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  • Last Online: Dec 23, 2018
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: Italy
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  • Birthday: November 20
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  • Join Date: April 8, 2011

amrita828

Italy

amrita828

Italy
Completed
Shining Inheritance
92 people found this review helpful
May 12, 2012
28 of 28 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 7.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 5.0
Recently I finally learned the meaning of the word "makjang". For those of you who are in the dark as I was, a makjang drama is one where the twists and turns are so over the top, with the hero/ine having to face so much misfortunes and betrayal, the next step is either sanctification or Dante's Inferno. I dare give the word my very personal definition: a drama is makjang, when you wish you could enter the screen and murder half of the characters with your bare hands, then ease on your couch with a sigh of intense satisfaction (drink some soju and you'll have become a makjang character yourself).

Shining Inheritance fits both definitions. There's envy, greed, a dead man walking, 10 trillions lies, missed encounters by a microsecond, corporate plotting, memory loss, love polyhedrons and such a dose of odious behaviours your becoming a virtual assassin would be justified.
But before you decide you hate the genre and turn the page, let me say this drama is strangely and acutely addictive. It took me 4 weeks to pant through the first 7 episodes and less than 1 to watch the remaining 21 (granted, with a little fast forwarding here and there).
The plot is very consistent. Every narrative line comes to a conclusion and justice triumphs. Delicate subjects are touched here, and I appreciated this the most.
I maintain the whole story could have been easily condensed in half the time and the dialogues thinned, if only the characters had stopped repeating the same sentences like an echo and the word money had been uttered one thousand times instead of one billion. There will be moments in which you'll question your choice of dramas, but at that point you'll be so implicated in the crime… ehm, plot, drop it will be harder than exit a gang.

The acting mark is the result of an arithmetic mean. The beginning is not encouraging at all, with exaggerations and wooden deliveries all over the place, but it improves a lot in going. It's as though the actors had been attending Theatre Class while filming. With a notable exception: Yun Joon Suk, who plays the autistic brother, is impressive all through, and makes the drama shine in depth and emotion every time he's on screen.
I'm usually only mildly interested in the cast's attire, unless it's so distracting it prevents me from fully enjoying it or it is integral part of the narrative intent. But grandmother's grey wig - I truly hope it was one - looked so disjointed from her skull I watched all her scenes brandishing a comb. Not that Lee Seung Gi's hairdo was much better: now and then it truly looked like it was about to migrate towards warmer shores. I prayed he would be caught in a sudden downpour to flatten it but, alas!, the sun shone brightly on him. There's improvement in this department too, though, and if you fall for the very pretty main couple, the deed is done.

Two words about the music. I had a hard time coming to terms with the blend of Bach's adagio and K-pop, the first being too solemn and fit to a mass in Latin and the second too… pop. Once again, it's the little brother who saves the score with his very sweet piano piece dedicated to his Noona.

So here's my little piece of advice: watch it. Resist the urge to drop it after the first episode, contain your puzzlement in the second and third, wipe your sweat to the 7th and you'll be hooked. Completing it will give you a sense of power and the feeling you have truly watched The Drama of All Dramas.
What does not kill you, makes you stronger.

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Completed
Tatta Hitotsu no Koi
41 people found this review helpful
Apr 26, 2011
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 10
Rewatch Value 9.0
This is a very simple, almost mundane love story between a rich, spoiled girl and a poor but principled boy. Nothing new under the sun.
And yet, it's a little story not easily forgotten, one I fell in love with at first sight and rewatched with equal pleasure. To me, Nao and Hiroto are an assumption, one of those couples I have stored away like a cameo.

The progression of their love story is narrated with sweet candour, acted beautifully and without needless exaggerations. It's the first role I saw Kamenashi Kazuya working in and even though in the meantime he's matured, I still consider this to be his best interpretation. Ayase Haruka is so believable in her whimsical pouting one can't help becoming extremely fond of her too.
And although the plot may seem ordinary, the small details of their interaction, the friendship, Hiroto's narration in first person, their young enthusiasm and depth of emotions are memorable.

The music by Ike Yoshihiro is wonderful. Possibly the best drama original soundtrack ever.

I recommend this dorama to those who still remember their first love and will relate to it, and to those who have forgotten it, as a mean to recall its bitter-sweet flavour.
I have watched this drama... 4 times: no need to explain why I gave it a high re-watch mark.

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Completed
Liar Game
47 people found this review helpful
Apr 14, 2011
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
Liar Game is an amazing drama.

