Posted tagged ‘jdrama’

News Nibbly: KimuTaku, TBS Gear Up for Big-Budget Antarctica Drama

January 22, 2011

MUSH!!! (South Pole or Bust!)

by Ender’s Girl

No question about it: with his active, fun-loving, outdoorsy lifestyle, Kimura Takuya is Dog’s best friend. (Unlike sedentary, cat-owning little me…eow.) Word is he keeps two canines, a Labrador and a guide dog of unspecified breed. And the above photo of him with a Golden Retriever (one of my all-time fave Kimura snapshots) says it all: the Dorama King digs dawgs… Dawg. I mean, just look at that Gatsby-Waxed animatronic canine plushie ensconced in his lap (see video below), and tell me they weren’t made for each other, lol. (How something can look like creepy sh*t and be beyond adorable and cool at the same time is lost on me.)

Now picture Kimura with not one, but fifteen dogs — Sakhalin Huskies to be precise, and all of them stranded in the harshest imaginable place on earth. (Clue: it starts with an “A” and ends with an “A” — but it sure as heck ain’t Australia, lol.) It’s Man plus Dog… vs. Wild! Human and canine, battling the elements together! Oh the blizzards! The whiteout! The frostbite and hypothermia! The deadly leopard seals! The Abominable Snowman! (Wrong hemisphere I know! lol) And what could possibly be worse than getting stuck in Planet Earth’s butthole? Why, it’s having to ditch your loyal sled dogs in Planet Earth’s butthole while you get rescued with your fellow humans!!! (Tsk tsk) Would you risk life and (frostbitten) limb to go back for your furry friends, even with no guarantee that they’d still be alive? Would you?

If this scenario sounds like the stuff of Disney movies, it IS in fact the stuff of a Disney movie – specifically the 2006 film Eight Below (starring Paul Walker). But what audiences then probably didn’t know was that Eight Below was inspired by the 1983 Japanese blockbuster Nankyoku Monogatari (South Pole Story). The film was based on the dramatic events of the 1957-58 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, when extreme weather conditions forced the Showa Base research team to evacuate via chopper and leave behind an entire pack of Sakhalin Huskies (or “Karafuto-Ken”) still chained to the base. It was almost a year before Antarctic weather conditions permitted the team to make their way back to Showa Base in the hopes of burying the dogs. But what they didn’t expect to find was that two of the Huskies, Taro and Jiro, had miraculously survived and were awaiting the team’s return. (Cue: *giant sniffle*)

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!


Drama Review: Engine (Fuji TV, 2005)

November 19, 2010

Bless the (Sexy)Beast and the Children

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Koyuki, Ueno Juri, Toda Erika, Kaho, Ishida Hoshi, Ohira Natsumi, Arioka Daiki, Nakajima Yuto, Kosugi Moichiro, Sato Miku, Hirota Ryohei, Komuro Yuta, Sakai Masato, Harada Yoshio, Matsushita Yuki

In a Nutshell:
Former F3 hotshot Kanzaki Jiro returns to Japan and finds his hands full of an entire foster home of Troubled Children living under the care of his father and sister. While juggling his new (and unwanted) responsibilities as the home’s designated driver, Jiro reconnects with his old coach (and an old flame), hoping to reignite his racing career and get his life back on track.

(SpoilLert: All the way to the finish line! *waves checkered flags*)

[Recommended companion track: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff]

“‘Ohana’ means family, and family means nobody gets left behind… or forgotten.”
– Lilo

“This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.”
– Stitch

from Lilo and Stitch (Disney Pictures, 2002)

First, a Meta Moment:

Half the fun of whipping my grossly underpaid elves into cranking out passable reviews for this blog down in their dingy little sweatshop… uh, uh, gomen. Let’s try this again: Half the fun of whipping up reviews for this blog… is thinking up — the title!!! (Yeah I’m shallow, SO WHUTT.) I think the reason I waited so long to write about Engine (and thus complete my Kimura as Tom Cruise “review anthology” yay) was that I wanted an interesting — and inspiring — enough title to get me all fired up to do the rest of the review, haha. None of the possibilities that had left the gummy interstices of my little blue brain to park themselves on the top left corner of my blank Word doc sheet, right above the byline — seemed to work.

