29 May 2011

Sunday Drama: Inu wo Kau to Iu Koto

Just a quick review this week because I have a big test tomorrow.  Also this drama is only half way through the season - which is dangerous because it could turn to shit in the next few episodes and I'll look like a fool.

Inu o Kau to Iu Koto (I hate romaji titles, btw) is super to the power of infinity.  It's like they have taken something cute and added on extra cute, then put a super cute cherry on top.

It's the story of a poor family - Mum, Sachiko (Mizukawa Asami) had gotten knocked up at uni so Dad, Yuji (Nishikido Ryo) did the right thing and married her.  See it's already cute because it has Ryo who is a little man packed full of cuteness with a movie star smile.   Together they raise their two cute kids.

Their daughter,  Mako, finds a super cute puppy and brings it home but, since they can barely afford to eat, how can they raise a puppy?  Mako, of course, is super cute.  And super sad because she loves that puppy.  She took a bus all on her own to rescue it from the pound and everything.

Then, when Mum goes to dump the dog, bitchy kid and bitchy mum start talking to her and it makes her change her mind.

They call the dog Sky Tree because they live near the Tokyo Sky Tree and Mako loves the Sky Tree and, if nothing else made me love this drama it's that because I too love the Sky Tree.

Added to the cuteness, is some heartwarming drama.  Ryo-papa works for the Man in the Giving People the Arse department.  He has to knee down to them so they will sign the resignation forms.  WTF Japan, if I was getting the boot from a job, I'd be like - screw your kneeling down apology, I want a big, fat redundancy pay-out.

Ryo-papa has to sack his friend/sempai which is, of course, heartbreaking... but wait, friend/sempai has a wife and she's -- ZOINKS dying of cancer!  Friend/sempai goes to the union.  I'm like WTF THERE ARE UNIONS IN JAPAN!  Who knew that?

I assumed there were no unions and that's why everyone hangs out at work until bullshit o'clock and sucks up their bosses arse at drinking parties and talks keigo.  What does the union do here?  Shouldn't they be like "KEIGO, GOT TO GO!"  and bringing in the 8 hour day and shit (I tried to explain Australia's 8 hour day holiday to some students once... I think I broke their brains).

So The Man tells Ryo-papa to get sempai out of the union by offering an early payout.  Sempai says 'mates before dates - and dates includes wives with cancer'.  So Ryo-papa goes to The Man and suggests job sharing.  The Man is like - get your dirty hippy arse out of our kaisha, dude.  We don't hold with that kind of talk about her.  Now get out of here so I can go buy a Louis Vuitton handbag to encourage a schoolgirl to have sex with me (note: this may only be in the drama as subtext).

So Mama has to work at the supermarket while Ryo-papa gets a construction job.  It is worth watching this movie just to see Nishikido in construction worker mode.  But, it gets better.  There are scenes with him in the bath.  I'm like - damn you, cloudy water!

Less kids, less dog, less water!

Then, OMG ZOINNKS, mama is pregnant and Junno from KAT-TUN is the baby doctor.  Because they are so poor, they can't even get a good member of KAT-TUN like Kame to deliver it.

Of course, all is not happy with that cute lil scallyway of a puppy either...or with the apartment residents who hate puppies.

This is the one part I had huge problems with.  Before finding out Mama is preggers, they think she collapsed because she's a housewife AND she works part-time!!!!!  WTF... she's a housewife with kids at school.  Because that's so damn exhausting?  I nearly threw something at the TV in that bit.  I was a single mother who worked full time and studied for my degree at night so don't give me that bullshit.

Oh and another bit that shit me - Mum has to work late so Mako, who is like 5 years old, has to cook dinner for her 10 year old brother.  Again, WTF.  If you are going to leave your kids at home, at least make the older one do the cooking.  It's okay because Mako is so wise beyond her years.

It's over the top with sentamentality.  Like they are thinking is there something more we can add to this scene to make it even more heart-wrenching.  But it's so damn cute.  And sweet.

I give this drama 4/5 stars.  If there are more bath scenes, I might give it 5/5.

22 May 2011

Sunday Drama – Stand Up!

Since a few people have mentioned this drama lately, I thought I’d review it today.  The premise of Stand Up! sounds like it’s going to be similar to some American frat boy drama (eg American Pie) – lots of cheap laughs and not much substance.


