cholera outbreaks and syphilis, and periodic city fires. But as the Edoites come to rely more and more on his “futuristic” medical expertise, Jin sees a new moral dilemma arising: should he continue saving lives with technology from his time, knowing full well his actions may alter the course of History forever?

(SpoilLert: Very spoilery!)

“Marvin, you gotta play. See that’s where they [Marty’s parents] kiss for the first time on the dance floor. And if there’s no music, they can’t dance. If they can’t dance, they can’t kiss. If they can’t kiss they can’t fall in love, and I’m history.”
– Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985)

Ohohoho, time travel (or more accurately, space-time travel) — so we meet again! It’s the Ultimate!Cosmic!Conundrum! that every astrophysicist has grappled with but failed to fully explain (let alone prove). This concept — whether or not even possible in our universe — remains popular in fiction either as the central theme of a story, or just as a plot device. In my Proposal Daisakusen review I touched on the paradoxical loopholes and inherent inadequacies of time pretzels — although one will find a whole suite of theories to justify these loopholes, such as the many-worlds interpretation, or the Novikov self-consistency principle, to name a few. And although the attainability of time travel remains in dispute, its entertainment value cannot be gainsaid — especially when this motif is handled responsibly: i.e. when there is a real effort to explore its manifold repercussions, as well as open up new ethical predicaments for the protagonist/s to contend with.

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JIN is one such example. Time travel isn’t merely a narrative device here, but the drama’s entire thematic scaffolding around which the other plot elements are built. JIN may best be described as a fusion drama in every sense of the word: a fantasy**-mystery-jidaigeki-romance-medical procedural hybrid that defies any pigeonholing. In short, there’s just nothing like JIN. For history buffs who don’t wish to sit through a 50-episode NHK Taiga but crave something longer than a chanbara movie, JIN can be your happy medium — a kind of jidaigeki lite, if you will. (And yes, I’m that kind of viewer, to be honest; as a K-drama watcher I have little patience for a sageuk that rambles on beyond 24 eppies; I like it short but meaty like MBC’s Damo, for instance. Which is also why the length of JIN — and of Jdoramas in general — holds great appeal for me.)

(** It’s science fiction when there’s a technology that facilitates the time travel, i.e. a time machine; otherwise it falls under fantasy.)

And if you want specifics, you could say JIN calls to mind various titles from a broad selection of literature, TV and film: Think Dr. Who (humanoid alien travels through space-time, fighting evil!) crossed with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (physician ahead of her time tries to break social norms and traditional mindsets!) crossed with Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (uh, self-explanatory, lol) crossed with Quantum Leap (scientist jumps back and forth through time, helping people!) crossed with Medical Investigation (an elite team of pathologists and epidemiologists investigates public-health problems!) crossed with the “Choose Your Own Adventure” gamebook series (uh, also self-explanatory) crossed with MacGyver (gun-eschewing dude resolves life-and-death situations using his Swiss Army knife, duct tape, and random everyday things!) crossed with — oh, just about every samurai jidaigeki set in the Edo period!

Admittedly, such fusion productions risk degenerating into a wild mishmash of genres, but JIN‘s writing (adapted from a manga of the same title), and direction, thankfully make the drama anything but, and are able to integrate the disparate elements into a smooth and engrossing piece of entertainment. Moreover, the fusion works because the overall style and tone of JIN remain consistent throughout. Notwithstanding the scattered WTFreako! moments (like Creepus the Plastic Fetus, more on it later, ugh) plus a few other instances of heavy-handed tearjerking, it’s the interesting mix of genres, well-written characters and terrific cast chemistry, an intelligent, absorbing storyline peppered with thought-provoking moral conundrums and insightful historical analysis, and very creditable production values, that altogether make JIN a highly enjoyable watch well worth your time.

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Have Medical Kit, Will Time-Travel

Move over, Mr. Brain. Meet Dr. Brain himself, Minakata Jin (Osawa Takao). (heh heh) But the Jin we get to know at the start of the drama has been living in a blue funk of self-doubt for the past two years: his fiancée Miki (Nakatani Miki) lies in a coma after a life-saving operation that Jin performed on her went horribly wrong, and now he shies away from the same surgeries that he used to pull off so confidently, opting instead to man the relatively benign night shift at his hospital. It’s a very sad existence, really: he can’t move on because Miki still lives, and this has left him in a personal and professional rut that could go on indefinitely. (Maybe the timeslip proves to be providential, after all?) This backstory provides an emotional springboard for the rest of the plot, and although Miki’s character appears only in flashbacks and photographs throughout the drama, her influence on Jin’s life becomes a driving force for the choices he makes later in the story. He loves her dearly; not even time travel can change that.

But before the fateful quantum leap can happen, a series of bizarrely connected occurrences take place at Jin’s hospital. First are his Migraines!Of!Doom! which presage the appearance of a John Doe patient whose face and skull are smashed up beyond recognition. As the neurosurgeon on duty, Jin is forced to operate on the man’s brain (albeit reluctantly; ‘coz he’s lost the magic touch, remember?) — but discovers a potentially tumorous UFO (unidentified fetal object, hyukyukyuk) embedded in the patient’s dura mater. We can safely infer that by all appearances, this is a fetus in fetu, or a developmental abnormality that produces a mass of tissue resembling a fetus; such a formation could either be the parasitic (or vestigial) twin of the patient, or a teratoma — an encapsulated tumor with well-developed skin, muscle and bone but no functional internal organs. (Eeew)

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So now we know that the little weirdo IS medically possible, and the writer didn’t just make it up. Jin extracts the fetus in fetu from the membrane and promptly dunks it in a jar of formaldehyde solution, aptly naming the pickled embryo (yummy! lol) “Formalin-kun.” (Not “Fo-chan”? No? lol) But man oh man, that fetus sure was creepy. “Spawn of Chucky doll” comes to mind — just picture it with a denim jumper, bloody hatchet and receding hairline. And if you noticed, Creepus the Plastic Fetus becomes much bigger after it’s placed in the jar. Did it somehow grow in size? Is it alive? Yecch. It must be, because every subsequent shot of Creepus shows it opening its eyes and staring at the camera. Egads, it is alive. And gadzooks, it’s sentient, too, because it keeps sending Jin these funky brainwaves that trigger his ominous headaches. (Ooooohhh!!!)

But uh-oh, in the dead of the night, John Doe fetusnaps (kidnaps a fetus, heh) Creepus/Formalin-kun, filches a medical kit (hmmm wonder why) and busts out of the hospital, but Jin chases him all the way to the fire escape! A mad scuffle ensues, followed by a nasty tumble down the stairs… The contours of time and space suddenly shift, and Jin slips right through the cracks — and down a wormhole that shoots him out into 1862 Edo. But the danger is far from over! When Jin regains consciousness he finds himself in a strange forest glade, an unwitting intruder into a fierce skirmish among rival samurai. (At first he thinks the men are actors on a movie set — then he gets sprayed with real blood, lol.) Oh no, what to do, what to do? One scary-looking swordsman espies Jin and nearly lops his head off, but a young samurai named Tachibana Kyotaro (Koide Keisuke!!!) saves him in the nick of time — but only to succumb to a nasty blow to the head, tsk.

(Quick comment: Man, the fight action was incredibly unconvincing, the stunts so clumsy and slow. So Kyotaro disables Jin’s would-be killer by tapping him on the shoulder with his katana? LMAO! And the “blow” that he sustains is more of a slash across his forehead — just a surface wound, and definitely NOT the kind that would cause a potentially fatal hematoma! Tsk tsk. Oh well.)

This calls for a job forrrrrrrr… Dr. Jin! Dr. Who? That’s Dr. Jin, Medicine Man! (lol) Props to the writer for keeping the tension in the first episode at fever pitch. Once you get past the Miki-I’m-sorry-I-messed-up-your-brain-now-we-can’t-get-married-no-more opening-sequence melodrama, the nail-biting action in Episode 1 never lets up — from the E.R. to the hospital rooftop to the forest clearing to the Tachibana residence, where Jin must convince Kyotaro’s mother and sister to let him do an emergency operation — or the lad will surely die!

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I particularly love this part of the episode, because the sequence of events and Jin’s reaction to the timeslip are depicted so realistically: Before he can even begin to make sense of this inexplicable occurrence, Dr. Jin goes on autopilot as he rushes into the young samurai’s home, barking out orders for things like gauze strips and disinfectant (and with MacGyveresque resourcefulness, turns household implements into surgical tools as well). His rational self still holds at bay the utter absurdity of his situation while his surgeon’s mind methodically goes over the life-saving craniotomy that he must perform within the hour.

Just as natural are the reactions wrenched out of Kyotaro’s mother Sakae (Aso Yumi) and sister Saki (Ayase Haruka!!!), who run the gamut from initial shock and dismay at Kyotaro’s head wound, to fear, skepticism and distrust, to sheer horror at how a stranger can propose to drive a 10-in metal nail into their Kyotaro’s skull, and finally — for the mother, at least — to wary resignation, seeing no other recourse but to relent. Trusting this man is a leap of faith for both women, and you can almost taste their trepidation as they watch Jin at work: slicing open skin and tissue, cutting through bone, sopping up the clotted blood that has pooled beneath the skull. The tension in the Tachibana residence-turned-makeshift operating room would take more than a scalpel to hack through, but Dr. Jin handles his first 19th-century surgical case amazingly well and with the coolly professional, I-know-what-the-hell-I’m-doing-so-get-outta-my-face aplomb solidified by fourteen years of training, by a thousand and one operations.

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Brave New World

Even with Kyotaro now out of danger, the whole sequence of events still seems surreal to Jin and he convinces himself it’s all just a dream — albeit a startlingly realistic and abnormally long one. But he awakes the next morning and his worst fears have come true: he IS stuck in the past, maybe even for good. And at the end of a grueling second day in 1862, when the urgency and adrenalin rush of his two brain surgeries have abated, Jin returns to the place of his timeslip, on a bluff overlooking the endless rows of 19th-century abodes in this ever-growing city. Only now can he process the bizarre occurrences in the past 24 hours of his life, and force himself to accept the unthinkable — yet undeniable — conclusion: that he has indeed time-traveled.

All the exhaustion and frustration that have mounted from the previous night break free of the rational fetters that held them and fill Jin with an inexplicable but overwhelming sense of sadness. For the first time he realizes that he is truly alone, trapped in this land of heartbreakingly lovely sunsets and unpolluted air; a world of sneering nobles and scowling warriors, palanquin bearers and muddy rain-soaked streets; where antibiotics and antiseptic surgery — common in our time — are yet unheard of; a world that moves him to tears with its harsh, unadorned beauty; a world that holds no familiarity or comfort for a time-vagabond such as himself, but one that is terrifyingly, and utterly, real.

As first episodes go, JIN starts out strong: The pacing is brisk, and the writing covers enough ground and dangles enough baits to keep you hooked. There’s exposition, there’s mystery (i.e. who is Mr. Bandage and what’s the deal with Formalin-kun?), there’s the main conflict (will Jin ever find a way back to his own time?) and its attendant predicaments (how much intervention can he perform in the past without changing the future? etc.). Add to all that an interesting array of 19th-century characters both real and fictional: the Tachibana family, Sakamoto Ryoma, Dr. Ogata, Saburi, the Kiichi kid, Katsu Kaishu, and Miki’s own ancestor, the courtesan Nokaze.

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View of Edo from Atago-yama by Felice Beato, 1865 or 1866 (detail from “Panorama of Yeddo from Otagayama”). The large estates belonged to daimyo. More pictures at oldphotosjapan.com

The rest of the series delves further into these conflicts (both internal and external) while providing rich insights into the time and place Jin must live in — for now. And oh boy, what a time, and what a place. Recall that the Edo of 1862 was the seat of power of the Tokugawa shogunate: a city that, in less than three centuries, had rapidly grown from a small coastal village to a sizable castle-town and finally to the nation’s consumer capital and one of the most populous urban centers in the world at the time — despite periodically weathering earthquakes, fires and epidemics. Edo was also a city of daimyo and their samurai, as the shogun required all his nobles and retainers to live alternating years in their own domains and in this de facto capital.

Such is the world that Jin finds himself thrust into, and during one of the most volatile times in his nation’s history at that. For this is also the Bakumatsu, or the waning years of Tokugawa ascendancy. The white men in their “black ships” have made their puissance increasingly felt, triggering pockets of violent resistance among the warrior class. Peasant uprisings and city riots are common, and two influential domains, Choshu and Satsuma, have joined forces to undermine the shogunate (or Bakufu) by fomenting dissent and defiance. Caught between Western aggressiveness and internal strife, the Bakufu have made a last-ditch effort to reassert their dominance by beefing up their navy — but the wheels of History cannot be deterred: change is a-coming, and the Meiji Restoration is a mere heartbeat away.

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When Life Gives You Time Travel, Make TimeTravelade

But Jin is no fool, and I love how he intuitively grasps the gravity of his situation as well as the potential ramifications of each action, each decision that he makes — whether seemingly weighty or seemingly inconsequential. And even as he begins to adjust to life in 1862, learning to make do without the modern trappings we all take for granted — toothbrushes, flush toilets, etc. — he remains conscious of the inherent evils of “tampering” with History. He’s so careful that he even checks himself after correcting Saki when she refers to cholera as “korori,” and tries to withhold as much 21st-century information as he can from his Edo hosts. And yet — this is where his main overarching conflict comes into play — he cannot stop himself from introducing technology from his time to help save the lives of people. This self-awareness eats him up, leaving the burning suspicion that he, with his much-vaunted medical expertise, has become both a blessing and a curse to the lives that he touches — whether directly or indirectly.