It's clever, thought-provoking, surprising and entertaining. It engrosses the viewer from the very beginning, accompanying one through a journey which is at the same time thrilling and disquieting.



The direction seems to have the quality of a dream in mind, what with the dark colours mixed with splashed of blood red, shiny yellow and electric blue. The acting follows the same pattern, constantly over the lines, like a classic theatrical piece, with exaggerated costumes and close-up shoots of frozen expressions.



Characterization is strong too. The main characters and the recurring secondary ones are vivid, clear cut, each one growing and yet remaining the same in substance.

Liar Game is a perfectly staged metaphor of life, with honesty vs. gain at the centre of it.



The music is perfectly chosen, building up when required by the scene, retiring to the background when more attention from the viewer is needed.



Rewatching is almost necessary, to pick up on elements overlooked on first viewing and to concentrate on the overall atmosphere and acting of the show.

Highly recommended.

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Completed
I Do, I Do
46 people found this review helpful
Jul 20, 2012
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 1
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
I consider this drama a little gem in its genre. It doesn't have a tremendously eventful plot, no big, earthshaking truth to be revealed in the last episode, no memory loss, birth secrets or time jump - forgive me, I couldn't help it.
It tells an ordinary story in a refreshingly modern way, without giving up on those elements we inevitably associate to k-dramas and make them into the shows we are all addicted to: a love triangle or square of some sort, love obstacles of various nature, parents who meddle but without being completely unreasonable or out of this universe evil and a corporate sub-plot.

I wouldn't call this a romantic comedy. I think it's more of a life drama. There's romance, of course, and there's a mature, clever humour, but both these aspects are rationed throughout the narration in a sedate and yet very effective way. This is why I believe I do, I do isn't for you, if what you're looking for is a typical rom-com. The pace may deter some, and others could find the raised issues uninteresting or controversial.
I loved it because it offers the viewer a range of different points of view on subjects which are very common in real life, and not so common in the Korean drama world; there's no judgment involved, no stance is presented as better than the other. It's up to you to decide what you would do and how you would react in a similar situation.

A life drama is only successful when the characters are well outlined. And this is the true strength of I do, I do. I myself was amazed at how gradually and yet fiercely I got attached to some of the characters, mainly the two leads. They are both so well portrayed I ended up identifying without having a trait in common with either one.
Acting is spot on. I consider Kim Sun A a guarantee. I may not like all the dramas she acted in, but it's never been due to her. She enters the character in such a plausible way, she does not create fictional characters but real persona. Always believable, never predictable. And let me add how wonderfully satisfying it is when you finally land on a drama with an intelligent, self-assured, successful female lead who does not passively accepts events but make them happen!

The character of Tae Kang has been an amazing revelation for me. A cute thing who looks like a puppy and acts like one is all I believed he was in the beginning. I was very wrong. He's tremendously endearing and such a blend of childlike enthusiasm and caring maturity I couldn't help but being completely captured by him. My admiration goes to the actor for capturing the essence of his character and portraying it in such an adorable way.
The chemistry between those two is also a work-in-progress. Their feelings grow as the characters grow. We fall in love with Tae Kang the moment Ji An does, not before. I loved this aspect the most, as I am usually very frustrated by knowing a truth which the characters will be oblivious about for three quarters of a drama.

The secondary characters are normal people. They make mistakes, they gossip, they laugh, they get angry. With the exception of "madame CEO" - and her horrid taste in figurative art, allow me to add - I liked them all. Everyone has an arc and a role in this story. They are not thrown in just in order to fill empty spaces.

The music isn't unforgettable, but I must confess the main theme is addicting and the instrumental pieces very well chosen.

This isn't a drama I will run to re-watch as soon as it's finished airing. However, it has many delicious, thought-provoking and poignant moments I'll be more than happy to immerse in again in the future. I recommend this drama to everyone who likes a solid, modern script, unusually believable characters and a no-nonsense plot.

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Completed
Long Love Letter
32 people found this review helpful
May 10, 2011
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
Where to begin?
This is possibly the weirdest and most surprising dorama I've ever come across. Nothing is what is expected, or what it seems.
It's just as hard to define its genre, because while it could be listed as a science fiction drama, the fantasy part is just a device to make a very human, touching and very present message come across: are we really capable of cherishing our lives? Do we truly appreciate all the little and big things thrown onto our path or do we give them for granted?


