And I’m Back! {To dramas}, an extremely long and varied post.

December 23, 2008

Many interesting things have I been doing lately, including Saiunkoku Monogatari, Romeo X Juliet, Ryusei no Kizuna, They Kiss Again and Hana Yori Dango. Plus some other stuff. Daaaamn. Haha. All in one day. Hey, theres 9 inches of snow on the ground, I’m sick, and I don’t have anything to do anyway.

In my last post I mentioned how terribly off track this blog has gotten, and really, it’s not going to get any more ‘on-track’, but at least I’m actually watching jdramas again. I feel like it’s too late to change the blogs’ name, but its kinda totally wrong. Ah well. I don’t really care. So, to work:

SAIUNKOKU MONOGATARI

(Story of Saiunkoku)

An enthusiastic friend burned the entire first season onto discs for me, which I never finished watching. So it was included in my goal of “Over winter break, FINISH KUROSAGI. And watch Saiunkoku Monogatari and Romeo X Juliet, since they’re already downloaded.” Anyway, I’m not finished watching it yet, so I guess I won’t give a full on review (I never do anyways. My thoughts are too disorganized and un-critical D:). But I must say, even though it’s not exceptional or anything, I enjoy Saiunkoku a lot. It must be my weakness for period plots.

I do love historic, fantasy, or futuristic worlds. Dystopias, of course, being the best. But back to Saiunkoku. It’s set in a fictional country that seems to be based on China 200+ years ago. Sorry I can’t tell you anything other than such a vague guess as to the time period, but I’m gonna say it really doesn’t matter.

Yes, I know that Shuurei’s hair is annoyingly impossible given the laws of gravity. I’ll just have to deal.

I’m just completely entertained by this series. The characters are pleasant and have personalities; the plot makes sense and holds my interest, barring the occasional side stories; the drawings are acceptable, with nice watercolor pictures of the Chinese-like city; the music is cute (by cute I mean historically accurate) and the theme songs are girly yet not insanely annoying. Lala, this series is so fun! (You know, I can enjoy pretty much anything. But I somehow manage to be picky still. I myself don’t even get it.)

I love the background stuff about the country’s history. I am just so entertained and happy. I can’t wait to see what the second season is like.

Moving on!

ROMEO X JULIET

Right now I’m just so happy in the anime department. I have Saiunkoku Monogatari to lightly entertain me, and I have Romeo X Juliet to give me a little tragedy and depth(ish). I love this, regardless of the flaws I’ve seen, which I will list right now to get them off my back. Its gonna seem like I hate this series, but trust me, I don’t. I’m just being harsh. Okay, so 1): Regarding the actual relationship between Romeo and Juliet. This is the whole basis of the title and much of the plot. So where is it?! How are they connected at all?! All they ever say to each other is… “R-Romeo!” and “…Juliet?!” and then they blush and somehow this adds up to a relationship?! Where’s the passion? 2): Actually, I don’t really have any other problems, so far.

So now to the positive aspects, which are many more!

The Plot. Well DUH. Of course the plot is fantastic, who wrote it again? Was it Shakespeare, one of the most famous people ever? The original plot is obviously gorgeous, but Romeo X Juliet’s plot adaption is extremely entertaining. Even though we all know how it’s going to end, RxJ manages to recapture your interest by making this be Romeo and Juliet in essence, at that same time completely and decidedly NOT being Romeo and Juliet, and yet still being Romeo and Juliet. You know what, don’t even make me try to put it into words, just go watch it.

The Characters. The set-up of the characters is a bit different, as the Montagues are in power, and the Capulets are subdued; rather than having them just be fighting like babies. Also, several different characters are introduced, and other characters don’t appear until later, aka Tybalt. I actually have no idea where that one is going. I’m only on episode 10 out of 24. So we’ll find out what the hell Tybalt is doing NOT being friends with Romeo eventually. Character development looked like it was going to be nada at first, but now I think Juliet is started to show a bit more of a personality. Can Romeo’s personality be saved? You’ll just have to watch it and see if the director turns out to be good after all. (Made by Gonzo, by the way)

The Setting. I love Neo Verona! I love the flying horses, and the fact that Romeo’s is adeptly named Cielo (Sky).