This is what’s most interesting about Jin’s character: the moral tension is genuine as he wrestles with this dilemma, the distress it causes him almost tangible. Each new case he takes on is a catch-22, a balancing act between his duty to his patients, who deserve the best treatment he can give, and his obligation to the future generations of humanity whose lives may be irrevocably altered — or even negated — because the past was changed. Two moral and equally valid responsibilities that present no easy resolution — what to do, what to do? It’s a tortuous process of self-deliberation, especially when Jin realizes that there are events beyond his control — like the time Kiichi recovers from cholera only to lose his mother to a samurai’s blade; this causes Jin (and the viewer) to rethink the wisdom of intervening to save lives no matter how good one’s intentions may be. It does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

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But what I like is that the resolution doesn’t happen in a single earth-shattering epiphany, but out of a confluence of validating factors — i.e. the encouragement he gets from Saki, Ryoma and Ogata, the grateful looks on his patients, and even his internal moral compass — that ultimately convince Jin of the rightness of his actions and embolden him to stand by the difficult decisions he makes along the way. Everything happens for a reason — including time travel, so it seems. The bottom line is, a life well lived is not one that is shackled to the past, or one continually fearful of the future. To live fully and without regrets is to live for others, doing what you can for them when you can, knowing that such an opportunity may not come your way again.

In Episode 8, there’s a scene — one of my favorite — where Jin, Ryoma and Kyotaro take a nighttime walk through a bamboo grove on the outskirts of Edo. It is in these two dissimilar men that Jin finds a renewed sense of purpose: “A vessel may be a flame of light in the darkness, and its strength,” Ryoma utters with his trademark perspicacity. This is where Jin comes full circle (or full pretzel, since he is in a time pretzel, lol): that by losing his way in his own world, he learns to carve a new path in this one.

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As Minakata Jin, Osawa Takao delivers a textured performance that brings to the fore the many facets of his character: the convivial personality, the medical acumen, the no-frills dedication to the wellbeing of others, and yes, the struggle within himself. Osawa’s “muy simpatico” quality and physical attractiveness (in fact, he looks better for a 42-year-old than Kimura does for a 37-y.o., tee hee) bolster his stock as a bankable leading man. Osawa may not exude the same roguish sensuality as Kimura does (and he doesn’t make my spleen explode and all that, the way Kimura can. dammit!), but maybe that’s precisely why his take on Jin-sensei is very watchable, very accessible in a nice, wholesome, normal-guy kind of way. (Whereas it’s hard to imagine KimuTaku essaying the same role; I mean, when’s the last time he played anyone normal? Lol)

Admittedly, a small part of Osawa’s performance can be… manipulative to a degree. Maybe the reason we feel for him so deeply is because he’s so… openly emotional in almost every episode? There were times when I thought, oh great, does this guy have to cry ALL the time? Lol. Although given his circumstances, I certainly don’t blame Jin for getting choked up so easily. I mean, if I found myself trapped in the same Twilight Zone-ish situation, I’d curl up into a ball and cry myself to sleep. And every time I’d wake up… I’d cry myself to sleep all over again, lol.

I haven’t made up my mind if this is something I like or dislike about Osawa, but his face is very… elastic. Whether he smiles or cries, he sort of looks the same: the eyes crinkle at the edges, the corners of his mouth stretch way past his cheekbones (lol, is that even possible). Sometimes he reminded me of The Joker from the Batman animated series. Ah, well. Minor quibble. (Or maybe I’m just so used to Kimura’s I’m-way-too-cool-to-make-the-corners-of-my-mouth-stretch-past-my-cheekbones characters. Ehehe. Well, at least Osawa’s brand of acting is animated and he makes full use of his role — instead of going about like a lifeless blowup YamaPi doll (wait… that’s redundant! lol) or some stuffy Physics professor (*cough Galileo cough*).

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The League of Extraordinary Edoites

The rest of the cast add flavor to the drama with their spot-on portrayals of the men and women of mid-19th-century Edo. Historically authentic performances remain the keystone of any period drama because set pieces and costumes can only get you so far. The characterizations must remain true to the spirit of their era, or the production loses its legitimacy.

Jin finds himself literally brushing with history through serendipitous encounters with such factual figures as the ronin-turned-resistance leader Sakamoto Ryoma (Uchino Masaaki) and the pioneering doctor Ogata Koan (Takeda Tetsuya) — and to a lesser extent, the naval officer Katsu Kaishuu (Kohinata Fumiyo) and the civilian firefighter chief Shinmon Tatsugoro (Nakamura Atsuo). Even the fictional characters — Saki and her family, Nokaze and the Yoshiwara brothel folk, the medical students like “Scalpel” Saburi, lol — nicely round off the viewer’s Edo experience as believable composites of people who really lived in such a transitional — but pivotal — time in their nation’s history, in this still-nebulous birthing of a new era that would see the rapid, inevitable modernization and militarization of Nihon.

There are no real Baddies in the story, too. Petty and self-serving characters, yes, but not flat-out evil. The Choshu samurai plot to ice Ryoma because he plans to use penicillin as a bargaining chip for peace between the pro- and anti-Tokugawa factions. Even the Hondo physicians who order Jin’s assassination do so because they believe his brand of medicine will do society more harm than good. It’s a valid concern, and the drama touches on this tension between the practitioners of Hondo (traditional Chinese medicine) and of Rangaku (or Dutch medical arts), as well as the politics undermining the already precarious balance between these rival camps. Such is the reality that people like Ogata and his bald Hondo counterparts (and to a lesser extent, Jin) contend with throughout the drama.

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It’s interesting to note that Western medicine was a relatively new paradigm compared to the traditional Chinese practices of acupuncture, moxibustion and other therapeutic interventions that were introduced in Japan in the 5th century AD. Rangaku only managed to trickle in through cracks in the 200-year national isolationist period beginning in the 17th century. But after 1853, this trickle quickly became a surging tide of Western learning that helped keep Japan abreast of the scientific and technological revolution that had taken Europe by storm. Needless to say, the Hondo physicians were none too pleased about this. Compounding this paradigmatic friction was the Confucian stigma attached to surgery; ancient Shinto beliefs also viewed inflicting, receiving and even touching of wounds as defilement of the human body. In short, it wasn’t going to be easy breaking down these well-entrenched traditional mindsets and cultural taboos.

Takeda Tetsuya could not have been a better choice to play Dr. Ogata Koan, the venerable Osaka physician whose erudition is surpassed only by his great compassion and humility. Part Gandalf and Merlin (all he needed was a wizard’s staff to go with those silvery locks and flowing robes, lol), part Avicenna and Albert Schweitzer, Ogata-sensei is one of my favorite characters in this drama, and his relationship with Jin has one of the most complex and interesting dynamics of the story. What I love most about him is his pure, unalloyed thirst for knowledge and his commitment to bettering the lives of his countrymen. He sees Jin not as a threat to his own revered standing in the medical community, but as someone he can learn much from, someone who possesses skills and gifts far superior to his own. It’s a testament to the man’s character that Ogata-sensei would invite Jin to teach at his school, and my heart went out to the old sensei sitting in class with his own pupils, his eyes bright with curiosity, scribbling down notes as Jin lectured on the manifold merits of, uh, Vitamin B.

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The interesting corollary is that Jin remains aware that the knowledge he has brought from his time could never have been possible without pioneers such as Ogata: men who blazed a trail in their own time so that those who came after could achieve greater things. When Jin gazes into Ogata’s eyes so limned with love, laughter and ancient wisdom, part of his embarrassment at the sensei’s show of esteem towards him lies in knowing he is not really better than Ogata, or any other doctor from that time. Jin knows that he is only able to share his modern-day marvels because he himself is “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Thanks to the tireless, groundbreaking efforts by physicians like Ogata, Japan was able to make rapid progress in scientific medicine following the political upheaval in 1868, and its institutions and teachers are now among the best known in the world.

But more than being just another Edo icon, Ogata-sensei becomes a real living, breathing human being. And Takeda Tetsuya brings that all out. There’s a wonderful acting moment in Episode 7 when Ogata quietly surveys the smoking ruins of the medical school he so labored to bring to fruition. This was his life work lost in the conflagration, his hopes and dreams reduced to ashes, and you feel the staggering sense of loss reflected in his eyes. But who knew that within that graying body racked with consumption, lived a spirit so indomitable, a heart so resilient? So you cheer for him and his beloved students when they determine that Jin’s strange new wonderdrug must be produced at all costs, even if they have to do it in a… soy sauce factory.

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A less conventional choice for an actor is Uchino Masaaki as Sakamoto Ryoma. Casting Uchino was a much bigger risk than Takeda Tetsuya for Ogata because for one, here was a 42-year-old actor playing a 27-year-old man. But that inconsistency aside, TBS was right on the money because, simply put, Uchino steals the freakin’ show with his career-defining portrayal of the maverick Ryoma. He’s my favorite character of the whole drama. (And I must say the Heiwa fansubbers did a terrific job in translating Ryoma’s slang parlance and colloquialisms.)

We already know from the history books that Sakamoto Ryoma cut a striking figure on the streets of Edo with his untidy appearance and penchant for matching his samurai garb with Western footwear. We also know that beyond appearances, he was a shrewd negotiator and one of the key figures of the Meiji Restoration. Uchino Masaaki builds on these traits and chews up the scenery with a performance so multifaceted, so in-your-face, channeling various personalities from John the Baptist to those stock samurai characters straight out of a Kurosawa. I must confess that I used to think so little of the actor after he played Kimura’s dullard oniisan in Love Generation, hahaha. Well, I guess everyone deserves a second chance, ne?

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Uchino’s Ryoma is one of those larger-than-lifers that the history books cannot do enough justice to: bluff and outspoken, caring little for personal comfort or reputation, his overgrown topknot bobbing inelegantly with each expansive stride, and to round off the package — that “cockney Nihonggo” drawl and boisterous, belly-busting laugh. But unwrap the scruffy package to find his cunning intelligence and Occam’s-razor practicality, his egalitarian spirit and astute understanding of the political reality of his time, and above all, a great, big heart that beat untiringly for his own people. Like Dr. Ogata, Ryoma was a true visionary, a man ahead of his time, whose life work (though tragically cut short) would prove pivotal to the snowballing events that ultimately overthrew the powerful Bakufu and ushered Japan into the Meiji era.

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Perhaps it comes as no surprise that both Ogata and Ryoma, at different times, would intuit on their own that Jin was not of their world. Perhaps only true visionaries would have the uncanny gift to see patterns beyond what is apparent, and the plasticity of imagination to think out of the box and believe that anything IS indeed possible. Even time travel. And when these two men inspire Jin to put up a hospital in Edo, you realize how deep and far-reaching their impact has been on Jin’s own life.

My only quibble with Ryoma is that we don’t get to see much of his involvement in events outside Jin’s own situation. I know the drama isn’t about Ryoma, but he’s still a major character and you’d be interested in just how he helped build a navy for Katsu Kaishuu, or how he negotiated the tenuous alliances among samurai in such a tumultuous time as this. Makes you wonder where he got all the time to help his buddy Jin-Jin — er, Jin, out of his various scrapes. There are a couple of shots where Ryoma walks pensively on the beach… but what about the navy? What about the tricky politicking? I wanted to see more of that.

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It is true that there is no too small a role for a fine actor, and Koide Keisuke and Aso Yumi prove that all to well. (Hey… with Ayase and Takeda Tetsuya, we could have a Byakuyakou reunion right here, lol.) Aso Yumi as the uber-traditional Tachibana matriarch cuts an interesting paradox, her love for her son and daughter expressed through flinty stares and… carefully packed onigiri balls, lol. Love her! And Koide Keisuke, who never disappoints, brings to life Tachibana Kyotaro, the young samurai doing his best as the head of their retainer family while grappling with his own issues of loyalty and love. I only wish there had been more time to fully explore his character — i.e. how he reacted to the public’s growing disaffection with his Bakufu masters, which would have been very telling of how the warrior class coped with the political and social upheavals that were rippling through the nation. At least Kyotaro gets his “own” episode, where he experiences falling in love and getting his heart broken in such a short time, and where his true mettle as a man is tested when his ladylove Setsune contracts sepsis from a botched abortion.

(Also notable is the actor who plays the kabuki star Tanosuke who completes the Kyotaro-Setsune love triangle. Tanosuke’s preening affectations and heavy-lidded, spiteful face reminded me of Kame’s Water Dance act from the 2009 KAT-TUN concert tour, hahahahaha. Great actor, btw. I meant Tanosuke, not Kame, lol.)

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The Time Traveler’s Wife (I wish!) Okay, make that “Assistant” (blerg)

Ayase Haruka rocks the role of Tachibana Saki, giving an already well-written character extra depth and that fresh, winsome quality I’ve always loved about her. Ayase is actually one of the younger J-actresses that I haven’t gotten tired of following. I know she can deliver, she’s proven it before: she gave performances that were darkly compelling in Byakuyakou, quite good in Tatta Hitotsu no Koi, and downright adorable in Hotaru no Hikari. And after seeing her wasted in Mr. Brain just two seasons before JIN (a fluke I’m sure we’d all like to forget), it’s so gratifying to see Ayase in a meaty, interesting and extremely sympathetic role as Saki.

Saki is neither ditz nor wilting flower, directions that lesser interpreters of the role would have taken. Rather, she transcends these stereotypes, showing a young woman with courage and spirit, and yet there’s nothing anachronistic about her: every last inch of this lady is period-appropriate. This is what I love most about her: that she’s very much a product of her time, having been raised in a traditional samurai household and hemmed in by all the constraints and expectations of her class. In the context of her world, Saki is the ideal daughter: dutiful, demure and respectful of her family’s standing and honor — to wit, perfect wife material. But she’s also bright, curious and teachable — qualities that, when coupled with her inborn pluckiness, also make her the ideal helper to Jin. And, may I add, a most winsome drama heroine. (And I’ll bet Saki can kick those 21st-century Code Blue kiddos’ heli-riding asses without breaking into a sweat, hahahahaaha. That’s how you perform a craniotomy, Rambo-Pi and company!)

