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  • Last Online: 4 days ago
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: Argentina
  • Total Edits: 7
  • Birthday: September 08
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  • Join Date: March 1, 2015

Luly

Argentina

Luly

Argentina
Completed
Underwear
11 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Jan 5, 2017
13 of 13 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
This drama is exactly what I needed after 3 cliche love triangles in a row. I'm putting this one up there with my all time female-power favorites, alongside Mondai No Aru Restaurant and Hanawake No Yon Shimai.

This story is focused on two characters: a young woman whose passion is knowing about fabrics and who moves to Ginza to start a job in an atelier (played by Kiritani Mirei) and a middle aged woman with a great career in the designing world and high standards for quality in the lingerie she creates (amazingly portrayed by Mao Daichi). When you see it at first glance, you might think it will turn into a The Devil Wears Prada scenario, and when the series itself starts with an argument on why do women try to look beautiful all the time, I feared this was going to be another drama in which the younger generation has to learn the traditions and cave in, even though they don’t agree with things (I’m watching HOPE at the same time, you see), but this drama surprised me greatly.

The main relationship in this series is the one between these two characters, who have two different ideas of what beauty really is and of what a woman wants to feel to be more like herself. There isn’t much romance in it (and whatever hints there are, they aren’t the focus) and it isn’t solely focused on the young character making her way through the world, there’s plenty about the perspective on mature women in the fashion business and how they are perceived at certain ages and what that means for them (mainly in the character of Nanjo Mayumi), on how competition between women is sought for and turns out being detrimental to all involved (for example with Fumika, Mizuki and Sarii, among others) and how, even in positions of power earned by hard work, women still don't have the freedom to choose as much as they would want to (like the editor and the reporter of Conscious Magazine).

My favorite thing is that they don’t talk about beauty as a single concept. Yes, the lead has to go through the process of looking less rough and more fashionable, and she also has to start getting along with how the fashion industry works, but there’s a lot here on creativity, integrity, customer importance, self expression and the painstaking task of being a woman who wants to succeed solo in Japanese society and the isolation that can create when it becomes opposed to the personal life they’re supposed to carry on with (aka husband and kids).

I didn’t give this one a rating as high as Mondai No Aru Restaurant because I feel there’s more stuff that could have been addressed and wasn’t (for example, I felt that the lead's relationship with one of the female models had more chemistry than with the couple guys they tried to hint some sort of thing with, that could have gone places), whereas Mondai No Aru Restaurant covered a lot of aspects with their story, but this is certainly another one of those great ones and I hope there’s more like these in the future. After so many naive and mistreated leading ladies with jerk male leads with inexcusable behaviors, I really needed a drama like this, in which female characters showcase their true worth.

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Completed
Re:Mind
13 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Feb 21, 2018
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 6.5
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
Let me start by saying that I didn't know these girls before watching this, I'm not a fan of the group/subgroup, so my review isn't influenced by that and it's solely based on the drama itself.

That being said, I don't think it was that bad. It isn't the most groundbraking suspense drama you'll find, it isn't the best written thing you'll see, but for the lack of experience these girls seem to have, the fact that it's "one of those idol dramas", the budget and the amount of episodes, I've seen much worse. To be honest, it's a very binge-watchable drama and it keeps the tension more or less throughout, so I don't regret watching it.

The plot starts in medias res, which I really appreciate in a suspense story, and I wish it had kept the focus it had on the beginning throughout the entire thing because, as the episodes advance, it gets unecessarily complicated for a story that didn't need so many unconnected twists and turns. And, for what I've seen in some comment threads, I'm not the only one left with more questions than answers when it's all said and done. I wish there had been one big focus instead of small things that have a common thread, kind of, if you squint.

Still, for all its complicated messes with the plot and its unanswered questions, it did leave me wanting to discuss it to try figuring out what just happened, and I consider that a good thing; I had left complicated dramas wanting to never look back in the past, but this is not one of those, at least. It's a mess but it's an interesting mess. And hey, I commend these girls for starting out with a suspense/horror/mystery drama rather than a typical school drama which would have probably hidden their inexperience a lot better but it would have been a lot less interesting to watch.

If you're looking for suspense with minimum to no gore, a sort of idol version of SAW, which will keep you wanting to know more, even if it's to try figuring out what on earth you just watched, and don't mind very inexperienced performances and some clear fanservice-y moments attempted to be disguised as representation (that's the idol industry for you, though, it's a general recurring problem), give this one a shot. And then DM me and tell me what you think just happened.


