Details

  • Last Online: 17 hours ago
  • Gender: Male
  • Location:
  • Total Edits: 53 LV1
  • Birthday: January 19
  • Roles:
  • Join Date: December 21, 2017
Completed
Matrimonial Chaos
17 people found this review helpful
Nov 28, 2018
32 of 32 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Matrimonial Chaos is a Korean remake of Sakamoto Yuji's excellent Saikou no Rikon (The Best Divorce). Both stories center on two couples whose relationships are breaking down. The four principal characters are not particularly likable: Sook Moo is fastidious and fussy, his wife Hwi Ru is messy and inattentive, Yoo Young is detached and distant and Jang Hyun is an oblivious philanderer. Thus, the narrative relies on the charisma of the actors to keep the audience invested, and the four actors largely and, in some moments, spectacularly deliver on that difficult task.

The show is quite stagey: the major moments of this drama occur when two to four of the main characters are in a room together talking through their issues. I recommend watching through Ep. 8 (the fourth hour) if you wish to test this show out. If Bae Doo Nah's performance in the final scene of that episode does not move you, then this show is not for you.

The characters, performances and writing are uniformly superb throughout this drama. Even though all the characters are pretty difficult people, there are plenty of comedic moments to keep this drama from being a dire examination of failing marriages. There are plenty of surprises along the way, and many happy and light moments in addition to the more hurtful consequences of the failing relationships.

In the end, I preferred this version to the original. Sakamoto's script is more comedic, but Moon Jungmin's additions and changes to the story all tended to clarify and enhance the themes of the original. Furthermore, the supporting cast is definitely better in the Korean version. Moon Sook is radiantly beautiful and luminously wise in the role as the grandmother. And there are a couple of lovely romances going on with the side characters that help provide relief to the two main stories.

Matrimonial Chaos is a sharply observed investigation into the ways that people in relationship can get in the way of each other's happiness. It's a beautiful story of people learning to see each other for the first time all over again. It does not rest on the usual tropes of marriage as a happily-ever-after, but, instead, finds deep wisdom in the ways people still find to like each and learn to be for each other even when it's not easy to do so.

It is great. You should watch it.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Doki no Sakura
3 people found this review helpful
Jan 12, 2020
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Dramas featuring non-neurotypical protagonists are comparatively rare, and they are difficult to pull off. There is always a tension between idealizing or glamorizing their different ways of perceiving the world or, on the other end of the spectrum, demonizing, denigrating and othering them for being different which historically has been how most societies treat such differences. Doki no Sakura successfully presents a non-neurotypical protagonist who is fairly understandably and continuously punished for being different, and, yet, the story values her and her way of seeing the world, and, ultimately provides a critique of normative corporate culture by doing so.

The titular Sakura is played by Takahata Mitsuki in a rigorously disciplined and idiosyncratic performance which is similar in some ways to that of her Sachiko in Boukyaku no Sachiko, but here the script takes her character much more seriously, and she is allowed to go much deeper. I am no expert in neurological classifications, but Sakura appears to be well on the autism spectrum, rarely smiling and unrelentingly honest for which the large construction firm which hires her repeatedly punishes with demotions and transfers. My guess would be a that she's highly functional person with Asperger's.

The episodes themselves are highly structured. Each tells a story in Sakura's corporate life from ten successive years told by her co-worker friends to her while she is in a coma in 2019. Through repeated encounters and motifs in each episode we learn about how she became their friends and the positive impact she has had on their lives.

The series is unquestionably good through episode 9 where the episodic structure is intentionally broken, and there is a very interesting tension well into episode 10 of whether the show can actually stick the landing without betraying the spirit of its characters. Surprisingly, it does so. A bit unrealistically and conveniently, perhaps, but the show does remain true to Sakura's character while providing a satisfying, if a bit pat, ending to the series.

In the end, the series makes a fairly clear case that the company would be better were it more open to Sakura's way of seeing the world. The story talks about corporate power and intention, and provides an interesting though probably simplistic view of what the source of that power and intention should be. Sakura comes to her company with a dream of building structures with her friends that will make the world a better place, and ends with her having helped those friends define their own dreams. They become more Sakura-like, and she becomes more empowered by their increased authenticity.

