The 100 Best Contemporary Japanese Movies - Psycho Drama has launched an ambitious project to compile 100 of the best modern-day Japanese movies from the last 2 decades or so. Featuring the best young actors of their generation - from Joe Odagiri, Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asano, to Satoshi Tsumabuki, Hikari Mitsushima, Mao Inoue, Ryuhei Matsuda, Shun Oguri and Masanabu Ando to the current crop of exciting young talents - Shota Sometani, Yuya Yagira, Kamiki Ryunosuke, Sosuke Ikematsu, Kento Yamazaki, Fumi Nikaido and Ai Hashimoto. [ click here ]
This is our on-going report on the Fall 2013 Japanese Drama season, this time the spotlight is on - Clinic on the Sea, the youth-drama (cum body switching) 49 and Ando Lloyd.
I know there are lots of drama fans out there but I'm surprised that this Fall season, so few are doing reviews. It's probably becuse the subs are delayed or a bit late on coming online. Also, I have to mention again about the lack of a heavy drama this time around, and it's hard to feel good after last season's Woman has ended...
4 out of 5 stars
Anyway, let me start with one of the most anticipated, Ando Lloyd - which is a light comedy with a time-travel, sci-fi theme featuring a cyborg (who traveled back in time) and is ordered to protect a human being. I have seen Kou Shibasaki in many shows and movies and I am impressed with her - two movies in particular are my favorites: Maison de Himiko and Lady Shogun And Her Men. Both are daring roles where she delivered two different characters with lots of high-profile scenes. I no longer wonder why she's often cast as the leading lady. In this new drama, Shibasaki played the heroine and is the one being protected by the cyborg.
She was supposed to get married with the love of her life - a scientist named Reiji Matsushima (one of the two characters played by Takuya Kimura) but he was murdered by someone from the future. In order to protect Asahi Ando (Shibasaki), a robot equippped with advanced technology was sent to counter serious threats to her life coming from unknown and mysterious characters.
Episode One started out quite well, and this is my first time to watch Takuya Kimura, who was both funny and charming. I don't know how and why Japanese drama fans are loving Masato Sakai so much, but Kimura is also an outstanding drama performer. At this point, I would say, both Ando Lloyd and Legal High 2 are at par when it comes to performance. The only perceived limitation of Ando Lloyd is the story, while Legal High has an abundant storyline to tackle covering the whole Japanese legal jargons, pronouncements and high-profile cases.
So why not watch both? Exactly!
As of this writing Episode 2 has aired already and from my first view, it was even better than the pilot episode.
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3 out of 5 stars
The problem with Shota Matsuda is that he looks too handsome that more often than not, you think he can't act. But he can be such an engaging actor given a good script and a director who knows how to make actors perform best on the screen. In the new medical drama-comedy entitled Clinic on the Sea (Umi no Ue no Shinryoujo), he plays a playboy but talented doctor who works freelance.
Dr. Kota Sezaki (Matsuda) is good at doing surgery and at making the correct diagnosis of his patients. His methods and techniques are, however, unorthodox. That is why nurses who are not familiar with his ways often misjudge his capacity to heal and to help his patients. He is also desperately in search for a wife - a promise he is keen to fulfill to his Mom, who is obviously waiting for her son to present his future wife. Apparently, hints from the Doctor is that his search is somewhat an exercise in futility...
In his new role as doctor of a clinic ship that visits the islands, he is - once again - not focus on his job but on looking for attractive women who might be candidate as wedding bride...
There are some amazing moments in this episode, especially the surgical scene, which was quite fascinating. Doctors are treated like young gods for performing miracles and keeping people alive. That same sense of accomplishment is seen here. The attractive location with the sea and the far-reaching bridge brings an additional bonus to the drama.
There are also some over-the-top moments, when Shota leaves the operating room to ran away! I hope there will be more consistency in future episodes, otherwise, it would appear too comical to treat the characters seriously.
Emi Takei plays a former juvenile delinquent who is the terror of her town and became a nurse. Her character is not easy to like since she is antagonistic of Doctor Sezaki. Nurses are supposed to be patient and very emphatic, this rebel nurse is certainly not showing the real dutiful modern nurses we get to see in hospitals...
Norika Fujiwara, the other member of the medical team, is gorgeous! I really hope they will focus more on her. She's quite charming and very telegenic. Sota Fukushi wears glasses to make him look old. His role, however, is quite forgetable.
I would say there are enough hints of what's to come later in the story, so it would not be fair to judge this drama solely on the first episode. Unlike that other show which already escaped my memory (Kitagawa-Hideaki Ito), Clinic on the Sea deserve some praise!
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3 out of 5 stars
49 doesn't sound juvenile at all, but this new NTV drama features some of the youngest actors (idols) from Johnny and Associates. Shori Sato plays Dan, an average high school student who is often ignored at school, and never excelled in anything - academics or sports. An accident ocurred where his Dad got inside his body and began acting as Dan.
A big difference in attitude, abilities and attention soon engulf the young boy, who now has the courage to play basketball quite well and be good at his grades. He also have the guts to ask the most popular girl in school for a date. Can he keep his secret and become the sensation at school or will he get back to his normal, boring self?
I would have given this a 2 stars but Shori Sato was really trying very hard to portray his character. The young actor is quite photogenic, and it's no wonder he was chosen to lead the cast. He is no Yusuke Yamamoto or Koji Seto or Shohei Miura but he has shown some potential.
Other young actors like Kentaro Yasui, Maika Yamamoto and Yuta Jinguji are expected to play cute for the fans.
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In partnership with Coventry University and Third Window Films, East Winds will be celebrating East Asian film and culture through a selection of 11 International, European and UK Premieres from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand, ranging from star-studded action blockbusters and chilling horrors to touching dramas and delightful comedies.
Alongside some pretty major titles such as the European Premieres of 'Partners in Crime', 'Z Storm', 'Record of Sweet Murder' and 'Teacher's Diary' (Thailand's Oscar submission) there are also many other UK premieres and 2 new Third Window genre titles: 'Greatful Dead' and 'The Lust of Angels' which will play.
More details at the Film Festival website
13oys and Men - Promoting the awesome and talented young Japanese actors, with lots of screenshots and insights into the careers of top and upcoming young talents.
Asian Addicts Anonymous - Comprehensive reviews and recaps of exciting Japanese drama, including interesting post on Asian music and movie news.
Dorama Doll - a new blog that will feature recaps of selected Japanese dramas, most probably related to Johnny & Associates talents, with some great recommendations on what to watch if you're new to the J-drama scene.
Genkinahito's Blog - Reviews, news, box office results & some amazing insights into Japanese films, including manga and anime.
My Drama Tea - Honest and insightful reviews of Japanese drama, also reviews of Chinese, Korean and Taiwanese dramas, with music news and movie reviews.
Ritsu No Dorama Land - J-dorama reviews with a difference, complete with recaps that really complements the review.
OtherWhere - Excellent and varied trailer showcase, insightful reviews of Japanese movies (both indies and mainstream), and a great resource for news on Studio Ghibli too!
The Corner of the Mind - Drama reviews (with detailed analysis of up and coming dramas via first impressions) and anime spotlights.