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What I also love about Saki is that the romantic feelings she develops for Jin — for this kind, wonderful man so determined to help others — grow simultaneously with her own blossoming as a person. What Jin awakens in her isn’t just love, but true inspiration. By gazing into his eyes she sees a whole new world of possibilities that she never knew existed before she met him. At the end of Ep. 3 Saki tells Jin: “Sensei… you changed my destiny: I want to be a doctor too.” But Saki, who is of marriageable age, also begins to see this emerging dichotomy of life choices: the Way of the Sensei is not the same as the Way of the Wife — at least not yet. How she resolves this within herself is enough to warm your heart and root for her all the more.

One of my favorite Saki moments (and believe me, there’s lots of ‘em) is the first time she assists Jin in an operation in Episode 1: Wearing a white kerchief and improvised face mask, and witnessing Jin do the impossible to her brother, her eyes shine with wonder and awe. She’s willing to suspend her own disbelief because she can sense something extraordinary unfolding before her — in the here and now. This is perhaps the deciding juncture in her life, the moment the thought hits her: “When I grow up, I want to be like Sensei.” (lol) Many times I wanted to hug Saki and tell her: Girlfriend, if only you’d been born in the 20th century, you could be anything you wanted to be!

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Operation: Love… the One You’re With

What makes the romance in JIN so atypical is the fact that Jin’s True Love, his fiancée Miki, is left in the present while Jin spends most of the story in the past. And the two Edo women who fall in love with Jin compete not with each other, but with the lady in the photograph from a distant time in the future and who technically isn’t even born yet. All throughout the drama he remains faithful to Miki even as he gets to know his new assistant Saki, and Miki’s ancestor (and doppelganger) Nokaze, on a more personal level.

Though trapped in his space-time bubble, Jin still speaks to Miki, narrating to her the day’s strange events just like he used to during his daily visits to her hospital bed. I love this about him, I really do. For it is less out of habit than out of the desperate need to hold on to the last fraying ties that bind Jin to his former life. Fittingly enough, the drama’s theme by MISIA, “Aitakute Ima” — I want to see you now — captures Jin’s sense of longing not only to return to his own world, but to the woman he has left behind. The lyrics — “I’m missing you now / There’s so much I want you to hear… I’ll always be thinking of you” — hold a poignancy mirrored in the stirring, elegiac strains of the song. Beautiful.

Now if Miki had a song for Jin, it would probably be “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper:

After my picture fades and darkness has turned to gray
Watching through windows you’re wondering if I’m ok

Secrets stolen from deep inside
The drum beats out of time

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time

If you fall I will catch you I’ll be waiting
Time after time

You said go slow, I fall behind
The second hand unwinds

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me
Time after time

If you fall I will catch you I’ll be waiting
Time after time…

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Also beautiful is the characterization of Nokaze (Nakatani Miki), the oiran (or courtesan of the highest rank) whose steely stoicism and disillusionment with life hide a heartbreaking fragility, and a heart so tender and easily moved (except, perhaps, by that bumpkin Ryoma, lol). Nakatani Miki is a fine actress who nails all these qualities about Nokaze, and still manages to portray Jin’s Miki very differently. All catlike grace and cryptic half-smiles, she isn’t splashily beautiful (but then neither is Ayase), but her fine, elegant features and geisha-like aura bring out her loveliness all the more.

Nokaze is perhaps the drama’s most tragic figure: a prisoner in her own domain, doomed to walk the streets of Yoshiwara or become a concubine to the highest bidder. Even more tragic is how she falls for Jin, who in a moment of weakness comes close to reciprocating, but ultimately shuts the lid on his growing attraction to the alluring oiran. What keeps the Jin-Nokaze dynamic so interesting is how Nokaze’s life is inevitably intertwined with that of her descendant, Miki. Jin finds himself in a unique situation: the more he interacts with Nokaze and the more his actions impact her life or sphere of influence, the bigger the ripple effect gets, so that even Miki’s very existence comes to hang in the balance.

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I was so intrigued by how this arc would play out, particularly when Nokaze’s breast tumor (whoa, didn’t see that coming) throws Jin into a new dilemma. How he resolves the conflict between his love for the still-unborn Miki and his own conscience makes for a gripping final two episodes. Nakatani Miki’s best acting moments are in this final stretch: Take the scene in Ep. 10 where she leaves Yoshiwara for the second time in her life, having agreed to undergo a mastectomy, and she slips out of her towering platform slippers to feel the earth underneath her feet, looking up at the endless blue sky and perhaps remembering what it is like to be human. Another noteworthy scene is Nokaze’s farewell following the successful operation (thanks, Jin. yay!), where Jin tells her, “I am happy that it was I who got to save you.” (Awwww!) Nokaze leaves the place with no family or possessions (and no husband, after rejecting Ryoma’s marriage proposal — LOL oh Ryoma), but you know she’ll be all right. For her, it’s no tragedy that she must start all over again — how can it be, when a whole world of possibilities awaits her? (Damn, but this scene just moved me to tears.)

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But fond as I was of Nokaze and Miki, at the end of the day my heart belonged to Team Saki. “Love the one you’re with” has always held more appeal for me than OTPs and soulmates, and Jin and Saki had such wonderful chemistry throughout the story that was so enjoyable to watch. What’s so great about their dynamic is that trust relationship rooted in their very first meeting over Kyotaro’s hemorrhaging brain, lol. The mutual trust between them during this first operation is both instantaneous and instinctive. Later on, Jin opens up to Saki about Miki, and about his time travel; another person would’ve scoffed at him, but Saki — again more from instinct than hard evidence — somehow knows that he speaks the truth.

And even though no romance blossoms between them, they still get to share enough moments to keep you hopeful. There’s a nice scene in Ep. 4 where Jin teaches Saki how to bore a hole into the skull using a rotating chisel and a block of wood. They share a moment on the family porch, and if it means much more to Saki than to Jin, he is too much of a gentleman to show it. (I wish Jin had been more, ehem, hands-on with Saki and turned their little moment into something like the Demi Moore-Patrick Swayze pottery scene from Ghost. Oh, my eyes! My eyes!!!) In a later scene, Saki (through Nokaze’s warning) saves Jin from a would-be assassin. They hide out in the forest — a heart-stopping moment — clutching hands, daring not to breathe. Even after the danger has passed the air between them is no less charged.

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And I love how well they work together, as a team. Even without the love stuff, Jin and Saki would still make a great medical tandem. It’s only natural that Saki would fall for Jin (it was probably love at first sight, heh), though he simply has too much on his plate to realize it before it’s too late. Saki’s rare outburst in Ep. 10 — “Sometimes, medicine exposes not only the body, but the heart as well. I have clearly exposed my heart, but you don’t see it.” — just cuts you up, doesn’t it? (Although Jin’s reaction here is pretty LOLLLL) Still, I’m glad the writer included the moment where Jin is operating on Nokaze and he automatically says, “Saki-san, scalpel…” only to look up and realize that she isn’t his assistant anymore, and that it’s her betrothal day today. (Ohhhh Jin. And oh, Saki! *sob*)

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Etcetera…

The drama runs at a good pace for the most part, although it does flag at certain moments when the writing chooses to be a little emotionally overindulgent. Case in point would be the latter half of the cholera outbreak (Eps. 2-3). There are just too many lingering shots of patients writhing in their makeshift cots and heaving over their slop buckets, that the gravity of the situation and the distress of the patients lose some of their impact. And that blubbering kid, Kiichi only made the scene more overwrought than it already was. He probably thought that scrunching up his face until his bulbous head turned blue was considered “good acting.” (It’s not that I hate Kiichi; but he did tend to overact in this drama. And I don’t dislike him the way my best friend does; now her feelings for the kid are verging on murderous, lol.)

The drama gets extra manipulative in a later episode where Jin gets into a disagreement with Shinmon Tatsugoro, the local fire brigade chief (and community leader-cum-mafioso, according to the history books) who pooh-poohs doctors because they, uh, run away from a fire? Ohh-khayyy. This leads to a nasty verbal exchange of “Yo’ momma” slurs on the streets of Edo, lol. Okay not really. But this episode just felt too contrived, too didactic in showing how doctors and firefighters are, um, created equal and Must!Therefore!Be!Respected!Equally!!! Edo’s history of fires could’ve been a great topic to explore (since the city was periodically visited by conflagrations major and minor; the great Meireki fire of 1657 claimed 108,000 Edoites, yikes), but the writer spoiled the chance with heavy-handed and somewhat juvenile conflict resolution. Honestly, seeing Jin & the Docs and Shinmon & the Firefighters come out of the smoldering remains of Edo to form a mutual admiration society where the first order of business was, er, patting each other on the back, made me want to break out singing “Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?” from Sesame Street.

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But I must hand it to the drama for the verisimilitude of the surgery scenes: the messy symphony of vital fluids, severed arteries and perforated craniums under Jin’s orchestration remains realistic without being gratuitous. And each medical operation is presented with a matter-of-factness that does not sensationalize the pain, or glorify the invasiveness of the procedure. Admittedly they’re not for the faint of heart and queasy of stomach, but having been weaned on shows like E.R. and Chicago Hope, and having dissected frogs, cats and baby sharks (oh my!) back in my university days, I never felt disturbed by all the coagulated blood and tissue bits flying about, lol. In short, I enjoyed the medical stuff. A LOT.

And perhaps there’s more to these scenes than just medical authenticity; it’s as if the drama wished to emphasize the gravity of what Jin was faced with by operating in a pre-modern world, without the luxury of computerized equipment or trained staff. It ain’t no joke to bore a hole into someone’s skull using crude (albeit sterilized) household tools, or to do so without the aid of anesthesia. It takes guts and fortitude to do what Jin had to do, and if that alone doesn’t torque up your respect in the man, I don’t know what will.

The science geek in me was thrilled no end to see what “avant-garde” methods Jin would be introducing to 1862 Edo. So he performs antiseptic surgery five years before Joseph Lister would announce it to the world, instructs the residents in the germ theory, and advocates the benefits of oral rehydration salts and intravenous drips. Much of the drama is devoted to the considerable feat of culturing penicillin 65 years before Fleming’s serendipitous discovery, and using the antibiotic drug (or a prototype thereof) to treat common diseases such as syphilis.

The whole penicillin experience is a veritable microbiology lesson, and it was interesting to witness Jin walk Ogata and the students through the process of extracting from the Penicillium mold, preparing the culture medium, inoculating with the syphilis suppurations, and incubating and later testing the penicillin samples for their efficacy. Even more interesting is how Jin goes about it without modern microbiological equipment: his resourcefulness shines through as he makes do with the relatively crude implements at his disposal, substituting ceramic bowls for petri dishes and oil for the extraction solvent, etc.

It sure was engrossing to see the medical students go about the arduous process with such admirable tenacity and esprit de corps, but the geek in me couldn’t help questioning the feasibility of such an undertaking. There’s no way Jin et al. could’ve worked under germ-free lab conditions. Not in their time, at least. In my old microbiology lab classes we had to sterilize everything in the autoclave (which is a mean little chamber shaped like a mini vault), and we weren’t even allowed to fully open the petri dishes when inoculating out of mortal fear of contaminating the culture. Without an effective sterilization technology, microbes would have been able to worm their way into the penicillin cultures and make it exceedingly hard to isolate the antibiotic. So even if the whole process was entertaining, it wasn’t very workable from my experience. /end of geeky rant

The soundtrack has moments of greatness, like the haunting instrumentals and the sweeping theme song by MISIA that capture the whole jidaigeki vibe so well. The score is less effective in the suspenseful scenes, where the sound effects jolt the viewer into knowing that Something!Exciting!Will!Happen! The sound director clearly went overboard in this regard: when a scary/critical moment is coming, I want to experience it on my own; the music should only serve to enhance the mood of the scene and not dictate or even preempt it.

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The End is the Beginning is the End…

The closing scenes of JIN (barring the WTF! moments) have a sweet poignancy to them. Jin attempts to tell Ryoma of his own fate, but the revolutionary brushes him off philosophically: “The days’d still come with the dawn… step by step, we’ve no choice but t’move forward, you ‘n’ I.” And for Jin, who does not know whether his own fate lies in the past or in the future, this is a thought that comforts him deeply. What will happen will happen, so it’s best to just take life as it comes; to live in the present, whether your “present” is in 1863 or 2009; to live with no regrets and waste no opportunity to do good to your fellow man; and to simply keep hoping for the best, for a better future. For are we not all jewels inside one great kaleidoscope, giving off different hues with the changing patterns of time?

The seasons pass and Jin finds himself walking the streets of Edo, soaking in the sights and sounds of the city he has now learned to call home, and observing the people as they go about their daily lives: Kiichi selling rice cakes on the sidewalk, women gossiping on a bridge, a man unloading farm produce from his boat. The montage includes shots of the other characters in the drama: Shinmon and his underlings building Jin a new hospital, Nokaze trying to find work as a private tutor (or governess?), Katsu in talks with a visiting diplomat while Ryoma prances about in the background with a new pair of leather shoes (lol), and Kyotaro receiving — a marriage proposal, LOL.

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Everything is going great at Jin’s makeshift clinic (and Saki is still his assistant, woohoo!), when he just has to fall from a stool — OH NOES!!! But his eyes flash open and he realizes that he hasn’t been zapped back to the future, and he’s still in the same room with Saki (yay!). Which gives me a faint little sliver of hope: perhaps nothing happens to Jin after all, and he stays in that time period for the rest of his life. Which is where I want him to be, anyway. (Hopefully, he’ll fall in love with Saki and marry her, class distinctions be damned.) But it doesn’t explain why his headaches are back, for they usually portend another timeslip. Blerg. Can. not. compute. Can. not. compute.