It's worth checking out.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Yuube wa Otanoshimi Deshita ne
3 people found this review helpful
Feb 15, 2019
6 of 6 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
This review may contain spoilers
Like Dad of Light, Yuube wa Otanoshimi Deshita ne is a pretty blatant ad for an MMORPG which serves as a conduit for two people to learn to express their emotions. This time the MMORPG is Dragon Quest X and the emotion is romance here between the stunning Miyako (Honda Tsubasa) and the relentlessly herbivorous Takumi (Okayama Amane). Like Good Morning Call the plot has the two unexpectedly sharing a house together because, in this case, they were guildies in the game and both playing characters of opposite gender and assuming the other was the same gender as their character. Ha. Ha. But that matters for barely an episode before they find that they enjoy each other IRL, and the main boss fight for the series over all is the tired, tropey, ineffectual man-boy character of Takumi which is eventually defeated by virtually every other character in the series including Miyako's ex telling him that, no, she really does like him.

Tsubasa shines and Amane whines, and Terrace House's Kakei Miwako has a lovely turn as a comedic vixen playing Ayano, Miyako's best friend. The story is short and sweet, and ends on a kiss.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Terrace House: Boys x Girls Next Door
3 people found this review helpful
Aug 30, 2018
98 of 98 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
Terrace House: Boys x Girls Next Door was the first season of a show which was later revived in collaboration with Netflix and was exposed through these later seasons to international audiences and became a hit. The original series covered the lives of six rotating cast members one episode per week for nearly two years from October, 2012 through September, 2014. If you have seen any of the other seasons on Netflix, then you know the set up: three men and three women share a house in Tokyo and we get to watch their lives together.

This series of the show takes a while to reach the form of the later series. Initially, there was only one host, YOU. She was joined by Reina Triendl in episode 14, and four more panelists join in episode 27 including Hiroomi Tosaka, a member of the band Sandaime J Soulbrothers and the only panelist who did not return for the Netflix revivals. If you like the Netflix series, you might be tempted to skip the earlier episodes; however, doing so would cause you to miss several iconic moments and the introduction of key house members who play important roles in the peak episodes of this series.

Another important difference between this series and the subsequent series is that the time between filming and broadcast was initially an astonishingly short one week(!). That is, because the housemates can and do watch the show on the show, they could see what their housemates had said when they were not in the room from the week before. This fact only really has a impact two or three times over the course of the series, and the length of the lag slowly increased so by the end there was a three week gap between filming and broadcast. Nevertheless, if you ever imagined what a reality series would be like if the participants could immediately see how they were portrayed, then this is the show for you.

In general, the Boys x Girls Next Door typical episode is about the same in quality to episodes of the later series: you still have the amazing cinematography that never has a camera or mic pack in shot, you still have the slowly developing relationships and romances, and you still have the comedy relief and empathy of the panel who break in to provide context and color - but do note that unlike later series, there is often a panel segment after the closing door sound. However, the peaks of this series are higher than those of subsequent seasons. There are events which unfold which could not have been scripted which are likely to touch you more than anything which has happened in the subsequent seasons. You are likely to laugh harder, cry more, and have your heart lifted higher by a romantic connection than in any subsequent season to date.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Get to the Punchline
2 people found this review helpful
Dec 13, 2019
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
Rena Nounen was set to be a breakout star after playing the lead in the extremely popular (and great) 2013 asadora Amachan. But she had a dispute with and left her agency (which forced her to change her name to Non) and was black-listed FOR FIVE YEARS: no broadcast TV dramas and no movie roles for that entire period in what is a demonstration of the power and control of the agency system in Japan and is, simply, a national disgrace to the point that her case has been brought up in parliament as an example of unfair working conditions in the entertainment industry.