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Completed
Hapimari: Happy Marriage!?
14 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Dec 6, 2016
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 3.0
Well, this was a thing that happened, I guess. I haven't read the manga and, honestly, I doubt I ever will because the Wiki page of it lost me with stuff like "he has hit her twice", that's where I'm officially out. Thankfully, that wasn't included in this version, but it's still quite a mess for me.

What bothers me the most is that this has the ingredients to be a very good story. It's an arranged marriage in which both parts are taking something out of the situation, in which both parties come from very different backgrounds and have different priorities: Chiwa is a hardworking young girl who has to work two jobs to make ends meet while paying for her (terrible) father's gambling debts; Hokuto is a hardworking man with a very overwhelming family, who wants to succeed in business to uncover a family secret related to his past and take revenge. The premise is good.

Now, if we add to that every cliche from Josei manga you can possibly think of, that's when things go south. Hokuto is that kind of male lead who is downright a jerk and whose backstory is supposed to make you feel for him enough to forgive him for being a possessive toxic jerk. It doesn't work for me. Chiwa is a very interesting character in premise but the moment she starts getting ~feelings~ for Hokuto, we lose her. We have, however, a couple snippets of the Chiwa who should be, I can count at least 3 times in which she read Hokuto and his family for filth, and that is the direction I wish this would have taken. Furthermore, she has, like I said, a father who is constantly getting in debts and disregards her well-being, but instead of it being taken seriously, the comic relief they (think) they're turning him into transforms Chiwa's struggle into something less important.

To that dynamic, add every other thing you can fit in 12 episodes: love triangles (plural), betrayals, paparazzi drama, multiple near death experiences for various people, grudges with daddy, slut shaming, women hating other women on principle, weird family connections pulled in the last minute and making no sense, you name it, it's all there.

I can't help but compare this with Please Love The Useless Me because a) they're both based on Josei manga b) they both came out this year c) they both have the "cold male lead/cute female lead" premise d) they both have Dean Fujioka. And, in the comparison, Please Love The Useless Me wins by a landslide. The premise of that drama was much less interesting than this one, but the character development was good and it didn't retort to the same cliches to fill the story (no girls hating girls, no slut shaming, no evil ex-girlfriend with machiavellian plans).

If you don't like the same old josei premise as per usual, you don't like the male lead treating the female lead in a questionable manner, you don't like a plot that has everything but the kitchen sink and you constantly question yourself why the girl is doing this to herself, this is not the drama for you.

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Completed
Ito-kun A to E
9 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Jan 13, 2018
8 of 8 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This is a very particular drama and not really what I was expecting when I came across it the first time. I haven't read the novel, so I don't know how it's constructed, but the drama doesn't quite follow the kind of format you'd think when you read the description. From the main plot, you'd think this is a story focused on Yazaki Rio, where these other girls and their situations with this mysterious man are secondary, but it's the reverse, for the most part. You know more about these women than you do about the protagonist, and her own story unravels slowly throughout the series, ending in a cliff-hanger that I assume is setting the story for the movie that follows.

The premise of the drama is developed as a multiple perspective story, where each of the girls (A to D) get 2 episodes each focused on them (the drama has 8 episodes in total), while small parts of the protagonist's story get shown along the way. Each of the girls is reduced to represent a character archetype for Rio to write her drama about, but reality tends to exceed these limitations and even if Rio's perspective most times seems to remain objective, the girls suffer from great changes in their lives prompted by these situations, but which ultimately have to do with themselves and their life choices, as well as their friendships and relationships.

Even though I find the direction of this drama very good and very distinctive, I felt it at times confusing to follow because of how it was filmed and how transitions and back-and-forth elements were disclosed. Maybe it was the intention, to keep reality and fiction blurred, so I can't fault it too much for that.

The leads are represented as flawed girls rather than plain characters, which I applaud in a jdrama. It represents elements of reality in different perspectives while keeping the characters less idealized, as dramas tend to do, and more flawed and complex. They all make mistakes, they all have to face them and you are at times shouting at the screen for some of the things they do, but it engages. The meta element of this being a drama within a drama makes this opposition of "plain archetype characters" and "real life flawed people" a very interesting thing to see set in this way.

I also feel that the marketing for the drama could have been better, because if the whole situation with who the E woman was would have remained secret, it would have been a really good plot twist, but the posters and public releases already give that away.

All in all, it's an unexpected, different sort of drama that takes a cliche premise and deconstructs it in very interesting ways. If you're looking for something more straightforward, with a steady plot that's focused on one character's journey, this is not your thing. If you're, however, looking for something different, a bit meta and very interestingly filmed and scripted, give this one a chance. I hope that the movie that follows stays interesting as well.

