spurious: (Default)
just call me L. ([personal profile] spurious) wrote2008-03-26 10:10 pm
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DRAMA REVIEW POST

This post is part one of two, the second part (J-movies) to be posted later this evening. It is basically the culmination of our time as roommates: we've watched and discussed almost all of these dramas together, though our opinions sometimes differ. The rating system can get complicated, but all of the icons are title-tagged so you can hover over them for a reminder of what they mean.

Key:
/ we have rated the dramas on a scale of 0-5, using hearts. all or part of this is at least a little scary.
contains "adult themes". By this we usually mean rape, incest, or overrunning perviness. somebody is dying, a death occurs, or someone is in the hospital.
the subtitles available for this are bad, or there are no subs. Usually, this just provides more lolz. parts of this are unintentionally hilarious.
we wouldn't have watched this if one or more people we like weren't in it. contains adorable small children.
contains gayness, either overt or subtextual. we did not finish this, but feel qualified to offer our opinion on it anyway. Sometimes this only applies for one of us.
contains angst. contains crack, more than the usual alloted amount of jdrama crack.
romance is a major plot element. youth stories. You know how in jdramas characters are always saying "ah, youth!" Yeah.
this icon means that Laura slept through all or part of this. This doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, as Laura tends to fall asleep pretty easily, but it does denote a certain slowness or sleepy quality. this show is best viewed while drunk.
Laura: [livejournal.com profile] spurious Emily: [livejournal.com profile] happiestwhen


DRAMAS

1 Liter of Tears

Affectionately known as One Liter of Death.
(Laura hasn't finished this, but she watched the special, which basically summarized the whole drama anyway. We suggest not watching the special because it's kind of useless.) This drama stars Nishikido Ryo and Sawajiri Erika, and it's about a girl with a terminal illness. The acting in this drama is great. One thing that annoys us about it is that it often feels very futile: you know that Erika is going to die, and watching everything happen can get very frustrating. There really are about one liter of tears cried by the actors over the course of this drama. There's a lot of really good rain scenes, Ryo singing angstily, wheelchair-pushing, and all the other joyous events you associate with someone dying. Also, Ryo looks very good (and very miserable) throughout the drama.
Downloads

1 Pound Gospel

Kame is an overeater. And boxes.
We've only watched one episode of this, but it was this weird mix of ridiculous and boring. Basically the plot is that Kamenashi Kazuya is a boxer with an overeating problem who has a romance with a nun. If you're really into Kame, you might be more inclined to stick it out than we were, but nothing about this drama really grabbed our attention, aside from the initial lolz at the premise. Kame is really cute in it, though.
Downloads

Ace Wo Nerae

Prince of Tennis: the female version.
This was the first drama we both watched, so it holds a special place in our hearts. It's your average triumphant sports tale; an inexperienced tennis player is coached to greatness. It stars Ueto Aya, but otherwise doesn't have any actors we know. The story can get soap opera-dramatic, but the show is really sweet. It features a lot of slow motion tennis scenes set to really epic music, really adorable side characters making commentary, an opening theme with the line "I will fly beside my radiant balls," and lots of cute eating.
This isn't uploaded to [livejournal.com profile] jdramas, but we have it and we can provide uploads if anybody wants them, just comment and ask.

Akihabara@deep
Emily: Laura:
Japanese subcultures on crack.
This is the kind of drama that you need to be used to jdramas before you watch. It's also the kind of drama that some people just won't like, but if it's your kind of thing (you'll know after the first few episodes), you'll absolutely love it. It centers around a group of Otaku who hang out in Akihabara and fight for justice against the man. The man, in this case, is a giant chupa chup-weilding maniac who makes his assistant go into cat ear mode. There's a really sweet story underneath the completely psychotic plot. Also, Ikuta Toma and Kazama Shunsuke are in this, and they are ridiculously adorable: if nothing else, give it a try for that.
Downloads

Attention Please

A drama about flight attendants can only be so good.
(Emily has watched all of this; Laura is still in the process.) This show can be a little cheesy, but the romance between Ryo and Aya (from Ace wo Nerae) is really sweet, and there's a lot of do-your-best-y-ness, which is something we both really respond to. You'll find yourself cheering for Aya in her quest to become a flight attendant, despite her clumsy, rebellious, endearingly faily personality.
Downloads

Bambino!

