Monday, April 23, 2018

Denei Shoujo Video Girl Ai 2018 1-5

I was a fan of Masakazu Katsura's Video Girl Ai manga back in the day. While its not my favourite Katsura manga, that honour belongs to I's, the tale of a girl appearing out of the tv due a videotape actually predated the classic horror movie Ringu and was a classic tale of shonen wish fulfillment.

Truth to told, I don't remember much about the manga except for panty shots, lots of sexy situations and panty shots. And the hero rescuing Ai from the video world or something and the old man from the video shop.

Video Girl Ai 2018 is actually set 25 years after the original with a new cast of characters and some returning old ones. This allows the to story for Ai to be this ideal girl from the past out of time in the present. She does make interesting observations about society today and there are some  jokes but that is not the focus of Video Girl Ai 2018.

The focus is your classic triangle between two guys and a girl who belong to the high school anime club. They have a lot of meetings, talk a lot about ideals and stuff especially from the director but I have yet to see a single frame of animation from them.

The anime club angle feels like your typical advertising agency jobs from your usual classic jdoramas. The writer can't be bothered with figuring out the nitty gritty of the job so the job's existence is just to forward the story without any regard to details.

While Video Girl Ai 2018 does no wrong in concentrating on the triangle relationship and in episode 5 the relationships expand into new angles and we are introduced to some potentially dark plot directions although I am 100% certain it won't even be as sukebe as Masakazu Matsura's mangas.

I think the casting of the idoru as Ai is a mistake because this show is too tame. I would have been happier with a lower budget for more fanservice. There are some shots but hint at Katsura's sukebeness but they are only hints. In the end, I don't feel like continuing cause I can't find something to hook me after 5 episodes. Meh.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Third Murder Jmove review

The Third Murder is Koreeda Hirokazu's latest movie after the ho-hum before the storm. Yakusho Koji plays an ex-convict who in the beginning we see commit his third murder killing his former employer and Fukuyama Masaharu plays the lawyer who defends Yakusho Koji.

My no.1 problem with this movie is that Fukuyama Masaharu was once in this very good movie called Suspect X The Third Murder feels like a much less compelling version of Suspect X.

That's because its got a much slower pace which is typical of Koreeda movies but also that he is less concerned with the mystery but more with criticising the justice system. He asks a lot of questions such as are there people who should never have been born or why it is worse in the eyes of the law to kill for money than a grudge?

Ultimately, The Third Murder is a movie that asks way too many questions without arriving at some sort of an answer to the detriment of the narrative and makes it an ultimately forgettable movie. I can't believe The Third Murder swept all the awards at the 41st Japan Academy Awards. 2017 must have been a horrible year for jmovies. Meh.

Edit: Gukoroku was released in Feb 2017 and it wasn't nominated for any award? WTF? Japan Academy awards are full of crap.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Chinmoku Hotei

A big thank you to Buck for reminding me about Chinmoku Hotei with Nagasaku Hiromi (Aoi Tori) as this dubious house cleaner with a muddy history who is suspected of committing murder.

THE GOOD

+ Tanaka Tetsushi as the slimy solicitor who takes on Nagasaku Hiromi's case with ulterior motives. I really like his character and he kept it interesting.
+Sugimoto Tetta and Usuda Asami as the two coppers who investigate the case.

+ Your usual great WOWOW direction and gritty look.
+ Its a show about how perception is reality and sometimes the worst people are right in front of you hiding in plain sight.

THE BAD
- The overacting from the slimy news producer and dodgy cop are too obvious. Its not Hanzawa Naoki bad but I think a bit more subtlety would have made the series more intriguing. What's with Japanese always wanting to make the bad people so obvious?

THE UGLY
= Nagasawa Hiromi has no wrinkles on her face. Seriously a baby has more wrinkles than her. Seriously Japan needs to stop with this wrinkle free nonsense.

SUMMARY

Another quality WOWOW show to add to the list. It kind of reminds me of Hokuto with the climax being a trial but Chinmoku Hotei is a good story about society is too quick to judge and act in one's interests without regard for truth. Very watchable.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Goodbye Games Ma-ya

Today is the last day of Games Ma-ya in Kasai and the whole thing is being streamed on Niconico here. Game Ma-ya is a Japanese gaming shop that has been around for 35 years and I have only been aware of its existence for the last two years reading the shoopkeeper's blog.

I read the blog mostly for Japanese practice but also it was fun seeing things from a perspective of a shop owner. I liked it when she wrote about people who had frequented her store as kids now brought their own kids there or how people went out of their way to buy things from the shop even though they lived further away. I went all the way to Kasai last year to Games Ma-ya but chickened out of talking to tenchou which I bloody regret now.

One thing that was noticeable reading the blog was that tenchou started to take more time off due to her health and finally she announced that she was closing down because of her health.


