The real story is a love affair, a ménage-à-trois that at one point seems beautiful and perfect until the cracks in the façade eventually begins to be seen (can such things really be that way for long anyway?) but even though you know (from scene one) that it’ll end badly somehow, there’s something wonderfully alluring here that sucks you in and you’ll watch in fascinated sympathy how things fall apart.
Or maybe that’s just me. Except, no, it can’t be just me; the story is based on an award winning novel, and what is more; some of the basic elements of the plot have been used many times before. Evidently, people fall for it, the story of an innocent young girl getting lured in by an older, glamorous and decadent couple that laughs affectionately at her because they can barely remember what it once felt like to be naïve like her… I have read it before, and I’d read it again. In this version of the relationship of three, there were the things I had anticipated, and things I couldn’t see coming. (I imagine some people would criticise the ending, but I – being the sentimental fool that I am – like it.) I would really love to read the original novel, though, to find out about a few things I’m wondering about…
I have to admit, though, to being somewhat biased, not only for liking the theme but also for liking the male lead, Iura Arata. My expectations were high, because lately I’ve just been going through his minor supporting roles and I’ve been waiting eagerly to see him in a main role again. With this character, I got more or less what I wished for – an intellectual seducer with a dark secret and a gentle heart. (From a fangirl point of view: so hot!!) Katase Shintaro and his wife Hinako are elegant, seductive people and experienced in the ways of the world while also seeming to live in their own little universe that only a select few are invited to. The young student Fumiko – they call her Fuu-chan – is lucky or unlucky enough to be invited. She is thoroughly seduced by their overwhelming presence in her life and watching how this happens, inevitably as it has to happen, is very enjoyable.
Fuu-chan is a simple character, the kind of character who just is who she is and becomes dear to the others because of her kind and gentle spirit. There are no surprises in this character, but that’s not to say that she’s shallow. She is just as fascinated as she is intimidated by the couple's passionate, free-spirited lifestyle but she learns to like and accept them. Ishihara Satomi pulls off this natural cuteness almost surprisingly well and I didn’t doubt her for a moment. Tanaka Rena as Hinako is equally convincing: this pleasure-seeking, somewhat whimsical femme fatale kind of character could easily become over-the-top but somehow the actress manage to balance on a thin line, gradually revealing Hinako’s vulnerability. As for Iura Arata, well, this kind of role just suits him – he may have done it before but if you need an actor who can dive deeply into the darker realms of passion and do it with true conviction, he’s your man. This character is the one who goes through most of the changes, or rather, the way we look at him – through Fumiko – changes when we get to understand him better.
I have to give this a ten overall. This story may not always be subtle but it’s elegant and vibrant, erotic without being graphic, and with some surprises in the second half. The enjoyment lies in the character's interaction and all the emotions, and all in all, this is very well done! Even though the characters are driven to the edge of reason, this is not done for dramatic effect or because of drama clichés (e.g. jealous ex lover, annoying parents, etc), this is motivated by the story’s and the characters’ inner logic. Even the old “moth-to-the-flame” metaphor is taken to the next level. (Not gonna lie; I was thinking “no, please…” the moment the moth flew in, but thankfully the writer knew what she was doing!) It’s like a Greek tragedy; you know that something bad will happen, but once it does, you know that it couldn’t have been any other way. And through it all, they do truly love each other.
Is this a movie I would rewatch? Maybe! I found some beautiful and swoon-worthy scenes in it. As for the music, I suppose it did add to the atmosphere every now and then but overall I didn’t really notice it.
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The main characters are three women, friends since their school days, and we follow them during their work lives and private lives, for example at the restaurant where their friend Ma-kun works. This set of characters is, I believe, not unusual, but it is an interesting drama, if a little bit predictable.
It is a love story, sure, but even more than that, I think it is about what a Japanese woman can and cannot do, in the eyes of those around her. This topic is also not unique, but this drama deals with it seriously without too much silly nonsense. Living up to gender roles can be a burden; this drama doesn’t try to make a joke out of it. I liked that. One of the women learns that her position at work is directly related to her marital status. Another one is a housewife whose husband can’t understand that she longs to feel “a connection to society”. The last of the three friends isn’t married and everyone is worried because she’s already 39, and a woman’s “market value” decreases rapidly after 35. Because what you learn here (if you didn’t know already from other j-dramas) is that marriage is extremely important. On the other hand, there’s this idea about freedom, independence, personal choice and the right to decide for yourself what “happiness” means…
As for the romance in this drama, I like it! The main focus is on Ogata Satoko (Amami Yuki) and Okamura Keitaro (Fujiki Naohito), who are colleagues.
However, Ogata is a psychiatrist and Okamura is a younger psychologist… so they are different when it comes to social status, income and age. Okamura is also very much into ecology, to the point of being called “stingy” by workmates and ex girlfriends, and at first, it looks like he doesn’t have a lot going for him. They have this relationship where they are constantly irritated and bickering with each other, but in a “good” way. Because even if that guy can be very nit-picky about certain things, he’s honest, smart, caring and gentle, and he’s cute and he likes kids… The more I watched him, the more I liked him, and I enjoyed how their relationship played out.
