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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lovely Complex (2006)



Country: Japan
Format: live-action movie
Genre: school, romance, comedy
Cast: Fujisawa Ema, Koike Teppei, Kudo Risa, Mizushima Hiro, Tamaki Namami, Tanihara Shosuke, Terajima Susumu, Yamazaki Yusuke, Nukumizu Yoichi, Yamasaki Shizuyo, Kato Mio, Wentz Eiji
Synopsis: Koizumi Risa has a problem with love - she is 170 cm tall and gets always rejected by guys for being too tall (172 in manga). At the same time, Otani Atsushi has the same problem, but vise versa - he is 159 tall (in actual manga he is 156). First annoyment grows into friendship after they discover that they have many similarities, but heart has its own way and soon Risa finds out that maybe it is not just friendship she wants - but uncertainty of confessing grows as everyone find tall girl and short boy couple a real joke.  
Rating: 3/5
Live-action movie of popular anime/manga "Lovely complex" by Aya Nakahara.The movie looks too fast-forward, because they show all three high-school years in less than 2 hours - so they almost took the most important scenes from the manga.
The lead is character is Koizumi Risa - she is rather silly, naive, childish and she does not have that big complex with her height as Otani has. She falls in love too easily and she tends to over-react with her actions - especially later when she has a crush for their new teacher. Even though it looks like she falls for Otani too fast, she actually did start to have doubts about her feelings in manga too. She and Otani are just so similar and the way Otani acts would make every girl's heart beat faster. I did not like Fujisawa Ema's acting as it was a bit overacted and unreal - even though Risa was unfeminine. It is funny that they made Fujisawa Ema wear high heels to seem taller - she is actually 167cm, which is the same with Koike Teppei's height. Also, which makes the illusion of her being tall, are the hairstyles - sorry, but does not every girl know that exactly these up-dos make you look reaaallly tall?
Otani is sweet guy, who acts like though and strong. He is the star of the basketball team, even though the coach is always displeased with him. He has much bigger complex about his height as he had some mental traumas, which stayed as a painful spot into his heart. Teppei's acting is good - he brings out the way Otani actually is and gyoza he looks cute with those hair-clips, but he did was not as thickheaded as Otani really was. I do not like that they showed too long scenes of baseball game and not much of Otani's feelings.
There has been on and on discussion about "being unable to find girlfriend/boyfriend for girl while being tall and for guy when being short". I would say that first of all, it is difficult to find good relationship whatever you look like. Secondly, if the height matters to another person, then for sure they are not worth your feelings. If you like someone, then like someone for who they are and the height is just part of them - unlike the weight of a person, the height cannot be changed when wanted.
Sadly it did not show the other characters much - it was movie only about Koizumi and Otani, with almost no side-stories, which sucked as it made the movie one-sided. But from other characters Suzuki was my favorite - sweet, shy guy who happens to have a wide imagination, especially when things come to "ero"-stuff, so he ends up having nose-bleeds time to time, even though this line was totally added to movie, because in manga he was not perv. He is together with Chiharu, who is just as shy as he is. They both are really good-looking and actually Otani and Koizumi had a crush on them in manga, but that is not reverberated in live-action. Last friends are Nobuko and Nakao, who again are a couple. Nobuko is Risa's best-friend and constantly tries to hook her up with somebody and Nakao is always helping her with her schemes.
They brought in Kuniumi Maitake or "Mighty/Maity" and left out Haruka - I do not know if it was the best idea, but I have not read that much manga yet. I know that we would have had much fun with Haruka or Seiko.
In the end, the most annoying part was the scenes with English audio - if you want to make a movie with English audio, then find someone who does not have that big accent and has a nice pronunciation. I did not understand a word of what he was saying.