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Completed
Dame na Watashi ni Koishite Kudasai
13 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Jun 3, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
After some recent disappointments in the josei department (I'm looking at you, From 5 to 9), I wasn't expecting to be blown away with this. I was pleasantly surprised.

I see this drama as Hotaru no Hikari with a sprinkle of Nodame Cantabile. There's the same sort of chemistry between the leads as in both but, unlike Hotaru no Hikari, I didn't find the lead unbelieving silly but, more like Nodame, just too kind, which some people look down on or take advantage of. When you see her for the first time, you think it's probably going to be a drama going around in circles but it's actually very direct. Kyoko Fukada is so versatile you don't know what you're going to find with her; her character, though too kind for her own good, is also very honest. Let me tell you, for a drama like this, that's actually refreshing.

But what I liked the most about this drama and the main reason I'm actually writing a review is the following: this is a romantic drama with love triangles and unrequited feelings in which none of the involved ladies take it on each other. They're not resentful, not vindictive and actually talk to each other about things other than the men in question. Heck, I even liked the relationship between the lead and her co-workers, which got developed from cliches that may have been unnecessary to something more realistic and interesting. There's a lot of ladies standing up for each other in this, I don't know if that's a merit of the manga which this is based of or not but hey, I'm so grateful.

All in all, I was faced with situations in which I thought the drama was intending to go towards a cliche and there it was, doing something else (especially with Shohei Miura's character). It's not devoid of cliches, mind you, there's a stern cold-seeming male lead saving a heartwarming cutesy female lead, but there's a lot in between I found absolutely worthy of my time.

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Completed
5-ji Kara 9-ji Made
11 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Mar 10, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
I watched this drama and Algernon back to back and decided to write their reviews back to back as well. One of them I wasn’t expecting much of but ended up loving a lot and the other one I was super excited for and didn’t really like very much. 5-ji Kara 9-ji Made was the latter.

There’s a basic problem that occurs when you adapt a manga, especially a romantic manga, into live action form. In manga or anime form, the stories are sort of allowed some kind of leeway in aspects that, even if they could make you cringe and run away in some cases, in others you sort of glaze over, dismissing them as comedic effect or exaggeration of the art form. For example, it’s one thing to see violence inflicted in a comedic way in manga or anime form yet it feels another way when you’re seeing it in live action, even if played with the same comedic purpose. It’s more difficult to separate the wish-fulfillment, problematic and ridiculousness of manga when translated to live action because live action aims for realism, most times. This drama suffers from this, to me.

I haven’t read the 5-ji Kara 9-ji Made manga and, after watching this, I’m not very interested in doing so. First you have Satomi’s character (a performance that is more like what you saw in Shirtsuren Chocolatier than what you saw in Shingeki no Kyojin) who, being the protagonist, has three main guys, none of which are narratively pleasing and all of whom are pretty problematic. As the plot description says, the beginning of the drama presents Satomi’s character as a career woman whose goal in life is to fulfill professional dreams rather than settle down. But soon enough, the plot turns more and more into what you can call the "romantic" aspect, which would be fine if it wasn't for all the kidnapping, stalking, manipulating, forced kissing and other things, which are not romantic at all (and, if you cannot stand, I'm warning you now).

Another relationship highly problematic concerns an underage situation, a student-teacher sort of thing, which manga takes way too lightly most times, and here it’s kinda the same, so if you’re triggered by that or you don’t wanna see any of it, skip Saeko’s story-line.

There are two silver linings for me in this thing. First, the relationship between Mokomichi’s character and Takanashi Rin's. It’s interesting, actually funny, they have chemistry and you kind of get where it’s coming from. Mokomichi’s character, who’s irresistible for women in general but still pretty goofy and not unreachable-like, gets interested in this shy and under-the-radar woman, who's (and I'm not spoiling here because this was actually in promos of the drama) a fan of BL stories, CD Dramas, Otome games and all that comes with it. She’s super serious and passionate about what she likes, and she uses it to feel secure and not get emotionally hurt, so their arc is about opening up, understanding each other and themselves and the meaning of taking chances in relationships. Of course I’m not telling you more on this, but it was the biggest reason I kept going with this drama.

The other one was a character whose name and performer I won’t say because I’d spoil you big time, but let’s just say it’s a transgender character. The handle of them wasn’t the best, I’ll say that, and that probably has a lot to do with how little screen-time there was for people other than Satomi and her loves, but I think the story was trying something interesting with their representation, albeit falling short in some regards. Let’s say it’s not as well represented as it should be but not as bad as it could have been and it does open to the subjects of identity and perception of others, isolation and self-confidence, but it also turns simplistic and sometimes on the creepy side (really creepy at one point) without it needing to be so. The performer’s acting, though, was probably the best in the drama for me.