Were I to base the overall rating only on how much I liked it, I would give it a 10. But it's undeniable that it doesn't deserve it on the cinematographic level: the shooting quality is average at best, it reminded me of those catastrophe movies from the 70ies, like Poseidon, or Empire of the Ants, often naive, with some ludicrous special effects. And it certainly does not shine for its photography.
The music goes from ordinary to completely random.

But characterization, dialogues and acting make up in heaps for whatever flaw. If you have read The Lord of The Flies by William Golding, this drama may remind you of it. Mix it with the most classical concept of Carpe Diem - seize the day - and you have Long Love Letter.
Kubozuka Yousuke is adorable here, at times childishly clumsy, at others emotionally intense. But it's Takako Tokiwa who really steals the screen, her character being the epitome of strength of will, sweetness and courage.
In fact, this drama is acutely feminine, like mother Earth herself.
The kids play their part very well, one ends up liking a quite stony Yamashita Tomohisa too.

I adored the ending. It makes this into one of those dramas one is emotionally compelled to talk about with someone, share opinions and questions. Like it or not, it doesn't leave you untouched.

So, by now you have 2 choices: decide that both the drama and the reviewer are deranged and leave it be, or watch it.

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Completed
Proposal Daisakusen
26 people found this review helpful
Dec 28, 2014
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 6
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
7 years ago, when I first watched this drama, I experienced the same frustration related by so many reviewers here and elsewhere. I gave it tepid marks then, because annoyance surpassed the pleasure. Why I decided to re-watch it and why my overall opinion on the drama changed so drastically this second time around, is the reason for my present review.
I have been led to think by past experiences that the more I watch Asian dramas, the more fastidious I become; it is therefore quite ironic that in this case my better knowledge came out as an incentive to appreciate the drama more, not less.

When I approached Proposal Daisakusen the first time, all my attention was captured by the love story between Kenzo and Rei. I was so anxious for him to do the right thing and say the right words that I overlooked all the rest. But guess what: as odd as it may sound, this drama is all about 'the rest'. Daisakusen in Japanese means 'big strategy', as in organizing a war campaign. View in this light, we could think of Kenzo's time travelling as it were a war where single episodes are the several battles fought. To maintain the analogy, if while watching you put all your energy in trying to win every single battle, you'll end up frustrated, but if you keep the target in mind, i.e. win the war, you may truly appreciate this 'big strategy'. Despite all premises to the contrary, this drama is not so much about Kenzo managing to change Rei's heart as it is a journey of a young man understanding what's truly important in life and establishing clear priorities. It also makes you reflect upon the true meaning of love, whether it were only about declaring it aloud or rather be there when the person you love needs you.

In this sense, I believe this drama to be a lot cleverer than your average romantic comedy. It touches issues like friendship, family, loyalty, generosity and honesty. It takes its time, lingering on what seem little details, but it turns out that changing a small detail can make a huge difference not only in your life, but on the direction the people around you will take as well. The thin thread underlying the whole show is an old friend: carpe diem. Seize the moment and the opportunity, you may not have a second chance. This is a very simple philosophy, but it is so dear to me I firmly believe it cannot be repeated or stressed enough. Don't procrastinate, don't give the people around you for granted, thinking you have all the time in the world to do the right thing, to convey your feeling or to listen to them when they need an ear.
I consider the special as integral part of the drama, so I indirectly include that one in this review. They called it special, but it could just as well be episode 12, so I suggest you watch the special too before rating the show.

The acting is fine. It could have been more intense, but I'm willing to forgive the occasional stone-face because the characters created by the whole cast are truly endearing and hard to forget. They are very natural as a group of friends and as such I ended up imagining them.
The music isn't the strong trait of the drama. It has a lovely instrumental piece and a very old-fashioned song repeated now and again. In the end, I have become quite deaf to both. A little variety wouldn’t have hurt...

I suppose there's no need for me to explain why the re-watch value is so high. If you are ready to put aside Kenzo's eternal hesitation and Rei's insecurity - which by the way are paramount traits of their personality, without which the drama wouldn't have been created - and you fix gaze and mind on the whole picture, you may end up loving it as much as I did on second watching. There's a constellation of little events, many related to the Japanese culture and rituals, that is delicious and heart-warming.
After 7 years, I'm now ready to recommend this drama to everyone.