It is a great movie when you want to laugh and say "Awwww" after every 5 minutes, but if you seriously want to have the best of "Lovely Complex", I recommend watching anime and reading manga - I bet for real fans the movie might had been a big letdown. At least for me it proves that it is difficult to make a great live-action of a fabulous manga. They have reorganized the time order to put it into movie time, but it makes it totally different from the original story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Papa to musume no nanokakan (2007)


Country: Japan
Format: drama in 7 episodes
Gerne: comedy
Cast: Aragaki Yui, Tachi Hiroshi, Kato Shigeaki, Morita Ayaka, Mada Mayumi, Aso Yumi, Yashima Norito,
Synopsis: Kyoichiro and Koume are father and daughter whose close relationship faded with years of Koume growing up. After sudden visit to Kyoichiro's mother-in-law they get into train accident on their way back. They discover that the accident has changed them more than just some bandages - they have swapped their bodies. For no scientific reason Koume is trapped in father's body and Kyoichiro in his 16 year old daughter's, to stay away from mental hospital they decide to act the role of other until they find a way to get their real bodies back, but is teenager capable of leading a work team or middle aged man handling girl's school and love problems?
Rating: 3/5
There are a lot of this themes dramas or movies - like USA "Freaky Friday" (1976 and 2003), Korean "Secret garden" (2010) - so it is no different body-swapping. Actually there are a lot of similarities with "Freaky Friday", which both are made after novels, but different novels. "Papa to musume no nanokakan" is made after Igarashi Takahisa's same-named novel.
Kyoichiro is over-protective dad, who denies the fact that his baby-girl is growing up. Most of the time at home he spends watching old home-videos where his and Koume's relationship was great. I think it is something that all dads must accept that there comes time in daughters life where they do not spend that much time with fathers anymore - it does not mean that they love their dads less than before, but the situation changes just a bit. Kyoichiro seems to be invisible man in society, he has lost all his motivation to live and tends to give up before trying. Because of the body-swapping, I must talk about two different things more - firstly, when he is in Koume's body, he really is ruining her youth - It seemed to me that he was not capable for anything! That made me so mad - failing in school, acting stupid with Kenta-senpai and friends... just too annoying. Secondly about the actor, Tachi Hiroshi is an amazing actor!! The way he plays out Koume's character is amazing. He does not overact and he really seems like teenager in old man's body. Of course it is weird to watch his and Kato Shigeaki's scenes, because it might make you want to puke if you see how middle aged looking man fantasizes about young handsome boy.
Koume is definitely not "daddy's girl" - she smart and fast thinking girl, who is not afraid to speak her mind. Of course, while being love with Kenta-senpai and sometimes does not care if she is in her dad's body or not. Through body-swapping she learns how less she actually knows about her parents past and they had ended up in a situation where they did not seem to be a family anymore. About Aragaki Yui's acting... well, it is just another schoolgirl drama for her, definitely outdone by Tachi Hiroshi and Kato Shigeaki. But I think that one of the most funniest lines Koume has is "I do not want to die. At least not before Saturday!" (she had date with Kenta-senpai then - as we see her priorities and reasons are all in right places)  and she tends to do Nyan-cat's sound from time to time, even though Nyan-cat's sound first was done officially in 2010.
Kenta-senpai is school's most popular guy, who is football player (which is total irony, because Kato Shigeaki actually sucks in all sport fields which needs ball). As he is just a side-character, he does not have much screen-time, but I just really really like him XD Kenta-senpai is most frustrated by Koume and her dad body-swapping, because suddenly Koume is acting really cold towards him and Koume's dad is really fond of him.
From other characters I really liked mom - she was the usual housewife, who loved her family the most and the grandma was great too. A bit senile old granny who is still full of life-spirit. I totally
hated Nishino - she was just crazy bitch who was already psycho! If you watch the drama, you will know why I am saying this - but yeah, she is one woman-type who I really dislike.
Drama reminds that sometimes it is good to see things through somebody's else eyes (but not so literally) and we all should try to understand our parents or children more. I do not know if you can see big differences in Kyoichiro, but Koume learns a lot from this exchange.
