Posted tagged ‘fukatsu eri’

Drama Review: Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi / A Million Stars Falling From the Sky (Fuji TV, 2002)

November 18, 2009

Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magick

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Akashiya Sanma, Kimura Takuya, Fukatsu Eri, Shibasaki Kou, Igawa Haruka, Morishita Aiko

In a Nutshell:
Homicide detective Dojima Kanzo investigates the mysterious death of a female college student, while his sister Yuko grapples with her growing attraction to Katase Ryo, an apprentice cook who has started dating Yuko’s heiress friend Miwa.

(SpoilLert: Land mines up ahead!!! Proceed at your own risk!!!)

[Recommended companion track: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2]

“O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed.”

-Gerard Manley Hopkins, “No Worst, There Is None”

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Paradise Lost

You would expect a drama bearing the title A Million Stars Falling From the Sky (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes) to be nothing short of epic. Images both great and terrible spring to mind, a tragic vision of Miltonian proportions. So you steel yourself for the onslaught, ready to be swept away by the darkness and the doom. (Don’t watch Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi if you’re in the mood for light, breezy fluff, obviously.) The drama’s overall tone is sordid and depressing, and the denouement does NOT go down smoothly. You’re in for a helluva ride down the homestretch, so buckle up and brace for impact. The whole thing has the atmosphere of a Greek tragedy, and you come away feeling dirty, as in deep-down dirty, right after watching it. Where do you even begin to make sense of this morass of malice, manipulation and murder? Everybody here is tainted, a gray area, deeply flawed and complex. When push comes to shove, nobody is above moral compromise. Nobody. “No worst, there is none.”

The jigsaw puzzle is a recurrent theme in this drama, from the opening credits down to the final moments. The college student’s death that prefaces the story is but one piece in this puzzle, with the Big Picture gradually materializing as each (seemingly unrelated) fragment falls into place. Despite the story kicking off with a homicide investigation, and despite one of the main characters being a detective, Sora Kara Furu… is not your action-packed whodunit or garden-variety police drama. It is something else altogether, and you get the feeling that whoever is assembling this puzzle is doing so at a very deliberate and measured pace. This drama is a slow burn for the first ten episodes, and you can only watch and wait in mingled fascination and dread as the story makes its inexorable climb to that unforgettable climax.

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Criminal Minds

You wonder what the two parallel story lines — the homicide investigation and the Yuko-Ryo-Miwa love triangle — have to do with each other, but you realize soon enough that these arcs aren’t parallel at all, but crisscrossing threads in a growing web of lies and lust and secrets, of past sins and new crimes, of suspicion and cover-ups. And at the center of it all is Katase Ryo, with the face of an angel (and the body of, well, something else, heh heh heh) but possessing the deadened eyes of one who has fallen from grace long before the story unfolds, who charms with his smile while ever so subtly ensnaring people in his own machinations — until they are all dead, or broken.

Ryo is arguably Kimura Takuya’s darkest role to date. Like Shakespeare’s Iago, Ryo is the perfect criminal because he never gets his hands bloodied. Both masters at string-pulling and button-pushing, Iago and Ryo play god without a second thought, moving people around like willing pawns in the crimes they have masterminded, disposable pieces in their sick little games. Othello‘s Iago is described by Samuel Taylor Coleridge as this “motiveless malignity,” though one can argue that there IS a motive behind Iago’s (and Ryo’s) sociopathy, and that is POWER — over people’s lives and destinies. The lust for power is a potent drug that creates a false patina of invincibility — and even immortality. For in Ryo’s illusory world, blinded by his own hubris, he really becomes a god, vowing to make the stars “fall from the sky” through sheer cunning and will — while spitting in the face of Fate. But nothing lasts forever, and these stars that Ryo has willed to fall from the heavens — these beautiful, unattainable stars that mock him in their splendor — plummet to earth in a deadly firestorm that leaves Ryo’s world in ashes. Trapped in his own endgame, the master of destiny becomes the prisoner of doom.

Something Evil is a-cooking… (and it’s peeling the potatoes, too!) Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

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!!!