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Completed
Q10
42 people found this review helpful
Aug 12, 2012
9 of 9 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
I'll do something new in my experience: keep my review short. I'm not sure this drama can be described in words, and the reasons to like it are very subjective. For me, watching this drama was a little like reading a novel by Kurt Vonnegut.

Q10 is surreal, poetic, highly amusing, thought-provoking and surprising . It's brilliantly acted too, which adds to its delicious oddity. It doesn't have even one unpleasant character: they are all very weird and very human, at times histerically hilarious and at others wonderfully deep.

I'm not sure whom I would recommend this drama to; however, I'm certain it won't do for those looking for a rom-com, for an uncomplicated plot, for simple entertainment, for shine or for glamour. The one and only requisite to approach it, is to do so with an open mind. If you believe that people have each their own sound, that calling for help loud enough will make somebody come to the rescue, that death is just a way of thinking and that you achieve a goal because you want and not because you can, then "kiuto" is for you.

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Completed
Fated to Love You
80 people found this review helpful
Nov 2, 2014
20 of 20 episodes seen
Completed 12
Overall 9.0
Story 6.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This review may contain spoilers
Have you ever asked yourself what's more important in a drama? Plot or acting? Can a good performance turn a mediocre plot into something unique?
Fated to Love You answers this question with a decisive Yes.

Let's have a look at this plot. Aside from it being a remake of a popular Taiwanese drama, this is a collection of old clichés: doormat girl meets obnoxious rich guy, an incident of some sort occurs and compels them to live under the same roof, meddling – and maddening – relatives, random humour, misunderstandings, birth secrets, the 'other girl' and the 'other guy', all spiced up with a lot of noble idiocy (although this might be one of the few cases when the noble act is frustrating but comprehensible). It's not hard to see why I treaded on this very makjang field on tiptoe.

Therefore, my overall 9 has to be ascribed entirely to the impeccable acting and one of the best thought of OST of songs I've come across. Try out the first 10 minutes of this show, and you'll have no doubts the whole thing is going to be played on style, rather than plot substance. The performance of the whole cast is brilliant, but the two leads manage to outshine everything and everyone.
What could have resulted in two trite, annoying characters in lesser hands, becomes one of the best matched couple in melo/romantic comedy. Even when their plot-line drags – and it does, here and there – they are both able to sustain the silence and make it resound.

Jang Hyuk… wow, the man can act. Yes, I suppose this is a very superfluous statement for the many of you who know him, but this is my first time and I was enchanted. The character he creates here has no grey areas: Gun is so over the line he goes from hysterically funny to heartbreaking in the space of a few minutes. At times the two aspects are interwoven, and the viewer gets glimpses of his pain through his laughter. But his best trait in my opinion is that he doesn't give a dry fig about what people think of him: he goes on doing what he believes is right in the craziest of manners.
It doesn't hurt that the actor is seriously hot. Seriously. When he cuts his hair – this is not considered a spoiler, is it? - I was so distracted here and there I forgot to watch the drama and just watched him.

This said, Jang Na Ra is downright brilliant. For the first time in my drama addicted life, I loved a 'weak' heroine. There's a special quality about the rendition of her character that turns her weakness into strength, and her compliance into endearing sweetness. One can see why Gun falls in love with her, because the viewer experiences the same. Possibly, we all know from the start that Kim Mi Young will eventually change, and yet she keeps her true, generous nature intact. With her beautiful, huge eyes she speaks volumes and her chemistry with Jang Hyuk on screen is tangible.

Notable mention for Song Ok Sook, aka Mi Young's mother. I enjoyed every minute of her antics and rejoiced in her relationship with both her daughter and her son in law.

I already mentioned the music. As a rule, I only like instrumental pieces in dramas. I'm making an exception here not only because the songs are beautiful, but because each piece is chosen with the utmost care, emphasising in turn the fun, the suffering, the romance, the absurd. Isn't this what an Ost should do? Perfect score from me.

Because I believe the plot to be absolutely secondary in this drama, I'm sure it lends itself very well to future re-watching.

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Completed
Late Autumn
40 people found this review helpful
Apr 12, 2012
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Why, of why did I read Violet's review? I had somehow fallen into a sort of quiet limbo regarding my favourite actor and almost forgotten about this movie accordingly, when I read her review, ran to watch the movie myself - talk about patience - and was instantly thrown into my most familiar obsession: Hyun Bin.

