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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hotaru no Hikari

SEASON 1 (2007)

Country: Japan
Format: drama 10 episodes
Genre: romance, comedy
Cast: Ayase Haruka, Fujiki Naohito, Kato Kazuki, Kuninaka Ryoko, Takeda Jinji, Itaya Yuka, Yasuda Ken, Asami Reina, Watabe Gota,
Synopsis: Amemiya Hotaru is a hardworking woman who works at glamorous interior design company, but at home there is no sign of the same woman - at home she is lazy and messy and always wearing jersey's. At the same time, Takano Seiichi is going through divorce and decides to move into his parents home - only to find out one of his employees is already living in the house and it is no one else than the a shadow of Amemiya Hotaru.
Rating: 5/5
I admit that I was surprised and amazed by this drama, especially by Ayase Haruka. It has always been a "must-watch-drama" for me, so I am really happy that I finally started to watch it.
After watching "Tatta hitotsu no koi"  some years ago I really disliked Ayase Haruka's acting, that's why I was impressed this time as she made an excellent job as Hotaru. Hotaru has two sides (but I believe that we all are different at work/school and at home) which are completely opposite. At work she is looking great, keeps things clean and is very organized, but at home she drinks canned beer while sitting on porch in her smudgy and broken gym suit. After being absent from love for years she has become shy and doubtful.
 As I understood then she has actually had boyfriends before, even though she referred to some things like she has fallen in love for the first time. She also is a funny character because she has always her guard on and is worrying too much and that takes her into really comical situations, but she is totally normal woman when she overcomes her fears and doubts. But I am a bit afraid that she is having serious alcohol problems - I know, some of my friends have told me too that one beer/cider after work does not do anything (and my country is known for being heavy-drinkers), but I do not think that forgetting important things because of a can of beer is normal. Ayase Haruka brings out Hotaru's both sides and for some moments she can make very funny expressions, but mostly she has on her usual weird face.
I enjoyed watching Fujiki Naohito too, even though I would have appreciated if he had more screen time, because for me some things were not shown that well about Takano's character. His face expressions are priceless and the more the end comes, the more his actions turn unpredictable. But for a man who likes cleanness, more expensive life-style and whose priority has been work, Hotaru is a nice change. He brings in more mature and at the same time more sensitive side into the drama, which is nice, because he makes it clear that even if you love somebody, then everything might not work out well in the end. Takano mostly insults Hotaru, but at the same time he encourages her to work hard on her love. But as I said then the first season mostly concentrates on Hotaru.
The biggest ikemen in the company Teshima Makoto is played by Kato Kazuki. I have not seen his acting before, but his serious face is so funny - it was totally made use of in drama, because his serious and angry faces are the same and even Hotaru does not understand if he is angry or not. Teshima Makoto deserves a medal of the longest silent-treatment I know. I think that in a relationship the most important thing is communication, but, Gyoza, how big communication problems is he having. Beside that he likes to move on with the relationships really fast, but the cute thing is that he is actually as shy and doubtful in love as Hotaru, even though at first sight he seems to be full of confidence.
I should mention Yuuka and Kaname too. Yuuka has also a crush on Makoto, but Yuuka is always very elegant and feminine, but that makes her a bit boring to just date - she is more of a wife-material. Kaname at the same time has a big crush on Yuuka. Kaname was my favorite side-character, because his personality. I like men who know what they want and do everything to get it, but not in an annoying way.
I did not understand why they made such a fuzz about living together, when it can be simply explained with saying that she is only the leaseholder and he is the almost-owner of the house. I know that it can sound weird that woman and man are living together and are not in a love-kind relationship, but they are totally making an elephant out of a fly. And just to mention, it was a bit interesting for me to watch as I am learning interior design and they are working in interior design company, but I must admit that there is no way that Teshima got any great place on the design competition with those chair designs...
WARNING! Next reviews will definitely contain some spoilers if you have not seen them in right order...

 

SEASON 2 (2010)    