If I would mention any weak point, then it would be that the “twists and turns” of the drama are a bit too simple and obvious (but I was never bored because I liked and cared about the characters), and also the lack of, well, passion. I’ve learned not to expect j-dramas to be “hot”, but still; a little bit more intensity and chemistry between the two leads (who are both hot and excellent in their own ways) shouldn’t be too much to ask for, and it was perhaps what was lacking for me to give this a higher rating. (I could give Fujiki Naohito a 10 for being impossibly cute when he smiles, but I don’t think that would be fair…)
I’ve got nothing to say about the music, it was okay I guess. And although I enjoyed watching this, I don’t think I would be interested in rewatching it.
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More than that, though, Bambino! is about Ban’s journey towards a greater understanding of the work he’s dreaming about and we get to follow him as he learns to understand what it takes to work at an upscale place like Baccanale. It’s frustrating for Ban to realise that as a 21-year-old without any formal instruction, he doesn’t already know everything there is to know about cooking… Ban is very emotional and he sulks and complains a lot, but he’s very determined and enthusiastic, and although people call him spoiled and immature, they learn to like him, and he them.
The cast/acting is really the best part of this. I like Ban and the way he grows as a person, and Matsumoto Jun’s performance is very believable. Watching this makes me realize that I actually do like him as an actor.
The supporting actors really are a great support: Most of them are very well-developed, with their unique personalities and quirks, even some of the very minor roles. Kitamura Kazuki as the dining hall manager Yonamine is worth a special mention. It’s not like we’re told the back story of each and every one of the characters (it’s not at all a “one character per episode” kind of drama), but even so they’re people that you learn to like and care about. I like their interaction with each other and with Ban, and that’s what makes the drama very enjoyable even if there are no exciting plot twists, sudden developments, huge conflicts backstabbing crazy people, etc. They’re all very professional while they’re working, but they’re working as a team where everyone is supporting of each other, and it’s nice watching Ban gradually become a part of that.
As for the music, there’s not a lot to say about it. The opening theme, by Arashi, is a nice and catchy song that captures the mood of the drama. The other music is also nice, but it’s not there to be noticed (this is not a bad thing), just to add atmosphere.
Visually, too, this drama is a pleasure. You know, all the food we get to see! And it’s bright and colourful, with a few comedic moments, but I think the overall impression is that it leaves you smiling, with warm and fuzzy feelings.
Bambino! may not be the most amazing drama of all times or anything like that, but it’s very enjoyable – it even had me write my first MDL review! – and I can definitely see myself rewatching this sometime. I haven't re-watched any j-dramas at the time of writing this review, because there are just so many out there that I haven’t seen yet... Out of everything that I've watched so far, I can easily put Bambino! on my list of favorites.
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Yes, there is romance as stated on the drama information page, but it is also about family and friendship. There is the Nagakura family – four siblings and the oldest brother’s daughter – who often argue and banter but love and care about each other deeply, and then Chiaki comes to live next door. Romance leads to friendship and friendship to romance, and there’s romantic friendship that leads nowhere; all this is sort of obvious from the first episode. What surprised me was not the romance theme, but rather the friendship and family themes, and the warmth and humor throughout it all. In the end, this drama is about family: The kind of family that you chose and create for yourself.
This is a drama about adults. The main characters are all between 35 and 50, so if you’re used to watching dramas about young love and high school kids, you might think that this is not for you. Well, personally I appreciate variation and I like watching dramas about people older than myself sometimes. I think this drama can be enjoyed by anybody no matter the age. Also, this is a drama without evil and scheming second leads. Well, there are second leads and some weirdo characters, but nothing that will make you want to scream with frustration.
The characters are all very likeable, even though they’re pretty odd. The older Nagakura brother cares a lot about appearances and always tries to think about what’s proper and responsible, but at the same time he also does things he doesn’t always quite understand, out of love. Also, he has a hard time saying “no” to things, he’s a nitpicker, and somehow he can’t seem to be near Chiaki without picking a fight with her. The twins are also nice people: Shinpei who is an “Angel”, because although he’s scared of commitment, he is very “helpful and generous” and aims to make as many women happy as possible (yes, if it’s sex they need, that’s what he helps them with, although it could just as well be some company). All this is done with a sort of innocence and naïveté – he doesn’t quite seem like the typical womanizer even if that’s sort of what he is – that probably only works so well because of the general atmosphere of this drama. Even though you like the characters and feel for them, you can’t take this too seriously.
This is especially true about the twin sister, Mariko. You’d barely recognize Uchida Yuki under all that hair and the crazy clothes… Mariko is… special. At first I thought she was mentally disabled, perhaps she is but she’s also smart and observant. She’s not a complete recluse but she’s scared of people sometimes, and she's very fidgety, with her smartphone glued to her fingers… I just don’t know what’s “wrong” with her, but I guess not even the drama writer knows that… ;) Sometimes I found her a little bit too much but I loved her. The fourth sister is also an important character, but her plotline is a bit more typical that Mariko’s: She’s the rebellious housewife who is tired of being taken for granted by her husband and son. What I like about this drama though is that all of these characters are important and all storylines are completed; you don’t lose interest for anyone just because someone else gets too much screentime.