My bad. To top it all, I agree with her: this movie is beautiful. I know this is a remake of an older Korean movie with the same title which I haven't seen, but from the start it reminded me a lot of the american/french film "Before Sunrise", with the two leads carving out for themselves a tiny bubble in space and time, far from their present lives and the world outside.
The difference - a notable one for me - is that while in Before Sunrise the two protagonists talk a lot, too much for my taste, here silences are a lot more poignant and meaningful. I am actually glad I watched it raw, to the point I think everybody should do so. To elaborate: most dialogues take place in English, but there are moments when Anna speaks in Chinese and Hoon in Korean. English is their communication tool, but the reason why they understand each other is not a language. Apart from the dance scene mentioned by Violet, I fell in love with another, in which she tells him her story in Chinese and he only comments "bad" or "good", depending on what he feels is her mood. Watching it raw, made me live the entire surreal dialogue as if I were him, not grasping one word, but trying to understand what she conveyed with her posture and eyes.

I also agree about the direction, and I have come up with a sort of theory of my own as to why the colours are so subdued. What we are offered is the world outside the prison as Anna sees it. Since colours only depend on our perception, there isn't much reason for her to paint her life. No wonder she wears make up and happier clothes only for a brief moment: they look fake, in contrast with her mood. The only colourful moments are those in which she imagines.
I guess the choice of Seattle wasn't accidental either: as I recall, it is known as the rainiest city in the States.

The acting is spectacular. Hyun Bin is a gorgeous man, but that's definitely not the point of this movie, where he doesn't have to be good-looking: he has to look vain. And I'm glad it is so, for dwelling on his looks would be an offence to his acting skills.
Wei Tang's performance is outstanding. As I said, she expresses a world via silences.

Beautiful music. I wouldn't have minded a little more of it.

I recommend this movie, but only if you are prepared for its pensive pace and all the untold. Not a fluffy watch by all means, and not for anyone looking for comedy.

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Completed
Something in the Rain
118 people found this review helpful
May 21, 2018
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 22
Overall 6.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a viewer… La la la, la la la, la la la…”

End of review, thanks for reading.

Indeed, I could end my review here, since the above is basically all the drama left me with. But to the precious 18 hours – or something – I’ve dedicated to this show, I owe at least a more in-depth epitaph.

"Something in the rain" would have worked wonderfully as a 2 hour movie: the plot can be easily condensed in so short a time, we would have enjoyed a lovely on-screen chemistry and there would have been still room for the artsy cinematography the drama likes so much to sport. But, alas, the writer and director opted for a long narration, taking one conflict and a half and building this repetitive and aggravating slice of “real” life around it. What in the beginning seemed like beautiful aesthetics meant to create an atmosphere and enhance the plot, turned soon enough to be a trick to hide the lack of it. Because of that, the cinematography became, in my eyes, one of the drama flaws.

Let me make this clear: I have absolutely nothing against a slow pace that helps the viewer enter the world of the characters. I love small details: a meaningful glance, a trembling hand, a quiet dialogue that says it all, but here scenes are simply overstretched, even the most mundane, irrelevant ones. I have actually timed a scene: a character gets out of a taxi and walks unobserved on the road for as much as 65 seconds (try to count in your head and you’ll realize it’s an eternity). The camera stays still and the character walks. No close-up shot of the face expression, no weird or telling gate, no encounter to be remembered later on, just a walk that bears no significance whatsoever in the plot, except perhaps that it teaches us how people walk in Korea. I could go on describing scenes like this one, there are a handful. When a 2 whole minutes hug came, I truly became restless. And bored.

All the while, most characters are extremely bi-dimentional. No explanation, flashback or insight is given to justify their motivations. They are trapped in this present bubble and immortalized with one or two character traits only. We are left to speculate about their past, future and, at times, present. This show isn’t centered around a meaty plot, but does not focus on characterization either. There’s only so much a believable on-screen chemistry and artsy aesthetics can do to keep my interest alive.

Which brings me to the love story itself. The only positive trait of this romance is it’s realism, at least in the beginning. However, because these two jump from meeting on the road to being madly in love, I was deprived of my favourite part of romance, that is the falling in love process. Worse, episode after episode I started feeling like a voyeur, peeping through the keyhole to spy on an ordinary albeit pretty married couple in its daily routine. Since voyeurism isn’t my favourite hobby, I lost interest very soon in the nth walk with or without umbrella or yet another scene with these two frolicking around with the ever-present music that should tell a story but does not. They have no heart-to-heart chat, they don’t talk about their dreams, their plans, their future together, they hide more than they tell. Why these two people who have very little in common should love each other is not for us to know. Ah, yes! They are both gorgeous, that must be it.
The tension is all built around the opposition of a mother who’s in serious need of good therapy in whatever culture we set this story. Don’t get me started on the ex boyfriend arc and the harassment on the working place: the first goes nowhere and the second takes an eternity to go… where did it go?