Stand Up! is the story of four boys who are the last virgins left in their high school.   Of course, they are mercilessly mocked for being “doutei boys”.   They decide that, over the summer holidays they need to lose their virginity.



So far, you can see that it doesn’t sound like much of a drama (or maybe it does, depending on your point of view).


Shouhei (Nino) is in love with his teacher.  I kinda had issues with this part of the plot – she’s the hot teacher, she knows he has a crush on her so she strings him along rather than trying to be responsible.  She tells him she’ll meet for a date then brings along another guy… that kind of thing.  Basically she bugged the hell out of me.


Ken-ken (Yamapi) is a train nerd and his mother runs the local love hotel.  He has a long term girlfriend but she won’t put out.  Later he finds out that she actually will put out, just not for him.  He’s the “nice” boyfriend.


Udayan (Hiroki Narimiya) is hilarious in this.  He is obsessed with seeing panties!  Since it was the first drama I ever saw him in, ever after I’ve referred to him as pants guy.   He wants to be a rock star but has no talent.  He also figures that the best way to deal with being a virgin is to embrace his virginity… and he makes the others swear to a vow of celibacy.

Koji (Oguri Shun) is so damn cute in this – I want to squish his little Oguri Shun cheeks.  He’s the sports star.  Lots of girls are interested in him but, when they talk to him, he’s so awkward and shy, he can only come out with gibberish.  Also he sleeps with his eyes open.


The main obstacle to the boys losing their virginity, apart from their own dorkiness, is that the adults of the neighbourhood think the kids are getting too promiscuous so they start cracking down on teenage sex. 


This drama really shows the hypocrisy of adults wanting to protect the morals of the young while being as perverted as hell themselves. 

Also, at the start of the summer, their childhood friend, Chie comes back to the neighbourhood.   She wants to relive her childhood memories and pick up where they left off.  Instead she’s pretty much disgusted to learn that her old friends are just interested in getting  laid.

At first no one questions why she’s just randomly turned up in the neighbourhood but later they find out that she is running away from something – and that makes them rethink their attitudes and to start seeing females are real people, rather than just potential virginity-losing opportunities.



I love that this drama actually does make some really interesting comments about relationships.  While it’s funny, because there is nothing funnier than dorky boys trying to get laid, there are some really serious issues touched on in the drama without it becoming an “issue” drama.


I highly recommend Stand Up!  While the acting isn’t the greatest in some parts, it’s a got a strong story line and some hilariously funny moments.  All up, I live it 5 stars.

15 May 2011

Sunday Drama: Kimi wa Petto

The other night I was walking home in the rain and it reminded me of this drama so I thought I’d review it.  I think a lot of Japanese dramas can be a bit fluffy, not that there’s anything wrong with that – you can’t be all deep and angsty all the time – but Kimi wa Petto, while being an enjoyable drama to watch, touches on a lot of issues about how women are treated in Japanese society and also about the nature of relationships.


Kimi wa Petto is the story of Sumire (Koyuki), who is a tall, strong, intelligent and emotionless woman.  She works for a newspaper and isn’t well liked by her co-workers.  The drama starts with her going to a therapist because she’s just broken up with her boyfriend who couldn’t handle that she had a much better job than him.


The therapist asks her when was the last time she cried.  She tells him when she was a child and her dog, Momo, dies.


Sumire returns to work to find one of her staff has slacked off on the job.  She tells the girl off and the girl, in the manner of cutesy Japanese girls, goes crying to the boss (in a very manipulative manner).  The boss puts the blame on Sumire and, in the ensuing argument, sexually harasses her.  She responds by punching him and knocking out one of his teeth.


Already at this point, I’m liking Sumire.  I’m pretty much identifying with all of this.


So she goes home, it’s pouring with rain and, outside the door of her apartment building, she finds a boy (Matsumoto Jun) who has been beaten up in a cardboard box.  She’s not sure what do do with him so she takes him and treats his wounds.  He sleeps on her couch and she expects him to leave the next day.




Back at work she is in a shitload of trouble – because this is Japan and apparently it’s perfectly okay to sexually harass your staff but not okay for them to respond.  She’s demoted from the “real” news to the light entertainment section – where they don’t want a snotty, well educated woman working either.  They give her all kinds of shit jobs that involve stuff like dressing up in costumes.


