Hitsudan Hostess [2010 Winter]

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2011

Instead of watching a full drama series, I've decided to watch one of the various one episode TV special instead. Digging through the trough of SP that I have not touched, I've decided to watch Hitsudan Hostess first since it's was aired close to 2 years ago.

Histudan Hostess is based on the real life story of Saito Rie, who became Ginza's number 1 hostess despite being deaf. Kitagawa Keiko star as Saito Rie in this adaptation. Rie became deaf at age 1 due to an illness. Despite that, her mother attempted to give Rie as normal a childhood as possible compared to normal children. She also sent her to calligraphy classes when she was young. However, as she graduated from high school, she begins to realise that people still have prejudice against the deaf. Her family wanted to protect her by asking her to stay at home but she is determined to find her own footing. A chance encounter with a host owner lead her to join her club to be a hostess. Initially, she still had obstacles in her job but gradually began to excel in her job by communicating with her clients with pen and paper. "Hitsudan" means communicating through writing in Japanese. However, her mother disapproved of her job. Determined to prove her mother wrong, she strive to be Japan's No. 1 hostess.

I have not read the original novel by Saito Rie, but I would like to believe the scriptwriter has more or less followed the novel. Hitsudan Hostess does not serves to be heavy, but I was touched by the story, especially at the ending 15 minutes which is essentially the essence of the TV special. The ending footage includes the real Saito Rie as well, and I got to say she is a real beauty in person. But what I was more impressed was the acting of Kitagawa Keiko in this drama as she almost has no lines in the whole 90 minutes, save for a few. Even so, when she speaks, she has to speak creditably like how a deaf speaks, which I feel is pretty convincing. Most of her acting require a strong display of facial expressions, which for an actor requires some skill as well. I do think that in this aspect, she has pulled it off creditably. Of course, with as a hostess, Keiko is dressed in several beautiful dresses and kimonos, which is a great plus point to watch the drama as well.

Nagareboshi [2010 Fall]

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, December 22, 2011

Continuing with my backlogging of Jap dramas, the next show still lying around is Nagareboshi. As compared to Boss 2, which i took pretty long to complete, the time I took to finish Nagareboshi is somewhat much lesser. I will explain why later in this post.

Takenouchi Yutaka is the main lead Okada Kengo, a diligent employee in a local aquarium. All seems well on the outside for the Okada family, but Kengo's sister Maria (Kitano Kii) is sick with liver problems and needs a transplant. Due to Japan laws, only relatives are allowed to donate their livers to Maria, but all of them shunned away from the family. It is at this time that Kengo met Makihara Risa (Ueto Aya), a sex trade worker who is forced to pay off her brother's Shuichi (Inagaki Goro) debts. Risa is also facing problems with her brother's debts and his swindling ways. With both sides in desperation, Kengo trying to find a donor for his sister and Risa trying to start a new life away from his brother, they decide to enter a "contract marriage" where Kengo will pay Risa for her "donation" of her liver while Risa acts as his wife. But as go along the plan, they discover about that their feelings for each other is true.

This drama particularly reminds me of Bara no Nai Hanaya, not because of the similarity of the story but because of the usage of certain items and the pace of the story. For Nagareboshi, they used the Moon Jellyfish that links the two main characters together, as well as the shooting star to describe if their relationship will turn out as it is. (If you didn't understand, it's because I'm trying not to reveal too much). The pace of the drama, although slow for some, is just right for me. Anything faster and I'll feel the writers are trying to rush the story. Some dramas like Bara no Nai Hanaya can't be fast, and this is also true for Nagareboshi.

Another aspect I really liked about the drama is that every shot is beautiful. I especially loved the shots they took in Yamanashi, where Mount Fuji served the backdrop with a lake in front. The scene, taken in autumn, showcased the beauty of the spot with everything in red hues.

As for the storyline, of course I do think certain things are a bit far fetched, but a drama is a drama, so I wouldn't take all those things into account. Nonetheless, this drama does have its pulling strength. If not, I wouldn't complete it in 2 nights. Do watch it, as I think it's a beautiful drama.

And of course, Takenouchi Yutaka is pointlessly handsome.

Boss 2 [2011 Spring]

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Phew! I thought I would never write this article for some time! It has been a loooong while since I've last completed a Japanese drama (just did a quick check and realised my last entry for a Jap drama is in Oct 2010!!). Well, I'm just glad I've finished this one as I have tons of Jap dramas to backlog and waiting for me to clear.