For those who enjoy watching Matsujun wash dishes determinedly.
For a show about cooking, this is really great. In it, Matsumoto Jun is an aspiring chef who moves from Fukuoka to Tokyo to work at Bacchanale, an italian restaurant where the all-Japanese staff speak Italian for seemingly no reason other than to be pretentious. Matsujun cries at the same point in every episode, and he's also otp with pretty much every male character in the show (especially the head waiter). It's also got a lot of inspirational do-your-best-y-ness. Also, watching it will make you really hungry. We especially recommend this to fans of Yakitate!! Japan.
Downloads

Byakkotai

Don't watch this.
(Emily has not watched this.) This drama is one of the most boring things Laura has ever watched. It is a story about Tanaka Koki and Yamapi learning to respect their elders via being sent back in time to fight as samurai in a war. The best way to get through this is skipping through all the scenes without Koki and Yamapi. However, there is a scene where a woman sucks "poison" out of Koki's leg after he's bitten by a dog, which is really hilarious. Unless you're really desperate to see Koki and Yamapi, don't bother watching this.
Downloads

Dive to the Future
Emily: Laura:
A touching story about Hina and Yasu's abs.
This is one of Kanjani8's three winter drama specials from December of 2006 (I think?), so it's a one-episode special, about an hour long. It stars Murakami Shingo (Hina) and Yasuda Shota, with a cameo from Ryo. This one is about Hina being forced to join a diving team in order to pass a class. The plot isn't all that memorable, but if you're a fan of Kanjani8, it's something you should probably watch, partly for the gratuitous shirtlessness, and partly for the unintentional hilarity.
Downloads

Double
Emily: Laura:
In which Subaru strangles himself.
(Emily has only watched the end of this, Laura has seen the whole thing.) Have you ever thought to yourself, "self, Subaru's really pretty, I wish there were two of him"? Well, this is the drama for you! In another of Kanjani8's winter drama specials, Shibutani Subaru plays an angsty piano prodigy with an angsty past who has an angsty doppelganger. Features Maruyama Ryuhei in a supporting role, and a cameo from Ohkura Tadayoshi. Again, this is a one-episode special, so it's about an hour long, and it's probably something only Kanjani8 fans will be interested in watching.
Downloads

Ganbatte Ikimasshoi

In which Uchi and Junno are apparently interchangeable.
We have only watched one episode of this drama, but we were really bored by it. It's the story of a girl, played by Suzuki Anne (who is the cutest ever), who wants to start a girl's crew team at her school and enlists the help of her childhood friend, Ryo, and the boys' crew team (including Uchi Hiroki, who is replaced later in the series by Taguchi Junnosuke). Surprisingly, this traditional sports story didn't really hook us.
Downloads

Gokusen I

A drama where we find Matsujun attractive deserves some recognition.
We've only watched one episode, but we'd like to watch more, not for the plot, but solely for the Matsujun. This drama is about an idealistic, 20-something teacher, who is the daughter of a prominent Yazuka family, and goes to teach a rag-tag bunch of delinquents, led by Matsujun. She reforms them and everyone is happy at the end. Also includes Narimiya Hiroki and Oguri Shun, though we haven't met their characters yet. Matsujun is surprisingly hot as the bad boy character.
Downloads

Gokusen II

If you enjoy listening to Kizuna, this drama is for you.
(Emily has watched one episode, Laura has finished it.) This has basically the same plot as Gokusen I, only with a different school, and starring Kame and Akanishi Jin. This drama is formulaic and ridiculous, but if you like to watch Jin and Kame have UST and be delinquents, it's pretty enjoyable. Think of it as Akame 101. Also, if you try not to expect too much from the plot (or Jin's acting), it can be fun to watch.
Downloads

Haikei, Chichiue-sama

Nino and Yoko are boring in the kitchen.
We watched an episode of this and found it insanely boring. It stars Ninomiya Kazunari and Yokoyama Yuu, in a similar theme to Bambino, but is far less enjoyable. The only thing that really kept our attention was Yoko, whose dialogue and scenes were pretty hilarious, but he wasn't in it enough to make it worth it.
Downloads

Hana Kimi

A show called "hot guys paradise" can't be all bad.
This is about a girl (Horikita Maki)who moves from America to Japan and dresses as a boy in order to get close to the high-jumper (Oguri Shun) whom she has loved from afar. We can't watch this drama without comparing it to the Taiwanese version, which, on the whole, is better: the romance is more believable, and Ella does a much better job as Mizuki than Maki. However, Toma really shines in this drama, and there are a lot of things (boykissing, crossdressing, Shirota Yuu) that make it worth watching. Basically, this drama is an exercise in fanservice.
Downloads