The Art and Character Designs. Ehhh what do I know about this..; All I can say is the characters’ faces don’t annoy me, +500 points! Juliet’s wig for when she’s “Odin” and a boy is incredibly annoying, but I can live with that. The CG and backgrounds are kinda cool and Scrapped Princess-like. I really like the designs for the Montague and Capulet coats of arms.

The Music …is the pleasant kind that you find yourself singing as you make dinner. And I must add that the Japanese version of “You Raise Me Up” is quite lovely and way better than the original, which I hated. The lyrics are better now, too. ;P The end song is kinda JRock-like, which is nice.

KYAAA I’m excited for the plot! I am SO willing to overlook short-comings for this anime!

Up next is…

RYUSEI NO KIZUNA

All right, so I was indeed quite put off by the Fall 2008 drama season. A lot. This was the only drama that got me interested, and it’s STILL taken me until December to start watching it. Thank god SARS picked this up, otherwise I might NEVER have watched it. (I love SARS. Thank you SO MUCH for Hana Kimi, HanaDan, Nodame Cantabile and like 5000 more!)

Ummm what can I say. I’m thinking this drama might pull a Kurosagi and turn episodic, thereby making me extremely sad and incapable of ever finishing it. (WHY IS IT that I just cannot get myself to finish watching Kurosagi? Why?). Of course, I hope it doesn’t. Even though there are some weird comic moments that are almost out of place, espcially with Ninomiya, who plays the oldest brother out of 3 siblings whose parents were murdered. Is Nino just completely un-funny? He seem so awkward in comedy scenes. I can’t tell if it’s his character, or if he just cannot act in comedies.

Anyway, kind of scattered plot but its holding my interest for now so I’ll keep downloading and follow it. There’ll be more later.

THEY KISS AGAIN – Episode 2

This is just going to be an awful rant about how unhappy I am about episode 2 of the sequel to ISWAK, the best TWdrama out there that I’ve ever heard of.

Okay, so to set things straight: YES I really enjoyed ISWAK, even though I think the cinematography was about as bad is it gets (I’m wrong there, in They Kiss Again its worse), the plot and characters were shallow (thats usual for a TWdrama though), and I was never sure whether Xiang Qin and Jiang-taitai’s crappy taste in EVERYTHING from plaster figurines to over-the-top lace to cutesy stuffed things was a joke or for real. (as far as I can tell from TKA, it’s real. OH the horror).

The sequel, They Kiss Again, is just so pointless, futile, predictable and torturous, that I can’t imagine how they even filmed it without unconsciously jumping out the window. What the hell is the point of making a show about life after marriage? Who wants to watch someones’ marriage fall apart, come back together, then watch them not trust each other, become suspicious, cry and whine about it? And if there was a point to making a show about life after marriage, it would be because the show is deep, and characters are profound and you actually comprehend how they can possibly think in the way that they do. Which does NOT describe TKA.  And then if its that bad, WHY make every episode 80 minutes long? It dragged on forever and ever. And half of that time was spent fawning over the Jiang’s new house which was decorated with more plaster figurines, kitschy family photographs, and way larger than life pictures of babies; in frilly pink lace and satin and way larger than life pictures of Xiang Qin and Zhi Shu kissing.

Whew. And if all that doesn’t tell you how disappointed I am, I have absolutely no idea what will.

Thank god for Hana Yori Dango! Even the melodrama of the final episode was enough to beat back the pain I experienced from watching They Kiss Again. That wrapped up my rewatching of Hana Yori Dango for the Holiday season. I’m considering rewatching Hana Yori Dango Returns as well, seeing as I remember like none of it. Guess what elseeeee? Hana Yori Dango Final was released on DVD on the 19th and soon SARS will be subbing away!!!!!!

Ahhhh that was long. But wait! There’s more!

After this sad and forlorn Fall season, I’m hoping for a little better in Winter 2009. So far what has me interested is Kami no Shizuku, with Kamenashi Kazuya – about wine, will probably try to be profound; and a slightly trashier-sounding but possibly better Mizushima Hiro drama, yes I know he tends to only be eye candy, but this could be funny: ‘Mei-chan no Shitsuji’, or Mei’s Butler. Hopefully they won’t disappoint.

And moving away from the television genre, we have a very intriguing French book called ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’. I would recommend it to anyone who is disillusioned with the modern world, and who is sophisticated, intelligent and interested in art, culture and philosophy. I’m really enjoying it.