Boss 2 carries on the story from season 1 where most of the cast members are still the same. Takenouchi Yutaka is Nodate Shinjiro, counsellor to the Countermeasures unit in the Metropolis Police Division (MPD) headed by Osawa Eriko (Amami Yuki). As compared to season 1, Toda Erika's character Kimoto Mami has reduced screen time and only featured at the beginning and the ending of the drama. In replacement of her character, two characters are introduced: Kurohara Rika (Narumi Riko), computer expert and daughter of the division police chief and Tadokoro Sachiko (Hasegawa Kyoko), forensics experts and a direct replacement for Kimoto Mami in the drama.

Similar to the first season, there is always a major case that will be revealed at the final few episodes while the other episodes are used to develop each character's story. In this sense, there is no surprise in Boss 2. However, the production team has managed to retain the uniqueness of the comedic acts in Boss 2, although I'd say, barely. Boss 2 also seeks to shift its focus towards the relationships between the characters as season 1 focused on each member and how were they chosen to join the Countermeasures team.

I'd say Boss 2 is a decent sequel to season 1. However, the storyline and the level of entertainment did not surpass the previous edition. That said, it is still enjoyable to watch and I'd definitely recommend the drama to be the drama to catch if you're tight on time. Maybe, just maybe...

I missed Superfly's My Best of my Life too much.....

p/s: Superfly's opening and closing theme ROCKS as usual.

Lan Kwai Fong / 喜愛夜蒲 [2011]

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, December 08, 2011

Now how do I categorize Lan Kwai Fong? Judging from the movie poster, this is definitely a NSFW movie. And with that judgement, if you're expecting a movie with an intense plot and superior acting, I'd suggest you watch an art film instead, because this film is definitely not.

"Lan Kwai Fong"'s plot is mainly set in a fictitious bar "Club Billion" in the popular night district Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. Boss (Sin Lap-Man), a retired triad leader frequents the club ran by Belina (Emme Wong). Steven (Z.O) run a alcohol distribution business who unexpectedly falls in love at first sight with LKF newbie Jennifer(Shiga Lin), a flight attandant. She is accompanied by her colleague Jeana (Jeana Ho), a fellow LKF newbie. Jacky (Jason Chan), a manager at the club, has his eyes on Jeana, but is always pestered by his girlfriend (Bonnie Xian). Lawyer Sean (Gregory Wong) sets his sights on Cat (Dada Chen), but Cat is the alpha-female who is only interested in looking for stand(s). Loberto(Gary Cheng) is the final piece in the casting, who pretends to be gay in order "play around" with unsuspecting girls.

As I've mentioned earlier, if you're looking for a plot then sorry to say Lai Kwai Fong is definitely not the movie to watch. It does have a loose plot of trying to tie the characters up together, but it is as loose as you can imagine. However, if you're looking for girls who bare their cleavage, boob-grabs by the male leads, stimulated intimate scenes, then you're only the right track. This movie only serves to shorten the bond between the M18 rating and the Cat III rating. The only difference being? There's no baring of boobs in this movie.

Perhaps, and ironically, the saving grace of this movie is actually the OST of the movie. Shiga Lin lends her voice to sing a nice little number called "I'm still loving you" which will totally throws you off. Shiga has a sweet voice and she pens the lyrics for the song as well. The other song from the OST is "Wonderland", sung by 24herbs featuring Janice Vidal. It's a song that fits the movie more with the dance-infused rhythm, cantonese rap and auto-tuning.

In summary, watch the movie for the intimate scenes but enjoy the songs more.

Brown Eyed Girls - Repackaged Album Unboxing

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , | Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2011

I think this is the first time I have ever shared an un-boxing of an album in here but I've recently gotten my hands on Brown Eyed Girls' repackaged album "Cleansing Cream". And I got to say, this album has to be THE album of the year based on both the quality of the songs as well as the physical appearance of the album. This repackaged album consists of a CD, a DVD, a desktop calender, 4 pictorial cards with each member's signature, a pictorial book and poster. Let me start with the physical album first.

One the first look of this album, you'll notice that the exterior texture of the album is in velvet cloth. I don't know if you've bought much physical albums, but for an album box to be covered in velvet, this has seriously impressed me. Previously, I have bought the Secret Garden's OST soundtrack box and that has already impressed me. But BEG's repackaged album has definitely up the ante.