Not yet happy, these badly outlined characters are for the most part disagreeable. If I have to watch a slice of life drama, I want to become attached to these people, but here I grew increasingly indifferent to all of them, otp included. The heroine is possibly the one who frustrated me the most and no amount of sociological analysis on the customs of South Korea will ever make me love a grown up woman who can’t stand up for her rights and for the people she supposedly loves. The fact that the author decided to portray a female lead who never learns from her own mistakes put a huge distance between me and her and makes the ending, good or bad, senseless. If it was my fault to expect something different, than I’ll take the blame, but at least I have learned something and will try to be a wiser viewer in the future (i.e., drop the hot potato before it scorches).

Finally, the music! Two good songs repeated ad nauseam and another old-fashioned two that made seaweeds grow in my ears. That’s the ost – an inappropriate definition anyway, since ost stands for “Original Sound Track”, that is, songs or music created on purpose for the show. I doubt Carla Bruni (?), Bruce Willis (??) or even talented Rachael Yamagata met to create this meager ensemble.

It’s extremely ironic and sad that the episode I enjoyed the most is the discussed last one. If only everything had taken place much earlier on, I’d have liked this drama. Unfortunately, as it stands it makes little sense and the prospect of subjecting myself to a second watch is unthinkable.
My dear 18 hours, RIP.

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Completed
Empress Ki
71 people found this review helpful
Mar 18, 2015
51 of 51 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 8.5
Rewatch Value 10
This review may contain spoilers
It took me 5 days of mind wrecking just to decide on an overall rating for Empress Ki. The eternal reviewer's doubt whether it is fairer to value a drama using the brain or the heart is maximized here: this is an epic tale where almost every single aspect is at the same time exceptionally good and glaringly bad. In trying to elaborate this, what follows may become very long, and for this I apologize in advance.

First, the pace.
If you are preoccupied by the length, be assured the rhythm of the narration is so fast you'll come to the 51st ep. wishing you could have another 10. There isn't even one moment of boredom among the hundreds of little and big events that follow one another. By the end of each episode, I sat there wide awake wishing it wasn't already 4 a.m. and I could watch another. The downside of such a fast pace is that it never gives you respite. I wanted to linger, now and then to bask in the sweetness, or simply see these people being happy for a while, but it was not to be. Every time an issue is concluded the next is ready to shatter that glint of satisfaction it was so hard to finally obtain. The infamous last 10 episodes I've read many criticize, could have been the most poignant part of the drama if they hadn't been so incredibly rushed, to the point that events seem to make little sense. As a matter of fact they do make a lot of sense – with the glowering exception of the silly Maeback botch – but you have to think the entire journey over in order to see it.

Which leads me to the script and its characters.
This isn't a journey to begin in search of historical dependability, not in the details, at least. Little to nothing is known about the woman who became the Empress of Yuan before she entered the palace as a tribute from Goryeo, and there isn't much information about the single steps that were taken in order for her to sit on that throne. The writers have taken many liberties both in characterization as well as chronology, but I personally think they did a great job in always making those steps exciting and suspenseful and when you reach the end you will realize the plot is rounded up very well, with a couple of exceptions. This is why I think knowing a little about Empress Ki's true story in advance can actually enhance the watching and explain the choices some of the characters make.
For instance, we can assume Crown Prince Ta Hwan was exiled to Goryeo when he was only a teenager, which perhaps will make you judge his character with some indulgence. King Wang Yoo of Goryeo, on the other hand, is by all means the most fictionalized of all the main characters, so much so that knowing his true story is not only unnecessary but extremely counterproductive. My humble advice: stay well away from the true known facts about him if you want to enjoy the drama.

When history is taken into consideration, a lot of the twists invented by the writers acquire significance, since the opening scene tells us in advance where we are heading and curiosity is all on how they'll get there. History also explains why so many characters in this drama change side, go from good to bad, from bad to worse or are suspended somewhere in between. It obviously does not explain or justify the fact that everyone speaks Korean, but I am aware that having the huge cast speak different idioms would have rendered the watch almost impossible.