When she gets home, the boy is still there.  He wants to live with her but she doesn't want him.  He offers to be anything – friend, lover, maid…   She tells him all she wants is a pet.  Of course, she doesn’t expect him to agree to that but he does.  And she calls him Momo.



While the relationship works quite well between them, things become complicated when other people find out about it.  How do you explain to your friends that the hot young guy living in your apartment is actually your pet?


kimi wa petto (5)

Sumire’s college infatuation comes back from working overseas and that further complicates things.  Momo becomes jealous and, of course, Sumire doesn’t want him to find out about Momo.


kimi_wa_petto_10Sumire has to sort out her own feelings for Momo.  But Momo has issues of his own, mostly involving interpretative dance.  Because issues involving interpretative dance as the best issues of all.  They are also issues with his mother – and mummy issues aren’t so fun.


My sister and I had tickets to a rock festival on the day we started watching Kimi wa Petto.  We had to stop watching this drama halfway though… drive across town to catch the couple of bands we wanted to see, then race home to finish watching the last few episodes.   Naturally, at the festival, we were like “Billy Corgan, cut the guitar wank so we can get home and see Momo”.


I’d give this drama 10/10.  It’s got the cute and it’s got a real storyline.   There is a Korean version of this being filmed at the moment with Jang Geun Suk which could be good but the Korean chick in it looks annoying and not right for the role.

01 May 2011

Sunday Drama: Minami Kun No Koibito

Normally when I review drama's I’m all like this is my favourite drama ever, I love it – so I thought I would be good to review a drama I can totally slag off.


The fact that I actually watched all 11 episodes of this drama is a testament to my determination and tenacity… or maybe just a sign that I have way too much time on my hands.  It was really, really horrible.




Minami Kun no Koibito (Minami’s Girlfriend would be an approximate English translation) is the story of the love between two high school students – Minami (Ninomiya Kazunari) and Chiyomi (Fukada Kyoko).  


After eating at Chinese restaurant that has opened mysteriously overnight (why the hell do people ever go to mysteriously appearing Chinese places?  It never ends well), Chiyomi gets a fortune cookie that says if she sticks with Minami he will do great things but, if she ever leaves him, terrible things will happen.  Pretty detailed for a fortune cookie – I guess you can say a lot more on one of those little slips of paper if you write in Kanji.


So, on the way home, they have a fight and Chiyomi suddenly – OMG ZOINKS!!!! gets shrunk to 16 cm high!




As you’d expect, this leads to many wacky adventures:  Minami trying to hide his 16 cm girlfriend from his family and friends, almost being exposed, family and friends getting the wrong idea and thinking he’s up to really shady stuff and so on.


Luckily, before she got shrunk, Chiyomi’s hobby was doing novelty oversized calligraphy (there is probably a name for this) because that is a really handy skill to have when you are shrunk to a teeny-tiny size.  She can write notes in her own hand-writing and do other things that are only possible if you are really good at writing with a brush as big as you are.  It’s almost like she knew one day she would be shrunk.



The story line is pretty much what you’d expect but there is a really creepy side plot.  Chiyomi, pre-shrinkage, was being raised by her grandfather because her parents are dead.  So this dude, who is supposed to be her cousin or some relation, keeps popping into the grandfather’s sushi shop (he’s also a teacher at Minami’s school) and dealing out the life advice.


The dude is still getting over his unrequited love for Chiyomi’s mother – who, of course, looked exactly like her.    At least getting shrunk to miniature size gets her away from the creepy uncle/cousin who obviously has inappropriate feelings for her.   This whole side story goes nowhere but definitely has “inappropriate” stamped all over it.


The best thing about this drama is Fukada Kyoko – I have a big girl crush on her at the moment – and even she is kind of annoying in it.   Also, the special effects are really well done.   Apart from that, everything about it sucks.   The ending is especially annoying and you are left thinking “Huh?  That’s it?  I just watched 11 episodes of this .. and that’s how it ends?”


I give this drama one star – and that’s only because of the bits where Minami get's caught buying doll clothes  and everyone thinks he is gay and/or crazy.