Hanayome to Papa
Emily: Laura:
Yay, Junno!
This is the story of a newly-employed office worker, played by Ishihara Satomi, who is trying to escape the clutches of her psychotically overprotective father. She meets Junno at her office and falls in love with him, and through a series of hilarious events, tries to convince her father that he is husband material. The plot of this drama is pretty predictable, but Junno is really adorable as the romantic lead, and he deals with the difficulties of his life (always getting blamed for things that go wrong) in a really funny way. Emily stopped watching because the show seemed to be taking an oddly serious turn around episode 7/8.
Downloads

Hana Yori Dango

Like a bad Draco/Ginny fanfic.
I know pretty much everyone loves this drama, but we really hate it. We hate it so much, in fact, that we added a new rating: five fists, for the fact that we would like nothing more than to punch Domyouji in the face. The plot is about a poor girl at a rich, snobby, and completely unbelieveable school where F4, headed up by Matsujun, basically make everyone's lives miserable through their arrogant douchebaggy antics. We got about three episodes in, gritting our teeth and hoping for it to get better, but we just really hate Matsujun's character, as well as the pacing of the romantic relationship, and the plot seems terribly predictable.
Downloads

Honey and Clover

Shoujo-tastic angstfest.
We're still in the process of watching this, so our assessment may change, but at the moment we feel it's kind of lacking something. The storyline centers around Toma, a new student in an arts program at a university, who falls in love with a young prodigy and proceeds to wallow in angsty unrequited love. It has a lot of elements we appreciate (a focus on youth, wee plots such as a constant quest for food, summer festivals, the beach; Hiroki Narimiya and Toma, whose life is continually made as hard as possible by all forces of nature and also his friends) but there's just something...missing. For some reason, it's just not clicking with us.
Downloads

Ikebukuro West Gate Park

That drama everyone recommends.
(Emily hasn't watched any of this, Laura is five episodes in.) This drama stars Nagase Tomoya and also features a rather young Yamapi in a story centered around youth deliquency and gang tensions. It's a somewhat dark, gritty look at life in the Tokyo district of Ikebukuro. Laura is not sure why she hasn't finished watching this drama, because it's really great. She thinks it might have gotten too serious, when she wasn't in the mood for it or something. She plans to finish it someday.
Downloads

Kemarishi

Also known as Death Soccer.
This is another of the Kanjani8 winter drama specials. It features Yoko as a ninja soccer player, hence why we tagged it as crack. It's really ridiculous and very entertaining to watch. Also features Ohkura and Ryo. This is another one-episode special, so it's about an hour long. Watch this if you are a fan of Kanjani8, or a fan of magical sports.
Downloads

Kimi Wa Petto
Emily: Laura:
Who wouldn't want Matsujun in a box?
This drama's premise is kind of insane: Matsujun is a homeless dancer who moves in with this corporate woman to be her pet, but there's something about it that really charms you, once you get past the disbelief. There are a lot of things in this drama that could be really questionable, such as the scenes where Matsujun gets a bath, but are handled in a really pure and sweet way. Some elements of the plot are really frustrating, but all in all it's great fun to watch, and also features the best make out scene we have seen in any jdrama ever.
Downloads

Kisarazu Cat’s Eye

This show features a car being buried in a baseball field.
We've only watched the first episode of this. It stars Okada Junichi, Sakurai Sho, and Hiroki Narimiya in a story about a baseball team turned cat burglars. Also, Okada is dying of cancer and has six months to live. We really want to like this drama, but the crack reaches such epic proportions (just in the first episode) that it becomes really difficult to follow, and it's almost as though we have to try really hard to like it, which isn't something we really want to do. There are definitely some good moments, though, such as when they run though Chiba chanting "BEERU, BEERU!" and it's something you might want to try out if you don't think you'll be bothered by the crack. As a sidenote, we think we might enjoy this drama more if we watched it while drunk, and are planning to watch more in the future.
Downloads

Kurosagi
Emily: Laura:
A touching story about Yamapi being attractive.
(Emily has watched two episodes of this; Laura has finished it.) This drama is undoubtedly pretty to watch: there's a lot of close-ups of Yamapi's face as he emotes. It also stars Horikita Maki, in a really great performance as a morally upright girl who gets tangled up in Yamapi's world. Emily found it kind of boring, understandably so, as the plot can be a little formulaic and repetitive. However, Laura thinks Yamapi as a con artist is incredibly hot, and this drama is pretty shameless about providing the hot Yamapi, along with some really great angst. Laura wishes it had been a little...better...but she is quite fond of it anyway.
Downloads

