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I decided to make a QUARTERLY review of 2012 drama and be warned that this is going to be a very LONG post to read. Rare, huh? Well, that’s because suddenly there’re just so many things to watch this year and I find it’s getting more and more difficult to remember what I’ve watched and what I’ve haven’t watched. I see the 2009 pattern is repeating again because OMG there’re just so many detective themed dramas this season and more will keep on coming. Not that I’m complaining because I like detective themed drama especially when they’re offering different type of story line, and definitely not just a certain elite is ‘dumped’ to some ‘special unit’ and solving certain unsolved, weird whatever cases. Thankfully so far I don’t see this type of plot, but regardless, I still see some color in this season too. Spring  season is already starting, so I better clear my inventory list (yeah, 2012 list is getting longer, especially on the movie part, they’re just keep coming and it’s getting hard to keep up).


So, let’s start :) :) )
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2011 is approaching its end, and the time has come again, annual drama review! Lots of interesting and not so interesting dramas this year, and same as last year, this year is anotherJ-drama year. I'm being lazy here so I'm just going to continue what I've left off from the semi-annual drama review.




Autumn 2011


Year after year, I find that the TV stations are saving their best drama for autumn season, and this year is no exception. I actually follow quite lots of series this time (and compare it to the pathetic Winter 2011 selection), and this includes the SP (oh well, you'll know why when you see them).

So, we starts with the short ones, the SP:

 Freeter, Ie wo Kau SP ~ Well, I've written the long note about this one. The drama itself which was aired last year has won itself the best drama award and Nino also got the best actor award, so yeah, it's worthy of an SP. The SP is sort of to conclude the drama and we do want to know what happens to Seiji and Manami, right? So this drama is your answer. There's no additional casts, and hey, even Aiba-chan also pops up at the very end of the show. Why should you watch it? It's a light, fuzzy and good show for your soul, compared to the drama series.


Kaibutsu-kun SP ~ This SP is quite interesting considering its purpose. It only exists because they have the 3D movie to be released in Nov11, and this SP is to create the hype and promote the movie itself. I myself, finally just finished watching the drama series. It took me long enough to watch it because this drama is really a family show, a good drama for kids, but if you're using Ohno as the lead, you're attracting a much larger audience from general public *cough* fangirls *cough*. The SP itself took place some time after Kaibutsu-kun returns to Kaibutsu land and he's on the way to be throned as the king, which he doesn't want to, or to be exact, he doesn't have the confidence and he misses the human world (or the curry rice to be exact). With all the commotion, moral of the story from this show is that friends have fights but the bond doesn't just dissapear as they'll forgive each other (though not so extreme as in this show). I find the SP is easier to watch and you don't really need to watch the whole drama to understand the story. Bonus point, we have Kaibutsu-kun fiancee played by Becky, but OST doesn't change, it's the same case like Freeter's.

OK, that's the SPs, there are other SPs but either I didn't find it interesting enough (not enough pull factor) or I missed it. And now, it's drama time.

Nankyoku Tairiku ~ One of the most expensive and epic J-drama, and also star studded. Off course, the number one pulling factor of this drama is Kimutaku. In short,the story is based on the true story of Japan's expedition team to Antartica in year 1957 (about 10 years after the WWII). So to say it's to boost the nation's moral after defeated in WWII. But the way I see it from the first 2 episodes is how the nation pulls together to get the expedition becomes reality. Why you should watch it, though? It's a good drama, with all the epicness, if you've watched JIN (both seasons), you'll see some similarities in term of the spirit of the drama (but off course the storyline is totally different). You'll root for the cute big doggies (Go Rikki, Kuma, Taro, Jiro and the rest of 15 doggies). Acting wise, well there're lots of veteran actors, big names, and even Ashida Mana is there, so you won't be dissapointed. Each episode so far ends with cliff hanger, so you'll be expecting the next one and next one, which is a good thing, and I'll be sure to watch it till the end. Bonus point, Yamamoto Yusuke is around too (I find that he's everywhere this year, in Ouran, here, and I think I saw him in other dramas too, though not as lead characters).