All in all, those three people made it worthwhile, but it’s still too problematic, creepy and narratively lazy for my taste. Basically, I came in for the main characters and stayed for the background ones. Watch it with a grain of salt.

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Completed
Re:Wind
7 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Feb 21, 2018
1 of 1 episodes seen
Completed 3
Overall 6.5
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 6.5
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
I'm writing a separate review on this special for two main reasons:

1) If you're watching this on Netflix, you're covered, because it lists this special as a 13th episode, so it won't play before the drama; but if you're following the descriptions on various sites calling this special a "prequel" and think you should watch it before the drama: DON'T. This is a prequel, of sorts, but it's meant to go AFTER you've seen the drama, otherwise you'll get massively spoiled.

2) If you think this will shed any light on the events of the main drama...yeah, no. It does tie some things together and sets the tone for some things the drama only describes, since it's set before the main conflicts leading to the drama take place, but it's not going to answer your questions, maybe generate more.

That being said, I don't think this special was really necessary, in the grand scheme of things, so I'm giving it a lower score than the drama, but if you have it available and saw the drama, give it a go anyway.

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Completed
Kasa wo Motanai Aritachi wa
7 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Apr 1, 2016
4 of 4 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
First of all, this is what you need to know straight away: this drama is very short, it's about a writer trying to write a story (and mostly failing at it), his emotional connection to a friend that will aid him in more ways than he thinks and it's based on a book, which is a compilation of short stories, what results in various genres and outcomes in the same drama.

Now, let's move on to the specifics. As far as I'm concerned, the book this drama is based on groups 6 short stories, which are unrelated to one another. This drama uses, in one way or another, 3 of them (the protagonists of the drama being characters from the last story) and make a small reference to another story, which is not fully covered. The other two are, as far as I can tell, nowhere to be seen. So, if you read the book, don't worry, you don't yet know how this is gonna turn out because the plot twist in this drama has nothing to do with the book.

I find it strange that, being the actual writer of the book involved in the drama (and performing in it), he'd choose to make such big changes as to end with a resulting different story than any of the others, but maybe it was taken as an opportunity for people who had read the book to still be surprised and for people who haven't to still have a chance to read it and find out other perspectives. Still, I find the resulting story of this drama a bit lackluster in comparison to the ones in the book, in the sense that the plot twist of the drama is not the most unpredictable one you'd see, which contrasts with a story that was pretty heartfelt and trying to be very honest.

I enjoyed the performances, especially from Renn, and I think the drama is enjoyable as a whole, yet it may have benefited from either following the self-conclusive aspect of the short-story style the book has, picking one and going with it from start to finish or providing more episodes for this style they chose to really take flight. As it is, I like the idea of the "stories inside a story" style they pick for the first part, it's a good narrative device when used well, but being the amount of episodes so little, I found the change of perspective a bit forced and it didn't allow the self-discovery and emotional-fulfillment aspect the drama was trying to go for at the end to fully show.

There is a speck of LGBT representation in this drama, not as well handled as in other dramas of 2015 I've seen, but it is there and it's more than just a BL-ish fanservice note, it has to do with character development, so it's worthy of noting. In the book, though, the outcome of that character seems to be better.

All in all, it's an interesting format and it deserves a go. It has a bit of mystery, a bit of fantastic and a lot of emotion. To me, it was interesting in a narrative level, as to see the use of different devices and how that worked (or didn't). I'd like to see what other stories can Shige bring in the future.

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Completed
Kanna-san
5 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Feb 10, 2018
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.0
Story 6.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
I'm conflicted with this one. Small disclaimer, I haven't read the manga, so all opinions on this review relate to the drama specifically.

Let's start by saying that I love Naomi Watanabe. A recurring problem I have with her dramas is that she's either most often pushed to the side as a supporting character/comic relief or, when she's lead, they tend to not let her shine in what she does best. For example, Five Star Tourist was a really good drama that I enjoyed a lot but they hid her behind a pretty bad wig, dull clothes and a personality that didn't let her do the most she could do. This drama lets her be 100% unapologetically herself: Kanna is funny, outspoken, stylish, everything we all love about her. And the plot doesn't revolve around her being plus size, another very recurrent issue in dramas that star plus size leads. She's also playing a fashion designer, on top of that, which is fantastic, considering she has her own clothing line in real life. So far so good.