Nevertheless, she is still well liked enough to get fairly steady work for national advertising campaigns and has launched a music career as a singer/song-writer and guitarist. And, obviously, someone liked her enough to invest in her for this movie for YouTube Originals that she wrote, directed, starred in, did the costumes for, art directed and edited. That someone also paid for an accompanying documentary series on the making of the movie called "I AM NON".

And so what we have here is, essentially, a student film shot on a thirteen day shooting schedule with a professional crew led by a wildly creative young woman who has, apparently, never heard of these strange things called film schools. Given all of the above saying anything bad about this film would be like punching a kitten.

It is a fairly simple story of a high school senior trying to understand why her grandmother has left the household and also trying to figure out what to do with her life while being tempted by and distracted by the forest spirits (yokai) around her. There are no real surprises here, and the editing would probably be tighter in more experienced hands. However, Non does have a strong visual sense as a director and is a charming actress. The story has Ghibli-esque aspirations and largely succeeds at evoking the wonder of a young woman discovering her power as an artist (both within the story and outside via the making of the film).

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Takane no Hana
2 people found this review helpful
Oct 25, 2019
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 6.5
Takane no Hana tells the story of, unsurprisingly, a "flower out of reach". If you haven't gotten the idea of who that metaphorical flower is within the first five minutes of the series, she chants "I am a flower" repeatedly in the last episode just so you're sure.

At the center of the series is a sweet love story of the celestially beautiful heir to an ikebana empire (Momo played by Ishihara Satomi) and an older, poor, "ugly" and humble bicycle repairman (Pooh-san played by Mineta Kazunobu). There is no real sexual chemistry between the two actors, and the trope of a beautiful woman falling for a man "far beneath her station" is a tired one indeed. However, the performances of the two actors are superb and are the primary reason to watch this series. This is largely Ishihara's series and she rocks it. Pooh-san is presented as pretty much saintly having never having had a girlfriend because he had to take care of his bed-ridden but now recently deceased mother. He altruistically helps the people in his neighborhood and is presented as a hidden intellectual genius (he never looses on his shogi app!), but that character trait is largely irrelevant in the end though it does come up now and then.

Surrounding the love-story is a bizarre succession drama in a cutthroat world of flower arranging that does not and could not exist in the real world. The people in that world routinely plot and scheme in ways that take this series immediately to soapville and the "villains" are so over-the-top that you will check to see if this was adapted from a manga, but, no, sadly, it's not. Your enjoyment of this series will probably hinge on how much you can ignore the succession drama or appreciate ironically its machinations. There is a heavy metal boy band ikebana troupe managed by the main antagonist, and, honestly, there is probably a better series than this one to be written around the story of that group and the conflict between modern marketing techniques and the traditional business model of this Japanese art form. But this series decidedly does not go there.

The direction of this series and its aesthetic is Lynchian in a good way. The shot-selection, palate, art-direction and song selection are all well above average. The themes of the series are much less dark than Lynch's material but it is similarly populated with a lot of charmingly quirky tertiary characters that do bring a delightful vividness to this otherwise unrealistic world.

In the end, this is a fable of artistic self-discovery for the main character Momo. Ishihara confidently carries the series on her tiny shoulders and is given ample opportunity to display a wide range within the character's journey. She has the hardest job of convincing us that Momo would choose Pooh-san, and she does achieve the goal of reaching that seemingly out of reach flower.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Produce 48
2 people found this review helpful
Sep 3, 2018
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
The following review was written before the vote-manipulation scandal discovered 1.5 years later revealed that the votes for the final 12 were ignored and the final members selected by the producers (see: https://www.soompi.com/article/1369776wpp/entire-lineups-of-x1-and-izone-reportedly-decided-before-finale-voting-ranking-of-a-wanna-one-member-also-manipulated ).

I am not a K-pop or J-pop fan, and so my review should be fairly free of any emotional investment in those scenes.

Produce 48 is the third Korean installment of a musical survival show produced by Mnet. The prior two seasons resulted in a successful debut of a girl-group and boy-group respectively. What made this particular iteration of the series more interesting from a global perspective was its collaboration with AKS, the parent company responsible for developing AKB48 in Japan and turning it into a wildly successful music group franchising organization. The initial plan was to do a version of the show in which half of the contestants were Korean trainees and half were Japanese idols from the various 48 groups.