(As for the other supporting characters, not all of them are fully developed, but that’s not to be expected I guess. Chiaki’s friends are just there as a background, because there needs to be scenes where she can talk about things that are happening…)
Chiaki is a drama producer and there are also scenes from her office. It is mildly amusing when characters in a drama talk about a drama and about things that should or should not happen in one…
Also, I have to give this drama a special gold star in my book for stating openly that yes, sometimes a woman can fall in love with another woman. This is not a huge thing, but it is there, and this is the first time I have seen anything even remotely like lesbian love in a j-drama. Well, it might be there just because of the “comedy” that comes out of it, but it’s still undeniably there.
As always, there’s not much I can say about the music, but at least I did notice it this time around. There were mostly just the same two or three songs that played, but they added to the atmosphere and I liked them, for what it’s worth.
To be honest, I started watching this drama as a first step of stalking Koyzumi Kyoko, but I really did enjoy it and not just because of her! Now I’m looking forward to the special, and then let’s just hope we’ll get subs for season two this spring! The ending made me want to know what’s going to happen next, or rather, I just don’t want to let go of the Nagakura family yet!
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This review may contain spoilersAntique is a nice, solid drama about friendship, with humour, warmth and a tiny bit of romance. I liked it, so I think it deserves a review!
The plot is simple, like the synopsis says, and at first, it mostly revolves about introducing each character (the men at the bakery as well as some of their customers) and it feels a bit “episodic”, but gradually, as you learn more about the characters and their backgrounds, you realize that there are plotlines that connect them, secrets that are gradually revealed. This is pretty interesting, and I also enjoyed the little details in each episode.
Antique is a fun drama; not so that it makes you roll on the floor laughing, but it makes you giggle and smile very often. The characters are almost over the top silly sometimes, but not so much that they become annoying. I have not read the original manga, but I suspect that it falls into the comedy/slice of life genres. (Speaking of the manga, I’ve been told that the live-action version differs quite a lot in some important ways that I won’t reveal since that would be spoilery…)
The cast/acting is very good. Shiina Kippei and Abe Hiroshi is a fun duo; their interaction is what gives me most of the “manga feels” I get from this drama. Takizawa Hideaki does a very convincing job as the charming young boxer who loves cake with all his heart. Fujiki Naohito, the baker who teaches him all his skills, is here seen in one of his earliest roles, portraying a withdrawn man who has found a way to deal with his insecurities in a way that has everybody (including me) convinced, until his past is revealed in one of the later episodes. And just like in “Kimi wa petto”, Kato Koyuki plays a journalist, but of a different character. Together with the rest of the supporting characters, she adds color to the drama.
Let's not forget, there is so much eye-candy in this drama! I’m talking about the amazing cakes. Seriously, sometimes I felt that the close-ups of the cakes alone made the drama worth watching, I’m not kidding! Then, of course, there’s the male eye-candy as well… and Kato Kayuki is so adorable! I must admit I have a soft spot for Fujiki Naohito, though. Somehow, the softness of his cute face, together with all those delicious-looking cakes, makes me all starry-eyed. That’s the effect this drama had on me…
I don’t have a lot to say about the music, except that I liked it.
I was never bored whiled watching this, but often amused. I think it’s because I do enjoy this kind of light, heartfelt slice-of-life kind of stories… If that’s not your cup of tea, you might not like it as much as I did. In my opinion, it was well worth my time, but I don’t think I’ll re-watch Antique anytime soon. If I do someday, well, then it’s probably because I want to enjoy those beautiful cakes once again…
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I understand that the drama is special because it is collaboration between Japan and Korea, and it shows that the relationship between these two countries is complicated, which makes the relationship between the two main characters complicated as well. That’s why I felt that I learned a few things from it, but I wish the conflict had been explored more; that the story had been deeper. I won’t go as far as calling it plot holes, but near enough…
The basic plot is good – two young people from different countries meet and fall in love, only to discover that being in a relationship isn’t always easy. Especially not a long distance relationship, since that is another complication in and of itself. However, I feel that the story was too rushed. Sometimes, the characters did and said things that didn’t quite make sense, and many of the expected misunderstandings and conflicts seemed stupid and plain ridiculous, because it was hard to understand the character’s motivations. If the characters had talked more with each other, and explained their ways of thinking (and not to mention the differences in their respective cultures) it would have been easier to relate to them and that would in turn have made the drama more interesting to watch. I feel that we are expected to understand everything without any explanations, but just like Tomoko, I found myself confused a lot of the time.
I liked the acting, though. The actors did a good job, and this was the first time I watched anything Korean (MDL has labelled this as “Japanese”, but they do speak Korean about half the time) so it was interesting because of that, too.
So, to sum it up: the drama had its good points, the ending was satisfactory and the first episode was excellent. Overall, though, I found it to be a bit disappointing, and I wouldn't want to re-watch it because I would only be annoyed by the same things all over again.
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Here are some things that I didn't like:
1) Somewhere around episode 7, I felt that this drama was too long (and this is coming from someone who often enjoys slow-paced dramas!), and I kept feeling that way until the end - there's no "I wish it wasn't over yet!" feeling here...
2) I strongly dislike characters like Risa's brother... I can take crazy obsesson in lighter dramas, but this guy was such a creep... he was just too much. The way Risa reacted to his actions and had very mixed feelings about him was realistic in a way (after all, they grew up together, and of course there is a bond) but also sort of confusing. Sometimes I felt that the way she acted didn't make a lot of sense. I wish this part of the story would have ended a bit differently...
3) I liked the ending of the last episode, but everything that happened between the start of ep 9 and that moment was stupid. This drama should have been shorter and a bit more simple.