Another great thing about the drama is that Kanna's relationships with female characters are very complex and interesting. Even the ladies that start being seen as "rivals" end up developing in something less archetypal and more human, which allows for her character to develop as well with these relationships. To be honest, some of these ladies (at least 3 that I counted) end up having more developed relationships with her than the male characters they pair her up with.

Now, if that would have been the drama (which is what the plot up there makes it out to be), if it had been all about Kanna facing life as a divorced mother with a dream to fulfill and bills to pay and facing the world through friendships and heartbreaks one day at a time, that would have been great. But enter the entire plot of Kaname Jun's character, Kanna's cheating husband, Rei (and his god awful parents).

My main issue with Rei's character, believe it or not, isn't that he's a terrible person (you need to read the plot or watch just episode 1 to see that). My problem is that they attempt, throughout the series, to give him a redemption arc, without actually focusing on him understanding his mistakes but just saying that he does and trying to fix them with money and things.  It is possible to have redemption arcs with these kinds of characters without compromising the agency of the female lead or the aim of the story. A good example of this is Mondai No Aru Restaurant or even Mother Game, where the reason why the jerk guy faces his mistakes is because he finally understands empathy and sees what he's putting the female character through, but that does not immediately grant them forgiveness (Mondai No Aru Restaurant handled it amazingly well with Higashide Masahiro's character). Rei's arc is about karma punishing him, more so than empathy, so the audience would feel sorry enough for his poor soul to forgive him out of sheer pity rather than having him actually show his understanding of what he's done, besides trying to fix it with material things and empty words.

From any other drama, I would have probably let it pass with an epic eye-roll and a huge sigh. If this was yet another Ishihara Satomi/Kiritani Mirei josei drama of the last few years, I would have expected that sort of thing. But this was Naomi Watanabe kicking butt, being a strong female lead, inspiring me to keep going, and it deserved better than weak male leads raining on the plot's parade. And I'm not even gonna talk much about the character of Rei's mother, but picture the worst mother in law you've seen in a josei adaptation and multiply her annoyance times 10.

The acting is pretty good in this drama, it's very well directed, the clothes Naomi wears are fantastic (the ones she designs, I'm not so sure), it has emotional moments and funny moments, strong friendships and cool female characters, it's overall enjoyable. It just could have been so much more of that without wasting its time in an arc that went against the idea of the story.

I'll keep waiting for the drama that 100% is what Naomi Watanabe deserves as a lead.

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Completed
Kirawareru Yuuki
5 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Dec 4, 2017
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 8.0
I had no idea coming into this that there was a book behind it (I should have known, having Shigeaki Kato in it). For what I know, Ichiro Kishimi's book explores, through the conversations between a philosopher and a young man, elements of Alfred Adler's psychology, to discuss identity, independence and a sort of mindful approach to living, without other people's expectations and external limitations. Now, here's the thing: this is a detective drama. A detective drama with a leading lady. If you're surprised, imagine how I felt when I heard.

What this drama does is use the book as a sort of backbone to create the character of Ando Ranko (a great performance by Karina), a female detective with a complicated past and a life mission, whose way of living exemplifies, in a very extreme way, the lessons from the book. The conversations, which take place between Shige's character, Ooyama Toshio, and Shiina Kippei's character, Daimonji Tetsuto, frame this main character and provide more context to her actions. Which, while I was watching the show, I felt ok, but looking back and knowing the book's setting, makes me feel pleasantly surprised, because it isn't quite the same to preach this "act according to your own desires and not other people's and have the courage to be hated" to men, in Japanese culture at that, than to see it performed by a woman. I definitely need to give the drama kudos for that choice, especially casting Karina for it. My re-watch value went up when I understood the complexity and courage of this decision, and it got me interested to read the book and see it with the full context, which I'll surely do. The choice to use these two men as a frame and to embody the philosophy of the book on a female lead, a female lead who happens to be an unmarried 32-year-old woman who's stellar in a job mostly done by men in Japanese society deserves my attention.

The detective drama aspect of it, however, doesn't stray too far from what's been seen in jdramas very frequently: main detective is cold, calculating and incredibly smart, with an unparalleled instinct to solve mysteries; the sidekick is kind, emphatic, loyal and wears his heart on his sleeve, they complement each other in their partnership though it takes time for them to understand each other. You've seen it before, I've seen it before, there's no much going on there for originality. There's also the same theme of singular cases which have an underlying bigger case that relates to the protagonist in a personal level, which you've also seen before.

The cast of characters, though, is a delight to see, Sakurada Dori and Itsuki Sagara do a very good job especially; and all cases relate to elements from Adler's psychology which were a bit hard to follow at times for a non-Japanese speaker like myself, but it always explored interesting topics of self-knowledge and life in society that was interesting for a detective drama to have, especially when it was portrayed through female characters (and there are a lot of good ones in this).

