Archive for the ‘Kimura as Hero of the Day’ category

Film Review: Space Battleship Yamato (2010)

August 15, 2011

Moviestardom: The Final Frontier

by Ender’s Girl

 

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Kuroki Meisa, Yanagiba Toshiro, Ogata Naoto, Yamazaki Tsutomu

Directed by Yamazaki Takashi / Toho; TBS Films, 2010

In a Nutshell:
A single battleship and its doughty crew are mankind’s last hope against an invading alien race!!!

The Real Nutshell:
Kimura Takuya makes a bid for international moviestardom!!!

(SpoilLert: Well it’s that kind of film, so can there really be anything to spoil?)

It’s 2199 and there’s something straaange in the solar system: Earth is this close to getting nuked out of existence by an invading alien race – SO WHO YA GONNA CALL?????????????

KIMUTAKUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Did the Ghostbusters theme song start playing in your head just now??? It did, dinnit??? Hahahaha)

The last time a cocky, nonconformist hero saved the world from imminent destruction while a Steven Tyler power ballad blared in the background, the year was 1998 and the movie was Armageddon. It’s 2011 and (a newly relevant) Steven Tyler is still caterwauling the same tune (well, almost), although the crew nationalities have changed from Eeemrrican to Japanese, the Earth faces a different kind of threat (enemy extraterrestrials! instead of giant asteroids!), and the hero (Kimura Takuya in full-on Moviestar Mode) has way more hair than Bruce Willis did in Armageddon (or anything he starred in since 1987, for that matter).

I don’t know if the producers of the 2010 Space Battleship Yamato remake intentionally hired Steven Tyler as a nod to Armageddon – and, by association, that other celestial-body-on-a-collision-course-with-Earth-OHNOES!!! flick from 1998, Deep Impact (whose plotline the Bay/Bruckheimer/Willis mega-production reportedly cribbed off, tsk tsk). Strictly speaking, Yamato isn’t a disaster sci-fi flick like Armageddon or Deep Impact, but it runs on the same basic premise: A motley crew of spacemen sets out on a hail-Mary mission to [insert planetary body], which they must [destroy/steal an alien device from] in order to save the earth. Chances of success or survival seem dire, but the intrepid officers and crewmen are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of our planet!!! *cue [insert Steven Tyler song]*

Beam me up, E.G.! MOAR!!! after the jump. (Because… you don’t wanna miss a thing.)

Drama Review: Change (Fuji TV, 2008)

October 30, 2009

Take Me to Your Leadah! Leadah!

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Fukatsu Eri, Terao Akira, Abe Hiroshi, Kato Rosa


In a Nutshell:
Mild-mannered schoolteacher Asakura Keita takes over his late father’s Diet seat and is swept into power as Prime Minister of Japan — but soon finds himself at the center of a political plot hatched by a powerful few to gain control of Government.

(SpoilLert: Moderately spoilerish, but nothing to lose sleep over, haha.)

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Politics for Dummies (…and Jdorama Viewers, Too!)

Hmmm…. This drama is riddled with all the ineluctable loopholes of a political fairy tale, and as much as I wanted with all my might for Kimura’s character to succeed in that cutthroat world of politics, the implausible situations had me rolling my eyes most of the time. I mean, c’mon: nerdy and naive schoolteacher becomes premier of Japan, and single-handedly (oh, not single-handedly, but aided by a ragtag crew of housemates-turned-“political advisers,” oh my!) attempts to turn the tide of corruption and greed that has permeated the highest echelons of government — AND tries to run the world’s second largest economy in his spare time!!! Whoopee.

Maybe this drama bit off a tad more than it could chew, as most political fairy tales are prone to doing. I read a comment somewhere saying that Change felt like a 10-year-old schoolboy had been given a textbook on Japanese politics, and was told to go write a script. Hehehe, I’m rather inclined to agree. I think a major stumbling block for me while watching Change was that Asakura Keita (at least in the first half of the drama) was too… dumbed down to be believable, looking so out of his depth in the legislature — despite his earnest efforts to cope with all his parliamentary obligations. The first half of Change mostly has Keita wandering the Diet corridors looking all… dazed and confused (wink, wink) and asking his secretary Miyama to “explain things to him as if he were a 5th-grader.” He also spends far too much time helping Random Disgruntled Citizens who straggle into his office with their personal sob stories, than doing any actual legislation. (That scene in Episode 3 where the pigheaded cat owner detains Keita for hours when he’s supposed to be at some secret powwow with the Seiyu Party bigwigs–major ROLL EYES!!!) The writing plays up the Underdog-Zero-to-Hero archetype to the hilt, but the same tack which worked so perfectly in 2001’s Hero simply misfires in Change. (Curiously enough, Hero and Change were penned by the same screenwriter, Fukuda Yasushi. Does not. Compute. Does not. Compute… *self-destructs*) The drama would have benefited from better writing, IMO — and a longer run that would more smoothly chart Keita’s transformation from bumbling do-gooder to a shrewder, more experienced player in the political arena.