That's not quite what we got. Produce 48 initially started with 39 Japanese Idols and 59 Korean trainees, and the show chose not to or was not able to allow people to vote outside of Korea. And so the contest was never particularly structured to be fair for the Japanese contestants.

The early episodes of the series are a quite interesting look at the differences in approach to artistic development and growth between the two systems. In short, the Japanese idols are shocking less well trained at singing and dance in comparison to the Korean trainees in their agency system. Now, that could be a bias of the presentation on this show; however, it's fairly well documented outside the show that the girls in the 48 groups are not, in general, provided with any kind of training while agencies in Korea can invest years of training into performers before their debut (and exact huge debts for from the performers for doing so, but that's a whole other discussion). What the Japanese idols do acquire from AKS is a wealth of stage and general entertainment experience.

Generally, the structure of the show is a couple episodes of the contestants preparing and then performing a song, and then an elimination episode where roughly a third of the current pool is eliminated until at the end of episode 12 we're left with a group of 12 performers to be known as IZONE. Voting for the contestants often begins weeks before a performance is shown, and so much of the fate of individuals is based on how much screen time they've managed to get and how well they present on camera rather than their ability to sing, dance or rap which is ostensibly are the skills upon which they are supposed to be judged. All survival shows are popularity contests, and Produce 48 is no different in that respect, but it's clear that the way the voting on Produce 48 is structured does not particularly serve to select the best performers which might be okay as long as you understand that fact.

The performances throughout this series were uniformly outstanding, but subject to the usual quirks of Korean editing where any notable moment good or bad is repeated immediately two or three times. Were the show more focused on the performances, it would be far better. The training segments are okay and the training staff are generally charismatic and professional. But there's also a lot of fluff around group selection for the performances, inevitable product placement segments and utterly crap and banal game segments that only serve to juice the votes for whomever makes the cut in the final edit. The host, Lee Seung Gi, does an excellent job until the final live episode where he could use a teleprompter and some training to get his head out of the cards in his hand.

In conclusion, Produce 48 was an intriguing cross-national premise that was poorly served by the game structure and production decisions. It was not a unmitigated disaster, and, indeed, resulted in some quality musical performances. However, it did certainly fail to live up to its hype, and it did fail to create a level playing field for the two groups involved. I enjoyed watching it, but it could have been much better with some fairly obvious structural changes.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Mother
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 28, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 4.0
I came to this drama having already seen the original Japanese drama. Call Me Mother is good and definitely worth watching, but Mother is great.

I initially thought this production was nearly as good. My initial criticism of the first ten episodes was only that it makes some elements of the story far more explicit and is somewhat worse for doing so. There are countless examples, but here's one. The protagonist is icy and detached. In the original, the character is simply portrayed that way. In this version, an early minor character remarks that she's icy and detached. Lee Bo Young's performance is excellent and did not need the explicit framing of her character. Everything is similarly spelled out: the extent of the Hye Na's abuse, her birth mother's motivations, her birth mother's boyfriend's motivations, etc. Jung Seo Kung is writing in crayon compared to Sakamoto Yuji. Clarity in writing is generally a good thing, but subtlety can be more effective and that's certainly the case here.

Far worse, however, are episodes 11 and 12 in which Yoon Bok and Soo Jin are literally damselled by the biological mother's boyfriend who is in this version a serial child killer(!). And the two are, of course, rescued repeatedly by men to the point that the series briefly becomes a mediocre police procedural like the hundreds of other such shows produced on this planet each year. The original never limits the agency of the women in the story in this fashion, nor sinks to the use of such pedestrian tropes.

The series recovers a bit in its final episodes. However, it does spin its wheels a bit in the final episode as it lurches to a happy ending. Everyone wants the pair to be a family. That's the point of the shared scenario between the two productions. Call Me Mother is worse for going there. The end of Mother is d-e-v-a-s-t-a-t-i-n-g. I can tear up right now just by bringing it to memory. The end of Call Me Mother is fine: I will never recall it.