If you're looking for a detective drama for the thrill, the mystery, the twists and turns, this one doesn't particularly stand out in comparison to others, it isn't the worst but it isn't the best. However, if psychology is your thing, if you like dramas that make you think and you're fond of strong female leads who are unapologetic about being great at what they do, this is a good one of those.  

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a book to find and a NEWS song to hear on repeat.

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Mondai no Aru Restaurant
5 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Nov 30, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I've never given a 10/10 to a drama in this site before, but there's no way I wouldn't give this one that rating. I spent some time trying to figure out how to review this properly, I'm probably going to re-watch the drama soon enough and find more specifics that I may miss now, but I decided to go ahead and do a review now anyway, with my first impressions.

The story revolves around a group of women who start a restaurant led by Tanaka Tamako (played by Maki Yoko) to fulfill the dream of a friend who suffered humiliating abuse at work, to the extent of leaving the city and her career because of it. Each woman represents a different story line centered on the struggles of women in Japanese society: Tamako is a great asset in a company but is overlooked and disrespected for being a woman, Kyoko is a divorced mother whose husband, after years of mistreat, wants to take away custody of her son, Nitta is college graduate overachiever whose qualifications never seem to be enough to get her the respect she deserves in a job, Nanami is a retired career woman (whose job I won't say because it's a surprise) lacking incentive to get back to the world, Chika is a hikikomori suffering severe social anxiety with terrible parents, Haiji is a transgender woman facing the backlash of society (note that there's still not a very clear differentiation between gay men, transgender women and crossdressing men in Japanese media but for all intents and purposes I believe Haiji's character is depicted as a transgender woman rather than a homosexual male, although lacking an explicit categorization) and Airi is a young woman facing a severely sexist environment at work and dealing with internalized misogyny.

This drama tells their perspectives while throwing at you unabashedly how much crap they have to put up with from the sexist society they live in. They encounter men who despise them, men who fear them, men whose ignorance they end up mending a bit, and men who support them (though those are rare). But the story, even though centered on this competition, is more about them and how they learn to deal with it by supporting each other. If you're looking for romance, this is probably not your drama, because couple tropes here are turned around. If you're looking for nice looking ikemen with charming personalities, this is not your drama, because men here are not the point of the story. If you're looking for female friendship, girls supporting girls and great food created as a result, this is the drama for you.

This drama has probably ruined dramas for me. In a good way, if that makes sense. I've had my fair share of dramas in which problematic tropes and social themes get discussed (Hanawake no Yon Shimai and, in a smaller degree, Five Star Tourist, are some examples), but this one did not hold back at all. It reads Japanese social standards for filth. Before this drama, I overlooked overused tropes with problematic notions because "that's how jdramas are" and "I guess that's how society is", even if I was against them and sometimes downright turned off by them so much to stop watching or avoid some dramas for it, but I somewhat expected them to be that way. I expected the toxic relationships being romanticized, I expected the submissive lead to hold her head down, I expected the good-looking-bad-tempered man to treat the lead possessively and make her swoon for that aggression, I expected the use of the "nice guy" as a way to excuse behavior and do outright stalker-ish things which were seen as "romantic", I expected the "crossdressing man trope" to be used for comic relief or fanservice rather than talk about the problems of actual transgender people in Japanese society, I expected the lead to find her place in life by either exceeding in a company and cutting all links to emotions or leaving it all for a husband, I expected all that stuff. This drama showed me they don't have to be like that. You don't have to expect that kind of stuff anywhere. There are better ways to tell a story, more empowering ways, well written and well performed ways. You should ask questions and get upset and demand more. This is the kind of drama I want to see more of and the fact that it didn't get even considered in last year's poll here makes no sense to me.

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Completed
Hanawake no Yon Shimai
5 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Mar 6, 2015
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 8.5
I loved this series. I never thought I'd find such an interesting take on female characterization and deconstruction of female stereotypes in this drama by the time I started watching it. I was faced with my own pre-conceptions of internalized misogyny more than once and I thank it for showing me better. The sisters seemingly represent prototypes of female characters, showing in the surface what the viewer can easily assume, whereas the only character who really knows them fully is non other than their mother, whose figure is extremely important. This drama works on the value that women give themselves versus the one society gives them in a lot of moments, especially in Takemi's character but also in every one of the sisters. Takemi superficially seems the careless gorgeous heart-breaker, Fujiko seems like the obsessive over-achiever, Sakurako seems like the girl who just wants to settle down in the most traditional way and Ume seems like the artsy teen with low self esteem. And they are that. Only in part. Discovering these characters throughout the series is like seeing the tip of an iceberg to then explore what's lying beneath. And, as a girl, I felt very deeply many of the worries and tribulations these girls go through. Yes, there are some plot-lines that could have been better taken care of and some characters that could have been more developed, but all in all, it's a drama where girls are the center and they're realistically portrayed, all funny exaggerations and caricature moments aside. I really loved this drama.

