Posted tagged ‘kitagawa eriko’

Drama Review: Tatta Hitotsu no Koi / Just One Love (NTV, 2006)

June 13, 2010

Ever After?

by Ender’s Girl

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The Cast:
Kamenashi Kazuya, Ayase Haruka, Toda Erika, Tanaka Koki, Hiraoka Yuta, Kaname Jun, Saito Ryusei, Zaitsu Kazuo, Yo Kimiko

In a Nutshell:
He’s dirt poor, she’s filthy rich; he’s the family breadwinner, she’s the crown princess of a jeweler chain; he has a sick younger brother and a boozy hostess of a mom, she was raised in a happy, loving home; he’s world-weary and cynical, she’s fresh and innocent; he has his whole life ahead of him, she’s battling a life-threatening disease. Both are twenty, and they fall in love.

(SpoilLert: Nothing major, so you’re in luck!!! No way I’m mucking this up for first-time viewers. I’m saving all the spoilers for another post, heh heh.)

[Recommended companion tracks: “Bokura no Machi de” by KAT-TUN; “Cool Whispers” by Ike Yoshihiro]

“I saw two beings in the hues of youth
Standing upon a hill, a gentle hill…

And both were young, and one was beautiful”

– Lord Byron, “The Dream” Stanza II

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Does it matter if a story has already been told a thousand times, in a thousand different ways and in a thousand different settings? Does it truly make a difference if the conflicts and situations are all but variations on the same refrain, all shifting permutations of the same formula? The answer is easy to come by: no, it doesn’t matter, not really. Because we are all suckers for a good yarn, whether that yarn has been spun over and over again in a myriad of patterns, regardless of cultural milieu or historical context. The faces and places may change, but the narrative blueprint is immortal: Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Adversity threatens to drive them apart, whether it’s society, their own families, or some form of tragedy. Boy and girl strive to overcome the odds stacked against them. But — will their love be enough to keep them together??? Well, WILL IT????

Such stories are timeless, their universal appeal reverberating through the ages. But the key to retaining their luster and relevance is the treatment they are given: the best versions out there — “Romeo and Juliet!” Ian McEwan’s “Atonement!” anything by Nicholas Sparks! (lol, scratch that) — limn this well-worn template with freshness and creativity, so that the characters and circumstances feel like you’re knowing them for the very first time. But placed in lesser hands or with a limited vision, the same archetype can readily regress into soap-opera hell and taste as stale as a week-old wasabi burger (yum!).

One permutation in particular strikes a deep and vibrant chord in all of us. The recipe for it is really quite simple: You take the classic theme of Young Love and crossbreed it with another romance paradigm, that of Forbidden Love — with its generous sprinkling of meddling relations, class tensions and social incompatibility — and crown it all with the great blood-red cherry of Life-threatening Illness. And voilà! — a sumptuous, intoxicating brew of Tragic Young Love, this mad swirl of romantic devotion simmering under the pall of immeasurable loss, a heady concoction as effervescent as youth and as darkly potent as death. Ah, Tragic Young Love, is there anything like you in the whole world? The tragedy makes the love more urgent and desperate; the love makes the tragedy more meaningful and poignant.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

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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: Asunaro Hakusho (Fuji TV, 1993)

November 2, 2009

Sex, Lies, and Shoulder Pads

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kimura Takuya, Ishida Hikari, Tsutsui Michitaka, Anju Suzuki, Nishijima Hidetoshi

In a Nutshell:
Five college students play musical chairs with each other’s hearts amid the sexual revolution and sociopolitical tumult (mwahahahahaha yeah right) of the… early 1990s.

(SpoilLert: Major plot revelations!!! Not that you should care!!!)

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Good friggin’ grief. Am I the only one who thought this drama SUCKED more than a giant monster lamprey? No? Good.

You take a sordid soap opera like… Melrose Place, situate it on a Japanese college campus, and contort the main cast into this SLEAZY LOVE PRETZEL where they do nothing but sleep with each other, then cheat on each other, then sleep with OTHER people, then cheat on other people, then break up, then hook up, then KNOCK another person up, then get outed as gays and DIE. Oh, and not to mention they engage in a few token “let us study because we are college students” scenes thrown in for good luck.

Sheesh. Enter the Soap Opera House of Horrors!!!