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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hanamizuki (2010)


Country: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: romance, life
Cast: Ikuta Toma, Aragaki Yui, Mukai Osamu,Yakushimaru Hiroko, Renbutsu Misako, Arata, Kimura Yuichi, Matsushige Yutaka, Tokunaga Eri, Kanai Yuta, Koyanagi Yu, Takahashi Tsutomu, Hayashi Mamatsu, Mizushima Kaori,  
Synopsis: Story is set from 1996 to 2006 - ten years of Sae and Kohei's life. Sae is an ambitious girl from small village in Hokkaido, who wants to go to Waseda University in Tokyo and Kohei is a young boy who wants to become a fisherman in order to continue his father's and grandfather's work. To be together they must face the world because destiny seems to play a cruel joke with them.
Rating: 5/5
The first cool thing about the movie is that it is not made after a novel, manga or just taken from air - 
 it is originally taken after Yo Hitoto song "Hanamizuki" which was released in 2004 (Youtube has many different versions and covers of it).
“Hanamizuki” is one of the best romance movies I have lately seen. It is a classical love story, but it is so damn cute that you cannot to anything else but love it. Okey, I know people who say that it is actually rather boring as you can predict most of it and the story stays very simple, but there is also a possibility that people have gotten their expectations to high at first place. So let’s start with characters.

Aragaki Yui plays Sae – young ambitious girl from a small Hokkaido village who wants to go to Waseda University and play a big role in human existence.  She does not see all the difficulties that other people (especially Kohei) have. Well, I must say that I am sorry to all Gakki fans, because she did not  shine in her role much, at least Ikuta Toma was definitely the star of the movie. Many copare Aragaki’s acting to “Koizora” and easily said – she acts most of her high school roles the same and Gyoza – How long can one actress play an high schooler? But I must say that these roles suit her. 
It is said that it is her first adult role as the movie goes through ten years of their lives, so that in the end Sae is 28, but actually “Code Blue” aired before and there she definitely was an adult, of course this is her first adult role in a movie and definitely the oldest role she has ever played. I must say that Aragaki Yui has very decent English – I was afraid that there comes some horrible accent, but thankfully she took English lessons for this role.
Ikuta Toma , he is sooooooo amazing actor! Really great role. Kohei is a small village boy with small dreams. He must face educational and social circumstances to walk his own path and he is the character with who you start to think that life is unfair to the best people. It seems like all his dreams get crushed and there is nothing he can do about it. In their relationship he is hopelessly in love and gives his best to make relationship work even when Sae goes to uni. 
Compared to Sae, he must grow up fast against his will. He is very rational and always puts others before himself. You may think that at many times he is too short-tempered, but actually he is just jealous and hurt, because in Tokyo Sae is spending her time with other guys and they start to grow distant. And why no one has said to me before that TOMA IS THAT ******* GREAT KISSER?! Those kiss-scenes are fabulous and as soon as I am home again, I will add them to top 10 .Btw. Kohei broke The Guys Rule – “Bros before Ho*s” - twice.
Actually they lasted for very long – 4 years! Most of the couples are not able to last for that long, especially to think that most of it was long distance relationship. No matter what they are just perfect for each other. Many say that in some scene the script is rather silly and unrealistic, but I think that everything is possible and there are things like destiny.
Who was that smart ass and put Toma and Mukai Osamu into the same movie? IS she/he really trying to kill mass of girls with Ikemen overdose? Mukai Osamu plays a very important role in the movie, but sadly he does not have much screen time.  Junichi Kitani is like Sae’s mentor and dad who she did not have. He shows her the things that she could have if she just tries. He is very mature and always walks his own path.

What I liked about the movie is that it is very international – they had shootings in USA and Canada and they brought in many things from all over the country – lesser fishes, September the 11. and war in Iraq etc. The shootings and locations are already so beautiful that it definitely adds the enjoyment of watching. Also, it has really cute soundtracks, but “Hanamizuki” is performed by Aragaki Yui, so if you do not like her singing so much then search for other versions of this song (English version by Eric Martin is beautiful).
Definitely must-see love-story
:)




Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unubore Deka (2010)


