Broadcast dates: 7/6/08 – 9/7/08
Number of episodes: 10
Genre: Medical Drama
Cast: Takenouchi Yutaka, Kanno Miho, Ogawa Tamaki
Plot: Moriyama Kohei (Takenouchi) quit his job as a doctor 8 years ago. Suddenly, he finds himself thrust back into the medical world to help save a dying hospital.
What is good: The main actors were very good.
What is bad: Sometimes the storyline drags.
Letter rating: B+
Tag Archive: Japan
Title: Tsuki no Koibito
Broadcast dates: 5/10/10 – 7/5/10
Number of episodes: 8
Genre: Romantic Drama
Cast: Kimura Takuya, Shinohara Ryoko, Lin Chi Ling, Kitagawa Keiko, Matsuda Shota
Plot: Hazuke Rensuke (Kimura) is the president of an up-and-coming furniture company. His life changes dramatically when three women compete for his love.
What is good: I liked the ending.
What is bad: It took so very long to get there.
Letter rating: C
You probably know Ai Kago, nicknamed Aibon, as the former member of Morning Musume, Minimoni, Tanpopo, and W. Just before the third album from W was released in 2006, Aibon was caught in a smoking scandal. At a mere 18 years of age, she was two years too young to legally smoke in Japan. The tabloid Friday was responsible for publishing the pictures of the teen smoking. As a result, Aibon was indefinitely suspended from Hello! Project. A little over a year after her house arrest began, she was back in Tokyo working behind the scenes for Up-Front Works, the agency that runs the Hello! Project family. Less than a month later, Aibon was reportedly in a relationship with a much older man and smoking again. This time she was released from the contract completely.
Now it is 2010. Four years after her big smoking scandal. Aibon has slowly returned to the entertainment industry. On March 31, 2010, she released her first solo album, Ai Kago Meets Jazz ~The first door~. The 11-track album is almost entirely in English, which was very surprising.
After listening to the album multiple times, it is my opinion that Aibon does much better with the faster songs than she does with the slower ones. “Sunny,” an up-tempo ditty, is one of the best tracks on the album. On the other hand, “Blue Moon” makes me want to fast forward to the next song. And, of course, there is “Fly Me To The Moon,” probably the most overused English song in Japan. Here’s a note to any future Japanese jazz singers – Pretend “Fly Me To The Moon” never existed. We would all appreciate it. However, my biggest complaint is the background music. It sounds like she’s singing in front of a midi track instead of a live band. I’m not sure if they mixed her voice with older instrumental recordings or if they did, in fact, record the background music just for her. I firmly believe that the bad songs on the album would have been a lot better if the instruments themselves sounded better.
It is impressive that Aibon took on this project. She has said that she’s not particularly comfortable with the English language and singing in English can be rather difficult when it’s not your first language. As a whole, the album is good. Even the bad tracks aren’t completely awful. I hope that Aibon does another project like this. Not necessarily jazz, but something other than pop. Maybe she should try a big band album next!
Based on a true story, Hachiko tells the tale of an akita named Hachiko. On the way home from work one day, college professor Parker (Richard Gere) found a puppy wandering around a train platform. The train station attendant (Jason Alexander) can’t keep the dog at the station so Parker brings him home. When the owner can’t be found, his wife, Cat (Joan Allen), reluctantly allows him to keep little Hachi. Soon Hachi and Parker form a strong bond. Hachi walks Parker to the train station every morning and greets him at the same station every evening. When Parker suddenly dies at school, Hachi is devastated. He continues to wait for Parker to return from work, despite the family’s efforts to deter the behavior. Ten years later, Hachi dies at the train station – still waiting for his master.
I’ve wanted to see this movie for awhile. My family owns a shiba inu, which is similar in appearance to an akita. Despite knowing how the movie ends (it’s a true story so it’s kinda like knowing how Titanic ends), I still found myself crying as Hachi desperately waited for Parker to return. Granted, you need to overlook a few things in order to truly enjoy the movie. Cate, Parker’s wife, is pretty terrible in the beginning. Since she’s not a main character, you don’t get to see her change. She’s set up as an antagonist for Hachi and Parker and, while that softens a bit, there isn’t a turn around for her. Sure, we feel bad for her by the end…but we kinda feel bad for everyone, not just her.