This being said, 7 is still a good rating and I enjoyed this drama; I'm glad I watched it.
The story was interesting (even if it got too long, but I was never truly bored while watching it) and I liked most of the characters most of the time. Some things were a bit predicable, though.
I liked the acting/cast. Takenouchi Yutaka as Okada Kengo was excellent, convincing as the older brother filled with worries; most of the time I felt like I could understand what he was thinking and feeling. (I wouldn't mind watching him in more dramas.) He also has good chemistry with Ueto Aya (Risa), but just like one person says in the comments, I wish their relationship had been explored more (and some of the supporting characters less). The other actors were also good.
I found that Matsuda Shota's character was an unexpected gem. It's a supporting role, he's the doctor, and at first I didn't expect to see a lot of him, but he was more involved in the plot than I expected. I liked that, because, well, it was just such a likeable person. Calm, cool, supporting, wanting to do the right thing. At the same time, I doubt that this part of the drama was very realistic - do doctors really have the time to be this involved with patients on a personal level? So while I sometimes raised a sceptical eyebrow, I also enjoyed the scenes with Matsuda Shota simply because I liked the character... (If you'e a fan, you'll probably find it worth your time to give this drama a chance.)
Also, this drama was beautiful; many lovely scenes, and water and jellyfish... and I loved the music.
So, to sum it up: I liked it, it was good, but it didn't give me enough "wow" feelings, and there were some things I didn't like. I wouldn't rewatch it.
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The story was perfectly solid, although there was nothing remarkable, and it had some weak points overall.
The main plot is simple enough: Are they going to save the restaurant in the end, or not? Then there's also the question of how they're going to learn to get along with the new head chef Ezaki (Eguchi Yosuke). I’ve recently read a book about group dynamics and leadership and some things in this drama sort of illustrate really well the things I’ve read about. It could be argued that the story is predictable in both respects, but that wasn't a problem for me as I felt that it was always interesting, and there was character growth and development in the way the characters related to each other.
The characters in this drama are easy to like. They all have flaws and personal issues, but there are no annoying characters in Dinner! Most of the supporting characters got to be the main focus of an episode, and I liked that as it made me get to know everybody and care about them all. I felt that the story was very good for a drama in this genre - it's about people and the food they love to eat and cook.
There wasn't any romance in the main story arch of this drama but Tatsumi Saori (Kurashina Kana), the manager of the restaurant is sort of the cute princess to Ezaki's knight in shining armor. He’s grumpy, and a no-nonsense kind of person. He's very strict and extremely serious about food, a perfectionist, and doesn’t care if people think he’s scary as long as they do their work well. But he’s not mean, prejudiced or vain, he’s a really good guy under a rough surface. Ezaki's passion for food boils down to the fact that he loves to make people happy with his cooking. That makes him happy, and it motivates him to keep growing as a professional. This makes a lot of sense to me and personally I find this kind of character appealing.
What I liked less was that it felt like the story was dragging a bit with some of the episodes. It wasn't always interesting, so this drama was a bit uneven and not quite as amazing as the first few episodes led me to believe. Still, it was far from disappointing; I consider this my favourite of the dramas I watched during the late autumn of this year! (I didn't watch it while it aired.)
Also, while it's super cute, the enthusiastic "Let's all do our best and smile because we're like one happy family!" attitude can be a little bit tiring sometimes.
The acting was convincing overall, but I found it to be a little bit over the top at times. I really liked Eguchi Yosuke most of the time, but when he became too wild-eyed with excitement, I felt that the drama was bordering on cartoon-ish, which felt out of place.
Most of the time, this drama was well-balanced between humour and serious themes, but although definitely enjoyable, this drama was not as perfectly composed as one of Ezaki's dishes. Oh, and speaking of Ezaki's dishes - the cooking scenes in this drama were good. I wouldn't have minded even more closeups on the food, but I'm not disappointed with what I got. This is not a drama about people who just happen to work at a restaurant, the drama is about the restaurant, so food is definitely an important part of it.
In the comments, some people have mentioned the ending. Well, in my opinion, nothing else would have made sense to wrap up this story in a good way, and that's that. I liked it.
I never have a lot to say about music in my reviews, and this time is no different. I really liked the ending song, and the music overall was nice... but I don't feel that this has any significance for my overall rating of the drama.
While I enjoyed this drama a lot, I don't think I would rewatch it. I've never rewatched any drama so far, and there are very few that I could see myself rewatching in the future.
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This drama is highly rated, so I guess I have some explaining to do. That's one reason why I am writing this review - seeing that so many people absolutely adored this drama, I want to offer a somewhat different point of view. The other reason is that I feel like I want to sort out my thoughts about it.
So, did I like it at all? Yes, I did. Not because I thought it was very beautiful or extraordinary or anything, and not because I was swept away by the romance. No, on the contrary I found this drama to be very, very silly with too many plotholes, and even though I generally enjoy teacher/student romances I didn't feel a lot of "chemistry" in this drama. Part of it can be explained by the fact that the man lives in "The Hall of Emotionless", above everything else. But even so… At first I was disappointed with this drama and thought to myself: "What ever is this?!" but I learned to take it for what it was and enjoy iy as such. I saw this drama as light and fun, not a comedy but definitely impossible to take seriously, some things annoying and some things delightfully enjoyable.
