Tuesday, August 23, 2005


BEACH BOYS *** _ Sorimachi Takashi, Takenouchi Yutaka _ I don't know what it is about this dorama _ nothing really that doramatic happens. Just GTO and Animal Shinji hanging out at a beachside bed and breakfast. A young Yuki (Hirosue Ryoko) from Summer Snow is the spunky, tomboy granddaughter, a really tanned Inamori Izumi runs the local bar/karaoke and an old surfer played by Mike Maki walks around in old football jerseys and muscle shirts. There is a character with a heart condition...

It's mostly guest star of the week hijinks once the two Beach Boys settle in, though there's some real pathos with Inamori's Haruko character, who is waiting for a letter that may or may not come. The show's true allure is its premise _ a summer vacation for two guys looking for a place to start over, to live free as they want _ and the likable cast keeps it from being dull. You see the beginnings of Sorimachi's GTO act here, with the pointing in odd directions and such. Would get an extra 1/2 star if the copy didn't look like 3rd generation VHS, but I'm glad this great, older show is out there at all.

The Shortlist: Beautiful Life, Batsu Kare, Densha Otoko, Shomuni Final

Monday, August 15, 2005

More Dorama World !

GTO DORAMA SPECIAL ***1/2 _ Sorimachi Takashi, Matsushima Nanako, Katase Nana _ Standard greatest-hits compilation in the form of a new episode. The good is it picks up where the tv serial left off _ it's good to see Ekichi Onizuka's students and the rest of the old cast. The bad is it never hit on the subtle, plot-serving social criticism that distingushed this show from its imitators. We got the same afterschool special speeches, same teen angst, same punks getting beat-up, the sum of which is an average _ though comforting _ extended episode, not entirely unlike A Very Brady Christmas. The best part was that shopping scene when we met Uchiyamada's daughter's new boyfriend. Hokkaido? leads into the movie.

GTO: THE MOVIE ** _ Sorimachi Takashi, Fujiwara Norika _ This flick would've turned me off GTO had I seen this first. Yeah, he's out to save another school in a small Hokkaido farm town brought low by an ill-conceived investment in "Canada Village." But we've seen it done better on tv, and a subplot about a criminal in town went nowhere, other than as a device introduce the sweet, well-endowed Fujiwara Norika. Watch her run in 1/2 speed near the end _ it's an impressive sight. Some Shomuni cast members show up, but they don't do much. I think I'll pitch a country journal column to my editor...Miracle in Canyon Country. They were going to put a gravel mine there, but since GTO came to town, everything's changed for the better...

SHOMUNI 2 *** _ Esumi Makiko _ More of the same. A mix of guest-star and heart-string tugging character development episodes, though it sometimes feels like I'm just rewatching shows from the first series altered only with a few tweaks. Rie the fortune teller; Ume the brains; and Kana the sexpot each have a good spotlight show. Some of them even take Japanese corporate ethics to task. Just how many times can Manpan be close to bankruptcy? More times than you think in a 12 episode series. The last two episodes are gold.

Now showing: Beach Boys, Batsu Kare, Shomuni Final

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

American Gods

You are American Gods! You are mysterious,
intelligent, and creative. To the rest of the
world you may seem a little standoffish, but
really youre just a quiet person. Youre sort of
bookish and are intrigued by mythology and
fairy tales. You might be Wiccan or Pagan,
either that or youre unreligious. You have a
sarcastic sense of humor and are the kind of
person people like to talk to because youre
such a good listener.

*~Which Neil Gaiman book are you?~*
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

(Or How I Spent My Evenings in July)

LONG VACATION **** _ Kimura Takuya, Yamaguchi Tomoko _ It's a seamless melding of romance, comedy and dorama complemented with the smooth, upbeat light j-pop/hip hop of Hinata Daisuke and CAGNET and well-drawn characters you don't mind hanging out with. Plus there's some real chemistry between Senna and Minami. I zipped through 12 eps in two days. La la la la la Love Song...

SUMMER SNOW **** _ Hirosue Ryoko, Dohmoto Tsuyoshi _ A tragic romance dorama that picks up momentum with the second ep cliffhanger, and never stops until it plays out its logical conclusion. There's a heartfelt lesson for all the kids. Though the occasional sight gag is a bit out of place, and that little girl in the hospital was WAY too calculated, but I'm willing to overlook that, for now. Oh! Eh! Oh! Eh!

GTO ***1/2 _ Sorimachi Takashi, Matsushima Nanako _ A good ride with GRAATO TEECHA Onizuka through 11 1/2 episodes of afterschool special life lessons and escalating teacher villainy. But the ending's too weak. I thought I could overlook that and still give it ****, but having seen Long Vacation, there's no excuse for it. So I'm taking back that 1/2 a star. If they just took another episode to develop the ending instead of relying on a stupid montage to lead into the TV special and the movie (both of which apparently suck by the way)_ it may have turned out better. Tomoko _ she's either the next Namie Amuro or she'll end up in AV.

SHOMUNI *** _ Esumi Makiko _ Hilarious overall, but a bit uneven episode-to-episode. Love their confrontations with the ladies of the secretariat, hate their hair. The writer relied too much on complication-of-the-week in the early shows, and the six Shomu Ni girls lacked individual personalities (aside from their gimmicks). Improves in the last 5 or 6 episodes when the plot devices work off one of the girls for some much needed pathos.

I like to thank Mediacorp's Channel 8 in Singapore for making all this possible. Ain't no artiste like a Mediacorp artiste...