And to wrap this extremely long post about many unrelated things, I have a couple more random statements:

1) I love the movie Ever After, best sappy period romance ever

2) One of these days I’ll write up my ramblings about Scrapped Princess, one of my favorite animes

3) Happy Holidays and thank god the days are finally getting longer again!


An off-topic post! Manga and Hollywood!

December 13, 2008

I’m sorry… this is supposed to be a blog to keep track of Jdramas, but I’ve totally failed. The last drama I watched was Taiwanese, not Japanese, and recently I’ve been reading manga instead of finishing Kurosagi and watching all those other dramas I’ve been meaning to watch. I just couldn’t help myself. Ai Yazawa is just too cool. Haha, isnt she cool?

*Notice the Vivienne Westwood outifit. XD
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Anyway, after I finished the Paradise Kiss anime (SPOILER ALERT) I had to go reread the last chapter of the manga because the anime didn’t mention Carrie was getting married to Tokumori, and that made me sad because I was one of the only people who was actually happy that they ended up together. Believe me, I liked George and all, he’s a great character, but Yukari definitely wouldn’t have been as happy with him, i don’t think. Anyway, thats just my opinion. The ending was realistic and refreshing.
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Well, I had read Paradise Kiss, Gokinjo Monogatari, Tenshi Nanka Janai, and some of Nana, so I had to go read Kagen no Tsuki. Even though that genre isn’t really my favorite, since it was a Yazawa I liked it. Also, I find that if I haven’t seen much of a particular genre before I get interested in it temporarily because of the novelty. Anyway, Kagen no Tsuki is a supernatural story about a 4 children who are trying to help this ghost-like girl (only one of them can see her). Turns out she’s in a coma, and her spirit was trapped in this old house where she had lived for 2 weeks with a mysterious British musician called Adam. Complicated plot to explain, but it’s worth it to go take a look at it. Its pretty different from the work most people associate with Ai Yazawa.
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I also checked out the live action movie that was made in 2004, with the guy who plays Morita from Honey and Clover (I know, he was just over-acting sooo much.) Needless to say, I didn’t like what I saw of the movie much. I’m always saying that you have to consider the movie and book versions of things as completely seperate, but I honestly just did not like how they interpreted the plot in the movie. So I didn’t finish it.
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Yes, that is indeed Hyde in the movie poster. Yes, he plays Adam. And no, he’s not British. Ah well. The other picture is the cover of one of the books. It’s a prety short series. Something like 16 chapters.

Oh yeah, this isn’t a serious review about the movie Kagen no Tsuki or anything, so if you’re wondering about it you’ll have to find somebody who has actually watched the whole thing, sorry.
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Lately I’ve been reading Marmalade Boy. (It’s not just because the author is friends with Yazawa, I promise). I read it awhile ago, so I thought I would read it again. I don’t really have a big opinion on it. I mean if you asked me if I liked it or didn’t like it, I would say I liked it. But theres not too much I have to say. Except for rivals, jeaoulsy, and evil Sae-like people! (Excuse the Peach Girl reference). I just hate, hate, hateeeeeee it when theres jealousy, suspicions and evil Sae-people! A) It makes me nervous! B)It’s not very original C) You already know how things will turn out, so it seems pointlessly nerve-wracking! and D) Do people really get suspicious that easily? I guess thats one thing you can learn from manga. Nobody whose read enough manga will ever get suspicious and angry ever again! Of course, there are times when you’re right to be suspicious and angry… AHH it doesn’t matter! I’m almost boring myself by going on about jealousy, suspicions, evil Sae-people, and rivals (ooh another thing I hate is a quickly introduced, then quickly disposed-of rival! Just too predictable!) These sorts of things just get in the way of the actual plot (if there is an actual plot) and annoy you.
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Sighhh. I think I’ll go back to Nana once I finish Marmalade Boy. I miss seeing Yazawa’s Vivienne Westwood. Recently I’ve had a lot of fun looking at this book I got about vintage fashion. It organizes by decades. The 50’s and 60’s look fun… but the 70’s looked so awful. EXCEPT for Vivienne Westwood. I actually can’t find a thing of hers’ that I don’t like. She’s also quite innovative and prolific. I liked Hubert de Givenchy, too. He worked with Audrey Hepburn. Recently I’ve also been fascinated by early Hollywood. I read this book about the founders of Hollywood about a year ago, and I just finished this other one about Edith Head. What an amazing woman. I love looking at the old pictures of her designs. She worked with Hitchcock, too. Those early years in Hollywood were so glamorous. Heres a piccy: Edith’s on the left.
Well speaking of people/artists I admire, I like Gaudi and Antoine de St. Exupery, too. Got a little off topic at the end, there. Actually this whole post hasn’t got much to do with Jdrama. (-_-) – Also, why did I write this whole thing in italics?
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PS- Did you know Wataru Yoshizumi (Marmalade Boy, Handsome Girlfriend), Miho Obana (Kodomo no Omocha/Kodocha) and Ai Yazawa are all friends? It’s weird that I happen to have read series by each of them and liked them!