I think the whole Nihonjin nation was up in arms following JIN’s finale. And rightfully so: I mean, sheesh kebab, WTF was that? We still don’t know the cause of the timeslip, or who Mr. Bandage is and his relation to Formalin-freakin’-kun. I hate it when a drama raises too many mysteries without providing enough answers during its run. You’d understand that a series like say, Lost can afford to hit us with some baffling cliffhangers, because at least these Western shows are built to run for multiple seasons and only get cancelled when the ratings plummet.

I’ve heard the following reasoning for the open ending: “The manga on which JIN is based isn’t finished.” But that excuse doesn’t fly because whether the material is original or adapted, every drama should stand on its own, dammit. Manga readers and drama viewers are NOT identical sets of people, hello! And another thing: from the way TBS has been shilly-shallying about a season two or a movie sequel, I’m not holding my breath for either one. It’s clear they went ahead and produced this drama without a definite roadmap for a sequel, and yet they allowed the ending to be this half-baked and unsatisfying.

Updated 8 June 2010: It’s official — according to TokyoGraph, TBS has just announced a sequel for the Spring 2011 season. Osawa and Ayase are definitely back on board, along with Nakatani Miki and Uchino Masaaki, yay! Thanks for settling the matter once and for all, TBS.

The only thing the drama’s finale is clear on is that Jin does get to change the future because: (1) the photograph disappears, and (2) there’s a split-second shot of Miki not as a doctor, but as a teacher motivating her students with the same line she shared with Jin (and, unwittingly, half the people in 1862 Edo, lol): “God gives us challenges so that we may overcome them.” Which means that even if Jin gets to return to his present, the Miki that he knows won’t be in a hospital bed, trapped in a coma (yay!).

So, just who is Formalin-kun, really? Jin’s descendant? The spawn of Jin and Saki (hihihi) that somehow crawled into some unfortunate dude’s brain? And as for Mr. Bandage… I never really believed he’d turn out to be Ryoma. My guess was Jin himself, because Mr. Bandage reminded me too much of The English Patient — y’know, an anonymous burn victim swathed in gauze who relates to Juliette Binoche (playing a hospital nurse) the tragic story of star-crossed lovers Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott-Thomas… and then lo and behold, The English Patient turns out to be — Ralph Fiennes himself!!! So anyway. Does Jin somehow change Mr. Bandage’s fate because of his timeslip? Is Mr. Bandage even real? Is Formalin-kun real? Am I real? Are you? lolll

Ah crud, now I’m the one getting a headache. Could this mean… could this mean… Well. I’m SO ready for my timeslip, Formalin-kun!!! Hahahahahhaha NOT.

Oh, and speaking of that confounded fetus, I’m signing off with the music video of “Teardrop” by Massive Attack. It’s one of my favorite tracks from the ‘90s, and if the title (or Massive Attack) doesn’t sound familiar, maybe the melody will ring a bell: it’s used for the opening sequence of the drama series House, M.D. Every time Formalin-kun opened its weird saucery eyes, I couldn’t help thinking: Man, the fetus from “Teardrop” will TOTALLY WHUP. Your. Sorry. Plastic. Ass!!!! Hahahaha. And not only that, but the “Teardrop” fetus smiles, too. And sings. (Beat that, Formalin-kun you little sucker!!!)

Disclaimer: the CGI used in the video is relatively primitive (it came out in 1998, after all), but still WAY more lifelike than in JIN. Enjoy!

Grade
Artistic & technical merit: A-
Entertainment value: A
Overall: A

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Photo credits: aramatheydidnt.livejournal.com, crunchyroll.com, dangermousie.livejournal.com, dipity.com, doramaworld.blogspot.com, hey9 @ d-addicts.com, maniakku.wordpress.com, Matahari_Biru @ soompi.com, mysoju.com, oldphotosjapan.com, rapidshareindex.com, semi-fly @ soompi.com, thirdofnovember.blogspot.com

Video credit: gpantelli @ youtube.com

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104 Comments on “Drama Review: JIN (TBS, 2009)”

  1. v Says:

    Am i first this time? lol.. anyways, great detailed review! and JIN was a great drama! perhaps not my favorite but I enjoyed it thoroughly…
    And you’re right, Ayase’s perf was good in it but osawa takao stood out for me. lol and “Mr. BRAIN move over.”
    and for “does this guy have to cry ALL the time?”.. that’s what I though too when I watched it.. and yeah, the ending DID have its WTH moments but I liked it. and i’ve read the manga so I guess I had less issues with the ending and I knew before I watched it that it would be open ended cuz the media was talking about it.
    anyways, and love all the references to other dramas and another great review.

    • v Says:

      hihi… sorry for all the errors in the previous post.. i was a little to eager to be first that I typed too quickly. -_-” lol.

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        Lol, typo schmypo, who cares? We’re in cyberspace, baby, not English 101.😀

        Yep, you’re officially this post’s Commenter of the First Order. =D Oh kewl, so you’ve read the manga! I hope the cast met your expectations of how you imagined the characters to be. Let us know when something interesting happens in the plot, all righty?😉

        • v Says:

          hihi… well Jenny kinda told you. yep, saki does get married but like she said, it’s not too bad since she works for jin. i know some shippers who just ignore the fact that’s she’s married and continue to root for the couple. but i think it’s good the drama ended where it did.
          “(Unless, um, Saki’s new hubby dies in the Boshin War…? hehe @____@)” haha.. well, who knows?
          btw, on dramabeans, sme wants to know which yamapi drama she should start w/? what do you think? some pple have been saying NwP (me included), and some prodai over buzzer beat, and some buzzer beat over prodai. let me know what you think.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Golly gee wilikers, there always seems to be a bunch of kids talking about Pi in every dramabeans open thread, lolz. I’m flattered you thought of me when someone asked for recs, though I’ve always felt iffy about telling people what to watch. I know my reviews can be extremely subjective sometimes (okay, most of the time), and I know I can get needlessly tough on certain actors and shows, but I’ve never considered my taste better than the next person’s. One fangirl’s meat can be another fangirl’s poison, y’know? At the end of the day, it’s all good, baby.😀

            Having cleared that up, my personal rec would be NwP, too. Not because it featured Pi’s single best performance in drama or film in his entire friggin’ career (although that’s also true, lol), but because as a drama, it’s unique, it’s timeless, it’s well-directed and well-acted, and it resonates so well with viewers because despite the fantasy elements, it’s just so true to life, true to the high school experience, true to its main themes of friendship and growing up. In fact, I’d recommend NwP not just as a “YamaPi dorama,” or as a “teen drama,” but as a DRAMA, period.

            NwP can hold up against any other drama out there. It’s just that good. And I don’t think I’m speaking with misty-eyed nostalgia here, because I just started a re-watch last night. (And yes, the bloody drama still gets me. The second I saw Kame brushing his teeth beside the water tank I started crying again. Aren’t I pathetic? lol)

            Other recs:
            ProDai (and SP), and even Buzzer Beat – ‘Coz we all want Pi to get a little lovin’, and these two are his only romantic dramas.🙂

            Stand UP! and Lunch no Joou – Ensemble dramas with engaging storylines, fantastic cast chemistry, and characters who will melt your heart. Plus, lotsa cute guys besides Pi.🙂 These are two dramas where Pi isn’t necessarily the main draw, but both his characters have that undeniable “Awwwww” factor. Next to NwP they’re my personal faves.😀

            The Non-recs: (hahaha)
            Code Blue – I’m obviously not a fan, and this is where YamaPi’s woodenness reaches its crowning point, lol.
            Kurosagi and Kurosagi the Movie – 4 letters: L. M. A. O. >DDDDDD
            Byakkotai and Long Love Letter both bored me senseless.

            (And I haven’t finished Dragon Zakura and IWGP, so I obviously can’t comment on them.)

            Hope the recs help.😉

    • v Says:

      Hey, thanks for the recs! yep, there’s always smth on yamapi in OT. lol. this time, we were talking about who’s the next Kimutaku (matsujun, yamapi, kame, taki), or abe hiroshi, wat yamapi drama to watch and if yamapi/kame has sex appeal like kimutaku. lol.
      oh god… somehow, i totally forgot about Stand up and Lunch Queen! (actually, i didn’t watch lunch queen for yamapi but for takeu yuko). i didn’t know he was in it until i watched it. who was your guy in lunch queen? mine was the bro played by tsumabuki satoshi) that drama was adorable and pi was still cute and not trying to be cool.
      i agree with you for code blue. lol. and seriously, i only went through byakottai cuz of pi. i was B.O.R.I.N.G. and for kurosagi the movie, i wouldnt go with LMAO but rather with WTH??!! lol. well, the upside is taiyou no namida kinda grew on me afterwards. actually, i cried for long love letter. i don’t really remember much about it though but i don’t think i hated it. dragon zakura was a good drama i guess but it does tend to get repetitive towards the end. anyway, i thought it was at least better than kr god of study. and IWGP… ROTFL. well, it was funny in its weird way. i watched it for nagase rather than pi. nagase’s drama all have that kind of weirdness in it, like tiger and dragon where he teamed up with okada (swoon) too was weird in a sort good weird way.
      the basic point is yeah, i guess NwP stands after all. as for me, i guess i would not say there was any non-recs but rather drama-that-you-watch-cuz-there’s-pi-in-it-and-only-cuz-there’s-pi. lol
      anyways, thanks much for the recs!

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        Oh, I loved all the Kitchen Macaroni Boyz (even Popsie… *tear*), but Tsumabuki Satoshi was just sooo kawaiiii, lol. It’s like, he personified what “kawaii” means and IS.😀

        “pi was still cute and not trying to be cool.” — That’s why I’m so fond of Pi’s earlier work. Back then, he was just being himself. =P

        “drama-that-you-watch-cuz-there’s-pi-in-it-and-only-cuz-there’s-pi” — Hahahaha. Totally. Point conceded. I realized that I may have called those dramas “non-recs” but went ahead and watched them anyway for the exact same reason you gave. So… touche.😉

        Addendum:
        I checked out the open thread (aside: wow how do you manage to post all those comments AND be up-to-date on all those dramas? :D) and the Kame/Pi sex appeal discussion was kinda funny. Peace to both sides, but IMO the combined sex appeal of those two boys could fit inside Kimura’s… um, appendix. So I guess that would render moot any speculation re “the next KimuTaku.” Because, IMO, that person simply does not exist.😉

        • v Says:

          lol… how do you even remember the name of the restaurant… all i remembered from that drama was that i loved it, that takeu yuko was so adorable, that all the guys were pure candy and that it was the drama that made me discover Eita.. another promising actor in my book. and yeah, tsumabuki satoshi is kawai! i miss the days when he acted in dramas. not that i don’t like his movies but i wished he was in more dramas.
          yep, the way Pi acts now makes me feel like those boys that suddenly switch attitude one day from another when they go from elementary school to middle school and play “grown up” (sorry if you’re still in middle school. no offense intended) lol.
          well, i think a lot of pple watch pi’s dramas cuz of the same reason, me included. wish he could have chosen better dramas, or take acting classes or smth…at least so that he is worthy of the title of “successor of Kimutaku”
          he does have big shoes to fill, not that those shoes are with no owner yet, cuz Kimutaku is out with a new drama! tho i’m a bit worried to be disappointed.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            I don’t think I can ever forget such a nice, kitschy name as “Kitchen Macaroni”, lol.

            Re Tsumabuki “Kawaii” Satoshi, I haven’t seen any of his movies except Waterboys, and he was so adorable in that one.😀 (Come back and make more doramas, Kawaii!)

            I like Eita, too! Speaking of the dude, are you following Sunao ni Narenakute this season? And you may want to check out jicks’ blog (http://candyme.wordpress.com) because she’s one big Eita/Kimura/Shun nut.🙂

            And no, I’m not in middle school, lol. (But even if I were, I’d take no offense, so no worries.) Grad school is more like it. ^^,, (Which reminds me, I’d better hit the books in a little while. When all I want to do is watch dramazzzz. Bugger! @___@)

    • v Says:

      hihi… well, waterboys was a good movie! ah, good times.. lol. i sound like an old lady.
      well, can i say, i’m following Sunao ni Narenakute if I’ve watched the first ep? lol. i need to catch up on that one. it definitely got promise since there’s eita, ueno juri and jaejoong (he’s just for eyecandy. lol). i’m also following yankee kun and megume chan live. otherwise, i’m just rewatching jdorama and waiting for the airing ones to finish. i have a lot on my plate with k-dramas and tw-dramas and ch-dramas too. and glad you like eita too!
      and thanx for the link… i’ve started reading it and i’ll definitely keep reading until i’ve covered most of it. the blog is definitely interesting so far and it seems like she share my interests ^^
      it’s always nice to find sme like that.🙂
      and glad to know that you have time for dramas in grad school (and maintaining a blog too!). i was worried that i would have to give it up once i reach that point. well, technically, i should have given up a long time ago. aside from the entertaining aspect, dramas pretty much complicate my life big time. hope i can handle it like you do when i reach grad school. altho i’m already a queen of procrastination right now -_-” so it’s gonna be hard. btw, can i ask what u study? i’m thinkin smth liberal arts but maybe i’m completely off?