The thing is, many things in this drama don't make a lot of sense, especially not the details. Things happen without reason or explanation all of a sudden and the characters are saying and doing irrational things sometimes. At Chang Liu they honour vitures like being "emotionless" and without desire and ambition. Yet all of the characters - except the male lead, sometimes - display all kinds of very human emotions all the time - like distrust and suspicion, jealousy, and a lot of importance is placed on the times when the disciples have to compete agains each other. They have to do their best to win, because there can only be one winner of course. I fail to understand how it is possible to fight for the spot as the sect leader's disciple without having any feelings about it. Also, it is against the rule to fall in love, but some people break the rule with no consequences.
The writing is definitely lacking, it does a terrible job at explaining the details and even the greater lines that would make the context - the setting, the basics of this fantasy world - come to life. We know that there are some "demons" and some "immortals" and some "humans". And there is some great, dark danger that is threathening the existence of the whole world. How and why I have no idea, but the "deity devices" that are spread out among the various sects (what is the purpose of these sects and what are they doing there?) can keep things in check. Of course, the bad guys are trying to steal these devices. All of this is sketchy at best. It seems like someone wanted to write a teacher/student story in a fantasy world, but didn't have enough imagination, and decided to roughly copy the manual of "Fantasy Story 1A". There they are "cultivating", which in some way or another means that they learn magic skills that mostly consist of being able to fly on the edge of a sword, push people away with a flash of light or create a shield around them, and make all those wuxia moves. The good guys live in golden halls, the bad guys live in dark, cave-like places, and their soldiers seem to be retired orchs who are sometimes very, very useless fighters. I really hated how boring and pointless the whole fantasy setting was. There is not even any real feeling of Good v/s Evil.
I liked, no, I adored many of the "bad guys" in this drama. I don't often fall for the characters that belong to or turn to "the dark side", but if it's done the right way, there is something about it that appeals to me. I liked Sha Quian Mo, aka Sha Jie Jie, from the start. I like the way he's so powerful and has almost complete control over his subordinates - he has quite a bit of that awesome great power that makes some people kind of hot - and yet he's so emotional and soft on the inside. Or at least a part of his inside... He was my favourite and with a better story, he could have been a wonderful character! Purple Fairy, too, is a character who is strong and proud and elegant, sharp and powerful. Too bad this is mostly ruined by her foolishness, her obsession with love that makes her kind of stupid, and weak. Even so, I always adored her and stayed a little bit on her side even when she did bad things. (As for the bad guys, Ni Man Tian was one I did not like at all. She was just a spoiled brat who was mean for no reason. No fun at all.) Dongfang was also an interesting character and one that I liked more and more, once I got past the first few annoying episodes. I also liked some of the supporting characters. (Yes, I'm saying that I like the supporting characters more than the main couple, but… I find that to be pretty okay. It's too bad the supposedly great romance didn't sweep me off my feet this time, but looking at the rating and the other reviews, I guess that's just me…)
It reverses good and bad, in a way. The people in the golden and pastel coloured castle are the good guys, but often they are colder and more cruel than the villains. Well, this is at least true about some of them. There are some lovable cliché good guys (minor characters who are sweet and give the leads support in the right moments) and some cliché bad guys whom you love to hate. Because of this "reversal" in the characters attitudes and actions (or should I say that some characters are actually rather multi-layered) it is sad that the setting is still so cliché. I dislike how they use colours so stereotypically, especially knowing that some c-dramas can be really beautiful. (I've heard that this is actually pretty good for its genre, but seeing as this is my first Chinese fantasy drama I can't compare it. It does have a few pretty sceneries but nothing special, in my opinion.)
This drama is like a big bowl of candy. Not premium quality, stuff, but sweet and colourful. Too much, but it kind of looks good. Even though you know it when you bite into it, that there's really not point in eating it, you just can't resist it. You just take another piece. And another, and another, until you're full and had enough. You shouldn't have started eating to begin with. But another day, you come back for more!
That's what this drama was like for me. I dislike a lot of things about it. I wouldn't recommend it for the romance - as much as I have a soft spot for teacher/student relationships, this couple did not move me. Even though I have to admit there were a few sweet moments, overall I find this romance utterly unromantic with no chemistry to speak of. Bai Zi Hua is a very stupid man whose decisions don’t make sense a lot if the time.
Well, there's one thing about it - this drama, I found it amusing! I was disappointed at first, because I had expected something grand and beautiful and exquisite (well, who can blame me, the second c-drama I ever watched was Nirvana in Fire and it kind of set the bar and made me have unreasonable expectations). I found this to be ridicilously silly. It really is. But once I accepted the silliness, embraced the comedy (although I'm not sure if all the things that made me laugh were meant to be funny) and tried to ignore the stupidness of a lot of the plot, The Journey of Flower quickly became my guilty pleasure. If I hadn’t had that feeling about it, I would have dropped it after four or five episodes… but I did watch the whole thing and didn’t skip anything except a few figthing scenes in the last half of the drama.
Tonight I also watched a few of the cut scenes on YouTube. They are... interesting, but including them (the ones I watched) would not have made the drama better in my opinion, only more frustrating.