The first thing when you open the box is poster. Although it is folded, the uniqueness of this poster is that both sides contain something. The picture above shows all four members in it, while the back list down BEG's album concept:

"Resistance For Freedom of Expression Through Music via Sixth Sense"

Next up are the autographed cards. These cards are placed in a nice little brown square envelope. When you open it up you can see the individual card of each member. Their photo is on one side while their personalised message with their signature is at the back. Unfortunately, i do not understand korean hence I cannot tell you what message did each member wrote.

I absolutely love this calender as this calender is packaged in such a way that it can be folded and kept like a normal book. In the calender there are 12 different cards which represent each month. Behind the calender are random shots of each member.

This, for me has to be the favourite part of the whole deal because it is the picture book! But before I give a sample of the picture, I shall show how the exterior of the picture book looks like.

The white booklet on the left is the pictorial book while the black book partially covered by the ribbon is where it contain the CD and the DVD, which is shown below.

Now back to the pictorial book. This pictorial book is of the highest quality and each page of the book is glossed with a layer of wax, hence making the pictures last longer. In the last few shots of the book contain actual performance shots as well as a picture which showed a group photo with their fans. A preview one of the pages of the pictorial book is shown below.

Overall, I'm absolutely amazed with the packaging of this repackaged album. The quality of the album is top notch and I definitely can say this album is definitely worth the money that I've paid for it. If you haven't heard the albums' songs, you can sample a few below.

Jump Ashin! / 翻滾吧! 阿信 [2011]

Posted by :: sixtwentyseven :: | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, December 02, 2011

Due to my recent craze with Apple of my Eye and taiwan cinema in general, I've decided to catch a few movies based on the nominations at the recent 48th Golden Horse Awards. One of the movies that caught my eye was Jump Ashin!, where Eddie Peng (彭于晏) was nominated for best actor and the movie's theme song was nominated for best soundtrack.

Jump Ashin! is based on a true story of a gymnast called Lin Yu-hsin (林育信). Coming from a single parent family with his dad dying young, Yu-hsin or Ah Shin as he's commonly known, lives with his brother and mother. Born with a natural agile body, Ah Shin chanced upon the school gym one day and decides he wants to join the gymnastics team. He soon turned out to be a natural and Ah Shin loves gymnastics as well. However as he grew older, his mother disapproves him continuing gymnastics and wants him to help her with her fruit business. To rebel against his mother, Ah Shin became a street punk. Due to an incident with his good friend Pickle (Lawrence Ko, 柯宇綸) and his drug addiction, Ah Shin was forced to flee his hometown and flee to Taipei. To survive, both Ah Shin and Pickle joined a street gang. However, all that changed when Pickle was killed in a gang fight. Devastated with the loss of his friend, Ah Shin decided to head back to his hometown and resume his training in gymnastics.

Right from the start of the movie to the end, you could see why Eddie Peng was being nominated for best actor. Make no mistakes, Eddie was very dedicated in this movie with his body trained to be as strong and agile as a professional gymnast. Also, his facial expressions in various scenes makes the character believable, which is a marked improvement since I last saw him in Hear Me (聽說). Lawrence Ko, as his good friend Pickle, chips in with the good acting as well. I was especially impressed with the scenes where his addiction kicks in as well as silently feeling sorry to Ah Shin because of the trouble that he has created.

With all the acting kudos given, the only part i was disappointed in was the later parts that showed the determination of Ah Shin trying to become the best gymnast again. This is especially so when the director tried to tease the crowd at the beginning and seriously shortchanged the viewers when he replayed that scene later in the movie. I was waiting for something more and yet he just skipped to the next scene. I do not know if I call this bad editing or a serious lapse in the storyline.

As for the nod for best soundtrack, I do have to say the lyrics of the song is very apt for the movie, in the sense that it sang about the struggles of Ah Shin. Okay, this may be due to my bias in "Apple of my Eye" but I wonder is that enough to win the award. Probably the judges heard something that I missed out.

I would give a good to very good ratings for this movie, since I did shed a few tears, but I still feel I was seriously shortchanged at the back for its rushed ending. It could have been better and I do think an additional 15 minutes worth of footage would not kill the movie.