Long Love Letter
Emily: Laura:
Another drama in which a large object is buried in the ground.
We watched the first episode of this, and honestly don't really remember the plot. It's kind of hard to follow and a little boring, but the major reason to watch it is that there's a teacher with this hilariously creepy crush on 17-year-old Yamapi, which is definitely relevant to our interests. The rest of the drama didn't really keep our attention at all, though. We think it's supposed to be a romance. If you're interested in seeing young-Yamapi, you might want to check it out.
Downloads

Neverland

See JE boys being wee and also having major incest issues.
The rating for this drama is a little deceptive. It's actually not very good at all, but it brings the lolz to a degree so far unseen in drama history. Set over the summer at a boarding school by the sea, it stars Imai Tsubasa, Miyake Ken (of V6), Koki, Toma, and Hina. Koki has a crush on Tsubasa and is also dying. Miyake Ken bangs his mom, and has the same facial expression in every frame. Tsubasa also has a weird sex issue. Hina and Toma, on the other hand, are constantly happy and seem to miss the tone of the show entirely. Also, the subtitles are hilariously bad. We first watched this unsubbed, and watching it again only added to our enjoyment. However, it kind of goes downhill after episode five. We really highly recommend this drama, if only for the enjoyment of seeing various JE boys being wee and together in an odd combination.
Downloads

Nobuta wo Produce

Jdrama 101.
We feel like there's not much to say about Nobuta that hasn't already been said. It's a beautiful sunset-y meditation on the nature of friendship. Featuring Kame, Yamapi, and Maki, this drama follows the developing friendship of three high school students The imagery and details (three-legged pigs, taiyaki, flower petals) will stick with you long after you're done watching. This drama and Prodai are the only ones ever to have made Laura cry, which is really quite a feat. The character development is really strong, the pacing is excellent, and we really think it's one of the most subtle dramas out there, even with all the...unsubtleness that it has.
Downloads

Proposal Daisakusen

You will scream with rage when watching this show.
If you enjoy feeling like your heart has been repeatedly torn out and trampled on, you will love this show! That said, we really love this show. The plot is like Back to the Future merged with My Best Friend's Wedding. Yamapi's performance is heart-wrenchingly amazing; you become so invested in his struggle and you really feel for him the whole time. Also, all of the characters are really well-developed, even the secondary romance gets really good development. Basically, everything that happens in this show feels epic and monumental, and it's like a series of jdrama greatest hits: graduation, fireworks festivals, angsty love confessions, and the ridiculous old teacher who keeps showing up.
Downloads

Pu-Pu-Pu Jump
Emily: Laura:
Yes, it's actually called Pu Pu Pu.
This drama is not subbed, the video quality is terrible, and we've only watched two episodes of it. It stars Miyake Ken, Okada Junichi, and Morita Go of V6, and we strongly encourage you to watch this drama if you're a fan of V6, but if you aren't, definitely skip it. In the first episode, the three of them go to America, and the lolz are brought in epic amounts. If you want to see them speak hilariously bad English and try to pick up girls, this will make you as happy as it made Emily, who risked her rating credibility to give this drama 5 hearts. However, it kind of goes downhill from there, since they come back home and it gets a little boring/confusing. Also, Miyake Ken dyes his hair purple.
Downloads (must be a member of [livejournal.com profile] v6_unlimited)

RH Plus

A drama about gay vampires can't be bad (but it can't be that good either).
This drama is currently being subbed, but it's our recent addiction. It is actually a boys' love-genre, though so far not much actual boys' love has occurred. It doesn't have any actors we knew of, but we were drawn in by the promise of gay vampires. So far the actors are all really adorable, but the plot is nothing to write home about. It seems pretty episodic, and the episodes are only about 22 minutes long, so if you want something short and reasonably entertaining, it's good to watch.
Downloads

Shin Oretachi no Tabi
Emily: Laura:
Morita Go wears a box.
This is another unsubbed drama, and so far we've watched the first episode. It's a 1999 remake of a popular drama from 1975, and it stars Miyake Ken, Okada Junichi, and Morita Go of V6 as three boys who have your typical teenage boy adventures. This is another drama we really only suggest you watch if you are a fan of these three. We found the plot quite hard to follow, but at one point the three of them are in a love hotel looking at pictures of scantily-clad women. What more do you need in a drama?
Downloads (must be a member of [livejournal.com profile] v6_unlimited)

Stand Up!!