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If you like revenge dramas where the leads (the two male leads in this case) are willing to do everything, including hurting people who love them, to get what they want, then you might like this drama. If you like plots where memory loss plays an important part to create conflicts and misunderstandings, then this is also for you. If you like love triangles where both male leads are determined to love the girl no matter what (including some noble idiocy), then this drama has it.
On the other hand, if you are like me and dislike those things, then you probably shouldn't watch this drama. And I just don't understand revenge. The main character, princess Xiao Feng, is carefree and happy, but love hits her hard and breaks her heart because the men in her life want something "greater" than her and she becomes a tool in their hands. Yes, they try to win her over, more or less, but the whole memory loss thing makes it more complicated. If the Crown Prince had actually trusted her a little bit... To put it simply, I really didn't like the plot - even though I enjoyed the drama in the beginning, my enjoyment and my rating dropped as I watched. After the first episodes (before she gets married) I very rarely felt that this was "romantic" at all. Also, it got draggy and repetitive in the middle (who knew it was so easy to sneak out of a palace!).
So, it's the story and the writing that I didn't like. Sometimes I do enjoy power struggles but in this drama that part wasn't interesting enough for me. If there is an Emperor - Empress - Empress uncle power triangle, there has to be something in their personalities and not just the fact that these are their roles and we know that the Empress is always cold-hearted and her uncle is always power-hungry… but that is not reason enough to care.
There were, however, a few things that I liked. For one thing, everything is pretty and the drama is a real feast for the eyes. Nothing looks fake or plastic and the costumes are gorgeous. The makers of this drama paid a lot of attention to such details! I didn't like the main characters, but I did like some of the minor characters a lot. I also liked that while there were women who were rivals and hated each other (as in every palace drama!), this drama had a lot of genuine female friendship - I appreciated that. Also, I think the acting was good, even when I didn't like the characters or didn't agree with their choices. The pain in their hearts appeared to be "real"… and yet I couldn't feel anything for most of them. (That might sound contradictory but it was how I felt it, and for me, my "feeling" is important when I rate a drama!)
The music wasn't memorable in my opinion, and the re-watch value is very low. That's because I didn't like the drama of course, but I also never re-watch dramas so I guess this part doesn't matter a lot.
Okay, so now I've shared my unpopular opinion, because as watchers we are all different and not everyone likes the same drama as everyone else. It could be helpful for those who are thinking about watching this to know that there are different opinions.
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I liked it more in the beginning, I guess the first half or so, and then I began to wonder what was taking them so long… There were definitely many things I liked about this drama, though. Such as the main character (but it did take me one or two episodes to get used to her and learn to understand her), most of the time I felt that I could understand and relate to her. As for the main plot, well, while it wasn't very special, there was also nothing wrong with it. There were many cute and funny moments, and the characters did grow in some respects. There were scenes that I liked a lot. I did like everything about Mi Joo.
BUT there were too many things that annoyed me. Jin Hun was really hard to stand sometimes. While I can sort of "understand" him (poor little rich guy with a unpleasant mother who was deeply hurt in the past…) I really don't approve of the way he acts a lot of the time, seriously! He has a gentle and caring side, too, which is a good thing. (Again, I’m glad Mi Joo was there.) But after all, he was the male lead in this drama so it’s not an overstatement to call him an important part of the overall impression…
Even more than that, I really disliked Sam Soon's ex. A good thing about Sam Soon is that she's capable of telling people what she really thinks of them. If somebody treats her badly (even Jin Hun), she doesn’t just take it – she talks back, or she hits them where it hurts… but even so, that guy just didn’t get it, and that annoyed me a lot. (Speaking of hitting; these characters do hit each other a lot! I found that very strange.)
One reason why I was impatient a lot of the time when I was watching this was that there was just a little bit too much of everything. In other words: I found this drama too long. Even when I did like how the love story was progressing, there was a lot of repetition, too much bickering back and forth where the characters were going through same things over and over again. (I did like the side story with the sister and the chef, but even this bored me during the last few episodes because it was getting old – and this storyline never even got a proper ending.) There were too many little twists and turns that I felt weren’t needed at all (such as a large part of the main conflict of the last episode, among other things).
I had a problem with Hee Jin. I liked her in her first scene. During the rest of the drama I liked her sometimes, but I mostly disliked her because that thing she did… or rather, didn’t do… No matter how you look at it, her reasoning doesn’t make sense to me. BUT she wasn’t an evil person, and not half as annoying as other characters I’ve seen in dramas. Also, she was cute. And Henry was cute. I really liked their scenes together. Except when I felt that the two of them were so adorable that they weren’t cute anymore… I think that Henry was probably too good to be true, but at the same time I liked that he was so patient and smart enough to see things clearly when Hee Jin didn’t. At the same time I’m not sure if this isn’t a bit too unrealistic?
The acting was good; I complain about the characters, but that’s not the actors’ fault, they make me believe in their roles. Especially Kim Sun Ah.
I gave a higher rating to the music than the story! Most of the time I don’t even pay attention to the music in dramas but in this one I actually enjoyed it.
Overall I felt that there were too much screentime for the supporting characters and too many unnecessary scenes. (I wouldn’t have minded more kitchen scenes, though. Sam Soon is a pastry chef, after all…) I believe this drama could have been five episodes shorter. To me it felt like this drama’s great potential was lost because it went on and on forever. And even so, I did enjoy it, a lot of the time… but definitely not enough to want to re-watch it.