To this drama I own the realization that I possess a dark side too. There have been moments when I wanted to see blood and wished some characters would not only be killed, but killed with pain. It's such an alien feeling for me, it shocked me. It goes to the credit of writers and actors to make me hate with such an intensity, but I'm not sure I want to experience that kind of emotion again. Attachment and love to some characters, though, was equally intense and I swam in it with gusto. It's going to take a very long time before I can get these people out of my system. While it kept me highly entertained in the first half, in the second this drama almost broke my heart. It has very little to do with characters dying or living, and a lot with them losing their innocence. At some point I almost wished the leads had died on that exile island and remain forever what they used to be, before being scarred and marred by that terrible imperial palace, "a place with no blood, no tears and no mercy". to quote Lady Park.

When it comes to the much talked about love triangle, I must say I jumped on Seung Nyang & Ta Hwan's ship very early on and never wavered. I could not see or feel any chemistry between Ha Ji Won and Jo Jin Mo and while my brain kept on telling me these two characters had a lot in common and it was logical for them to fall for each other, my heart never agreed. In fact, my heart unyieldingly refused to accept it. Ha Ji Won and Ji Chang Wook, on the other hand… I could have watched them waltz one around the other for the whole 51 hours run without complaining even once. Some of the most poignant moments in the entire drama involve these two and they are the main reason why I enjoyed Empress Ki so much.
This said, the love triangle was not only central to the story, but dual purpose too. Because on final analysis the true seesaw is not between a woman and two men, but between a woman and two countries. The issue of eradication underlines the whole narration and should never be forgotten in order to understand Seung Nyang's choices. This is, after all, her story, how she's initially forced to abandon her country and her roots and gradually develops an attachment to her adoptive one. The more she distances herself from Goryeo, the more the story focuses on China and takes the viewer along.

Spectacular acting by Ha Ji Won - no news here, not for me, at least. I doubt any other actress would have pulled off such a role with that seeming ease; Ji Chang Wook - yes, I'm just a little obsessed with him right now, after seeing him in two very different dramas I loved and being impressed by his ability to convey such a varied range of emotions. His Emperor is so controversial I could write a review only on him, but let's go on; Baek Jin Hee – Danashili, my most hated and beloved villain was terrific too and Jin Yi Han, who possibly didn't deliver the best performance of his career, but whose charisma alone made him into an all time favourite, unforgettable Tal Tal. The rest of the cast did great too, although I was more impressed with the young actors than the older ones.
A word needs to be spent on the villains. There are a lot of them here, all evil for different reasons. A few of them are very consistent; others are such since the beginning, but the viewer is manipulated to the point of thinking otherwise; some suffer from inexplicable 180° turns. What they all have in common is the unyielding conviction they never did anything wrong, which for me is the saddest trait of this drama and even when they got what they deserved, I was left feeling… empty. Their evil logic is at times extremely lucid and makes the line between good and bad blur.

Music is the hardest aspect for me to rate and perfectly mirrors this drama fluctuating between good and bad. The instrumental pieces are hauntingly beautiful and extremely powerful. Listening to them with closed eyes might be the biggest spoiler of all as to how this story is going to end, which is an achievement in itself since an Ost exists to tell the story via music. The songs, on the other hand, were not only very annoying to my ears (personal taste) but also inserted too abruptly at times when not completely random for the scene they soundtracked. I ended up using good old maths: instrumental 12 + songs 5 = average 8,5.

To come to such a high overall score despite the glaring shortcomings of the script, I took the whole picture into consideration. A 51-hours long story that manages to keep the interest alive till the very end is commendable in itself and the fact that I already know I will definitely re-watch it in the future is proof of the high level of emotion it made me feel. Furthermore, this is not a book, and the visual means is used at its highest, with stunningly beautiful sets, costumes, colours and camera work. If you are able to suspend belief at times and focus on style and emotional impact, you'll no doubt enjoy Empress Ki as much as I did.

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Completed
Osozaki no Himawari
28 people found this review helpful
Jul 6, 2013
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
"A quiet life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; and work, which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one's neighbour — such is my idea of happiness."
- Lev Tolstoy

I hope you can forgive me if my penchant for quotes invades a review. I have watched Osozaki no Himawari some time ago and loved it but never came around to write a review for it. Then I stumbled upon the words of Tolstoy and was immediately reminded of it.