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        “i have a lot on my plate with k-dramas and tw-dramas and ch-dramas too” — My, but that’s one big plate you have there!😀 I’m still amazed at your drama stamina. Lol, don’t you ever get the characters and story lines mixed up? ^^,,

        I’m sure when you start to juggle grad school and/or work you’ll be much better at it than I am, since you’re already so good at multitasking.😉 I’m one of those people who can only do one task at a time (and quite slowly, too), otherwise my brain cells promptly stage a mutiny. If I could update my blog more frequently, believe me I would. Doncha hate it when the real world gets in the way? lol @__@

        To answer your question, “liberal arts” << lol, way off, dude. Though I wish!🙂 My field of work and study deals with coastal environments and that sorta stuff — i.e. how to cope with climate change and overfishing and other global evils, lol. So my little blog here is a great escape for my oft-drained brain. And so far, I'm having fun. ('Coz that's what it's all about, baby)😉

        • v Says:

          haha… well, i don’t get my characters and story lines mixed up.. on the down side though, i don’t remember names very well, it’s more like i recognize how the names LOOK like rather than how to spell them.. I once read a whole book in high school without knowing what the main character name is exactly.. lol. then, i had to write and in class essay of it and that was only when i was like “ah.. so that’s his name…”
          well, actually, i’m pretty sure i will be bad and juggling real life and dramas. it’s not that i’m good at multitasking but rather that i can’t give up anything so i end up being overwhelmed.
          and at least you’re updating your blog… i don’t even have one. well, i have one LJ but that doesnt count because i almost never post anything.
          “Doncha hate it when the real world gets in the way? lol @__@” too true my friend, too true…
          lol…u know why liberal arts? because you write so well… but it’s cool that you deal with science and coastal environments!!! the earth needs more love! for my part, i’m neither good at liberal arts nor science.. or rather, i’m average but not excellent in anything. i can do math, i can do music, i can do science, i can do history, i can write essays decently and i like all subjects but i’m not excellent at any of those and i’m rather sure i can’t go to a high level in any of those fields. being good in high school is so different from being TRULY good.
          you’re like multi-talented!! so cool!
          and yeah, i’m glad that you’re having fun! wouldn’t the world be perfect if we don’t have to worry about consequences and choose to do whatever we enjoy? (i’m not talking about criminal things here..🙂 )

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            “then, i had to write and in class essay of it and that was only when i was like “ah.. so that’s his name…”” << LOL, that anecdote was too funny!😀

            “(i’m not talking about criminal things here..🙂 )” Hehe, I know😉 The way you describe yourself you seem to be a pretty well-rounded individual. I don’t think you’ll have trouble adjusting to any environment (work, school or social) later on.😉

            Speaking of LJ, I have an account too, but don’t post anything there (obviously). I mostly just lurk over at the JE comms, heh heh.

          • v Says:

            lol. i’m a well-rounded individually alright… but in the physical sense. TT trying to lose 50 pounds… lost 20 pounds so far. 30 more to go!😄
            as for the other meaning of well-rounded… i feel more like i have to passion or interest for anything, doomed to be forever mediocre in all things. what depressed me most is that some pple who do have a passion for smth are not only good at that but are also good at other things without even trying. my brother is one of the most nerdy pple ive met, genius in math and science, MIT style (his idea of an ideal christmas gift would be a physics book) and yet he writes better than I do (the guy won an award for that and HATES english), plays piano better than i do (won a contest for that) and is in freaking varsity track team. and I’m supposed to be his OLDER sister setting an example and what am I doing? watching dramas.. -_-” well, at least i’m not terrible i guess.😄
            and LOL… My LJ account is mainly for J-stuff too! that’s basically why I got it in the first place. remember when i told you that I collected every JE thing. i would get updates from all JE communities and would get everything available. thank god i’ve stopped doing that. lol

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Hey, 20 lb lost is no mean feat. Ganbatte, yo!😀

            Lol, your bro does sound like an overachiever and I’ll bet you’re one proud oneechan/noona.🙂 Though I wouldn’t write you off as “mediocre” — I mean you’re what, in your early 20s? You got your whole life ahead of you, girl! I guess we all blossom or peak at different times, and for your brother, those gifts and talents just emerged sooner. You seem more of a late bloomer and I’m sure you’ll find your rhythm when the time is right. Besides, I don’t think you have to excel in everything, anyway. (And remember that these genius types also grapple with their own issues, and the pressure on them is more intense.) Finding one or two things you’re passionate about, and learning how to channel that passion into something productive, can be an equally fulfilling way to live one’s life, methinks.😉

            And if your idea of unwinding is watching Asian dramas to your heart’s content while for your brother it’s… uh, solving calculus problems, tinkering with “Rach 3” on the piano, and running the 100-m dash under 10 sec — all at the same time (lol), then by gum, let him! At the end of the day, you’re both happy, right? (And believe me, I know how you feel. I prefer to chill out watching dramas when my siblings use their downtime traveling/doing sports/playing in a band, but I guess we’re all just wired differently, is what it boils down to.)😀

          • v Says:

            Awww.. thanks for the encouraging words! (btw, 20lbs sounds impressive… but then, losing that in on year. not so much)
            and yep.. ur right! i’m super proud of my brother! wish i could make him proud too. altho i used to be a brat and so mean to him. the typical older-sister-too-cool-to-talk-to-younger-brother act. TT. how stupid can we get huh? and i wouldn’t say my bro is an overachiever. that would make me feel better somewhat if it was true.. but the thing is, the guy has no ambition, just passion and love for learning and that alone carries him far. he doesnt care about grades, and would rather read a physics book and take a 0 than do a physics problem he finds boring. -_-” he’s so happy because he knows what he loves and wants to do. i don’t have that.
            btw hihi..oneechan sounds better to me for some reason by the way. maybe because noona can be used for non related people too?
            if you want to know… not 20 yet, altho will be this yr.hopefully, i will “blossom” too although some people never quite achieve that.
            and the thing is my “gifts” like u said started before him.. he used to look up to me for school, piano, etc. and then he started to love it, and I started to discover drama/entertainment land… oh boy. so technically, i do have a passion but not the “right” one. so u know… talent is significant but practice and hardwork are more important. so now, i can play piano, i get the grades, but I lack true knowledge and talent cuz my focus is somewhere else. meanwhile, my brother kept going further in those fields until he surpassed me to the point where i can’t catch up.
            and ur right about not excelling in everything… i totally agree. technically,there’s only one thing he excels at: physics. it’s the thing he’s the most good at. but then, he is more than good at everything else too. as for me, i just wished i HAD something i could say i’m good at or that I love, but i dont, except for saying that i know a lot about entertainment but that’s what a fan does isnt it? but there’s real life to think of too and when I see how happy having a passion makes my brother, i really want to find that too, but i like everything and love nothing. and while I’m happy too with my fandoms and all, i can’t help but have doubts, insecurites, and guilt over that while he doesnt. *sigh* oh well, hope i’ll find my calling soon. I DO know that I want to do something beneficial like working in the UN since i know several languages, or being a doctor but the again, which one?
            that might be what i want to do, but what about what i want to study? and are my hobbies my passions or are they different?
            but I have to say that your wise comments cheered me up a lot!! thanks so much. i’ll try to be positive cuz no one likes a whiner.
            and how did a comment on JIN turned into a discussion on life problems? lol.
            so to go back somewhat to j-land… guess what my LJ’s pix contain. and i haven’t even changed it for more than a year since ive been too lazy… hint, it’s a JE boy…well,that leaves u with um..gazillions to choose from.

          • doozy Says:

            @ v

            You’re turning 20 this year? Aw, you’re still young, my friend. You know several languages?! *is jealous*

            For what it’s worth, I’m in my late 20s and even after two bachelors degree, I’m still not fully certain of what I want to do in life, where my true passion lies. I totally understand your sentiment about wanting to be good at one thing instead of being “mediocre” at everything. I want that too, seriously. Being able to effectively articulate my thoughts, to write well is a skill I so covet. Writers that I admire, like E.G., inspire me to read more and write more so I can be a better writer. But dang, for me it seems like creativity level and aging are inversely proportionate. And I ain’t getting younger, if ya know what I mean.

          • v Says:

            yep… turning 20 this year, and quite afraid of it.
            well, i “know” several languages to make conversations and write but like everything I do, none of them well enough. i started with 2 languages when i was born. one used in my family and one used at school and my mother language is not as strong as my other language now. then my old country had mandatory 2 foreign language so i took them and then i moved to the US 3-4 yrs ago so now i have english which is not on par with my first language. but then, i forgot a lot of my 1st language so i dont speak it as well either. TT
            you’re in your late 20s? that’s young my friend! haha… it’s funny how easily and sincerely i can say that for others while i’m depressed about my own age. where’s the logic in that?
            and 2 bachelor degrees??!! u go girl (i assume ur a girl doozy right?)!! super impressive.😄
            and yeah, it’s sad that creativity is inversely proportionate with age.. and learning ability too… and memory. i already see signs of problems for me. lol
            and totally true about writers that we admire, like EG and other bloggers, inspiring us! i know what u mean ^^

          • doozy Says:

            yup, i’m a full X-chromosome-er.

            “and yeah, it’s sad that creativity is inversely proportionate with age.. and learning ability too… and memory.” and the list goes on and on… lol.

            another side note: i just got home from work, am drinking beer, eating a tuna melt, and thinking of HnH.
            HnH = a life changing experience!

          • v Says:

            hey.
            “yup, i’m a full X-chromosome-er.”
            lol.. that’s a fun way to put it! ^^
            tuna melt.. yummy! i had salmon yesterday with water. lol. i’m not of drinking age yet, altho i dont think i would drink even then. but it’s always cool to have the choice right? and about eating, right now, i’m chewing my gum and thinking about the meal that i ought to already have if i wasnt stuck on my computer.😄
            Yep, HnH was super cute. loved ayase in it! and i’ve read E.G.’s recommendations for you and if it helps, i agree with all of them. lol. and if by then, ur out of stuff to watch, u can go to jdorama.com. they have a list of fav 50/100 dramas. i used that when i first started.

          • doozy Says:

            v, thanks for the website!

            “…the meal that i ought to already have if i wasnt stuck on my computer.”
            indeed, i know all too well about those missed meals once inside the computer vortex.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Lol, tell me about it. I was so caught up in my NwP re-watch that I just realized it’s 11 pm and I haven’t had dinner. X___X Better get the mandatory chow over with so I can go back to you-know-what… =D

            v, thanks for referring doozy to http://jdorama.com.😀 I meant to include it after my recs but forgot. I’m a regular there myself and they have a thread devoted solely to drama recs. JDorama isn’t as frenetic a forum site as Soompi (no flame wars here I’m afraid :-)), so feel free to hop by anytime, doozy!

          • v Says:

            @doozy
            ur welcome about the website.^^ hope it will help. when i started, i relied on it but then u start to find dramas on ur own.
            “vortex” would be quite the right word… and unfortunately, seems like once you’re sucked in, it’s almost impossible to get out of it.
            @E.G.
            lol…can u believe that i breezed through a NwP rewatch straight from 1 to 10 no stop. i did that for several dramas. the worst is when u start an addicting k-dramas. they are long and u don’t stop. TT
            lol, jdoramas is a cool site! love it! and ah.. dear old soompi. i’m on it right now for Prosecutor Princess… the debate going on is heated. ^^

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Hehe. I don’t think I have the energy for those interminable marathons like I used to. In our early 20s my best friend and I would sit through entire kdramas (or huge chunks thereof) and never get tired. (This was back in the day of Winter Sonata, Stairway to Heaven, Beautiful Days, Damo etc.) Nowadays whenever we get together for our rare drama marathons we doze off every 2 episodes, lol. We didn’t realize it had become a pattern until we hit our late 20s. At some point we just looked at each other and went, “gaawwwd we’re OLD.” lol @__@ Goong and NwP were rare exceptions for me, but if you got me to watch Goong right now, I probably couldn’t do 5 straight eppies even if I tried.😄

            So enjoy your marathons while you still have the youthful stamina for ’em.😀 (Come to think of it, I used to have the energy for those lengthy Soompi debates/flame wars, but not anymore. :-))

          • v Says:

            lol… it sounds so fun to have a best friend to watch dramas with! and even marathons! my mom occasionally watch dramas with me (we went for an all nighter for Full House and winder sonata) but its not fun to watch with her sometimes because she keeps saying, “that’s rude.. she’s so unfilial.. the mother is right to act that way. etc”. she even thinks the Little Mermaid is wrong cuz Ariel was rebellious. lol.
            late 20s? i dont think that’s old. i have friends who are in their late 20s and they look so young i mistook them for my age when i befriended them. lol. it was awkward when i found out their real age…oopsie, i overreached myself. haha. and think of the good thing. drama marathons are unhealthy.
            and for Goong, i probably can’t watch it full straight too. usually, i just skip to the good parts. lol. but i can for NwP. it’s the kind of drama that you can rewatch again and again.
            but yeah, thx for the advice, i’ll try to enjoy marathons as long as i can. as for debates, i’m losing energy for that too! on dramabeans, OT, i’ve been debating on ProsecPrinc for a wk now, but when we switched to the 2nd week, i was too exhausted to write much.. lol.