To tick off a few: Daze of Thunder? Promising, and it was a riff on that Tom Cruise racing movie, but… who exactly was in a daze? Me? Kimura? Had not the faintest, so… pass. Dude, Where’s Your Car? Boarrring. And too strong a reference to Ashton Kutcher and that doofus from American PieKimuTaku: Cruise Control, then? I would’ve settled for this had my inspiration completely dried up, but the images that the term “cruise control” always triggers are from that ’90s movie where the unbelievably dhuh-hulllll Jason Patric tries to stop the sluh-howwwest moving cruise ship known to man from pluh-howwing into some unsuspecting seaside village. (And if you’re too young to remember Speed 2: Cruise Control, then too bad, ‘coz that would mean you’re also too young to remember a young ‘n’ hawt Keanu Reeves in Speed, ahahaha.) So, “Cruise Control” = no go.

Then I realized that I was barking at the wrong dog — er, tree, I was barking up the wrong tree. (Lol, these silly Eeenglish eeedioms!!! *shakes fist*) Why was I stubbornly trying to milk the racing/car stuff from Engine when that wasn’t even my favorite part? After all, it was those kids at the Kaze no Oka foster home who OWNED the show — and my heart. Not the actual “Engine-y” stuff. And even if an old Carpenters single entitled “Bless the Beasts and Children” (actually an anti-war protest song, lol) happened to be the only pop culture reference that perfectly encapsulated how I felt about the drama, then so be it. (And YES BABY YES, the “Beast” in question WAS definitely sexy! Vrrrrooom vrrroooom! See Stanza 4 of my “2009: A Kimura Odyssey” hahaha)

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review (Part 2): Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers (Fuji TV, 2010)

October 27, 2010

Despicable He

by Ender’s Girl

[Read Part One of review]

In continuation of court case 11-13-1972: The People vs. Hazuki Rensuke

7.3 Rensuke vs. Maemi

Que horror, 8,834 words in Part 1 and nothing on Ninomiya Maemi (Shinohara Ryoko) beyond a few cursory mentions. But if my rant review has placed inordinate emphasis on the Rensuke-Xiu Mei arc so far, it’s only because THE DRAMA DID IT FIRST. (Drat you Asano Taeko!!! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!!!) Well dang it, OF COURSE I was Team Maemi since Day 1… no, make that Day -936. Weren’t most viewers? The only people I can think of who’d ship Rensuke and XiuMei are… the Taiwanese (lol), while the Rensuke+Yuzuki backers can only be high-maintenance teenage girls with weird father complexes (haha). So I think it’s safe to assume that TsukiKoi viewers in general were madly rooting for Maemi. I mean, duuuude… it’s Shinohara Ryoko.

So maybe Ryoko isn’t as young and smokin’ hawt in TsukiKoi as she was in — say, Anego (and understandably so; Anego was a corporate babe while rugged ol’ Maemi built cabinets for a living, duh). But even with the plaid shirts and distressed jeans, sturdy boots and funky jewelry, tossing back her disheveled hair and twirling that ubiquitous hammer, Shinohara Ryoko RAWKED the part. And I’m sure she’d be loath to admit it, but she’s kind of the… female Kimura (when he isn’t playing these horrid lust-filled men, that is): they’ve got the same casually sexy, “look-how-SO-NOT-uptight-I’m-being” flair about them, the same blow-your-socks-off charisma and screen presence. So yeah, Shinohara Ryoko and KimuTaku are probably more alike than they’d care to admit. But could these aforementioned qualities be what limit both Kimura and Ryoko as actors? Their mannerisms in speech and movement are so marked and readily recognizable that admittedly, not all character templates suit them to a convincing degree.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review (Part 1): Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers (Fuji TV, 2010)

October 17, 2010

The People vs. Hazuki Rensuke

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Shinohara Ryoko, Lin Chi Ling, Matsuda Shota, Kitagawa Keiko

In a Nutshell:
Follow the triumphs and travails of Hazuki Rensuke, Furniture Maker Extraordinaire, and the three gorgeous women hopelessly in love with him: Maemi his longtime BFF and colleague, Xiu Mei the ingenuous factory worker from Shanghai, and Yuzuki the bratty daughter of Rensuke’s biggest industry rival. Completing the love, um, pentagon is Rensuke’s calculating deputy Kazami, who may or may not have a few underhanded schemes of his own. But oh, oh — let’s NOT forget the REAL stars of the show!!! Brother Moon! — who watches over Rensuke from above! Sister Water Strider! — who alone can bring True Happiness! And the Four Little Coins of Kokoro! — who may look tinny and paltry, but when arranged in a cryptic geometric pattern, will unlock the secret to Life itself!!! All one needs is to — solve! the! riddle!!! What riddle? The riddle!!! Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the MOON!!! The little dog laughed to see such sport, and the dish ran away with the spoon!!! Ahahahahahahahahaa

(SpoilLert: Eybreeting!)