Country: Japan
Format: drama in 11 episodes
Genre: detective, comedy
Cast: Nagase Tomoya, Ikuta Toma, Kaname Jun,Yahagi Ken, Bando Mitsugoro, Arakawa Yoshiyoshi, Nakashima Mika, Hashimoto Jun, Guests: Kato Ai, Aoi Yuu, Higuchi Kanako, Toda Erika, Yakushimaru Hiroki, Koyuki, Koizumi Kyoko, Mitsuura Yasuko, Ishida Yuriko, Sakai Wakana 
Synopsis: Unubore (a nickname) is 30-ish-something detective, who once worked in the Headquarters, but after being dumped by his fiancee Rie his career went down, father moved into his apartment and he keeps thinking that all the women in this world wants to marry him (Unubore means conceited). He befriends with a group of men from "I am I" bar, who fall in love easily too: Kurihashi Makoto-sensei (Bando Mitsugoro) a psychology professor, Honjo Sadame (Ikuta Toma) a young actor, Matsuoka Seishiro (Kaname Jun) a pattisier and  Anai Kiichi (Yahagi Ken) a gravur idol photographer. Things get even worse when Unubore gets a new partner: Saeki Masaru, who happens to be married to Unubore's ex-fiancee Rie. To top it over: every woman Unubore falls in love with is in some way or another a criminal. Thus he gives them a choice: marry him or be arrested.
Rating: 3/5
Funny detective drama with almost the same pattern in every episode. Still it is so funny that you will laugh in cramps.
Nagase Tomoya is perfect for the role - starting with being a Johnny (as they are known as real ikemen, great dancers and for not being afraid to do really stupid things..), ending with having amazing face expressions all the time, beside even though he sometimes does not look like it, but he is soooo damn sexy. Unubore really thinks tooo much of himself, he does not understand women at all and most of the time he is misusing his work position to get close to women. For him there is no such thing in love as "type" - even though he does not look so despaired, he goes after every woman no matter how she looks like or how old she is and even for same gender as himself that looks appealing to him. He is a big crybaby and silly, but he recovers really quickly and his senses are amazing - with one moment he is able to find a missing clue in investigation and solve the crime. Also, it is really cute how he always gives criminal the chance to escape from going to jail. Even though his father seems to be totally different, then actually they are just the same. Father always forgets that he is the one who is living in son's apartment.
Saeki is Unubore's partner, who is very hasty in his actions - one moment he is working his ass of and the next second he is missing his wife, so he decides to go home. He is loud, does not handle alcohol at all and he is known as "the realistic detective" when he and Unubore go together to "I am I" bar. He has no clue about Rie's and Unubore's past.
Sadame tries to be an actor, but most of the time he plays corpse roles. Everybody tells him that he has "annoying face" or "annoying personality", also he is not the sharpest pencil in the box, so everybody think he is baka (stupid). He is also homeless (mostly sleeps in the internet cafes or at park or bar "I am I" or crashes Unubore's place), even though through the series he gets some fans and is noticed as an actor. From Unubore 5, he becomes really great friends with Unubore. It is funny, that they start to film "Unubore deka" in "Unubore deka" with Sadame being the lead - it is like you can see one thing twice - one where Nagase acts as Unubore and some minutes of Ikuta Toma as Unubore. Sadly, Ikuta Toma seems to be more of a viewer-catcher as for half of the episodes he gets really less screentime, later there is more of him where he shows how great actor he really is.
About others in "I am I" bar, they all have their own episodes, but they do not concentrate on them much. It seemed to me that Matsuoka's Tutti Frutti'es were different cakes with the same name - at least in first episodes, later they really became the same Tutti Frutti'es. For Kaname Jun it was definitely a different role from his usual roles (Okey, I have not seen his roles much, but he gives you the feeling of more serious roles). Captain never remembers women names and has a thing for bar's Mama, he wrote many books about finding the woman of his dreams, but even though he is getting already pretty old, he is still single. I have nothing else to say about Anai Kishii than that I was amazed to see Yahagi Ken acting -
he is actually famous comedian in Ogi Yahagi duo. In the bar there are also, Mama and bartender. Mama is someone who almost never speaks because she has sang her voice off at karaoke, to communicate she writes stuff on papers and most of the time she is angry.  The bartender is the smartest man in the bar, but no one really believes or listens to him. He also has a girlfriend, whom you never see in the drama, and he is not in Unubore 5 - most of the time he is bored of them hanging there, but to consider that those 5 are able to drink 30 hours in a row, then the money he earns is worth it.
Last but not least, Rie - woman, who is really difficult to understand and I will tell you that you will understand her actions and everything in the last episode. But she definitely was a bit too jealous while being with Unubore - or was she trying to push him away with it? I do not know.. at least it was nice to see Nakashima Mika in a "cute" role and believe me - her acting was great.
It is really great drama if you want to have a long laugh, because there are so much fun going on all the time, but as the plot seems to repeat itself, then it is a good thing to make some pauses between the episodes, otherwise it might get boring.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mou yuukai nante shinai (2011)

Review what I have written for 3 months.. well, I have been really busy with everything going on and because of that I am submitting it under July. There should come more reviews this month. Sorry for no posts in June!