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            LOL, your mom’s kinda funny. She sounds just like my mom!😀 (But if she’s a KimuTaku fan, um, how’d she react to his role in Sora Kara…? Was she turned off by his dark side? hehe)

            “on dramabeans, OT, i’ve been debating on ProsecPrinc for a wk now,” << Yeah I know, I've seen your comments on the OT. Lots of passion in those posts, girl!😉 Man, you really love that drama! Of course I couldn't relate just yet, as (knowing me) I'll probably be watching the current batch of Kdramas 4 or 5 months down the line. Too much backlog, y'know… Y__Y

          • v Says:

            haha…maybe all moms r like that?? and for kimura in sorax2, well, we’re talking about kimu here so would rationality be involved? lol. actually, she was quite shocked when he kissed the girl on the ship but she got over it. but she never watch kimutaku with me. it’s embarrassing for both of us. lol.
            oh, u saw my comments on OT? i dont know y but i feel embarrassed for sm reason.😄. i didnt know u hang out on DB, r u a silent reader? as for PP, it’s true that i like it a lot but i dont know if watching it live makes any difference. that’s the problem with watching smth live, u dont know if u like it while in the midst of it and for the anticipation of the next ep, or if u’d really like it for real. but oh well, i’m enjoying myself and the girlfights. lol. i do participate less now, i’m completely spent. “Too much backlog, y’know… Y__Y”… haha. too true. my list of to-watch-dramas is so long reading it gives me a headache.😄

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            @ v – DB is a terrific site and I drop by from time to time, although I don’t really read the current recaps (obviously bec. I’m always behind on my drama watching). I guess I’m more of a “review” than a “recap” person. Since I watch a drama by the time it’s 100% subbed, I don’t see the point in reading recaps anymore. What I crave for afterwards is a one-post review (the more detailed, the better). I love combing the interwebs for reviews of my favorite dramas, and if I don’t find enough that satisfy me… well, that’s when I write my own, lol.😉 But yeah, sometimes I drop by the open thread to see what people are saying about the Jdoramaworld, heh heh. I don’t know why, but Kdramas don’t excite me the way they used to. Hope it’s only a phase.🙂

          • v Says:

            Agree… DB is an excellent site.. i’ve just been on the OT and they were talking about Pride and kimutaku.. sme was not a kimutaku fan for yrs and finally got herself to watch Pride and guess what.. so far, she is falling for Halu.. haha. ur not human if u dont like him. btw, the same person recommended ur blog to another one. ^^. ur quite popular huh? lol. and they also talked about tsuki no koibito. the reviews were mild i would say. i havent watched it yet but i will soon. but from what i heard, the dialogue are fast and i’m worried since i’m not terribly good at japanese. oh well.
            and i’m both a recaps and review person. i use recaps to follow the dramas i watch. i usually watch the drama and then read the recap which shows me some stuff and insights i’ve missed. and i use reviews either to decide whether or not to watch a drama when i have to pick from my long list of must-watch or i just read those of dramas that i liked and read opinion of others. and ur right, the more detailed the better, which is why i like urs.
            and i know what u mean by kdramas dont excite u as much. i went through that phase too, as well as a jdorama phase and a tw phase.. it’s like a cycle thing for me.. now i’m back to kdrama phase altho i do balance all 3 genres right now.

  2. doozy Says:

    I love love your writing style and your insightful reviews and this one is no exception. From witty lines to detailed descriptions, lighthearted to serious, you always manage to be spot on and make me wonder “how does she come up with these apt nicknames and references?”

    Looking forward to reading more reviews and smackdowns!

    Side note: I’m re-watching Hotaru no Hikari and Ayase’s portrayal of Hotaru is, like you said, “downright adorable.” Love her!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey thanks a bunch, doozy!😀 Heh heh, I seriously should put a word limit to the reviews, and believe me I do try, but sometimes the post just runs away with itself, lol. (I just realized that 60% of my review was historical/medical geekery, crud! But I dunno, can I help it if this stuff is sooo faaaascinaaaating… *giant anime sweat/teardrop*)

      Oh yay, Hotaru no Hikari!!! I think out of all of Ayase’s roles, Amemiya Hotaru is the one closest to my heart. (Lol, I can’t believe I’m also wearing sweat pants as I type this reply. lmao. Mebbe that’s why I luuurve Hotaru so much? *super jumbo anime sweat/teardrop*)

      Anyway, this is all your fault, now all I can think about is Fujiki Naohito’s yummy legs sticking out of his dark blue jinbei, aieeeeeeeeee!!! @____@ Buchouuuuuuuuuuu

      • doozy Says:

        for hijacking your Jin review by talking about HnH and Ayase… sorry!

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          JIN => Ayase => HnH — Hey, we’re not entirely off topic!!!🙂 No worries at all, I like meandering discussions, y’know😉

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          doozy, if you still get to read this…

          Guess wot? Breaking news — Hotaru no Hikari Season 2 is slated to air in July of this year. (!!!!!!)😀 And yes, Ayase and Fujiki Naohito are reprising their roles. (!!!!!!!!)😀

          Best news I’ve heard all year (aside from the Phoenix Suns sweeping the Spurs in the NBA playoffs, that is, hehe) and I just wanted to share it with you (and your tuna melt! and your beer! — kanpai!!! *bottoms up*).

          So, mark your calendar, girl!😉

          Source: japan_now @ livejournal

          • Ralph Moratz Says:

            That is the best news from the Jdrama world I’ve heard in a long time. On behalf of the guys we thank you…:) Can’t wait… subbers, please put this on your front burners.

          • v Says:

            OMG!!! i didn’t know… This is AWESOME!!! woohooo!😄 (i’m literally jumping in my seat. lol)
            and sorry to butt in.. as if i didn’t spam ur post enough already.
            i’ll try to stick to “my own section” but this was TOO good not to say anything.

          • doozy Says:

            OMG!!! Thanks so much for thinking of me! I just read the news today too and would have fallen off my chair in excitement if I wasn’t at work! And then, I wanted to come to your blog right away to bask in the happy but your blog was blocked at work because it’s a “personal site”. Darn it! *shakes fist*

            Anyway! It’s Hotaru and her Buchouuuuu again! Just watched Fujiki Naohito on Youtube singing that “thankful everyday, every night” song for the first time. Omo! He’s so CUTE!

            There’s not enough exclamation marks to show how ecstatic I am!

            Kanpai!!! *glurp*

          • doozy Says:

            @ v

            “i’ll try to stick to ‘my own section'” LOL… you are too funny!🙂


  3. […] The white men in their black ships have made their puissance increasingly felt, triggering pockets of violent resistance among the warrior class. Peasant uprisings and city riots are common, and two influential domains, ….. The drama gets extra manipulative in a later episode where Jin gets into a disagreement with Shinmon Tatsugoro, the local fire brigade chief (and community leader-cum-mafioso) who pooh-poohs doctors because they, uh, run away from a fire? …Next Page […]

  4. bmwracer Says:

    Yow, what a review… Or should I say, dissertation.😛

    I don’t think the scripts of all 11 episodes combined were as long.

    But let me say this: Bravo…!😀

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for dropping by!🙂 Lol, I think it was also you who said last year that my reviews were longer than an NHK Taiga…😀

      • bmwracer Says:

        I did?

        Though, admittedly, your reviews have been more interesting than some of the Taigas in recent memory.🙂

        BTW, don’t forget to hunt down and check out “Summer Time Machine Blues.” It’ll be worth the effort.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Could’ve only been either you or Anime Dad who said that (the usual suspects, y’know)… Anyway, no offense was taken, so it’s all gravy.

          Muchos gracias for the movie rec, I’ve added it to my queue.

          (Man where are the JDorama.com emoticons when you need them? lol)

  5. tgbgbt Says:

    Wow, this is such a deliciously complex/detailed review!! (: I really admire your writing style!!

    Personally, I’ve only seen the first episode. I wanted to see more of it, but then the I didn’t want to see, as you so aptly described, the people vomiting into their buckets and possibly coughing blood (the horror), which disturbs me more than the operations. I think I’ve been scared away from medical jdramas, maybe since that weird one with Eita in it. I’ve been tiring of really episodic series. But your recommendation is quite compelling.🙂

    I just rewatched Hotaru no Hikari! Except that was right after I finished Hero, so when I heard “Amemiya,” I was like, what????!!!!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hi tgbgbt! Well, the yucky vomiting abates after Episode 3 (w/c tackles the cholera outbreak), and beyond this point it’s mostly surgical procedures (like a mastectomy, in all its glory) and, uh, body sores.😀 It’s understandable for viewers to get a little nauseous while watching JIN, so I won’t force you to finish the drama, lol. Maybe you can take it one episode at a time and see how it goes.😉

      “that weird one with Eita in it” – LOL. You mean Voice? I have that on queue but don’t feel like watching it yet.

      Woo-hoo, it’s Hotaru no Hikari re-watching season again!!! Lol, jumping from Amamiya to Amemiya does feel weird, esp. since they’re such different characters (and such different dramas).😀 Dayyyum… Hotaru no Hikari… now that’s one drama that was just begging for a sequel (or at least, an SP). Poopy! >P

      • doozy Says:

        I know! I want more Hotaru & Buchou!!!

        Watching Hotaru no Hikari the second time around made me love the drama more, if it’s that even possible. When I watched it the first time, I totally marathoned it, glued to my computer screen for ten sweet hours and only getting up for the absolute necessities, getting strange cravings for beer and actually got up to get a bottle to drink as I watched (it was an absolute necessity, and I’m not even a bigger drinker myself). Ahh, what a lovely Saturday that was.

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Lol, I’ll bet you’ve never opened a beer can since then without thinking of Hotaru (or Buchou, hihihi). Next re-watch you might want to pair it off with bonito flakes over rice.😀 And thanks for giving me the idea; I must try it when I do my own re-watch. (Now if only the six-pack came with a hot, righteous man in a blue jinbei… man oh man, then I’d NEVER leave the house! hehe)

          I can totally understand why you’d marathon HnH, because a large part of the drama’s irresistibility lies in not knowing if Hotaru and Buchou will ever end up together (dammit!). You’re kept guessing until the penultimate episode, esp. since Buchou THE ENTIRE TIME is just so strait-laced and unsentimental that you just know HE’D NEVER HIT ON HOTARU LIKE, EVER, arggghghhghg. =D

          Ahhhhhh good times, good times. Cheers! *glug glug glug*🙂

      • Ralph Moratz Says:

        I’m not sure why I’m reading replies to Jin when I’m not even watching nor planing to watch it. I’m more like a little rat smelling a bit of cheese… or rather I detected Hotaru No Hikari and felt obliged to spout my 2 cents. I simply loved HNH. But let me backtrack just a bit. When Jdramas became readily available, I got suckered into watching “Crying out Love, in the Center of the World”… you know I detest sad endings. Well, needless to say that is the kind of drama that is the ultimate moth attracted to the flame impossible to stop watching though every fiber is aching toturous video. Ayase was so perfect in that role, became so ingrained in my nervous system, that I ached with each moment of her progression into the void… of course Yamada Takayuki was superb in bringing out every sob my body could muster. I needed a drama in wich Aki would come back to life and Hotaru No Hikari filled the bill perfectly… my life slowly returned to normal with each viewing (5 in all) of this funny, humanizing romantic comedy… err.. of course the highly stylish role of Kuninaka Ryoko had a little bit to do with my resurrection also.🙂

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          5 viewings???? Wow, Ralph, you da man!!!😀

          I’m sorry you had to sit through something as weepy as Crying out Love… That’s one Ayase drama I have yet to see, and I actually have it on queue. (And I’ll bet Yamada Takayuki was just “superb” in this one; that guy’s level of talent is simply insane. ;-))

          • Ralph Moratz Says:

            It made me a dedicated Takayuki fan. Of course I knew him in Churasan where he was close to nothing. But suddenly this guy jumps into the academy awards nomination heights. And Ayase… wow.. she is almost cherubic angelic. I tried not to print any spoilers. I assume everyone in the world knows the premise of this drama. I hope you get to it soon so I can read your insights. Since it happens in the first 10 minutes, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to ask you to pay close attention to the school rain scene. That is so beautiful and well done that to this day I think back on it often. it seems to set the bond between the co-stars forever. But maybe it’s just the romantic in me. Others are very critical of the entire drama…(negatively).
            Oops… sorry to dump this in your Jin review…🙂

          • Ender's Girl Says:

            Lol, it’s not a spoiler if the drama is several years old, so don’t sweat it, Ralph.😉 Hmmm… I didn’t know a lot of fans were critical of Crying out Love…

            I’m not as averse to weepy plots as you are, but I can’t say that melodrama would be my most liked genre, either. (One of those aftereffects of years of watching K-drama tearjerkers, y’know. @__@) Which is why I haven’t seen 1 Liter of Tears (though I have it on DVD) despite having read good reviews about it. But I look forward to watching Crying out Love… solely because Ayase and Yamada are in it.

            No need to apologize for “dumping” anything here! Dumping is good.😀 We could be discussing the World Cup 2010 and I still wouldn’t mind, lol.

  6. Jenny Says:

    I loved JIN, it was the only show that season that kept my interest.
    I loved the whole cast especially Osawa Takao looks great even though he is 42.
    It would be great if they could possibly continue the story somehow, the manga is still ongoing.

    A little spoiler, in the manga Saki gets married but still works for Jin.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Oh NOES. Say it ain’t sooooooooooooooooooo *self-destructs*

      Well in that case, I hope TBS never makes a sequel. NEVER! Please just leave me with my shipper illusions.

      (Unless, um, Saki’s new hubby dies in the Boshin War…? hehe @____@)

  7. Taohua Says:

    Hi, I’ve been a lurker for awhile. I had stumbled upon this site last year via Thundie’s. I couldn’t resist commenting especially after seeing that you had a post on JIN, which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I have to agree Ayase Haruka was totally underutilized in Mr. Brain (in general I thought the whole plot and acting was kind of underwhelming) and she was pretty awesome in JIN (though I agree my favorite AH role is Hotaru in HnH). Yay for Jin-Saki shippers, even though I knew it couldn’t be in the dorama. But they had such awesome chemistry! And the ending was WTF…

    Awesome review! I loved how detailed and insightful it was!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for coming out of the lurker closet to drop me a line! You know you’re always welcome in this little corner of the blogosphere.😉

    • v Says:

      hey… sorry if it seems weird but i’ve just noticed your name and i was wondering if your the same Taohua from dramabeans? if you’re not, sorry -_-, ignore me. lol

  8. jicks Says:

    Darn it, I had to stop reading after the bit you mentioned Damo because I haven’t gotten around to watching this series yet!!!! But I still want to comment so here I am lol

    And of course, a Yamapi reference had to be dropped in somehow. Time travel is one super power I most def would like to have. But I’m sure it would’ve been the same effect had someone just pounded Ken-zou w/ a few drinks & he just stood up @ the reception during the bride & groom’s speeches & just lashed out. That would saved us all a good 450mins of our life (& then I could actually go & watch Jin lol)

    Will come back to read in full & comment once I’ve watched this ^_^

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      No problemo, amigo.😉 I know you haven’t seen this, but I’d love to pick your brain once you’re done watching. ^^,,

      Lol, 450 mins of ProDai for an uninterrupted JIN viewing? Sounds fair enough. =D (Although for a minute there I thought you’d use your power to go back to 1996 while Kimura was shooting LV. Dayum, I don’t think KimuTaku has ever been as cute as he was back then. :D)

  9. jicks Says:

    Oi! A Eita/Kimura/Shun nut?? I’m not… nah, wait, who I am to kid. I’ll accept the title ^^;;

    Re Waterboys, it only recently clicked w/ me that Tamaki Hiroshi’s skinny ass was in the film as well! That poor guy sure had to go thru alot to get to where he is now… thank goodness for a Chiaki-senpai.