So, if you love dogs and are willing to shed a few tears by the end of the night, snuggle up with your furry friend and pop in the DVD. However, if you aren’t in it for the heartwarming story, there isn’t any other reason to watch it. Since it’s basically the story of a man and his dog, you’d probably find yourself bored before it reaches the halfway mark.
Title: Kamen Rider Decade: All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker
Release date: 8/8/09
Cast: Masahiro Inoue, Kanna Mori, Ryouta Murai, Moe Arai, Ryuichi Oura
Plot: The worlds are merging together, destroying each other. Only by killing all of the Riders from all of the various worlds can one world be saved. Or is that the real solution?
What is good: Watching the Kamen Riders fight was interesting.
What is bad: Gackt’s cameo was awful.
Letter rating: B-
Overall: I’ve never watched Kamen Rider in any of its forms. As a matter of fact, the only reason I wanted to watch this was for the Gackt cameo. Unfortunately, the Gackt cameo was terrible. Despite not knowing anything about the series, the movie wasn’t too bad. I was able to keep up with the plot, for the most part, and it was kinda cool to see all the various incarnations of the Rider. The main downside was that the movie was only 66 minutes so it was more like a special episode then a full-length movie. They probably could have spent a little more time fleshing out some things or let the battles go on a little bit longer. As a whole, I had a decent time watching it.
Title: Kagen no Tsuki
Also known as: Last Quarter
Release date: 2004
Genre: Supernatural romance
Cast: Kuriyama Chiaki, Narimiya Hiroki, Kurokawa Tomoka, Ochiai Motoki, Hyde
Plot: As Mizuki (Kuriyama) turns 19, she finds out that her boyfriend, Tomoki (Narimiya), has been cheating on her. Running away from her heartache, she comes upon an abandoned estate. Inside she finds a mysterious guitar player named Adam (Hyde), who claims to know her. During the last quarter of the moon, Adam tells Mizuki that he must leave. Desperate to stay with him, Mizuki races to find him, only to be hit by a car. Two schoolchildren (Kurokawa and Ochiai) soon find the estate with a mysterious girl who cannot leave. What is the connection between the house, Adam, and Mizuki?
What is good: Kuriyama is a very good actress.
What is bad: The story dragged a lot.
Letter rating: C
Overall: I mostly rented this movie because Hyde is in it. I didn’t realize that both Kuriyama and Narimiya were in it as well. Despite all of the talent in the film, it was still very difficult to watch. The pacing was extremely slow. It takes a long time for the characters to come to relatively easy conclusions and some things that don’t need to explained are over explained. If you are a fan of the actors, it’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours. Otherwise, feel free to overlook this without a second thought.
I know I haven’t posted in awhile. I just don’t have anything to talk about. Sorry. Today I will give you an interview with a (supposed) ex-employee of a visual kei record label. It is a very long interview and I’m not really sure how true it is. (I would venture to guess about 50% is true and 50% is made up.) But it is an interesting read anyway. Even if it is all fake.
Title: Kisarazu Cat’s Eye: The Movie
Release date: 11/2003
Cast: Okada Junichi, Sakurai Sho, Okada Yoshinori, Sato Ryuta, Tsukamoto Takashi
Plot: Bussan (Junichi) is dying. His doctors continually tell him that he has six months left to live. Instead of being depressed, he lives life normally with his friends.
What is good: There are some very funny moments.
What is bad: The beginning of the movie is rather confusing.
Letter rating: C+
Overall: I should start out by confessing that I have not watched the 9-episode drama that goes with the movie. This was just something I plucked off of Netflix without any expectations. As such, I was terribly confused for the first 45 minutes. Perhaps, if I was familiar with the series, I might have understood what was going on. Either way, the movie really picks up in the last half of the film. Once you can piece everything together and see how each event relates to other events, the movie is quite fun! I actually found myself staying up way past my bedtime just to find out how it ends. (I rarely stay up past my bedtime. I like sleep.) Now I need to track down the series so I can see what other adventurous mishaps this gang gets into!