The performances and the production are, nevertheless, excellent. Heo Yool deserves the praise she gets. It's unfair to her, however, that Ashida Mana was there first.

You do not have to choose between these two productions: you can watch and enjoy both. But, if you have only seen this one, do yourself a huge favor and watch the original.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
I"s
1 people found this review helpful
Sep 26, 2019
13 of 13 episodes seen
Completed 2
Overall 2.0
Story 2.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 5.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
I have not watched any other Shounen romance as anime or live action drama, and so maybe they are all like this and this drama is exactly what you are looking for in one. I think that this series was intended to be an elegiac, nostalgic lamentation on the awkwardness and uncomfortableness of first love. However, the editorial choices of long, slow shots and pans and extended silences between line readings are akin to that of the worst and most self-indulgent of French film-making of the 60s and 70s, and while that approach does match well with the ceaseless tormenting of the protagonist by this story, in the end it renders the series both boring and dire.

The unfortunate idiot at the center of this bog-standard boy meets girl and pines for her for two years before they decide that they are couple despite having all the sexual chemistry of shower mold - no, I should not select something living since that would be an insult to shower mold, and so let's say all the sexual chemistry of argon - is Itchitaka who likes Iori. He was embarrassingly rejected three years prior to the start of this story by a girl in middle school and as a result cannot ever decide what he wants or say what he means. That's all we know about him. He is unbelievably underwritten. He is not shown having any other interests. We see his father twice, and his mother only serves to tell him various I's are calling or visiting him.

The scenarios, such as they are, are essentially situation comedy set-ups and coincidental climaxes all played for pathos and to insure that the couple never express what they really feel, and, ultimately, to maximize the embarrassment of Ichitaka. It's a world full of sexual harassment, kidnapping, attempted rape, stalking, creeping, up-skirt photography and physical assault all of which apparently might have legal, scholastic and emotional consequences but any of that takes place off screen to make room for more moping.

The acting is, nevertheless, pretty good, and, honestly, Shibata Kyoka does exceedingly well as Itsuki, the witness, childhood friend and supporter of Ichitaka. She has one memorable scene towards the end of her main run on the show which is beautifully moving. Seraishi Sei as Iori has little to do except be passive and gorgeous. I really cannot say anything bad about Okayama Amane's performance as Ichitaka: the character is awful, stupid and occasionally mean and he portrays that as intended, I think.

The original manga ran weekly for nearly three years starting in 1997, and this drama may well be a faithful rendering of the material. It is reputedly a bit on ecchi side of manga, and that fact probably accounts for the many lingering thigh-to-waist shots of the women in this drama. The serialization of the original material undoubtedly also accounts for the lack of any kind of emotional progress in the central relationship until (maybe) the last ten minutes of the final episode.

I will not judge what you like. If you go to the comment thread for this show, you will find several people who were thoroughly invested in this series, and the tone of this series may resonate with you as it did for them. For me, however, I found the series both dull and unrelentingly anticlimactic.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Our House
1 people found this review helpful
Aug 16, 2018
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
Ashida Mana and Charlotte Kate Fox go head to head in this charming tale of a family in recovery. Ashida plays Sakura whose mother died six months ago, and Fox plays Alice who has just had a whirlwind romance with Sakura's father, Sato, who has married her in Las Vegas and brought her to Japan without disclosing minor details like he has four children and his previous wife had just died. Nevertheless, Alice works to win over the family, and Sakura mounts the barricades against her. After an amazing and well-deserved climax in episode 7, the series takes a sharp left at episode 8 before ending pretty much where you'd expect. The director lets Ashida overact, but in key scenes she delivers like the true artist she's always been. Fox' performance is much better tempered as one would expect, but she does keep up with Ashida. All in all, Our House is a sweet exploration of how a family can reshape itself after a tragedy, and another step in Ashida's progress towards world domination.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Good Morning Call
1 people found this review helpful
Mar 8, 2018
17 of 17 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 4.5
I mean, it's shoujo and so it's going to have these issues, but I found the two leads to have all the raging sexual chemistry that you expect to find from a relationship between Tinkerbell and Spock - that is, none whatsoever. The male lead, Uehara, is undemonstrative and withholding right to the edge of abuse, and the female protagonist, Nao, is romantically deluded and simple right to the edge of stupidity. Nao receives love confessions from several other boys who would all be better matches for her, but, no, the leads are trapped in a universe where they are destined to be together. The lead actors are both charismatic and deft given what they have to work with, but what really saves and redeems the show are the secondary and tertiary characters who are all quite likable and winning. There are a couple truly affecting moments in the series, and it is ultimately worth watching for those moments.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Hiyokko
1 people found this review helpful
Apr 6, 2018
156 of 156 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
This review may contain spoilers
This asodora has some unexpected twists in the last 25 episodes when the land lady, Tomo, reveals her Force power, the protagonist Mineko turns out to be a Tanuki robot from the far future (2017) and a group of the characters band together to execute a daring rescue mission.