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I liked it. It was not amazing but it was a nice watch. It could have been a deeper, more emotional story but on the other hand I guess it was meant to be just what it was. It was very dream-like, and not just the parts that were actual dreams. A young person's dream. Or someone with a young soul, doesn't matter… I liked some of the things they said even though it felt like the whole movie was just a sort of frame for those words… fair enough! The writer is obviously a big fan of Mishima Yukio but I kind of like the obviousness of that, too. The scene where the main character sees a place from a novel in real life was really cute.
Some parts of it were a little bit weird and almost too much (sort of like teaching a person to swim by throwing them into deep water before letting them practice at the shallow end of the pool) but I kind of understand that, too. The professor wanted to be honest and open about the way he thought and lived and that's not wrong.
As I was watching this I couldn't help thinking of the movie Koi. (J-drama special.) Teacher-student affair/menage à trois even though they are different (they were four here, for one thing *lol*). Koi had less sex scenes and less homoerotic content (but it was implied and until someone reads the novel and tells me otherwise I'm sure it was more like "text" and not subtext in that one!) but on the other hand it had more… well, plot, story. (Also, it had Arata as a hot English literature professor - forgive my bias!) But like I said, I think the writer or Utopia had a different aim. The makers of the movie wanted people who watched it change their way of thinking in a certain direction… which is something I sympathize with.
I also liked that the only really sad part of this was the ways of the society they lived it; the overall mood of the story was happy and accepting and in the end sort of sweet. Some people may find it bizarre but I kind of liked it!
The acting was good but nothing extraordinary I guess. I found the characters believable. I've already forgotten the music. I don't rewatch, I never know what to say about it...
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The main character is Shinnosuke, born Japanese but brought up as a “cowboy” in Arizona, USA, who is sent to Shibuya, Tokyo, by his Native American friend Geronimo III (Furuta Arata, always a pleasure), to search for a girl named Imoko. This is the overall story arch that keeps the whole thing together. Imoko is supposed to be 17 years old, but Shinnosuke soon learns that Shibuya is full of girls that age. Some of them have dropped out of school or even left their homes and they only live for their club, Angel Hearts, where they do the “para-para” dance. (This too looks very strange to me but I’ve read that this is a thing that exists!) He befriends them, and also meets other people in the neighborhood, along with Geronimo’s daughter Momo.
In the beginning I even wondered if it was watchable at all. “What is this?!?” I thought to myself, but soon I realized that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. The drama is full of very strange things that can’t even happen in the real world, and it’s full of repetitions (stuff in one character’s shop always gets knocked over in the exact same way once or twice ever episode, and things like that). It’s completely over the top all the way. Nobody can be like that. Why the American characters all speak fluent Japanese is a mystery, for one thing. Only Shinnosuke’s speech is sometimes sprinkled with English. It’s just one of the things that you have to accept and let go to enjoy this... The way they dress and act, too. The writer of this drama has clearly been looking too much at old children’s books about “cowboys and Indians”, and no other characters ever change out of their work clothes…
Of course, there are “serious” topics thrown in, too. Each episode deals with a certain issue one of the characters has to deal with, and “the cowboy from Arizona” helps them gain new insight. Mostly it’s the girls in Angel Heart that he meets. He helps them “grow” and “learn from their mistakes”, and even if the girls get angry with each other and fight a lot, they make up before the end of the episode. This is the part of the drama that makes me roll my eyes. Shinnosuke’s speeches about respect and compassion may carry good messages, but these “life lessons” are a bit too much sometimes! At the same time this makes them kind of funny, too. Just when you think it’s getting way too cheesy, it falls back into the silliness again. At least sometimes. (And at least you can watch Fujiki Naohito’s face while he talks and forget the rest…)
That’s one reason why I didn’t give it a higher rating, and one reason why I watched this drama slowly. One episode every now and then to make me laugh, that’s fine. On the plus side is that there is very little romance and only in the last few episodes – this feels like a good thing to me, in this kind of drama.
At least I think that Shinnosuke was a cute character. A strange mix of seriousness, silliness and naiveté, but it sort of works once you accept that that’s just how he is. (To be honest, at some point I suspected that his true identity was not that he was Japanese, but from another planet…) Some of the girls were pretty interesting, but the main character among them, Erika Toda’s character Saki (the one who gets most attached to the cowboy), can be a bit annoying. (Or maybe it’s just me that for some reason never really like the actress that much, even though I accepted her in LG…) The Patrolman (Sato Ryuta) was a character that developed a little bit. And I liked how they Skyped with Geronimo and how some of the characters sort of bonded with him online!
The music – I got very tired of the song that Angel Hearts danced to. It was a boring piece of music, and they always practiced the same dance to the same song. The ending theme was kind of cute and fitting for the drama (and sung by FN, “Hey! Friends”) but not something I would actually listen to.
So, what do I say, finally? I think it was a pretty good comedy drama after all; it made me laugh, so there’s that. Not every episode was hilarious but sometimes it actually was. The ending was incredibly stupid, but again in a good way to really follow through with the overall silliness of the drama. But it’s not one of the really awesome comedies that you’ll remember forever. It’s the kind of drama that put a lot of emphasis on friendship, being honest and trying hard, and find something to do with your life.