    P.S. Anyone seen the dorama version of Waterboys? (I need a oopy! Eita + banana hammock = ??????)

    • v Says:

      ooooh!!! tamaki hiroshi! another fine man.. I fell in love with Chiaki at first sight. lol
      u have great taste!
      yep, i’ve seen the dorama version of waterboys! both seasons! and it’s not bad. it was a long time ago so i don’t remember much. it didn’t leave a deep impression but it was enjoyable. ^^.
      hehe.. i’m not sure i’m specifically an eita/kimura/shun nut but then again, i’m nuts for everyone fine looking boy/man… even those who can’t act or sing (JE boys.. looking at u). lol.

  10. tinysunbl Says:

    “It’s science fiction when there’s a technology that facilitates the time travel, i.e. a time machine; otherwise it falls under fantasy.”

    ->The distinction is quite blurry, I must say. For example, in H.G.Wells’ The Time Machine, there isn’t a good description of what the heck the time machine is. It’s more of an idea (though the fourth dimension that Wells mention is some deep pre-Einstein’s relativity idea). In Edgar Burroughs’ Princess of Mars, the main character is somehow transported to Mars; the means of space travel is never fully explained. Princess of Mars, I believe, is considered a sci-fi novel, or sci-fi interplanetary romance.
    A very nice write-up. I finally find something to watch for summer. Thank you!

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey, thanks for your input, much appreciated.🙂 I agree with you that the sci-fi and fantasy genres overlap at certain points (hence such crossbreeds as science fantasy and, like you said, planetary romance). I used the above distinction to simplify matters, I guess.😉 The Time Machine would still fall under sci-fi because while the contraption in question is not described in detail, the fact that it’s there would qualify the work as sci-fi. I’ve never read Burroughs’ Barsoom series, but as a planetary romance it hews closely to C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy and some of Ursula K. Le Guin’s works (stuff I’m more familiar with :-)).

      But the point that you raised made me realize that upon closer scrutiny, a lot of the sci-fi novels I thought were straight sci-fi actually belong to the science fantasy sub-genre. I suppose a better way to distinguish time travel in the two genres is that in science fiction, the time travel is predicated on a rational principle (whether it’s a technological device or a scientific theory), while fantasy makes use of “non-scientific” means such as magic, incantations, amulets, etc.

      Anyway, I hope you enjoy your JIN watching! And I’d love to hear what you think when you’re done.😀

  11. tinysunbl Says:

    Hi Ender’s girl,

    I can’t wait to get out of school and enjoy as much science fiction and Jdramas as I like!

    It’s interesting, isn’t it, to think about how to distinguish between science fiction and fantasy. In fact, I think this task has bothered many fan generations, but a history of science professor I know, who owns like a sci-fi library, simply put it in perspective: “it’s hard to distinguish, but fans can identify it the moment they see it.” He means fans are the ones who define the genre. For most cases, I also use your criteria (machine vs non machine/science vs. supernatural)^^

    I think C.S. Lewis’ trilogy and the barsoom series, or the European and the American tradition in general are ideologically different, but the closest thing to Princess of Mars I can think of, like you suggest, is Out of the Silent Planet. The fantasy and sci-fi genre really blended together during the early time of Ursula Le Guin (1960s, 1970s). Dune by Frank Herbert, for example, contains sci-fi themes, yet it reads like Lords of the Ring. “science fantasy sub-genre” ->there you go^^

    I’ve never read a book by Le Guin. Have to get on it this summer, too. Any recommendation? (I know of Left Hand of Darkness and the Dispossessed)

  12. tinysunbl Says:

    Oh yeah, I haven’t thought about the time travel paradox in Proposal Dasaikusen. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Speaking of the problem of time travelling, have you ever read the short story “All You Zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein? It’s very short yet presents a paradox the most disturbing about time travelling I have ever read. Reading it makes me think “hell yeah, I’m glad time travelling is science fiction only.” If yes, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Dune – Oh yeah, this is definitely a mixed breed. Like a space opera fairy tale or something.🙂 The series gets progressively weirder (Paul Atreides turns into an effin’ sandworm??? LOL WTF), but the prequels co-written by Brian Herbert brought back the appeal for me, although I know the purists hate them, hehe. Well. I never cared much for Paul and his stupid progeny, anyway (Duke Leto forever! lol).

      C.S. Lewis – I’m a much bigger (read: humongous!!!) fan of the Narnia books than of his Space Trilogy. Silent Planet and Perelandra were interesting reads, but That Hideous Strength felt like the odd one out. Or maybe I just ought to give it another go. The first (and last) time I read the trilogy I was 12 or something. Lewis has quite an impressive body of non-fiction, I must say. His theological works are fantastic reads because his prose is just so LUCID. Not pretentious at all for a stuffy Oxford don.🙂

      Le Guin – Like Lewis, I love her more for her fantasy works (i.e. Earthsea Cycle) than for her SF, although her Hainish Cycle novels kick some serious SF ass. I remember reading Rocannon’s World and City of Illusions and maybe a few other Hainish novels and short stories (which I can’t recall; I guess they didn’t stick). (Have not read The Dispossessed, btw.)

      But the Hainish novels that really made an impact were The Left Hand of Darkness and the novella The Word for World is Forest. The first one completely subverts established notions on gender identity — a highly provocative, though not necessarily entertaining, read. The second one takes a strong anti-war stance, and will make you… well, hate humanity for a while, lol. Given our lust for subjugating the weak and exploiting the earth, we basically SUCK, is what the novella tries to say.🙂

      All You Zombies by Heinlein – I’ve read a couple of his works (i.e. Starship Troopers, heh) but was never a fan. Still, thanks for the short story rec. I read it just now — and madre mia, that’s one convoluted time pretzel right there! It’s like the mother of all cause-and-effect paradoxes. This one blows the “grandfather paradox” and the “autoinfanticide paradox” right out of the water. Freaky and disturbing as hell, but I enjoyed the mindscrew. Thanks a bunch!😀

  13. Peggy Says:

    Hi E.G.
    I am surprised I did not comment here before. Have talked about this film ad infinitum somewhere. I loved it so much. Must make just one frivolous comment re Osawa. I adore the man. My lord he is only 42 and he can still spice up life and melt bones.His face…that amazing face. that smile. Well OK I’ll stop. Maybe you are still too young to fully see what this man has within him. OK I’ll stop now.

    Re the drama JIN. After reading your treatise and all the above comments I think I will just say..I agree with almost everything that has been said so I won’t repeat it again. This drama was wonderful. I think the actors were wonderful. I thought Ryoma could have been played by a younger actor and there are plenty of younger actors who could have done it very well.
    However, it is fantasy so it’s OK. There is a new drama playing here in California now on NHK and its Ryoma as a young man. It hasn’t caught me in the net somehow. It’s the actor again who seems too old. Ryoma must have been the most outgoing and flamboyant man. How he did it without being chopped before he was twenty is beyond me. I think it is sad he was asassinated at such a young age. He was almost within six steps of separation, considering one of my grandfathers might have been only a few years later being born when Ryoma was still alive. Does that make sense grammatically?? I’m too tired and it’s too late to go over it again. Eyes are closing. Midnight again.
    This week has been a harassment. Glad it’s over.
    Fading here. Peg.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Hey Peggy, I hope this week is turning out much better for you.😉

      Ah, yes, Ryomaden starring Fukuyama “Galileo” Masaharu? But he’s just Uchino Masaaki’s age, heh heh. I agree, there’s an emerging crop of terrific actors in their 20s who would fit the part better. Oguri Shun, Eita, Tsumabuki Satoshi and Yamada Takayuki immediately come to mind. No Johnnies, mind you!😀

  14. Novroz Says:

    Ow…so this is what Jin is all about!! I thought the story was about old Japan…Thanks for your ‘Nut-Shell’ now I’m interested with Jin.

    Hehehe I will search for this next Month

  15. Peggy Says:

    I just re read this page all over again. JIN was really the best drama. Always something new to see in every viewing. Re Sakamoto..I think Eita would have made a wonderful job of being Ryoma as a younger man. I love his voice by the way.

    Again Osawa is so satisfying as an actor. I don’t know what is the matter with your spleen E.G.. but he definitely rearranges my vitals. He’s only 42 and he is in the prime of his life. Knows who he is and what he is and where he is and what he can do….anytime….OK. I’ll shut up.
    Peg

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      “I don’t know what is the matter with your spleen E.G.. but he definitely rearranges my vitals.” << Too funny!!!😀

      You'll be happy to hear, then, that TBS is doing a sequel to come out Spring 2011. I learned about it just now. Yay!🙂

  16. Peggy Says:

    I know I also read about it. I just hope I am around to see it. Must remember to keep taking my vitamins.


  17. […] Drama Review: JIN (TBS, 2009) « The Little Dorama Girl […]

  18. jicks Says:

    I finished Jin the other day, came back to read your review in full & I think it made me appreciate the series EVEN more!

    lol Some of Osawa’s crying moments did make me wonder why was he so emotional but apart from that, I actually found him kinda… attractive! I’m thinking it’s a v. borderline old man crush situation for me… (but I suppose this is much less painful than our interests in Johnny boys & other M.H. creatures… lololo)

    I really, really loved Ayase Haruka in this! Everything you said about her courage & her spirit & her period-appropriateness was dead-on. I’ve always seen polls of her coming out on top as the actress who most looks the part in a yukata/kimino & now I get it. She just looks the part. Not only that, I am really starting to see the “fresh, winsome quality” that you see in her, too. Def will be keeping an eye out for her from now on :))

    Oh & >I’ll bet Saki can kick those 21st-century Code Blue kiddos’ heli-riding asses without breaking into a sweat, hahahahaaha. That’s how you perform a craniotomy, Rambo-Pi and company!^^lmao. SO true!

    I also loved Nakatani Miki in her dual role as well. Really thought she delivered the refined grace & alluring charm of a world class courtesan. And OMG, yes, that scene near the end after her op where she departs to live a brand new life of her own was breathtakingly beautiful (snow, ppl, body language, words… it was all good.)

    lol You didn’t like dear little Kiichi? I, well, actually, he got me crying! When he was doing that ancient anesethia chant… maybe I’m just a sucker ><

    The photo changing on every important event was a v. unresolved puzzler for me- they're implying that Jin is changing the future, sure, but regardless of how he is changing it, the 2009(?) him is still traveling back in time ne? But then, how should that change him, him in the Edo period? Shouldn't history affect the way he turns out as a person? (I don't know if I am making sense anymore lol)

    But ah well, I got over it quickly because you know, the series was simply entertainment at its near best (even w/ that oh-so-good-looking fetus *shivers*) Time travel, a dollop of history, a smidgen of fantasy, cool medical scenes, great casting, great acting & Koide Keisuke… it's all v. v. good xD

    Can't wait for the sequel (esp after "the ending"- I am using air quotes because I don't think ppl should allow to end series w/ that many open ends…) :))

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Yay, you liked JIN (…and the review, teehee)!!!😀 And I’m so happy you loved Ayase’s character, jicks! *does dance of joy* I love how strong Ayase and Nakatani Miki’s characters were in their own way. I was re-watching Oda Nobunaga a few days back and I was floored to find that it was Nakatani Miki who played Kimura’s wife, bec. I couldn’t recognize her with all that baby fat, lol. I thought she was always on the skinny side. Guess not.

      Woohoooo, Osawa Takao is quite a cutie, is he not?😉 “v. borderline old man crush”? You may just cross over for good when you view his J-D thread. Lotsa goodies there, mostly supplied by qnuy and Peggy, who are nice ‘n’ nutty Osawa fans (and I love it each time they spaz out over the man, hehe). I wouldn’t rank him up there with Kimura despite the impressive credentials lol, but every time I see him I can’t help but go, dayyyyyum. *eyelashes a-fluttery* Liking him is like liking… Takeshi Kaneshiro or Karasawa Toshiaki, i.e. has talent + gorgeous + age-appropriate for li’l ol’ me, haha. There is no shame in liking Osawa Takao!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Oh yeah, that photo changing causality hiccup sure gave my brain a workout. “But then, how should that change him, him in the Edo period? Shouldn’t history affect the way he turns out as a person?” << Did you mean, Jin's traveling back in time would affect the birth of present-day Jin, OR that the time travel would affect how Jin-stuck-in-the-past viewed life and stuff? When he got to meet people like Ogata-sensei, didn’t that affect Jin enough to make him put up a hospital? (Now I’m the one who isn’t sure if she’s making any sense, lulz)

      Re Kiichi, I think… after watching Kato Seishiro in Ninkyo Helper every kiddie actor paled in comparison, lol.