YAZAWA BINGE

December 9, 2008

Yes my Ai Yazawa binge continues… I read as much of Tenshi Nanka Janai as I could – only chapters 1-36 are available. I’m pretty sure theres only a couple more till the end. Tennai was super interesting! Becuase Yazawa’s art has developed so much between Tennai and Nana, even between Tennai and her next manga, Gokinjo Monogatari. The art was much less developed in Tennai, but still pleasant. Tennai sort of grows on you. It’s very sweet, kinda, not shallow, but still funny in that Yazawa way.

I think I’m about half-way done watching Paradise Kiss’s anime. Now that I’ve finished ParaKiss, Gokinjo Monogatari, and pratically finished Tenshi Nanka Janai, I am indeed going to start reading Nana again. Sadly, I don’t think the rest of Yazawa’a (earlier) series have even been scanlated. =(


Devil Beside You SERIES REVIEW

December 5, 2008

I actually hate writing reviews so much. Because even though its fun, its really difficult for me to actually do a good job reviewing. Anyway, this is a summary of my experience watching Devil Beside You!

The Taiwanese drama is indeed based on a manga (again), Akuma de Sourou. Basically, a melodramatic controversial love story. Thats not actually controversial. They’re only brother and sister because their single parents are marrying each other! Did I miss out on some etiquette lesson? Because I don’t find that really gross. I guess its different in Taiwan.

Again, QUITE melodramatic. Classic and fairly predictable romance plot. Also, EXTREMEEEELy cheesy lines between Qi Yue (Rainie Yang) and Ahmon (Mike He). Seriously, really awful. I actually laughed out loud several times.

That being said, lets be a little more positive. Although I did keep wondering to myself, ‘Why the hell am I watching this?’ I must admit that if I hadn’t been enjoying it, I would not have kept watching. It’s probably because I hardly ever watch anything like this that I’m not sick of it already (I’m not counting ISWAK as “like this” because its simply fantastic). I also liked Qing Zi (Qi Yue’s friend), but I didn’t like her scenes with Yuan Yi. I basically just didn’t like Yuan Yi. What a weak character! Yue’s character was also a bit annnoying, and righteous yet complainy. She wasn’t that bad though. She was a little charming. Ahmon was hands-down the best, most developed character (ignoring the cheesy lines w/ Qi Yue).

I hate his booger jacket though. (I’m mature, i know, you dont have to tell me). His hair was also pretty funny. As was his weird smirk-smile-sneer expression. Yue’s expressions are also quite hilarious. Plus, I kept thinking she had a mustache! I don’t know why. I got distracted by it so many times.

They did do that annoying thing where they bring in recyclable characters. Like once Li Xiang was eliminated as a rival (oops. spoiler.), she had about 3 or less lines per episode. Same with Ahrang, and Meidi.

Another thing I could’ve lived without was some of the random filler-y things. I liked Li Xiang and Yang Ping’s little thing, but QiYue’s old tutor (sorry, forgot his name) and his friend-with-almost-benefits were kinda unnecessary. She was so demanding! It’s like she’ll stop loving him if he can’t guess what she wants? I felt bad for her at first, but then she had to go and do that stupid puzzle thing.

About the ending: I was happy with the plot ending (predictable), but I didn’t like the actual ending scene. It was a bit too… random?

All in all, I enjoyed it but I have absolutely no idea why. You might like it, or you might hate it. It depends on your mood and how long its been since you’ve seen something cheesy.

His hair is better like that^