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait… Really KimuTaku Really?

When it was announced in early 2010 that KimuTaku was all but set for a Spring renzoku ren’ai, his entire fandom collectively peed in their – our – pants. An overreaction perhaps? Far from it. For it truly was a cause for celebration, as we were fully, painfully aware that Kimura‘s choice of TV projects over the past several years showed a disturbing trend away from straight ren’ai. Pride was his last one in 2004, and since then his dramas have had love angles that were extraneous to the plot — if not altogether absent: a sports+kiddie dramedy with little romance (Engine, 2005); a serious ensemble drama with little romance (Karei naru Ichizoku, 2007); a hero-of-the-day dramedy with – you guessed it – little romance (Change, 2008); and a police procedural with zero – NO, make that NEGATIVE – romance (Mr. Brain, 2009).

It had been six long years since KimuTaku – or at least, a variant of his persona, lol – last gave his heart and soul to a woman, six long years since he fell hard and deep for someone, six long years since he kissed — and… er, did that other stuff as well — with a passion that consumed his soul. (Rargh.) The fans were feeling restless – they had been for quite some time. Cauliflower-haired schoolteachers turned prime ministers were NOT exactly the stuff of female fantasy; and most definitely neither were forensic nutjobs who skipped their way through crime scenes while munching on bananas. Go back to the basics, Captain, the fans implored while tinkering morosely with their dilapidated pianofortes and drawing dusty circles on their glass love apples. Go back to your ren’ai roots, make us fall in love with you all over again. Please do a straightforward romantic drama this time, you’ve tried everything else anyway.

And perhaps the television gods took pity on their — our — miserable romance-starved selves, because Fuji TV finally dispelled all the hearsay and conjecture being bandied about – like the rumor that Kimura’s next project would be an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” or yet another one that predicted a Hero Season 2 (AS IF!!!). So it was announced that Kimura’s newest Getsu-9 drama for the Spring 2010 slate would be a renzoku ren’ai entitled Tsuki no Koibito / Moon Lovers. A ren’ai. A REN’AI, the fans exulted. Halleloooyah chance! The KimuTaku Love Train was finally back on track, finally up and running since its unceremonious derailment years ago. This was gonna be special, a return to form for the Dorama King himself. If anyone knows how to do his renzoku ren’ai with both eyes closed, it’s this guy. The drought was over, let the Love Rain fall upon the land once more.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Vid Clips: Ashita no Joe; Crying Fist; One-Pound Gospel

August 20, 2010

Boxer… Shorts

by Ender’s Girl

Where I’m from, boxing is the unofficial state religion — and we’re a nation that’s 93% Christian, haha. Boxing is bigger than the Pope, karaoke, and malling combined. In fact it’s almost as big as… basketball, lol. On any given Manny Pacquiao fight morning (or fight night in Vegas, where his bouts are usually held), the entire country grinds to a complete standstill just to witness Pacman pummel the living daylights out of whoever is with him in the ring that day — de la Hoya, Clottey, Hatton, Marquez, Morales.

Televised boxing matches were an inevitable fixture in my home life growing up — although I must admit to always feeling repulsed by the raw physicality and Parkinson’s-inducing brutality that characterized the sport, and that always caused the combatants — whether loser or victor — to emerge from a fight looking like something on display at your friendly neighborhood meat house. But boxing movies — the Rockies, Cinderella Man, etc. —  hold a strange appeal for me because they’re usually premised on underdog stories, boxing after all being a true working-class sport birthed in the slums and back alleys of the given hero’s city of origin. And because boxing is such a personal, face-to-face, mano-a-mano engagement where the world is reduced to two people trying to pound each other into a pulp within a tiny enclosure, while the crowds roar their names and scream for their blood.

So here are three short clips of boxing-themed productions (two films and a drama) starring… let’s see… two of Korea’s most admired actors, and… two Johnnies from Japan, hahaha.

Click to view the vids!