      “Time travel, a dollop of history, a smidgen of fantasy, cool medical scenes, great casting, great acting & Koide Keisuke… it’s all v. v. good xD” << Amen to that! ^^;;

  19. Peggy Says:

    Yes well I just re read every word of your review again… and most of the comments. I really have to speak to JICKS…OLD man???. You don’t know what you are saying my child. There will come a day when you will think to yourself..Thank God I have reached 40. Now I am free and now I can kick up my heels and live. It’s MY life ! ! !
    Well actually I must confess that I chose to stay 35 because that was a very good year.
    Osawa is gorgeous. He is a man who would show you life in the nicest way and look after you even if you were ten or twenty years his junior. Men like him know the niceties…… I think I will change the subject. It’s getting hot in here.
    Well I still think JIN was immensely satisfying when looking back on it. In a way EG it gave the same truly satisfying feeling as did the drama PRIDE.
    At the end they both made you feel as though you had just eaten a lovely meal and now it’s time for a liqueur and small talk.
    I don’t mean they had anything in them the same at all, but just the feeling when they were done worked itself out to a warm place.
    I shall really look forward to seeing the continuation of JIN. And then look forward to what you have to say.
    Love babe. Peg

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thank you Peggy! *blows kiss* “liqueur and small talk” << Hey I like that!🙂

      Funny, I never thought you were even 40. Always believed you were 35.😉

      I'm also cannot wait for JIN Season Two! 2011 is just around the corner, so yay for us! Oh, and I’ll bet you’re also excited for Osawa’s upcoming jidaigeki movie, huh?😉

  20. Peggy Says:

    EG dear.
    You know how to pull a leg for sure.:-)

    I would look forward to anything from Osawa Takao
    Even a cup of tea would do the trick….:-) and then that smile.

    Peg

  21. Helicidae Says:

    So there will definitely be another season? That’s great news! Jin is my second favourite J-drama and I would have enjoyed it even more if it wasn’t for this unsatisfying ending.😦
    The concept of this show reminded me a little bit of the British series “Life on Mars” – and that’s a good thing in my book. Season 2, here we come!


  22. Very well written review… i agree with most of what you have written here, first of all how good was the portrayal of Sakamoto Ryoma. I found myself, episode after episode, looking forward to his appearance more and more.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks! Nice to know you liked the review. =D Sakamoto Ryoma was indeed one of my fave characters. You might be interested in his 2010 biodrama Ryoma-den. Pretty lengthy ‘coz it’s an NHK Taiga, but I heard nothin’ but good stuff about this series.🙂

  23. Peggy Says:

    The real Sakamoto and the real Nobunaga are my favourite historical Japanese men. It was a tragedy that they both died so young. They were both born with greater ideas for Japan than others of their respective time. Both were involved with European ideas, and loved wearing Western clothes. I think Japan would have become a powerful trading country much earlier. Nobunaga was already doing business with Europe so Japan was not entirely isolated. It was the Tokugawa regime that closed Japan from the outside world I think.
    So far I have not seen an actor who even looks like Sakamoto. He looked tough but he looked powerful in his photograph. Nobunaga from portraits….Kimura would be the one now to play that man.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      I know you were following Ryoma-den last year. Any good? Did Fukuyama Masaharu do justice to the role? I only know him from Galileo and from his music videos on Youtube, heh heh. (Ace performer though. Pretty good songs, esp. the one used in the drama Slow Dance. ;-))

      • gaijin mark Says:

        IMHO, EG, I thought he was the weakest link in the chain. What impressed me most about Ryomaden were the actresses!

        Geez, you had Yoko Maki, Mitusko Baisho, Shinobu Terajima, Yu Aoi, and Kimiko Yo. Whole lotta talent there!

  24. Peggy Says:

    I like Masaharu very much. He is charming and stil good looking. I find him a little worn around the edges in real life….but nice. I was not a faithful watcher of Ryomaden. It dragged so much and it could have been shorter and maybe that would have been enough. I am very torn about the way they have cast Ryoma in dramas. As of now I can’t say I have found a perfect fit for the man. He was not the buffoon as played in some places. He was a very young man who was curious about the greater world which was unusual considering his background. He definitely could never stay in his little pond and he certainly had a great effect on the history of Japan. I think Masaharu came closer to what I imagine of Ryoma but he didn’t bring out the hard core toughness of the man…at lest in my mind.

  25. karened Says:

    I love love love love this review of yours. From the amount of effort put in and the degree of depth, I think you really enjoyed the drama! And there I was thinking that kdrama fans don’t seem to be as commited/eloquent in writing such reviews as kdrama ans are. I can’t wait for each episode of season 2 to air, but then again, I don’t want them to air because it’ll truly be the end then. =(

    • karened Says:

      Oh, and I love the costumes.

      • Ender's Girl Says:

        Thank you very much! This is such a lovely thing to hear and I’m thrilled you liked JIN (and my review heehee).😀

        I kind of feel the same way about Season 2 — knowing how Jdramas usually go, obviously there won’t be a Season 3, so this would truly be the end. But then again my impatience to know how the producers will finally resolve that bloody Creepus Fetus/Mr Bandage mystery arc seems to outweigh everything else, so… onward Season 2!🙂

        • karened Says:

          It’s down to 2 eps (have not caught last night’s installment), but nothing’s been said about the fetus/mr bandage! I supppose we’ll only get to know in the final episode.

          Will look forward to your review (hopefully) when you’ve watched Season 2!

          I cried so much watching Ryoma’s fate play out on last wk’s episode. Not just for him, but also those indirectly/directly involved in it. It’s odd, because they’re minor characters!! This drama does great things!

  26. Peggy Says:

    I have yet to watch JIN2. I am sorely worried that they will rearrange history and put Jin in the same vicinity with Ryoma at the wrong moment. There is no way they can be together when Ryoma is attacked. They would have been in two different places altogether… even tho Jin is fiction, and Ryoma is a real person. There be no Dr.Jin to bind up any wound. No sir… Of course the story may not go that far in history. I shall look forward to all critiques here when the drama ends.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Have yet to watch Season 2 too. I’m keeping myself from reading the spoilers over at the drama forums, but I hear there are certain episodes that really focus on Ryoma’s story (yay!). But then in all probability one of the episodes will deal with his inescapable fate, ne?😦 Natch, Dr Jin would probably witness the whole thing. That would torque up the drama factor for sure!)

  27. Peggy Says:

    At the moment I am in a slight state of shock. I have not watched JIN 2 but have been reading all the postings in various places. I really wanted to wait until the whole thing was finished and have it in one or two great gulps. Now what I feared seems to be happening. The hinted at love story between Jin and Saki seems to be sidelined by a mutual devotion between Jin and Ryoma. WHAT?????? So Jin is chasing after Ryoma at the time of the assassination to save him WHAT?????? NO NO NO NO. History cannot be rearranged just to suit some writers whim of the week. I can see Royoma fancying Jin but not the other way around. It’s bad enough what they are doing with GOU and now this drama is doing a copy cat. I can’t take it at all. Horrors.

    • karened Says:

      Actually, I have no problems with Jin being devoted to save Ryoma…he’s been spending all of Season 1 and some of Season 2 trying to figure out his purpose in travelling back to Edo. And then, his first encounter with Ryoma hit him – he said he’ll protect Ryoma. Having been so desperate to find a meaning to everything, I’m not surprised that he goes all out to fulfil that purpose. I don’t see anything but respect (through history and through actual interaction) for Ryoma. I mean, if I were to time travel and meet say…Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty (haha I can only think of him right now coz I’m watching a drama on his life – he was a very wise ruler in ancient China), I’d be in awe too, especially if he turns out to be just the person depicted in history.

      And no, I don’t think history will be changed. Ryoma will die. Jin will learn something from it. The writers are not powerful enough to write an alternative history for the final episode. The most (and worst thing) they can do is to keep Ryoma alive, keep Jin in the past, and keep the future (from Meiji period onwards) a secret to both Jin and us viewers.

  28. gaijin mark Says:

    Haven’t seen the final episode yet, but just to follow up a little on what Karened said, part of the story arc in Jin2 has been whether or not he’s affecting the future. Should he does this, should he do that, etc. etc. I can completely understand Jin’s thinking re: Ryoma. If I woke up tomorrow and the calendar said “November 21, 1963” I wouldn’t be thinking about affecting history, I’d be burning up the phone lines, doing whatever I could to tell John Kennedy, “DON’T go down to Dallas!!”

    But, to quote to the old Rocky & Bullwinkle show, “When last we left our heroes, , ,” it doesn’t look good for Ryoma. I’ll be very surprised if the writers let him live.
    I kind of have the feeling that when this is over I’ll either be saying, ‘Yeah, that was good. It makes sense now.” Or I’ll be saying, “That totally bites!! They were doing great until the end and then they screwed it all up!!”

    • gaijin mark Says:

      Is it okay to reply to my own comment? When in doubt, “press on regardless!!” Anyway, just finished Jin 2 and while I don’t really understand their explanation of the whole time travel thing, I liked the sequel a lot!! May have liked it better than part 1. They did an excellent job of bringing everything full circle. I dunno, maybe this is one of those where you either like it or you don’t, I did.

      • karened Says:

        I cried my heart out during the final episode, and not just for the ending! Not going to write any spoilers here, but the supporting characters made me cry too! To be honest, I felt a bit shortchanged by the ending. Throughout the 2 seasons, we were shown that the corrective power of history works by causing a previously absent event to undo whatever Jin did to change history, like…bring another cause of death for someone who Jin saved from death earlier. But then, at the final part, history just conveniently erased memories of Jin from everyone’s mind, including all he has done…Would have given it a full 10 points if the ending was done better, but seeing how it ripped my heart up while filling it up with warmth at the same time, I’m giving it a 9/10! Like you, I love how the end tied with the start. Beautifully done.

  29. Peggy Says:

    Well since I have not seen any of the drama I should not make strong statements should I? However, from various postings in other places the inference was not what I would wish for Ryoma or Jin. Have a healthy regard for Ryoma and think it was most unfortunate that he ran afoul of the clan samurais. I think he did so much to forward the future of Japan in quite a short time. He was imbued with the same spirit and ideas that Nobunaga had years before him. They both died too young. I can accept everything about Jin except the thought of ‘bromance’ between these two men. But it is a drama which plays with history. I am still sizzling about the taiga GOU which has totally distorted history, and even if dramatised, has placed characters in situations which would have been impossible in the Warring States period. It actually doesn’t matter if it is a drama but when it is supposed to be a Taiga that gets out of hand.
    I appreciate your two reples. Have to wait and see how it is handled.

  30. Kat Says:

    Man, I really enjoyed your review of the first season of Jin, and your thoughts on each of the characters. I’m caught up with the 2nd season, but there’s something so engrossing about this drama that has me reading reviews and episode synopses and even looking through the galleries on the TBS websites for the two seasons. I hope you’ll review the second season when you watch it! It seems like a couple of the issues you mentioned are dealt with in the second season.

    I had a similar issue with suspending disbelief with some of the scientific stuff. Treponema pallidum can’t be cultured easily (definitely not on simple nutrient agar like they did), and I had the same issues with the sanitation. It was interesting to me that biomedical science could progress so quickly even with Jin’s expertise, because it feels like one of the main things that keeps new medical advances from becoming accepted is initial success rate and very gradual improvements. He was lucky that those surgeries went so well (even given his attempts at sterilization)..even with a 80% success rate, if he had messed up one of his first surgeries, they would have abandoned him right away!

    Anyway, hope you get to watch the next season soon..I look forward to hearing your thoughts, especially given that more time is given to the historical events of the period.

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts on Jin! I thought I had overgeeked it by nitpicking on the scientific improbabilities in my review, but I’m glad you pointed them out, too.😉

      I’m stoked for the second season! The copy I have is raw; once I have the subs I’ll get down to the business of watching and reviewing this show. Def. my most anticipated drama of 2011 (even more than Kimura’s Antarctica series).😀 In the meantime, make yourself at home and hope to run into you again!🙂

  31. linhcu Says:

    I’ve just finished watching the last ep of Jin 2 ,the ending is so sad but beautiful.,although I Ship jin- saki together but it is better for osawa and ayase to be a couple in real life😄,isn’t if?
    I truly hope to know your though about this season and the ending,too,can I ?

    • Ender's Girl Says:

      Lol, Osawa and Ayase in real life, ehh? Hmmm… Well I think that would work!😉

      I’m reviewing Season 2 for sure, although that post won’t be out for another couple of months or so… My backlog is terrrribly long. *facepalm*

      • Peggy Says:

        Personally I found the second Jin to be repetitive. I didn’t see how it was moving the history of his time travel along at all. It was still interesting but the pseudo romance between Jin and Saki was hardly addressed enough to make it seem important. Very one sided and he was a little clumsy as far as showing his emotions. If they actually existed.
        I got the feeling at the end that they didn’t quite know how to end it well. Did he ever go back to being a doctor in the same hospital. How long was he actually out of the modern existence. What really happened to his fiancee. Questions like that weren’t answered well enough for me.
        Re Osawa and Ayase. Don’t think that exists any more?. You know Ayase is a lively gal and very self sufficient. She likes being erratic and I don’t know if that would suit Osawa in real life. I like them both. He is dreamy but getting past the sweet romantic roles. Needs a strong macho piece with an older actress to make it interesting I think. He is only a year older than Kimura but he seems much older.
        …Sigh…Both too young for me alas…:-)

        • Ender's Girl Says:

          Heh heh Peggy I think the Osawa+Ayase shipping stems from all the fans’ residual frustration over Jin and Saki’s unrealized romance😦

          “I got the feeling at the end that they didn’t quite know how to end it well… Questions like that weren’t answered well enough for me.” – Noooooo!!! I absolutely hate it when sequels don’t know how to tie up loose ends and end the main story properly, arghhhhh!!!!!!!! X____O


  32. […] wanting to see a top-notch drama series! For those who would like to read more about Jin, here is a detailed and enthusiastic fan review. One of the few, needless to say, written in […]


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