You'll be surprised how hard it is for Yamapi to get laid.
We cannot recommend this drama enough. It stars Yamapi, Nino, Oguri Shun, and Hiroki Narimiya, in a story of four boys and their quest to lose their virginity, but more than that, it's a story about friendship between men boys. The plot takes some cracky turns, including hilarious inner mind theater about Nino raping his teacher, and it's often overrun with pervy thoughts, but at the center of the show is a really big heart (not the other organ you were thinking of). We literally cannot recommend this enough. It has its flaws, but the acting is all really strong, and the character dynamics are really heart-warming and adorable. Also, Yamapi has the most awkward kiss in the world in this drama.
Downloads

V no Honoo

Watch this drama if and only if you want to watch Miyake Ken call Morita Go "senpai."
It's unsubbed, the video quality is terrible, and there's only one episode available: it features everyone from V6 in their tiniest incarnations ever (Sakamoto is still old), their hair is uniformly terrible, and the plot makes little to no sense. It's about a soccer team...we think. Morita Go dies and is replaced by his evil twin/doppelganger, or so it would seem. Again, only watch this if you're really into V6.
Downloads (must be a member of [livejournal.com profile] v6_unlimited)

Vampire Host

We don't call him Hot Guy for nothing.
We love this drama so much that we own it. This means that one day, we will get around to ripping it so that the subs can be shared with the world. However, you really don't need subtitles to be able to understand what's going on. It stars Matsuda Satoshi, aka Hot Guy. We discovered him in Akihabara@deep, and his attractiveness prompted us to find out more about him. The drama is about him being a real vampire who works at a host club where all the hosts pretend to be vampires. He teams up with a high school girl, and they fight crime. What about that doesn't say "amazing drama" to you? It has no overarching plot and little to no character development, but hot guy is hot, and his vampire transformation process is one of the most hilarious things we've ever watched.
Downloads (must be a member of [livejournal.com profile] jdoramas_raw)

Yamada Taro Monogatari
Emily: Laura:
Like a giant hamburger of love.
The fact that the theme song for this drama is Arashi's "Happiness" really says a lot about it. Nino plays a poor kid with a huge family who is on scholarship at an incredibly rich private school. He and Sho are the top students at the school, and everyone at the school has mistaken Nino for a rich prince. Hilarity ensues. Nino's character (and his family) is pretty much the essence of adorable, and Sho is so, so hilarious. The romance part of the plot is really cute and goofy, and the female lead is really adorable. If you've heard of this drama, you've probably heard about french maid!Nino, but there's even more cracky fun where that comes from, including elaborate fantasies about croquettes, Nino dressed as a furry, and the greatest gay terror episode ever to grace the Japanese television screen. The plot is really grounded in a genuine sweetness, which keeps it from getting too over-the-top silly. This is the show that made Emily love Arashi.
Downloads

Yoiko no Mikata
Emily: Laura:
Watch this if you like seeing Sho play with small children.
This is a show about Sho as a preschool teacher, trying to break into the totally female-dominated field. The plot is really fluffy and very episodic: in each episode Sho helps a different child with something, such as when he builds the children a playground out of recycled material. It's really cute, and Sho's performance is great. However, about halfway through it suddenly gets way too serious, which is why we stopped watching.
Downloads (must join the Aibakaland forum)

Yukan Club
Emily: Laura:
All the characters in this show are named for alcohol. That should tell you enough.
This drama is really rather bad. It's about six students at a rich school who form a club whose mission is to "make the impossible possible." And oh, does the impossible occur. Junno's hair is atrocious, the plot is ridiculous, Jin's acting is terrible (as usual), but oh my god does it bring the lolz. Yoko's performance is a shining light of awesomeness, and Minami and Kashii Yu also do an awesome job. If you're not looking for quality and are a fan of the actors in this drama, it's really fun to watch. We watched almost all of it unsubbed, and we really didn't need the subs to enhance the nuances of the plot, because there are no nuances. Featuring a lot of ridiculous disguises and crossdressing, this show reminds Laura a lot of Scooby Doo, which is a positive in her book.
Downloads

We'd really love to hear your thoughts/discusssion and also recommendations for other dramas we have not yet watched! :D

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