Dorama Roundup: Kamenashi Kazuya (2005-2010)

July 18, 2010

The Kurious Kase of Kamenashi Kazuya

by Ender’s Girl


This is the second installment in my Dorama Roundup series (the first being Kimura Dorama, in a Nutshell).

But first: for the love of Pete, E.G., why Kamenashi Kazuya??? Heh. Anyone who’s read my blog and hasn’t run away screaming, lol would know the answer to this question. But if it’s your first time here, let’s just say that he’s one of the J-Idols I’ve been… following. Shamelessly. It’s hard to explain, what he and I have. It’s as if there are two antipodal sides to him: one that sickens me unceasingly, and the other side that turns my heart, brain, and random internal organs into one messy fangirly gloop. My best friend once casually remarked to me: “You and Kame have a very… twisted relationship.” LOLLL guilty as charged.


Interestingly enough, Kame has always had a more polarizing effect on Jdorama fans than your average J-Idol — and not just between or among the fans, but even within them (Exhibit A: me! me!). I attribute this effect to the undeniable dichotomy in his persona, and how disconnected these two facets are: Kame the J-Pop Idoru vs. Kame the Actor. Kame the J-Pop Idoru I find extremely repulsive, and I continue to wish (against hope) that he’d ditch that fake punk-rock-star poseur image, that he’d quit wallowing in that miasma of exhibitionism and indeterminate sexuality, that he’d stop, just stop doing that weird sh*t on-stage — like, uh, singing (lol), and acting like an oversexed pole dancer with his AT-TUN homies. (I know, I know, it ain’t gonna happen. But still.)

But – but – we don’t WANTSSS Kame the J-Pop Idoru, E.G.!!! We wantsss Kame the Actor!!! Gives us MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Drama Review: Bloody Monday (TBS, 2008 & 2010)

June 26, 2010

Save the Data, Save the World!!!

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Miura Haruma, Sato Takeru, Narimiya Hiroki, Kichise Michiko, Kawashima Umika, Matsushige Yutaka, Yoshizawa Hisashi

In a Nutshell:
Teen hacker saves Japan from eeeeevil biochemical/nuclear terrorists and incompetent counterterrorist government operatives! (Ohnoes!!!! Ohnoes!!!!!)

(SpoilLert: Uhhhh see above? All there, baby. Some sections in this review are more spoilery than others, but warning signs are provided.)

[Recommended companion track: “Hikari no Hashi” / “Over the Rain” by Flumpool]

“I’m underage hack– uh… uh… “hardware tester” Takagi Fujimaru, and THIS is the longest day of my life.” (*blip. blip. blip. blip-bip-bip-bip-bippp.*)
– Takagi Fujimaru

Bloody (JE) Munchkins Distracting Me from Miura Haruma!!!

There’s something about Miura Haruma that makes me want to break out singing “Younger than Springtime” from the musical South Pacific (aaand if you’re old enough to remember Rodgers & Hammerstein, then you’re old enough. doh!). But I DO wonder why I keep getting such an… overpowering urge to do so. Help me out here? Uh — I dunno… could it be our *considerable* age gap? Oh no no NO, that couldn’t possibly be it… *left eyelid twitches* (lol)

Well, I might as well say it here: Miura Haruma happens to be my newest… J-Boy discovery. (Why dint nobody tell me dat d’world wuz biggah den JE, huh? Huh? Doh-hoh-hoh) It turns out, while I was slumming it in Twinkieland through much of 2009, holding hands with my favorite rainbow-haired cake boys and singing “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka Johnny and the Chocolate Factory, while I was slogging through their scaaads of mind-numbing dramas about boys with shrinking brains and cosplaying swindlers with A!Dark!Past! and helicopter-riding “doctors” looking deader than their own expired patients… ALL THIS TIME, a young actor from the talent agency Amuse — already a veteran at nineteen — was quietly going about his business, amassing his CV of film, TV and modeling credits.

Oh, I was vaguely aware of Miura’s existence, but only through the random photos, stills and wallies that strayed into my orbit while I was feverishly digging in the mud for my fungus-coated, Johnny-shaped (and Johnny-flavored!!! *rich throaty laughter*) bonbons and fruit drops. On which occasion I’d look up at said photos/stills/wallies and say, “oooohhh pretty!” — and then promptly go back to my grubbing. Not to say that I was unhappy grubbing away, mind you — on the contrary, I was enjoying myself rather immensely. Because I didn’t quite know back then what I was missing.

What was I missing??? Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!