Country: Japan
Format: drama 11 episodes
Genre: romance, comedy
Cast: Ayase Haruka, Fujiki Naohito, Mukai Osamu, Usuda Asami, Itaya Yuka, Yasuda Ken, Kimura Tae, Ishii Momoka, Nakabeppu Aoi, Takahashi Tsutomu,
Synopsis: Soon after Amemiya's heart was set on Bucho, she was sent to Hong Kong for 3 years. Now she is coming back to her beloved porch, but three years away have changed a lot starting from office collective and ending with Bucho's thoughts...
Rating: 5/5
Second season is all about changes and how their relationship develops.
Because Hotaru has been away for 3 years, the time has almost stopped for her. She must accept the changes and settle in again. She definitely puts much more effort into her relationship and you can see how she is trying her best. And if look closely then you are able to see how Bucho has influenced Hotaru, even though neither of them notices it. I think I won't spoil anything if I say that their relationship gets more intimate at home and to me it seemed that Hotaru was really waiting for "the beast" to arrive. I assure you that you can see hugs, kisses and ero-talk. Talking of kiss-scenes, then they had the possibility of turning out very great and insure their place in my "TOP 10 kiss-scenes", but Ayase Haruka's fish-kissing/plank-kissing kinda ruined them, because I was able to see all the potential in Fujiki Naohito's kissing :P
I fell in love with Bucho in this season - they show more about his thoughts and what he is going through and sweet Gyoza that is so damn cute. The ways how Hotaru has changed him are so clear from the start - it seemed to me that he was actually drinking much more beer than Hotaru and of course his "perfectionism" was retreating. I agree with what he said that in love people do change without noticing it themselves - it is just a part of naturalizing and accept the partner. I loved how Bucho understood her most of the time, but then again his remarks about "Snot" and "Gorillas" are too funny, but that was all because he really cared about her.
Mukai Osamu plays the part of Seno, whom you can consider almost perfect match for Hotaru, even though in first season Hotaru finally said that she would not like "Himono-otoko". Seno is totally Himono-otoko, but he still has more experience in love than Hotaru. Then again, the fact that those two are so similar makes them really close. Mukai's acting is very great and it is funny to see him in this kind of role. I know that there are a lot of HotaruxSeno fans and I can totally understand why - they do seem to share much moments together which makes Hotaru and Bucho relationship falter, but that takes them to another level too.
Second season has also one other important side-story and this is about YamadaxFutatsugi relationship as they are going through the same things as Hotaru and Bucho. Of course they all are great friends and the only ones who have stayed into the company for all these years.
I think that second season is much better than the first one and I liked it more than the movie too - that might have been because both Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito were already used to these roles and shooting a drama takes much more time than a movie.


 

 Hotaru no hikari movie (2012) 

Tagline: It's only a little light in my life
Country: Japan
Format: movie
Genre: romance, comedy
Cast: Ayase Haruka, Fujiki Naohito, Tegoshi Yuya, Itaya Yuka, Yasuda Ken, Matsuyuki Yasuko, Takahashi Tsutomu, Nakabeppu Aoi, 
Synopsis: Bucho and Hotaru have been married already for 2 years, but they still have not had their ceremony or honeymoon to Rome, because Hotaru finds it too troublesome to leave the porch. But as soon as she hears that it is Bucho's dream and he is going to Rome for business-trip anyway, it is clear that even the most dried-up woman will find herself in the old Europe. 
Rating: 5/5
I admit that movie is a bit different from drama, because Hotaru won't have anyone beside Bucho for loving her, but the movie shows the best how much Bucho actually loves her and understands.. and follows her crazy ideas XD
As Ayase Haruka and Fujiki Naohito play their roles brilliant just like in drama, then excuse me for skipping over them to two new characters Saeki Rio and Yu (No! Sadly Tegoshi does not play married man, but brother).
Saeki Rio is very similar to Hotaru - wearing sweat-pants and hair up, but she is not that messy and definitely does not have Hotaru's habits like rolling. Rio is living at the same hotel as Hotaru and Bucho and drags them into her family problems. I think that scriptwriter had done some mistakes with her character, which actually annoyed me really much, but more about it in the spoiler review.
Her brother Yu is played by Tegoshi Yuya (and with this role I have watched all dramas/movies where Tegoshi has acted).   Yu is the little brother who is really young - even though his age is not mentioned in movie, he is in his really early twenties and even he referrers himself as "kid", but he is heartwarming character who cares for his sister. Of course there are many accidents with white powder, boxer briefs, showering and meeting one-to-one with Hotaru. I think that this role was rather easy for Tegoshi Yuya to play, because Yu, at least at first sight, is very much like Tegoshi in real life - acting like a spoiled kid.  But beside that, he made great job and I find his acting skills improving - or was it just because his blondish hair and tanned skin-tone made him different - he is getting better at his "empathy-face" which I think is his acting's trade mark, even though it is extremely fake and annoying.
But I have some questions to what I actually do not know answers, but they have very little to do with the movie. Firstly, 40 euros for taxi ride is hell of a lot! I made some researches and from my calculations ride from Airport to Viale di Trastevere should have cost about 20-22 euros, so he got totally robbed. Secondly, Doesn't Japan have ANY roundabouts? I know that around Tokyo are 3 BIG roundabouts, but those small roundabouts? None? I would really like to know it, because my home-town is filled with them - we have like 5 roundabouts and this city is only 15 square kilometers - so one ring road per 3 square kilometer area, and you are trying to say that Tokyo, which is 2187,66 square kilometers does not have any? Simply amazed, but sadly ironically. I know I am from really small town from really small country, but to make it even better, I say that actually I am from rural area.  