Country: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: yakuza, comedy, romance
Cast: Ohno Satoshi, Aragaki Yui, Kanjiya Shihori, Narimiya Hiroki, Kaname Jun, Sato Ryuta, Yasuda Shota, Takashima Masahiro, Kimura Ryo Special guests: Fukuda Saki, Matsumoto Jun, Sakurai Sho, Namase Katsuhisa, Tanaka Kei,
Synopsis: Tarui Shotaro has always dreamt of being an hero, yet some things are not meant to happen. One day he saves a girl, who is being chased after by two yakuza-looking guys, not knowing that she's Hanazono Erika, the daughter of a yakuza boss. Things get out of hand when he agrees to feign kidnapping her in order to raise money for her half-sister's hospital fees.
Rating: 3/5
It is made after same-named novel by Higashigawa Tokuya. As you see it has hell of a cast, but for acting - most of them have done a better job in other dramas or movies. It was more as they all made a joke with "Mou yuukai nante shinai" as it really was different kind of movie, a bit stupid and made for laughing.
The main character of the movie is Tarui Shotaro, played by Ohno Satoshi (From Arashi). He suited for the role, his face and expressions were on the spot all the time. His character is another story - firstly, Shotaro's story reminded me too much "Loss time life" episode 6. At least like a sequel or something, because the start really was a copy-paste. But I enjoyed that Shotaro did not lose himself in the action, he stayed the super hero loving dude, who was a bit chicken and followed his sense of justice. Even thought Shotaro looked like dumb, he was pretty clever most of the time. It was interesting how they added cameos from Arashi and made it as cameos from other dramas - Sakurai Sho as Kageyama from "Nazotoki wa Dinner no ato de" and Matsumoto Jun as Tokita Shuntaro from "Lucky Seven". Of course their cameos were totally useless put-ins, but still.
Hanazono Erika was the one who caused all the trouble. She is said to be over 20, but she acted like a spoiled teenager. She was sooo manipulative and did not think rationally. Her actions went from crybaby to threatening with "mysterious disappearing" just to get her way. Of course, it was funny to see how she wrapped Shotaro around her finger, but to tell you the truth, she was mostly annoying. Also, Aragaki's acting in it definitely was not the best thing - she seemed to lack in something.
I much much more enjoyed Satsuki X Seiji story. I think that if they would have consecrated on their story a bit more, then it would have been better. Okey, I know I am playing favourites, but Kanjiya and Narimiya seem a bit higher quality actors than Ohno and Aragaki.
Well, Satsuki was the oldest daughter of Hanazono clan. She is promised to marry with Takazawa - father's follower who will take over the clan , but there are no mentions of her own feelings. She is like a lone wolf since school times and she only thinks about the clan. She is very mature and I bet that in the novel her "war" with the police officer is more written out, because in the movie, we get to know only a small amout of it. She is almost best friend with Seiji Yamabe - second best man to father.
Seiji is old-fashioned guy, who has been with yakuza family for 15 years, before that he was a yankee, whom everybody were afraid of. He prefers to make his own actions and you really cannot tell on which side he is. He is one of the most mysterious characters in the movie. Narimiya Hiroki as yakuza is soooooo hot, well, he is always hot, but he really suits in the bad guy role.
Takazawa is the first man of father. At first I did not recognize Kaname Jun at first. He does not have much screen time, but is very important character for every twist in the movie.
From other characters, I should mention that Komoto is one back-stabbing bastard who is unable to think with his own head, but the dumbest characters in the movie are Shiro and Kuro. If you do not understand Japanese, then "Shiro" means "White" - Yasuda Shota (from Kanjani8) played him with blond hair, and "Kuro" means "Black" and Takashima Masahiro's hair was black, so they made the "Shiro-Kuro" pairing from hair colors.
I was not a big fan of this movie and it as not the best choice how to spend Friday night, but I watched it because of the cast. There are brighter moments in the movie and it is not like something boring, but from the story and this cast you expect much more than you get.


SPOILER review: You can soooooo see how much actually Yamabe loved Satsuki and vice versa, but they had too many obstacles on their way. I understand that Seiji only wanted to save the clan and protect Satsuki. I would have gave the movie another star, if in the end they would have shown how Satsuki goes to visit Seiji in jail.