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Completed
Yowakutemo Katemasu
6 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Nov 28, 2015
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 7.5
Story 7.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
I've waited to watch this drama for a pretty long time, mostly because of cast reasons (it has both Kanata Hongo and Dori Sakurada together, I had to see how that turned out), so I wasn't expecting too much out of it other than what a typical sports drama in high school entails. And it is, kind of. But it's also a welcomed surprise, in some aspects.

The drama has the main tropes of a sports high school drama: one team initially divided, one teacher who is there to change their fates, a girl coach with an attitude, a reporter, bonding and lots of failing.

But not all of it is exactly as it seems. The team is actually bad, really bad and, from day one, they recognize they suck. They won't try to change miraculously overnight, they won't try to out-power their more qualified competitors, they will do what they can with what they have. It's pretty much a Dragon Zakura take on sports, if you will. Which, honestly, is a welcome change in my opinion.

The teacher, who seems to be there to change their fates and lives (played by Nino), is actually kind of really done with everything. All the time. And not in a "I pretend I don't care but I'll stay up late cleaning" kind of done, he seems to genuinely not care. Which, of course, has deep roots in memories and a background story to be resolved, but it pays off because, when you get to see emotional Nino, you feel the intensity much more clearly.

In dramas like this, with so many cliches, what really makes them stand out to me are the characters and their growth. I have to say I was invested with almost all of them (with the exception of a love triangle I really didn't care about enough at all). My special mentions go to Kanata Hongo, Shotaro Mamiya and Kento Yamazaki (those last two have some really interesting story and development together I was very interested in).

All in all, yes, it's filled with cliches, but most of them have their own spin, and it's worth a try. Most of all, my favorite thing about it is that it's unapologetically honest and raw at times. There's a certain scene which is very emotional, for example, and it has absolutely no background music at all, which I thought was a great move to make it even more intense. If you like sports dramas but want something a bit different and don't mind the drama, try this one.

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Completed
Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto
7 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Dec 29, 2016
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 6.5
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 4.0
For the hype that this had, the reviews and the amount of times this was featured in this year's poll, I had some expectations with this one but they were not met. This is the 4th drama of 2016 I watch with the same "jerk male lead + sweet female lead + 'nice guy' = triangle" trope and, from best to worst, I rank this one 3rd out of 4.

My biggest issue with this drama (apart from the fact that I’m not a fan of leads who act like jerks and who we’re supposed to find romantic rather than toxic) is that the story is all over the place. There’s a story-line involving the three brothers, with a mystery in the middle, which gets resolved halfway through and ends up going nowhere. There’s a story-line about the restaurant they have and trying to make it succeed while not selling out, and it also ends up going nowhere. There’s a story-line about the female lead’s quest for professional growth which ends up only serving the “romantic” story-line. There’s a backstory of a character to make them less two dimensional which also ends up going nowhere. All in all, it’s like every ingredient which could have turned this into less of a cliche and more innovative was pushed aside in the benefit of the overused story-line of the love triangle.

Out of all the characters, the only one I found memorable and whose performance I enjoyed enough was Nomura Shuhei’s Touma (the youngest sibling). He’s the only one I feel has a story arc which involves making personal changes, realizing mistakes and repairing damages he has caused. The rest, I can’t say much. It seemed Miura Shohei’s character was going towards a reasonable development and in the last few episodes his entire character turned 180° for the sake of the cliche romance. It seemed that Kiritani Mirei’s character had more substance to her than being the sweet main lead who tends to be too kind for her own good, but all about her drive and career seemed to just serve the cliche romance.

And Yamazaki Kento’s character deserves a paragraph on his own. He is the jerk male lead, the one we’ve seen at least 4 times this year: we saw him in Dean Fujioka’s Mamiya Hokuto in Happy Marriage, in his Kurosawa Ayumu in Please Love the Useless Me and in Shiraishi Shunya’s Uehara Hisashi in Good Morning Call. I really dislike this trope, I think it’s toxic as heck, but the rest of the dramas at least tried for me to feel for the guy. They intended to introduce a backstory (mostly tied in with family grief) in which I could say “oh, so this is why he’s a jerk”. It never worked, but they tried. Here, everything that happens to this character, all the troubles and external arcs to change him, happen in the timeline of the drama. There is no reason why he acts this way and he doesn’t change his attitude with anything that happens to him. He has that kind of extremely subtle character change which stans of him will call development but I call bad writing.