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de ~ The last Arashi drama of the year. One of the most over-hyped drama. I'll stick to my opinion, Episode 1 is totally blah, and Episode 2 is not really making it better. But it picks up the momentum from Episode 3 as the case is getting more interesting and the logic is getting more sense. The baka inspector and heiress cum detective are still baka, so they totally need the help of Kageyama, the super butler (he drives, cooks, does fantastic gardening, and off course solves cases), to save their butt. But off course, Kageyama won't be working when it's tea time. Extra points to note, Reiko's dresses and accessories are interesting and nice to look at (fans uploaded details of the dresses and accesories brands and prices) and Kageyama's dishes are mouth watering.







Youkai Ningen Bemu ~ I almost skip this drama over, and I don't care that Kame is the lead. But surprisingly, this drama is very interesting, and it's not the typical monster drama. Yep, it's totally different from Kaibutsu-kun, and I don't think this one is a children show. The drama is based on a very old anime (I think) with the same title. The story is about a trio monster, Bemu, Bera and Bero who wants to be human. They've been around for ages because they don't age and they can't die. They like to help humans and have strong sense of justice but their hearts are wounded  because humans starts turning their backs once they learnt about the trio's true nature. In the present day, the trio arrives in a city where they meet an over passionate detective, Natsume, who is cheerful though actually his family is struggling to overcome the grief of the passing of their oldest son. I find that the plot of this drama to be unpredictable from 1 episode to the next, although it's progressing and that's the interesting point (maybe it's because I never watch the anime, but who would, it's a 1960s anime!!). Bonus point, Kame's acting is quite good in here and OST is Birth by Kat-tun (yeah, JE and its cash cow system in place).

Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu ~ This season's Getsu9 drama. One of the rare occassion that the leads are all girls (off course, must be pretty, and they throw in one of the AKB48 too). The theme is something similar to Kekkon Dekinai Otoko. The story is about 3 girls who end up living together and their love, carrier and marriage worries. We have, Emi, the tomboy who's in love with her ex (only 2 weeks of dating and end up to be the best buddies) only to find out her 'buddy' is going to get married. Next is Saki, the currently working as hostess at night while looking for a real job by day. She met Takumi by chance, and will this lead to relationship? And finally we have, Mako, the serious girl who's working hard to find love, but encounters challanges due to her serious personality. How the drama fares? I find the drama to be quite enjoyable though the story is not entirely new, because the 3 girls have a good chemistry, so their room mate scenes looks like a very very PG 13 version of Sex and the City (it's Getsu9, kids are also watching). Now, I'm very curious whether, Emi will end up with Yu, Saki will end up with Takumi (oh this will be juicy), and Mako will end up with... (still question mark here).


Mistu No Aji ~ And now we're getting to the stress drama. I watch this because of Kano Miho and yeah, her drama is not the fluffy and fuzzy type (last year's is the same, anybody watch Guilty?) but her acting is very good here. It freaks me out especially the end of Episode 3 when Aya just stands there in front of Naoko's apartment, soaking wet and holding the red umbrella. In this drama red umbrealla holds its own meaning. As much as I like this drama, I have to stop watching it now as it's too stressful for this currently fragile soul. What you'll hate in this drama is the guy, Masato. I find that he's a very indecisive, doesn't know what he wants and unfortunately his girlfriend then, wife now, soon to be ex-wife, has very strong personality and knows exactly what she wants. Her rival, the annoyingly not that gullible niece, also knows what she wants but cunningly makes her way through Masato's heart. I call it cunning because anybody who purposely planned a doubt in the guy's head just the night before he got married is definitely ain't that innocent. I haven't watched Episode 5 onwards, so actually very curious with how this drama will end up, but not now though (must refrain any stressful stuff for now).



Quite a list just for 1 season, eh? There's 1 more drama that I'm following, Himitsu Chouhouin Erika. The story is about a spy turns housewife with normal husband and son. But she doesn't enjoy the normal life for so long because her ex-boss suddenly show ups and threats her that if she doesn't do the mission, he'll tell Erika's past to her current family. There are couple of question marks as to what is her boss actually up to and you'll find Erika's behavior during the mission somewhat eerie, it's totally different Erika until the boss say something like 'mission stop.' But probably you'll have different opinion on this drama because the fighting scenes are a bit cheesy and the humour parts are a bit awkward but it's quite a fun drama to watch (hell, if you compare it with Mitsu no Aji, this is a stress relief).