To wrap things up, I will say what my sister said about this drama : "It is a heartwarming drama that makes you wake up at 8.30 AM in the Saturday morning, just to eat breakfast with your father." (She really did it)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Operation Proposal (2012)


Country: South-Korea
Format: drama in 16 episodes
Genre: romance, sports
Cast: Yoo Seung Ho, Park Eun Bin, Lee Hyun Jin, Go Kyung Pyo, Park Young Seo, Kim Ye Won, Lee Doo Il, Park Jin Joo, Lee Eun Kyung, Joo Jin Mo, Kim Tae Hun,
Synopsis: Kang Baek Ho and Ham Yi Seul have been friends from elementary school. Even though Baek Ho has always loved Yi Seul, he never confessed to her thinking that she only feels friendship towards him. Now Yi Seul is getting married to Kwon Jin Won. On the day of  the wedding Baek Ho finds a letter addressed to him which he had never seen before. This letter makes him want to go back in time and change the past. Out of the blue a person called "Conductor" appears and gives him a bottle of time travel mixture. With the ability of going back to his past can he really change the present for better and win over the girl of his dreams?
Rating: 4/5 (I did not have the heart to give 3)
SO, this is the Korean remake of one of the most famous Japanese romance dramas - "Proposal Daisakusen" with Yamashita Tomohisa and Nagasawa Masami. As for a remake they changed sooo many things - some of the changes were great and some not - the biggest change was that it was not romance-comedy any more, but a serious romance-sport-drama, but first things first.. Sorry, if there is way too much comparing, but as it is remake, I have some criterion.
The main character Kang Baek Ho, acted by Yoo Seung Ho, was very bilateral character - some moments he was very clueless, reckless and said way too much in a wrong way, but I just fell in love with him when he was confident and honest, but in all he was not that pitiful as Kenzo, which was actually great. Yoo Seung Hoo is really young and that he was able to act out this character is just more than great. I was amazed by him - it is usual that you see characters grow in drama, but with "Operation Proposal" you can see how Yoo Seung Hoo grows as an actor - for example, his crying scenes got better with each scene. Many viewers start to watch it because of him and he is worth every second he is on screen - okey.. let's leave crying scenes and "renovatio" scenes out.  I like how Baek Ho makes some things worse and then tries to make it all better again - I do not understand some of his actions - like the tendency to drink too much - but I will forgive him.
Korean Rei aka Ham Yi Seul is actually really the same. She is the one character that has not changed, but has brought in front more, which I think is the point of remakes. I love how they show her fondness towards Baek Ho, but then again, she was never able to be honest with him, no matter what he did. When usually she had a cool attitude of never giving up and pushing her will trough, then she gave up on her love too easily without really trying. I think it sucked how she thought that she got more hurt than Baek Ho.
Coach is the most important character who has been changed. We all know that Tada-san was a wimp and I did not understand how can anybody like Rei fall in love with him, but when it comes to Coach - I can see why should one fall in love with Coach - he was arrogant, confident and full of fighting spirit. You see him falling for Yi Seul and if Baek Ho would not be a better match, then I would totally be for Yi Seul X Coach, (but there is Baek Ho). Also, you can see him trying to appeal to Yi Seul constantly and you can tense the competition for love. When Tada-san had almost no idea of Rei's and Kenzo's feelings, then without showing it out Coach was aware of Yi Seul and Baek Ho. I liked Lee Hyun Jin ever since I saw him in "Heartstrings", he suits for Coach role perfectly.
Chae Ri is made into really shallow character and it definitely is not cheer leading what she did in school - making these kind of "hot" dance moves for SNSD "Boys" is not cheer leading. I think that cheer leading is something that should stay into high school / university or as a hobby, I am sorry if I unintentionally displease someone, but I think that so called "Professional cheerleader" as a career is rather stupid. Also, I feel bad to say it, but I think that Kim Ye Won's acting was the weakest point in the whole drama, she seemed unnatural. Tae Nam's character was exactly the same as Tsuru's, but I felt like their story was totally left beside - of course the main idea stayed the same, but there was much more pressure on other's relationships.