Before that it's warm story taking place between 1964 and 1968 examining the migration of workers from rural provinces like Ibariki to urban centers like Tokyo. The spine of the plot is centered, lamentably, on an amnesia trope (a lame trope or the lamest trope?), and everything about one of the associated characters, Kanamto Setsuko, makes no sense whatsoever. But that's about the sharpest criticism that can be leveled against this otherwise uniformly delightful morning drama.

The main character is charming enough, but the really great moments of the series fall to several of the tertiary characters who are still dealing with the consequences of WWII. The rapid changes of the 60s form the backdrop, and the Tokyo Olympics, Beatlemania, miniskirts and Twiggy all play a role in the lives of these characters.

Special mention also must be made to two of actresses, Sakuma Yui and Ito Sairi, who were in Transit Girls together a few years before. Sakuma's role is quite substantial as Mineko's best friend Tikiko who goes to Tokyo at the same time as Mineko and seeks to become an actress. Ito's role is much smaller but recurring, and the two do get a few scenes which had me as a fan of Transit Girls wishing for them to kiss (again).

As a whole, it's the usual high quality that one expects from an NHK asadora though personally I think Amachan deserves the higher rating between the two.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
17 days ago
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 7.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
Sono “Okodawari”, Watashi ni mo Kure yo!! (roughly: "Give me that obsession!!") is a short (eleven 24-minute episodes) mockumentary series starring Matsuoka Mayu and Ito Sairi as themselves playing the hosts of a variety show based on a manga which examines a few people's quirky obsessions. Essentially, the conceit of the show is that it is a behind-the-scenes documentary of a variety which does not exist based on a manga which does exist. Further confusing matters about half of people focused on by the show really do exist and are portrayed by the real people (mostly mangaka).

It's mostly cringe humor a la The Office or Christopher Guest films like A Mighty Wind or Waiting For Guffman. It's unclear the extent to which the scenes are improvised, but they might well be. You might think after you've watched the first four episodes, that you know how this show will go with each episode featuring a different strange obsessive, but then the series becomes more about Matsuoka and Ito's approach to the show and life in general and begins to tackle themes of how people create personas for themselves on screen and what it means to be authentic in the kinds of bizarre and scripted situations that crop up on variety shows. And the show does so while largely staying funny.

There are some mild twists, and a really silly denouement. There are a couple of plot points that are made and then immediately forgotten about. I'm not quite sure that it nails the landing or satisfactorily concludes its theses, but the mere fact that it attempts to address the issues of persona and performance in variety shows is surprising and interesting.

Under-girding the whole show is the delightful chemistry between Matsuoka and Ito. Who knows if they are as close friends in the "real world" but the friendship as its portrayed feels authentic, and provides a lovely foundation for the show.

It's a show that has not had many viewers, but is, nevertheless, well worth checking out.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Carnation
0 people found this review helpful
Jan 17, 2020
151 of 151 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 4.0
Carnation is a biographic asadora based upon the life of Koshino Ayako who was the mother of the Koshino sisters Hiroko, Junko, and Michiko who all became internationally recognized fashion designers. One assumes that the story as been fictionalized a bit, and as the names have been changed for the sake of decorum with Koshino = Ohara, Ayako = Itoko, Hiroko = Yuko, Junko = Naoko and Michiko = Satoko.