I don’t rewatch dramas, so I don’t know about that, but I don’t really think there’s a lot to rewatch this for. Fujiki Naohito is cute here though so if you’re a fangirl like me you might find this worth your time (but he always wears his cowboy outfit and even though the character kind of suits him, I’d only give this drama 8 for eye-candy). That is, if you can stand the speeches about what is right and good and how to treat other people, etc…
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Saigo no Bansan~Keiji Tono Kazuyuki to Shichinin no Yougisha~
3 people found this review helpful
I’m not going to lie; I watched it for two reasons: 1) Arata is in it, and 2) I was hoping for some backstory for the drama Hi wa mata noboru that I watched and enjoyed a couple of months ago. In both respects I got disappointed, because Arata has even less screentime than in the drama, and as a background for the events in the drama, yes, it makes sense, because it provides us with some explicit reasons for Tono’s later actions and behaviour… but it doesn’t really go in depth. If you have already watched the drama, then you’ve already figured out the backstory as far as Tono’s personal life goes; if anything, I feel that knowing the drama makes me understand the special better. What I really wanted, though, was to get to know Anzai and Natsumi better since I felt that their relationship (as well as Tono’s and Natsui’s) was the drama’s weak point. I probably just had the wrong expectations, though.
If you haven’t watched the drama and just want a crime story, well, you’ll get what you want. There’s a crime, there are suspects, there’s a detective burdened with a troubled personal life, and people in his workplace who doesn’t like him, and a young colleague whom he dislikes... In other words; the usual.
I found the plot to be decent. Some of the things were too easy to figure out, the only mystery that remained until the end was what the perpetrator’s actual motivation was. I also found it hard to believe that such a scheme would be possible…
As for the acting, it was good. Nothing that stands out, really.
I found this special rather pointless, and I would have preferred if the drama were two or three episodes longer instead of having this prequel.
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This drama is not in any way a masterpiece or anything really "special". It's just that it's special in the way that it gives you warm and fuzzy feelings in a simple and pure form without anything to make it complicated, annoying or draggy. Yes, there are characters who act as "bad guys", there are complications that makes you feel sooo upset and frustrated on behalf of the characters; it's dramatic in that way and keeps you emotionally connected. If you are susceptible to the feelgood genre, this story rubs you the right way and tugs at your heartstrings in a way that is… just right. It has a touch of comedy to it, and the amount of comedy is also just right. Some themes are rather serious, even if they're not dealt with in a very deep way, and the different sides of the story balace each other well. Some episodes are actually very funny.
Some people say it's predictable and I'm not denying that. (How can a story with this kind of plot not be? What would be the point?) It has all the usual things for a school and sports drama! Even if you can figure some things out right from the start, there are enough little surprises to keep you interested but it's not even about the plot mainly. This is the kind of drama you want to watch for the characters, their inteactions, the friendship, the teamwork, the loyalty, the emotional bonds, the forming of new bonds and re-discoveries of lost ones. Watching this drama will make you root for the characters, not only on the soccer field. That's why my overall rating is higher than the individual rating for "story". One minor flaw is that I think several scenes were cut from this drama. It doesn't take away anything from the understanding of the story but some things feel a little bit rushed in the last parts of the drama.
The acting is good overall; actors and characters are very well matched. The principal pulls of being a powerful woman/silly girl very well. The vice principal on the other hand is a little bit too ridicilous in his appearance; too much of a "type"… but it's okay in this kind of drama. He serves his purpose. The female lead is convincing and is only annoying sometimes; the young actors are mostly really great. Especially Wang Jingke and Qin Minghao (two of the main ones) are convincing in the different kinds of situations they face and grow through.
Hu Ge though is one major reason to watch this apart from the feelgood effects of the drama itself. I have to discuss him a little bit here, because I do find him so good in this role. He plays the part so well, a very believable "Mu Shuai" (the nickname his character goes by most of the time). He was perfect as a very kind and (too) noble man in Sound of the Desert, truly amazing in Nirvana in Fire, and in Disguiser he did very well in a role that wasn't really good for him - it's even more obvious in retrospect now that I compare with his portrayal of Mu Qi. Here, we can see him every now and then bring out a bubbly, playful side of the character. Ming Tai was definitely also playful but Hu Ge tried too hard there, simply because Ming Tai was very young so Hu Ge was not acting his age. With Mu Qi on the other hand, he is in time with his character so the overall impression is more convincing. (It's not just his problem, I think many actors have this problem when they have to act younger than their real age.) He goes through the usual journey from a somewhat grumpy, sad and "I don't really care" coach to someone who grows as a person, etc, etc (as can be expected from this kind of story), making plans and smart schemes, always bickering with young teacher Pei Duo… It's fun! It all seems to come naturally for him. And our two main leads do have enough chemistry to make you care! (Also, he's really hot here... but it should be just a side note!)
The music is nice and it fits in with the drama and everything. I liked it when I watched; I won't be listening to it later on.
I always struggle with the rewatch value when I write a review, because I don't rewatch, no matter how great a drama is. I'll have to pretend I am a rewatcher and imagine in which ways this would be worth watching again. Well, I do think a feelgood stoy you enjoyed has some kind of rewatch value (in the past I have rewatched movies and reread books so I'm not a complete stranger to it), but even though you don't really watch it for the plot you'll already know which games the team wins or loses… so I'd say if you really liked it and if you really don't have anything else to watch you could go back to this at least for a while.
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