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I pretty much hated Change’s reductionist approach towards politics. You think you can run a country armed only with Good Intentions and a crash course in Statecraft 101? Man, this really is a fairy tale. And the odds stacked against Asakura Keita & Co. are just too high to be convincingly hurdled within the drama’s short run. Given his inexperience and — well, his obtuseness, Keita is a sitting duck from Day One — I mean, c’mawwwwn — it’s POL-IT-ICS after all. *rolls eyes* And Keita trying to micromanage each thorny issue he comes across–like that jellyfish infestation in Episode 4, or the pediatrician shortage in Episode 6 — NOT believable in the least. (Sure, Keita, how… assiduous of you to take home those boxes of files to pore over, never mind you go sleepless for two straight days — here’s an “A” for effort. But what about the other 934,982 needs of your constituency also demanding your attention, ne? You gonna make ALL of them your homework too? You gonna pay a personal visit on every sick kiddo in Tokyo? Durrr…)

Can starry-eyed ideals still make a dent in the moral morass of realpolitik? Just how far are you willing to go, how much heat can you take, how much of your beliefs are you prepared to compromise, how big a part of your soul are you willing to sell — to get the job done, to bring real Change to governance? Okay, good questions, good questions (lol). Then you remember that politics is really one labyrinthine snake pit that swallows you up for not playing by The!Rules!–just as easily as it lavishes power and privilege on the more… politically savvy. The sad truth is that people like Asakura Seita are just the type of quixotic fools who get eaten alive for breakfast by the more seasoned, worldly-wise politicos — then spewed out for the dogs to fight over. Sorry, but Prime Minister Asakura wouldn’t last a day in El Mundo Real. Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review: Hero (Fuji TV, 2001)

October 30, 2009

HERO Worship

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Matsu Takako, Abe Hiroshi, Otsuka Nana, Kadono Takuzo, Katsumura Masanobu, Kohinata Fumiyo, Yashima Norito, Kodama Kiyoshi


In a Nutshell:
Self-taught public prosecutor Kuryu Kohei brings his unconventional crime-busting methods to the Josai district office, much to the consternation of the other prosecutors and law clerks.


(SpoilLert: Moderately spoilerish. No biggies.)

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I’m trying to rack my brains for something about this drama that I hated, or disliked — even just a teensy bit. Nothing comes to mind. Even the semi-crummy production values (which would seem more at home in 1987 than in 2001, the year the show aired), “spazzy music” (to quote my cyber-friend, ai*), and odd, quirky editing style — they all just GROW ON YOU. And to think these are just the technical aspects of the drama.

The soundtrack is SO effin’ catchy! By the end of the first episode I was jerking and twitching along to the now-familiar music, a sly throwback to those old-school detective comedies a la The Pink Panther: jazzy and off-beat, with just a hint of sleaze. Brilliant!

At first the directorial style caught me off balance: the actors speak directly into the lens while the camera swoops in for a close-up, and the dialogue ping-pongs from one person to the next at such a frenetic pace. But the style of Hero actually lends itself well to the screwball, sometimes campy atmosphere. I soon realized how much it reminded me of Baz Luhrmann’s Velvet Curtain oeuvre (Strictly Ballroom, William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, and even Australia), dubbed as such because of his penchant for the theatrical. But you know what? I loved every Luhrmann film to freaking BITS (and wish he were more prolific) and he remains to this day my favorite director ever. So going back to Hero, it’s all good, baby.

The great thing about Hero was that despite the drollery and high dramedy, the actors were so completely into their character. Hero scores the best ensemble acting I’ve seen in a drama, in a loooong time. That easy rapport among the cast was undeniably there, the comfortable system of trust and reliance so apparent in the way they’d riff their lines off each other, scripted or ad-libbed, any which way. It’s also quite obvious how much the actors simply enjoyed being with each other, and what they were doing — otherwise, this renzoku wouldn’t have had that intangible quality that makes an ensemble drama truly… transcendent.

