Friday, September 16, 2005


TAIHO SHICHAUZO (You're Under Arrest) *** _ Hara Sachie, Itoh Misaki _ Like
fast food, this cop comedy starring two traffic patrol hotties in
high-hemline skirts working out of a station jam-packed with other
uniformed hotties fills the abridged winter dorama season with tasty but
empty calories. Talk about fan service, this anime-manga adaptation sure packs a ton in only 9 episodes _ we have hot springs, hostess bars, K-1 fighting, random guest stars galore. If it wasn't winter, I'm sure they would've done a beach episode too.

Hara Sachie is the car nut Miyuki and Itoh Misaki is martial arts fighter Natsumi. Hara, last seen here in Beach Boys as the local with a heart condition, pouts and smiles a lot and has all the afterschool special speeches. Her character's on-again, off-again thing with motorcycle cop Nakashima (Nagashima Kazushige) provides most of the show's slapstick romantic tension.

Itoh towers over the rest of the cast like she does her Densha Otoko
co-star Itoh Atsushi. She's tall and hot and has more to do here than in her current hit, where she's more plastic model eye candy than breathing human. But the Shiseido spokesmodel's a hard sell as a super strong jock, no matter how many detachable steering wheels she rips out in a fit of pouty anger.

The last two episodes are heavier than expected for a comedy as the writers throw the girls' partnership in doubt, but they end the series on a satisfying note.

Now Showing: Yamato Nadeshiko; Batsu Kare.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

i married an amnesiac waffle lady

there was a cafe _ one of those converted from an old craftsman bungalow still standing around pasadena _ and she was serving belgian waffles with some kind of chicken salad or tuna or pink salmon filling, or at least that's what it looked like.

we decided to take her in _ this 20-something woman with her waffles _ because we could used the extra help with my wheelchair-bound grandmother, who is now no longer with us. but we think of her often _ sometimes in the waking hours, sometimes in sleep.

she said she is recovering from amnesia _ she was in a coma for a couple years after some unspecified accident. she woke up in 2005 with little recollection of those loved ones who kept vigil over her in those crucial months living between sleep and death.

but she still remembers how to use a light switch.

my mother hired her _ perhaps out of pity _ though anyone who thought of stuffing mayonaised chicken or tuna or salmon with capers into a belgian waffle is a rare talent in my book. ma also proposed i marry the amnesiac waffle lady.

a little embarrassed, i left for a stroll around the neighborhood _ a hodgepodge of fragmented places. there was the central plaza from san francisco's japantown, which empties into the stanley and mid-level markets of hong kong, another flea market flanked by towering singaporean shop houses and their 9-foot walkways, a slice of verona, and edinburgh knick-knack stands.

i put one foot before the other, deliberately losing myself between western tourists decked out in navy blue qing dynasty mandarin robes and feather caps and amahs hauling sacks of fresh fish and poultry from the wet market.

Friday, September 02, 2005

you know you're watching too much dorama when characters start appearing in your dreams.

Kyoko visited me last night _ she sat at that white Ikea chair by the window, inside that warm seaside salon from the final reel of Beautiful Life.

She recieved a fax, and let slip that same haunting smile Tokiwa Takako unleashed on the show to capture the hearts of dorama viewers around the world.

Kitagawa Eriko does NOT mess around...

BEAUTIFUL LIFE **** _ Kimura Takuya, Tokiwa Takako _ It's a tragic love dorama _ by the end of the first episode, you can tell where it's all going. So it's the journey that counts _ and writer Kitagawa Eriko has one doramatic ride in store. It starts out strong _ Tsuji the hairdresser and wheelchair-bound Kyoko meet cute, overcome their issues _ it's art for him; trust for her _ before getting together.

But the show starts to drag in the second act when they introduce needless challenges for the couple _ it's not that I don't like a little argument and conflict with ex's for dorama's sake _ they just added little to the relationship. I thought we already made it past their issues _ especially Kyoko's handicap-confidence problem _ in the first act. It's also here the chemistry between Kimutaku and Tokiwa Takako unravel _ maybe it's because they don't have much to do other than fight until the third act kicks-in over the brilliant last 3 1/2 episodes.

The last extended episode packs a lot of dorama goodness _ among them, one of the most touching makeover sessions ever commited to television. Some stuff should've played out in the middle to better endear the couple to the audience before the inevitable end. Still, the treatment fits the show's theme of quality-not-quantity.

I need another long break from heavy dorama...the next show'll be Taiho Shichauzo (You're Under Arrest!) with Hara Sachie _ the girl with a heart condition in Beach Boys _ and otaku dream girl Itoh Misaki from Densha Otoko. I just wonder what Kitagawa plotted for Orange Days _ that youth/disability dorama with Battle Royale hottie Shibasaki Kou...