SPOILER-review: As Rio had lost her family, it was rather weird of her to make joke like Bucho is maybe already killed. If person has gone through such tragedy, then it is unlikely of her/him to mention death. But if anyone does not understand why it was so important for Hotaru to help Rio, then I think that it was because she felt like she is the same and losing her beloved ones because of her laziness might happen to her too. Helping Rio was like her way of making it sure that she can be different. At least that was one idea which reached me. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

You are the apple of my eye (2011)


Country: Taiwan
Format: movie
Genre: Youth, romance,XXX
Cast: Michelle Chen, Chen Tung Ke (Zhen Dong Ke), Owodog, Chang Hsein Tsai, Sheng Yu Yen, Wan Wan Shao Wen Hao,
Synopsis:  Story begins in 1994 when 5 friends go to high-school. They are all in love with Shia-Yi Chen, an outstanding student, except for Teng Ko, who thinks that she is too arrogant. But due to certain circumstances he and Chen become really great friends, who spend much time together. Even so, it is a long and difficult road to hold the ones you love close.
Rating: 5/5
 I actually wrote the whole review on a paper and I simply lost the paper... I should never trust a piece of paper again when I am writing reviews.
Anyways, it is really cute youth movie, but I would strictly put a mark that says "OVER 16" on it as it contains a lot nudity, violence and bad language. Many people have compared it to USA "American Pie", but as a big fan of "American pie" I must say that it is not that bad either ("bad" as "great", if you know what I mean) .  
Ching Teng Ko is like most of the guys at that age - they do not understand what things seem cool to girls and what not, but I like that he takes the opportunities to see what comes next. He also teaches that if you truly love somebody, then you will wish for her/his happiness. Movie mostly concentrates on him and how his life goes on and it is really funny and sad at the same time to see how ones life can almost stop while others go on. The whole movie is his reminiscence. It was Chen Tung Ke's debut role and his first role ever - it is amazing how he first starts out as a young not-so-handsome guy and in the end he is like so HOT! It is unbelievable what he was willing to do for this role - nude-scenes, faking jerking-off, kissing other male actors, getting beaten up etc. Many actors do not do all of these things even within their whole career! 
The main female character Chen... I would say that she was taking some things for granted - like the fact that she knew that everybody loves her, but at the same time I understand her - when everyone says that you look pretty, then in the end you will lose the feeling that it is the truth.  I liked that the movie only gave hints of how her life went after finishing school as all things in movie are retold by Teng Ko. Michelle Chen got the part of Chen since the first second Giddens Ko saw her, because the real-life "Chen" had seen much like Michelle Chen in school-years.
Other characters do not play that big part in the movie - they all have their weird and funny sides which are definitely over-done, but as it is only a memory of their school-times, then it is natural that some things you remember more than others. The actress of the other girl Chia-Wei Hu, who later becomes Wan-Wan is actually the Wan-Wan - famous Taiwan's blogger and comics-author. 
Movie director and screenwriter is Giddens Ko, who is Taiwan's most popular author in recent years. It is actually half-autobiographical and his name is mentioned in the movie too. I would really like to read his books, but I doubt I will find any in my country. It was his first time directing a movie, but I think we all agree that it came out very well. Some funny facts about the movie - I find actors age differences amazing! Michelle Chen is 29, Owodog is 30 and Chen Tung Ke is only 21, but they all seem such teenagers. Giddens Ko parents also act in the movie - his mom plays the part of Lotus Wang and his father plays the role of dad in the movie too. What a great father-role he is - in most of the scenes he is nude.
Giddens Ko used his savings and mortgaged his house to raise the money for this movie. And the real reason why Giddens Ko went through all that trouble for one single movie, was to impress his ex-girlfriend -the real life Shia-Yi Chen... what love does not put us through..
Hope this review gives you enough to see the movie itself, but please do not look it with really young children.. and watching it with your parents might be uncomfortable too.. but it is worth every second :P If you had great friends and first love during your school-days, then I promise you that you can relate to it even if it's only a little.

SPOILER-review: The end of the movie is certainly unpredictable. I was fascinated by the fact that they did not end up together - it is so unusual in romance movie, but then again it is half-based on true life. The kiss-scene is amazing, but I almost started to cry when it came out that it never happened. Truly AMAZING! I would add extra-stars for the end.