It wasn’t just the acting (which, paradoxically, was so unselfconscious despite the screwball treatment), but also the way each character was written, that I found to be so endearing. It may have taken me a few episodes to warm up to ALL of them (maybe because of the way they all treated Kimura’s character at first, heh — more on that later), but at some point I realized how deeply absorbed I was in each of their own little storylines, the details of their own little interpersonal dramas, filled with their own little hang-ups and insecurities, foibles and follies. Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review: Mr. Brain (TBS, 2009)

October 30, 2009

(Neuro)Science Fiction

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Ayase Haruka, Mizushima Hiro, Kagawa Teruyuki, and a blinding array of Japanese TV stars! stars! and more stars!!!

In a Nutshell:
The Institute of Police Science’s resident forensic eccentric Tsukumo Ryusuke uses his unique nose (and brain) for detective work to help crack the most perplexing (and sensational!) crimes in Japan.

(SpoilLert: Veryyyy…)

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I Come with the BRAIN!!!

Police procedurals can be a great source of edutainment — or entertainment with some educational or instructive value — so long as you don’t expect well-rounded character development, thematic complexity, and profound philosophical insights about Life, lol. The upside of police procedurals is that their episodic nature requires little emotional investment in the main characters, be they homicide detectives, forensic investigators, counter-terrorism operatives, or what have you. After all, the crime-solving process is the Main Attraction here, and the human characters are just, well, tools of the trade. Hence, police procedurals are considered howdunits as much as whodunits. But even the best police procedurals have inherent plot loopholes and unrealistically prompt (and conclusive) evidence recovery/analysis and case resolution. Many procedurals suffer from lazy writing, using slapdash deduction and expedient deus ex machina revelations/confessions to tie up the elaborately laid-out, *cough* convoluted *cough* plots — all in just one episode! Wow! BUT whatever lapses in content or credibility are made up for in STYLE. Procedurals these days don’t stint on production design and tend to overcapitalize on sleek, well-stocked designer labs, futuristic techie gadgetry, and the inordinate use of CGI just to glam up police work and forensics — when in reality these professions are probably more toil and drudgery than anything else, lol. Well, that’s television magic and escapism for ya.

As a police procedural, Mr. Brain is — well, really just that, a police procedural. Typically slick and soulless, yes, but also flashy and splashy, snazzy, pizzazz-y, and all that jazz-y. Some cases are more satisfying than others, and overall the drama is an entertaining (if mindless) watch. You’ll probably fuhgeddabout each case once the end credits start rolling (lol), but no worries, you won’t be missing them at all.

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“They call me MISTER Brain!!!” (with deepest apologies to Sidney Poitier)

When news first broke that Mr. Brain was in production, my eyebrows shot past my hairline. Holy hippocampus, Batman! Kimura as a science whiz? A walkin’ talkin’ noggin? Fo’ realz? Heh heh. Now, why did I consider it a stretch of the imagination for Kimura to play an intellectual? Maybe it’s because I’m just so used to seeing him in average-joe roles, characters who are talented in other ways (e.g. sports, music, etc.) but always of normal intelligence. (I’m trying to sift through the jumble of Kimura dramas I’ve seen, and I can’t recall him playing someone so exceptionally smart; the closest he ever got was his character on A Million Stars Falling from the Sky, a person gifted with a photographic memory.) But I was truly hoping his latest turn as a crime-busting brainiac would be a well-written one, and not some 2-D caricature laden with all the annoying egghead stereotypes.

The prologue of Episode 1 lays the groundwork for his character: good-hearted gigolo Tsukumo Ryusuke meets a freak accident (fortuitous or not? you be the judge) that somehow re-wires his brain and renders his post-surgery self exceptionally bright, but also with a radically altered personality. As the titular Mr. Brain, Tsukumo Ryusuke feels like a hybrid of a few familiar faces in Western police procedurals, each one with his unique brand of “requisite quirkiness.” Tsukumo is 20% Adrian Monk of Monk (The Benign Crackpot), 20% Charlie Crews of Life (The Nonconformist with a Fruit Fixation), 20% Gil Grissom of C.S.I. (The Science Geek)… and 40% Giddy Schoolboy, all skips and giggles and childish innocence. (It’s ironic that for someone who used to dispense sexual favors for a living, Tsukumo’s post-op self is so… neuter, the freak accident having suppressed his sexual urges.) I was still very much entertained for the most part, and Kimura did manage to keep his performance whimsically funny at times… But ICONIC? Uh-uh. Kuryu (Hero) was iconic. Halu (Pride) was iconic. Sena (Long Vacation) was iconic. But Mr. Brain? Nopee. Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!