And what's in store for us next year?

Saikou no Jinsei no Owarikata~Ending Planner~ Yamapi as undertaker, anybody? Lots of people hate him now (it won't be for long, though) but I'll watch the first few episodes first before I decide whether to pass or not to pass.

Honjitsu wa Taian Nari ~ It's about wedding planner playing detective (according to the short description). Hm...

Taira no Kiyomori ~ 2012 Taiga drama, will watch it only for Tamaki and Matsuda Shota (I miss Love Shuffle) :p

Lucky Seven ~ Matsujun's new drama, enough said :p.

Mou Yuukai nante Shinai ~ Ohno's new SP. So, we'll have Matsujun and Ohno pop up for 5 sec in NazoDi's last episode?

Until then, see you in 2012...

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One of the most over-rated, over-promoted, over-hyped drama in 2011. Why? I think that's only because I'm sick of seeing Sakurai Sho on every single magazine covers, variety shows, news (morning, night, whichever), CMs whether when I was in Japan or at home (viva internet!) for the past 6 months. But, setting aside the annoyance, how the drama actually fares? Is it worth my time aka less sleeping hours?


The drama is based on best selling novel under the same title by Higashigawa Tokuya that I should have bought when I was in Fukuoka so that I can at least compare it with the drama. The story is about a rookie detective named Hosho Reiko who is also an heiress (hail Paris Hilton) of Hosho empire. She works with inspector Kazamatsuri, another detective slash heir of Mazamatsuri motors (what's with rich people playing detective in J-drama land?) and she has a butler (hmm hmm a must have for an heiress) called Kageyama. Kageyama is a super butler, from making meals to driving ojou-sama around to gardening (the T-rex grass statue, LOL) to disguising as... a lot of things to solving the cases (giving hints with his sharp toungue) for his ojou-sama. Together, they have cases to be solved (well, actually Kageyama is the one doing the job, while the other 2 are just playing detective :p).


To be honest, Episode 1 is a blah to me. I cannot even finish it, despite my patience to wait for it to get better, and it's not even funny (where's the humor???). But Episode 2 is much much better, with the 2 detectives are still playing detective and Kageyama bounces around the crime scenes looking for clues. In episode 2, I find Kageyama's deduction is making more sense and more playful. But, how about the main leads acting? Well, we know Sho-chan can act (see The Quiz Show). His character in here is a butler, don't think it's a much challange in terms of emotion department, or to be exact he's challanged to have minimal emotion, and his expression is limited to a smirk, a devilish smile, frown and exitement in a weird way. So far, he's doing a good job and at least keep the drama momentum going. As for Keiko, she has pout countlessly and we just reached episode 2 and acting like a brat shouldn't be much a challange also.


What makes this drama exciting for me is the food served by Kageyama, they're all mouth watering not to mention beautiful! And on FujiTV website they even list down the dishes served there. The only dissapointment is that they don't provide the recipes :(. And also, OST is Meikyu Love Song by the lead's boyband, Arashi (perfect cashcow efficiency scenarios, nothing new). It's a good song but I don't get how love song match to a mystery solving drama. I mean, Lotus is about searching for a path, grasping the future (as what Ryu is searching in Bartender), Hatenai Sora is about getting up from failures (like what Seiji has done in Freeter). The only thing I can think of (I'm pushing it in here) is that the song is to be interpreted as Kageyama is always there when ojou-sama is frustrated due to her not being able to find more clues and puzzle = mystery (how corny :p).


My conclusion after Episode 2 is FujiTV is getting lazier by season, they need to have better script because I'm pretty sure the book has lots of interesting cases for them to play around. If they're just counting on Sho's popularity to get the drama going... we're going to see downward trends in rating to continue, which I hope this is not the case. Will I continue to watch this drama? I'll give it 1 more episode for this drama to see if it's getting interested or not, else, it'll go to the meh bucket like Tokujo Kabachi.


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