Chan Wook was another character who was totally changed - when Mikio was independent, mature, knowledgeable, then Chan Wook depended more on others and was veeeeery clueless when things came to Jin Joo, who is a new character in the story. Jin Joo is a girl, who is the niece of the man, whose cafe they go to. Jin Joo has difficult past, but she is the most adorable character in the drama.
I liked Conductor since the first time he was on screen. He is the character you must watch closely, especially in later episodes. I cannot say anything else about him, because it might spoil things.
Negative changes: It was weird that they made it all revolve around baseball. Especially in first episode where their jobs were on the field too - later it goes more to Baek Ho, Yi Seul's and Coach's cabbage yard, but I did love the baseball glove idea, because they gave it a really big importance. But otherwise, baseball makes many scenes useless and at some moments I lost the track of story as it really went too far with baseball story line.
The second most annoying thing was the catch-line to go back in time. Baek Ho yelling "Renovatio, renovatio, renavatio, YI SEUL!!" in the middle of the night alone in his room sounds really wrong. Maybe I have too ruined mind, but it was weird and I always tried to cover my ears when this scene came. I understand that they were not able to copy Yamashita's "Hallelujah Chance", but Gyoooozaaa, they should have come up with something much better.
Also, there are the usual Korean drama flaws - slowness, wrong shootings - especially, when it should have had close up scenes and when long shots; just useless long music scenes, unnecessary dialogues and way too much drama. The fact that the changes in past created different present, made it  difficult at one moment to understand what things were real and what not, because there are things from wall to wall.
Positive changes - The best thing about the drama was amaaaazing kissses. Even though Yamashita Tomohisa is a great kisser, Nagasawa Masami totally killed their kiss-scenes with her fishkissing in Japanese version. Yoo Seung Ho is an amazing kisser, but the funny thing is that he and Park Eun Bin have known each other for over 10 years, so they are pretty much childhood friends too - they have acted together, but this was the first time they had to do kiss-scenes, which was a bit uncomfortable or weird for them as friends, but you do not see it from drama scenes.. and they managed to do most scenes with first try.
Another thing that made drama appealing was the family line - they showed how close Baek Ho was with Yi Seul's family and how clear it was to EVERYONE that he should be the one marring Yi Seul. Also, that they explained Baek Ho's family background as in Japanese version, there is nothing said about Kenzo's parents. This line made drama really heartwarming.
I think it is better to watch it as a drama which has some of the script taken from "Proposal Daisakusen", but as a different drama. And like usually with Korean dramas - it gets good in the end - I loved last 6 episodes, okey.. maybe I loved Baek Ho X Yi Seul moments - if they had concentrated more on that, it would have been even better. For me, "Proposal Daisakusen"  was better as a drama, but at least I got new favorite drama couple and new actors to look out for. I would love if someone would make cropped version of Baek Ho X Yi Seul story.
Some say it is better than the original, but it is up to you to decide, which you like more :)
I will add two trailers, because first is official dramafever trailer and another is very great fan trailer.



SPOILER-review: It had so many things going on! In the end, if we leave out those weird unreal not-true "presents", I feel that Yi Seul was the one who hurt Baek Ho much more than he did her - Yi Seul never said out her feelings, even when Baek Ho confessed to her so many times, she was the one who ran into Coach's arms whenever she felt hurt and most of all - she should have pushed Coach away when he kissed her. At that moment he was dating Baek Ho and I actually think it is cheating, if you date someone and then do not push another man/woman away when he/she kisses you - just like Baek Ho pushed Yu Bin away. I totally hated her at that moment. But I find it amazing that they were able to go back to best friends, but at the same time it was like they decided to forget that they ever dated or what happened in the beach house.
I did not see many things coming like the car accident and conductor being actually his father. It seriously has the best father-son moments.
And that end.. I actually find that it was a great idea to make him forget everything. That made Yi Seul understand how much she loves him - I cried my eyes out because of them!