Posted tagged ‘kitagawa keiko’

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!!!

Drama Review: Buzzer Beat: Gakeppuchi no Hero (Fuji TV, 2009)

December 3, 2009

Attack of the Killer Cheese Floss! The Giant Pecs of Doom! (And Other Hardcourt Horrors)

by Ender’s Girl


The Cast:
Yamashita Tomohisa, Kitagawa Keiko, Aibu Saki, Ito Hideaki, Kaneko Nobuaki, Kanjiya Shihori, Maya Miki, Mizobata Junpei, and Yamashita Tomohisa’s various muscle groups

In a Nutshell:
Hotshot hoopster Kamiya Naoki crosses paths with Shirakawa Riko, an aspiring violinist who has just moved into his neighborhood. Though they have little in common, the two become good friends and cheer each other on through their respective setbacks and victories. But love pulls a fast break — despite Naoki’s serious relationship with his cheerleader girlfriend, and Riko’s budding romance with Naoki’s head coach. Will Naoki and Riko ever make that slam dunk into love? Or will they only foul out at the buzzer? (And will I ever lay off the lame basketball puns? Not a chance! Hahahaha)

(SpoilLert: Major-league spoilers up ahead! I left all the good stuff in, sorry.)


The apartment complex. The neighborhood basketball court. The strains of classical music wafting from an open window. The friendship growing into love. The bouncing rubber ball… Now, where have we seen these before? Heh. But before all you Long Vacation fans wheel out your beat-up old pianos while warbling the “La La La Love Song” chorus and Cagnet medleys, before you start sobbing “Sena… Sena…” into your tattered Live Aid T-shirts… <oh, so was it just me doing that? lol> Chotto matte! This ain’t about Long Vacation. (Well, duh.)

Of course this is all about the drama Buzzer Beat starring “Mr. Getsu 9” himself, Yamashita Tomohisa — lest we forget that this whole production is really his vehicle. Interestingly enough, Buzzer Beat was co-directed by Nagayama Kozo, the same dude who shared credits for the two hottest Kimura Takuya dramas of the ‘90s, Long Vacation (1996) and Love Generation (1997). Same director, eh? That would explain Buzzer Beat’s obvious similarities to Long Vacation in setting, story, and atmosphere, as well as the few references to Love Generation (like the ubiquitous billboard emblazoned with <insert love proverb of choice>). I felt I had to address the LV and LG allusions right off the bat, these proverbial elephants in the room. (There are also the unavoidable comparisons to Kimura’s iconic 2004 sports ren’ai Pride, but more on that later.) I don’t know if the homage to LV was intentional, but given the same director, this “tribute” really did seem self-referential more than anything (i.e. “Let’s do LV all over again, but with sports+YamaPi thrown in to jazz things up for the Heisei generation!”) So yeah, I believe it was done on purpose.

But here’s where it gets sticky: Yes, there’s nothing wrong with Buzzer Beat riffing off familiar motifs from well-loved dramas. BUT when you’re watching Buzzer Beat and ALL you can think of is how it’s SO NOT Long Vacation, and how inferior the drama is to LV in terms of writing, direction and acting, when the drama’s flaws become even more glaring because the 1996 dorama was just so bloody wonderful, then Buzzer Beat no longer becomes an homage, but just this second-rate imitation, a fuzzy and forgettable throwback to the Golden Age of KimuTaku renzoku ren’ai. Just because it feels like Long Vacation doesn’t mean it’s as good as Long Vacation, or ever will be. To pay tribute to such an ICONIC and universally loved drama (even by non-Kimura fans) is a humongous gamble, one you should only be willing to take if you’ve got all bases covered, if you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed you t’s. And if you don’t merely rely on fan nostalgia, but have something new to bring to the drama, a fresh take on the old staples that will really make a dent on the viewers.

Naoki and the Wildcats in the house! (lol) Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!