There will be a couple of big name people from the gaming industry showing up at Games Maya's last day including Arino Kacho from Game Centre CX and Nagoshi from the Yakuza series. Watching the live stream, I'm struck by how many people turned out to congratulate tencho and bid the store goodbye. 35年お疲れ様ですゲームズマーヤの店長!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Legend of Galactic Heroes Die Neue These Episode 1

It is here! The remake of perhaps the greatest anime series ever made! When news appeared maybe two years ago, I was skeptical. How could you remake perfection? As a fan, I only wanted one thing; that the anime become popular that your average anime fan would know the names of Wang Wen Li and Reinhard von Lohengramm as much as Luffy and Naruto. That the name Iserlohn and Rosen Ritter would would bring a smile to people's faces similarly to when people think of the Eclipse or The Bank of the Hawk. (OK, maybe not The Eclipse)

I kept my expectations very low. My initial reaction to the redesigns and voice acting in the trailers wasn't so good. I thought , "hat doesn't not sound like the Reinhard and Yang-Wen Li I know!" Nevertheless, I sat down to watch episode 1 with bated breath.

What I remember about the early episodes of the original LoGH series was that it introduced 50 characters and I was busy trying to keep track of who was who before the story got going.

Die Nueue These solves this very problem by only introducing characters from the Galactic Empire. Instead of introducing all the characters from the alliance side, the audience could guess what was going on and Kircheis gave Yang Wen-Li such a great introduction: What if they had someone as smart as Reinhard on the other side?

Such a compact but brilliant storytelling move because Yang and Reinhard are both sides of the same coin. It also builds up anticipation not only how Yang is going to lead his men to victory like he promised but who is he exactly? I got crazy goosebumps when Kircheis said that line. Episode 1 of LoGH Die Neue These has surpassed my expectations. Absolue must watch.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Anone 6~10 Spoiler review

Anone is a show about a group of people who have been hard done by life and somehow got together to form this little family and got caught up in a scheme to print counterfeit money that could work on machines.

Anone is a widow who had to raise the child of her husband's mistress and now that child won't acknowledge her anymore. Aoba-san lost her daughter and her family did not even treat her as a human being. Mochimoto-san, well he was just too pussy to push back against the world so I've got sympathy for him.


It seemed like Nakaseko-san was abused as a child and something happened to his younger brother and he grew up wanting to be free.  According to him he wanted to be like the guy in black, able to exist outside the system ie not work but I think it was his way of dealing with pain.

Nikaseko was someone who had it all, lost most of it and still had his wonderful wife and child but just could not bury that hole in his heart. I think Nikaseko was someone who did not know how to be happy.


However, no one was as pitiful as Harika and no one worked as hard to better their life and no one was more selfless. This jdorama may be called Anone but Harika was its heart. Hirose Suzu did an incredible job of playing this character who had all the reasons to hate the world but didn't.


Towards the end, I really feel in love with the characters and this is a phrase that can only be used for Sakamoto Yuji doramas like Quartet. He has the ability to write idiosyncratic characters and imbue them with interesting dialogue almost like a god breathing life to clay models. It is an ability that very few writers do have.


That said, storyline-wise Anone wasn't terribly exciting show. The Anone crush with deadly disease and ojousan girl part was too soap opera for me but it did produce this great Hirose Suzu scene where her face was saying one thing and her words another.

I really enjoyed my 10 episodes with the characters and Hirose Suzu showed that she can really act but my first instinct is that Anone is not a must watch. I would like to award it a must watch but I can't.


I remember reading somewhere that Sakamoto Yuji is taking a break from scriptwriting. Jdramas are not the same without him. He has written some of the best jdoramas of the past 10+ years except for Ryokiteki no Kanojo. Very watchable.  

Saturday, March 31, 2018

5 reasons not to watch Creepy 2016 movie

1. Nishijima Hidetoshi's very wooden portrayal of the ex cop with an obsession with serial killers. I know he's supposed to be a detached character but Nishijima's acting felt so fake.

2. Kawaguchi Haruna's character who seemed like such an important character until she is forgotten in the middle. Did her agency contribute 50% of the funds for the movie or something?

3. The movie is way to long and the pacing is too slow. Should be 1hr 40 instead of 2 hours. The Kawaguchi Haruna parts could have easily been excised.

4. Too many things that the bad guy managed to do are unexplained. I know movies can't explain every little thing but this show is very much about the killer's motus operandi and some thing of the things he pulls made me scratch my head thinking, "The method he did this can't be so simple, can it?"

5. The final twist that does not make any sense. All I could think of was since when? Ultimately, its the final twist that kills Creepy for me. It feels like someone realising a twist is required despite the fact that it does not make sense.

SUMMARY

Kurosawa Kiyoshi is a good director but when a story is full of holes, bland execution cannot save this. Disappointing. I feel like rewatching Gukoroku or Destruction Babies if get rid of the bad stench of Creepy. Avoid. I'm just pissed off watching two crappy movies in a row with Creepy and Museum and both having so much talent.