The reason why this drama isn’t my complete least favorite of the bunch is because it’s very nicely filmed and, mostly, decently performed. The shots were brilliant and they paid attention to detail, the cinematography was very enjoyable. There are some things in the story I found interesting, like the family mystery I mentioned, the somewhat complex way in which they tried to introduce the “ex girlfriend” cliche and the youngest brother’s character growth. But it doesn’t have enough to be different from the rest of the dramas with the same trope.

All in all, if this is a trope you enjoy and male leads being jerks is your thing, for some reason, this is a very well done one of those. If you’re looking for something innovative, different and devoid of love triangles, dates in aquariums, firework festivals being a “big romantic deal” and lots and lots of misunderstandings and “I hurt you because I want to protect you” scenes, there’s not much here for you. Except for an omelette with a burger inside, which is pretty good.

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Completed
What Did You Eat Yesterday?
4 people found this review helpful
by Luly
Oct 4, 2019
12 of 12 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
I loved this drama. I came for the food, stayed for everything else.

In the current jdrama and overall Asian media landscape, LGBTQ+ themes aren't the best represented. There are a lot of stories created to cater to fanservice rather than representation, and it's usual to find series and audiences that can't separate the two.

This series is incredibly well crafted, which is not only a credit to the manga that originated it but to the overall adaptation and the great performances by the cast, especially the leads. Each episode is centered on a specific meal (they even tell you how to cook it!), a meal cooked and prepared at home, which connects to the intimacy and the complexity of this couple, two men in their 40s who deal with their daily lives and their very different ways to handle their identities in their respective environments.

Shiro is a lawyer, he is reticent to coming out at work or to not be hetero-passing enough in public, at the start of the series. He is out to his parents, but doesn't speak too openly about things and overall seems a bit unsure still on how to present himself. Shiro could very well be the prototype of "unwilling" you find in BL dramas, in those in which consent is never clear and someone always has to say "no" to no avail. But he is not. Shiro is certain on his feelings and his relationship, but he needs to learn how to reconcile the different parts of his life in order to feel more sure with letting others know. He cherishes his relationship and is actually the one who marks most of the pace, there is nothing in him that isn't consensual, and conversation is a big part of the drama that lets him grow as a lead.

Kenji is a stylist, he isn't embarrassed to be flamboyant and open about his identity and his relationship. He could very well be the prototype of "flamboyant" and "feminine" in dramas, but he is not. He establishes in various instances the misconceptions of gay relationships, the difference between drag and homosexuality, the elements in presentation and gender dynamics. He is very taken by Shiro and isn't afraid to show affection, but he is also filled with self doubt and needs to learn how to communicate them better throughout the series, and how to reconcile his past with his present self.

The series is filled with moments throughout the life of these two, their encounters with other characters that will widen the lens, and you can see a lot of layers of the prejudice and complications of acceptance in Japanese society and the way in which they, and other couples, deal with those. It's a series that isn't devoid of its tear-inducing moments but it's not intending to be sad, dramatic or tragic, it's a happy story, and the leads aren't used for any sort of gratuitious emotional torture.

The food is not only great, and boy do I love dramas with a focus on food, it's also increadibly heart-warming and cozy and it provides a sense of the emotion and feeling you'll see on the episode and complements the story really well. And, meanwhile, you learn how to cook it.

I also immensely appreciate the fact that the couple is over 40, it really serves to discuss things that dramas centered on relationships almost never focus on. I feel that every time a drama focuses on a couple, it's going to be all about confusion and misunderstandings until a grand over-the-top ending. This one, though, is relatable in its simplicity and emotional depth, not only for those in relationships, but also those who are not but are still figuring out ways into adulthood in a couple of generations where the landscape of expectations and reality have changed so much. It isn't just about life in a relationship or life as an LGBTQ+ person, it's also about adult life in a very fast changing social landscape.

Overall, this was a perfect blend of a drama to me, the cast made it a great watch as well (one character has an actor change mid-way because the original had medical issues, but they pulled through really well regardless), and it's definetly great as one of those dramas you can come home to and relax watching, while also having a story that is compelling and emotional at times. I don't even hesitate giving it a 10/10, something I rearely ever do, but this one did it for me.

I can only hope there is a second season or something else from it at some point.

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