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Ishitachi no Renai Jijo
4 people found this review helpful
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May 23, 2017
  • Overall 8.5
  • Story 8.5
  • Acting/Cast 9.5
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
Don't let the title of the drama fool you - I thought it was going to be just another tawdry Grey's Anatomy-esque romantic-melodrama-with-hospital-backdrop and the first two episodes kind of leave you with that impression. In the beginning, it feels like they're trying a little bit too hard to be sexy and scandalous, but that soon takes a backseat as the real plots begin to unravel.

I ended up falling love with read more every main and supporting character, and becoming invested in every subplot running throughout the show. Every storyline is strong without convoluting the overarching story or making it clunky. The interwoven relationships in this story take precedence but the eventual main conflict is career-based with a dash of social commentary; the fact that their work also takes part of the centre focus is exactly what made it more than just a romantic melodrama.

Most of all, the conclusions that are drawn in the end are both realistic and satisfying, which is normally such a hard balance to strike. Every character, even the main antagonist, is done justly without oversimplifying the end of their respective arcs.

Ishitachi no Renai Jijou is by no means a flawless drama - it has its own tendencies to fall into the regular Japanese drama tropes at times - but overall it's clever, modern, presents us with complex characters and a refreshing outlook on love and work without being too preachy.
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Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu
2 people found this review helpful
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May 13, 2017
  • Overall 9.5
  • Story 9.5
  • Acting/Cast 9.5
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 9.5
Although I usually quite like the contract marriage premise, this isn't the usual kind of genre I would enjoy because I find that most Japanese romcoms completely lack depth. Enter Nigehaji: it basically took all the tired and clichéd romcom tropes and turned it into something of, to quote another user here, an "original masterpiece". The first thing you'll notice are the endlessly amusing different formats in which Mikuri's daydream scenarios are read more illustrated (the news segment parodies, the tiny cheerleader, the game show darts, the wheel of fortune, among many others). I knew it was going to be a fantastic drama from then on, it was *already* a breath of fresh air from the first three minutes.

It had some great philosophies about marriage, modern relationships, equality and gender and age dynamics. I was really quite surprised at how insightful many of the analyses were in response to the various issues that cropped up in this drama, and it's something that a lot of Japanese dramas lacked. It's a really accurate look into the common personal conflicts that many modern Japanese face and it's portrayed in a way that doesn't enforce judgement on the refusal to conform to that standard that society has already set from the 20th century. The way their relationship/marriage was redefined was one of my favourite parts too; incredibly refreshing and truly forward-thinking when seen in the context of how Japanese gender dynamics in regard to marriage are normally defined.

Aside from being invested in the main characters, I also especially loved Yuri and Kazami's respective characters, as traditional romcom tropes (older career woman and lonely handsome playboy) with a lot of built-in complexities. Every single character, both main and supporting, are thoroughly fleshed out and made into nuanced and balanced people, that have their garishly obvious flaws but can still be pleasant and whole.

Lastly, the Koi dance at the end completely grows on you and there were tonnes of "aww" and laugh out loud moments nestled in between all the social commentary. It's so much more than your average romcom and for that it's almost a 10/10.
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Creepy
2 people found this review helpful
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May 3, 2017
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 8.5
  • Acting/Cast 9.5
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
(spoiler parts of this review will be posted as a comment below)

It's not a plot we've never seen before but once you get to the end you realise that it's executed in a way that feels fresh and doesn't follow the usual introduction-climax-final showdown-resolution formula that's often rehashed in this kind of film. There were a few things that I wish were expanded on and explained further but the film progressed read more in a way that made sense and I found the ending to be well-executed and satisfying enough. I think it's worth watching as long as you're not deadset on looking for fast action-packed sequences.

It employs the trademark Japanese-style filmography in that sequences are slow and drawn out with ample silences filling in gaps. In my opinion though, this style aids in building up the suspense and your own sense of uneasiness while it slowly unravels details that make for several "oh shit" moments that begin to crawl under your skin. For this, I think the lack of music is employed as an audial effect in itself, with minimal atmospheric background noise adding to the sense of discomfort.

The cast was brilliant, all veteran actors who know exactly what they're doing and are clear with their characters' intentions. Even the younger actresses and the other neighbour were great in portraying strange and unsociable people. I wish the writing had added a little more depth and dimension to Takeuchi's character other than "standard housewife", but she was great with that she was given.