The essence of this drama is, ultimately, the pursuit of happiness. It shows how this last can be found in the most unexpected places, with the most random people, doing things we would never have taken into consideration, if we hadn't been forced to do so by the circumstances.
The simple message this drama tries to send is beautifully conveyed, thanks to a wonderful cast that creates lovely characters and warms the heart. Ikuta Toma is perfect for the part: he's goofy and reasonable at the same time, I'd say he is the new element that unconsciously brings an otherwise sleepy community to a new life, while he himself learns to adapt and understand.
Jotaro's interactions with Kahori, wonderfully portrayed by a talented Maki Yoko are priceless, and their phone conversations are the sweetest thing ever. "Ore ore" will remain in my memory for a long time.

What makes this drama so special, besides the adorable ensemble of characters, is the cinematography. Perhaps the Shimanto River Region is so beautiful one doesn't need to be a particularly skilled photographer to capture its charm on screen; whatever the case, the end result is stunning. If the intention of this drama direction was to promote the region, I must say they succeded: when I finally visit Japan, it will be one of the first places I put on my itinerary.

The music is lovely too, and I agree with Sewitches that the idea of having the whole cast sing the leitmotif is brilliant.

If you are the type of person who feels at ease in the countryside, who finds happiness in small things, this drama will appeal to you. On the other hand, if you need the dizziness of crowded cities with a lot of events going on, it may not. This is a relaxing trot, not a wild gallop.

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Completed
Postman To Heaven
43 people found this review helpful
Apr 28, 2011
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 10
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 9.0
I was hesitant about the overall score to give to this movie. I basically loved everything about it, from the plot to the acting to the execution. Possibly it deserves a 10, and I gave it a nine just to retain a right to a higher score in the future.



I wasn't expecting anything less from the same screenwriter of Tatta Hitotsu No Koi, Sunao Ni Narenakute and Orange Days, nor from the same director of Winter Sonata, Sorry I love you and Bad Guy. They both did not disappoint.



The script is delicate and moving. It touches deep chords in the hearts of anyone who has experienced the loss of a beloved one at least once. It talks about the fragile, magic relationship between the living and the deceased: how hard it is to let go, to overcome regrets and remorses while still keeping the memory alive.



The photography is beautiful, it highlights that vague atmosphere constantly suspended between reality and fairy-tale. It helps that the two main leads are both beautiful to watch and just as convincing together. Hero Jaejoong might not be yet ready for complex line deliveries, but he's very expressive and, let's face it, a pleasure for the eyes. Han Hyo Joo, on the other hand is brilliant here, bringing up the joyful side this movie would otherwise lack.



I think I've written enough. If you are willing to watch a movie which combines the Japanese delicacy and the Korean intensity of emotions, give this one a try.

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Orange Days
32 people found this review helpful
May 1, 2011
11 of 11 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.0
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 8.0
This drama already had a very good review, one that doesn't need to be expanded.

The reason why I write one is because I loved this show and wish to share the joy, so to speak.



I believe the best trait of this drama is in its script. Eriko Kitagawa - the screenwriter - does not disappoint.

It's a collection of memorable, beautiful quotes, whether about love, friendship, dreams or fears for the future. They make you pause and think.

And the screentime given to this disparate group of friends can really make your day, so universal it is in the world of friendship, be it in Japan, America, Europe or elsewhere. Change the names and perhaps the face features, and you'll be reminded of your own experiences.



It's truly difficult not to fall in love with Sae and Kai, so sweet is their love story, but it's just as hard not to laugh, dispair or rejoice with all the other characters.

Shibasaki Kou does such a wonderful job here, one soon forgets she has lost her hearing and can almost "hear" her talk.



In short: I can't imagine anyone being disappointed by this drama.

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Completed
Sore wa, Totsuzen, Arashi no you ni..
22 people found this review helpful
Apr 23, 2011
10 of 10 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This drama follows the Japanese "older woman-younger guy" trend. It seems as though every Japanese idol has to pass this test at least once in his acting career.



Despite the premises though, there is something about this drama which made it into one of my favourites in its genre.

Perhaps because on further analysis it doesn't deal with falling in love with someone, but with learning to love oneself and appreciate the little, daily things one gives for granted.



Esumi Makiko is so beautiful here, one soon forgets the age gap. The story revolves around her, her internal struggle, her doubts, her self-esteem. Yamashita Tomohisa plays his part very well too, portraying a young man in that fragile phase between adolescence and adulthood in a very believable way.



Overall, a delightful, suave drama.

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