The series faces the same challenges that all biographic asadoras do: most individual lives are not consistently dramatic and the entire life-span of someone who lived for 92 years is difficult to be portrayed by an individual actor. This particular drama works pretty steadily through the war years, but then starts to rely on pretty substantial time-jumps to find periods of interest in Koshino's life. She is portrayed by three actors: Ninomiya Akari for a week's worth of Koshino's life as a child, Ono Michiko who won a best actress award for this role for ages 16 to 60 and the vast majority of episodes and Natsuki Mari for ages 72 on and the last 4 weeks of episodes.

Ono Michiko's performance is well deserving of the accolades she received for it. Itoko was the oldest of three sisters and the daughter of a dry-goods merchant who sold kimono fabric who was physically and emotionally abusive and opposed to the trend towards western fashion which had been building long before the war. And so he sets Itoko the herculean tasks of making three other stores prosperous before relinquishing his own store to Itoko to make western clothing. In the course, of the war Itoko loses her father, her husband and two childhood friends and is left to raise her three daughters. Ono portrays her as obstinate but mercurial and, inevitably, hard-working. We get to see her in the depths of grief and despair in the war years, but also delightfully revitalized in a brief love affair with a married employee.

The story does cover why and how all three of her daughters became successful designers. Like her father, Itoko places challenges in front of her daughters before she accepts that design is truly their path. Ultimately, she treats her daughters as business rivals in the fashion industry, but it's a friendly rivalry. Poor Satoko is not treated well by the teleplay and is characterized as the stupid one of the three, but the real-life Koshino Machiko seems to have a good sense of humor about that characterization (“I thought they did a great and really accurate job. I loved the beginning, learning about my mother’s childhood and my grandmother. I hadn’t heard those stories before. I must also say, Misako Yasuda (who played the character based on Michiko) was amazing. She had really similar mannerisms to me. I had to apologize when I met her though, for her having had to play such a stupid lady!” - https://www.tokyoweekender.com/2013/01/michiko-goes-it-alone/)

The transition to Natsuki's portrayal of Itoko is a bit awkward. Ono can play 60 but not 72? I'm betting she would have even handled 92 with no real issue. Which is not to say Natsuki's performance is wanting in any sense at all - she matches many of the mannerisms of Ono's version of the character in a deft and professional way. It's just we go so far with Ono's Itoko that it's hard to understand why the entire span was not left to her superb acting ability.

It's an NHK asdora, and so the production values are excellent as usual aided by the fact that Koshino was born, lived her entire life and, essentially, died in the same two-story shop. Thus, most of the nearly 90-year span of the story can be conveyed through the costuming and relatively minor changes to the fittings and fixtures on the set.

If you are interested in the fashion of the three daughters, sadly, you will not get to see much of it. The show does visit one of Junko/Naoko's shows, but other than that we only get to see their work on the sisters themselves and tangentially in moments at their businesses.

In the end, the show is a bit uneven. Itoko/Ayako lived a life in which she consistently set herself challenges and then ... met them, and while that fact is wholly admirable, it does make it difficult to build a consistently compelling 151 episode drama around that life. The show is, nevertheless, worth watching for Ono's solid performance through the majority of the series.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
Completed
Akari to Kuzu
0 people found this review helpful
Nov 17, 2019
4 of 4 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 2.0
It's a brief tale of mystery and infidelity with twists that had me laughing out loud. Unfortunately, I do not think it was intended to be a comedy.

Soichi (Hakamada Yoshi) is having an affair with his co-worker Akari (Kakei Miwako) after hours at his office building, and awakens in the morning to find his wife Akari (Tokunaga Eri) stabbed to death on the floor besides him. Hijinks ensue.

Some of the twists you'll see coming pretty much from the beginning, and some are just ridiculous.

Probably not worth watching.
Was this review helpful to you?