Because it's not particularly frustrating nor is it too emotionally draining, I'd probably watch it again because I found it the right amount of tense, gripping and enjoyable to follow along with, and I would probably recommend it to others.
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Kamoshirenai, Joyuutachi
1 people found this review helpful
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May 3, 2017
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.5
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 9.5
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
An unexpectedly charming film about the huge potential of seemingly small life choices, and really funny to boot! I found myself laughing out loud so much throughout this SP. It takes on a decidedly comedic tone but not without whimsical little touches on friendship and fate which complete its charm. The alternate universe "what if?" story has been rehashed since the beginning of time but I've never seen it set in the read more supposed "real life" realm and fictionalising an actor's real history/personality. I loved this premise from the get-go and it didn't disappoint with its delivery.

The main three all have their own respective character flaws and complexes which make them all interesting and comical and engaging individual characters in their own ways. Performance-wise, these veteran actresses are fantastic and clearly very talented and household names for a reason, Takeuchi Yuko in particular *shining* during the bar scene (you'll know which when you get to it!).

The music is interesting in that it feels like just the one band in a small stage show creating all the musical sequences throughout. It works in its simplicity though - the classy jazz numbers, to the piano solos to that brilliant drum solo during the climax (that got me on the edge of my *seat*) - they feel very organic and doesn't bring the film out too far into the realm of melodrama.

The only unfortunate part is the very last closing scene. It's not particularly bad, it was just a little lacking in execution because of a rather weird creative decision on the writer's/director's part. Rewatch value is high though because I'm about to watch it again for the laughs and I would recommend it to others solely on the unique premise alone.
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Tokyo Tarareba Musume
3 people found this review helpful
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May 24, 2017
  • Overall 3.5
  • Story 6.0
  • Acting/Cast 4.0
  • Music 3.0
  • Rewatch Value 1.0
I generally avoid romcoms of the J-drama variety because they so often follow the same formula. That being said, I wanted to give it a chance because there *are* romcoms out there in existence that can strike the perfect balance of light and feel-good yet clever and critical (a la 'Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu', or hell, even 'Otona Joshi' which follows a similar concept).

Unfortunately, after giving Tokyo read more Tarareba Musume a go, I can't bring myself to be generous. The point that it's making is there, and the conclusion they came to had a good message. I get what they're going for, but the execution was off. It was a little bit *too* on-the-nose when it came to the main characters and justifying their poor life choices. There's a fine line between writing flawed, complex heroines and writing characters who keep making the same exact mistake until the very end where they would finally "fix" things after having the same realisation for the fifth time.

The men in their lives (aside from Hayasaka) were all selfish and straight-up awful, including KEY. He redeemed himself a little bit in the last few episodes but I didn't find that his reason (a traumatic past, of course) was enough to justify being such a colossal dick for most of the series. The progress of his relationship with Rinko and their interactions felt inorganic and I know they live in the same neighbourhood or something, but there is no way they would bump into each other by coincidence *that* often. Most of all, the insights that they make and the social commentary was shallow, which wouldn't bother me if it weren't for the fact that the point of this drama was to "tackle" the issues haunting women around thirty.

Look, the end result was clear in what the writer's intentions were - the women did grow as did their outlooks, but the process in getting there was neither complex nor nuanced. The drama, with its premise and characters and situations, could've been good with better writing but unfortunately it missed the mark and landed smack into the realm of Infuriating Formulaic Romcom.

I also haaaate the bubblegum electropop soundtrack by Perfume. It cheapened the show imo.
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Strawberry Night
0 people found this review helpful
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May 4, 2017
  • Overall 8.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.5
(details will be left as a spoiler comment below)

A high budget production with a great and well-acted cast and fantastic cinematography. The film is shot beautifully, a far cry from a network television budget, and as someone has mentioned before, really plays up the darkness and vengefulness in Reiko. Tonally, the film is much more grim, and the conclusion complements that.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Strawberry Night SP and the series, read more and although I enjoyed this movie as a standalone, I felt that it offered no closure to any of the character arcs. I understand that it's a film and that the story's supposed to be tightly woven. I also understand that there's another SP after this that I've yet to see, so maybe the film isn't even supposed to be the end.

Perhaps others may feel differently, but I wasn't very happy with the outcomes in the film because of their inconsistencies with the series. Things came to end but I felt as though nothing was resolved, which is why it works as its own movie but I would rate it much lower as a sequel.

Anyway, that being said, I did enjoy the movie. It had great action sequences and it was well paced. I do agree that the timeline was a bit out of whack but I was engaged throughout and didn't feel that anything was excessively contrived.
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