First Impressions + Ep1 Recap: The Guidance Counselor/Tomorrow’s Promise – 明日の約束 [Japanese Drama]

According to NoBully.Org, 30% of students around the world are bullied each year. In other words, that’s a third of the student population. In Japan, the figure is much higher and The Japan Times confirmed it:

The survey of all 38,846 schools across Japan, including elementary, junior high, high school and special needs schools, 22,272, or 57.3 percent, said they found bullying cases. []

I know I started my introduction quite strong, but then again, Inoue Mao’s latest drama has also come out intense with regards to bullying. But what makes Ashita no Yakusoku even more engaging as a school-mystery-drama is that it tackles another issue – the cases of the overprotective parents (particularly the Mom). Mixing these themes can be a potent combination and to cast Inoue against another Japanese actress who has reached an ‘iconic’ status through the years – Nakama Yukie is (close to) a stroke of genius.

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The Emperor’s Cook – 天皇の料理番 Its Relevance in today’s perception of Chefs + historical and acting highlights! [Part 1 of 3 Parts]

The awards and impressive reviews bestowed on TBS’s The Emperor’s Cook – 天皇の料理番 (released in 2015) may be regarded as unprecedented when it comes to a foodie drama. As it tackles very important milestones in Japanese history, it also puts the spotlight on the status of cooks and chefs in recent Japanese society.

Based on the novel “Tenno no Ryoriban” by Sugimori Hisahide, it tells the story of Akiyama Tokuzo (1888-1974) who served as Emperor Taishō’s and later Emperor Shōwa’s Imperial chef. He is regarded as an influential figure in spreading French cuisine in Japan and is also referred to as the “Japanese Escoffier”.

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Haro Hari Nezumi – First Impressions + Ep 1 Review

After skipping a significant number of drama seasons, I had an inclination (perhaps even an itchiness) to review a drama series. TBS’s Haro Hari Nezumi –  ハロー張りネズミ is my perfect candidate, and I have some very compelling reasons why I am writing a review:

1. One Hitoshi of Bakuman, Moteki, and Scoop! fame is directing the series;

2. Eita headlines the cast, with a guest (correction: a mainstay) appearance from Aoi Yu. Kamikaze Girls’ Fukada Kyoko is also one of the mainstays, so who can resist two fabulous actresses in one drama?

3. Reminiscent of such shows as Mahoro Eki Mae Bangaichi (Eita with Matsuda Ryuhei) and Rivers Edge Okawabata Detective Agency (Odagiri Joe), this is another opportunity to be in awe at a quality Japanese slice-of-life, detective thriller/drama series.

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Death Note Drama: Episode 6 Review

When Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata created their Death Note manga, they introduced the Shinigami as important characters in the story. These so-called “death gods” extend their conditional immortality by killing humans. While they have no power to stop death, they can end human lives sooner than originally intended. To explain further how the death note works, it should be pointed out that all Shinigami possess their personal death notes which they used to extend their lives. Another death note must be in their possession to offer to humans if they can have the same power to kill.

3 out of 5 stars

As to Ryuk and Rem, the two Shinigami who introduced themselves into the lives of Light and Misa, they made it known to Light that they can assist him in any way he wants.

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Death Note Drama: Episode 5 Review

Did you ever wonder why there seems to be a “connection” between Light and L already? That is, aside from their names starting with the same letter of course! 

While Light has some pals to speak of, since he’s studying and therefore, has classmates, he remains quite a loner. L only has a butler for a companion, and drawing parallels to the famous Batman who, incidentally is also quite a loner himself, I would have to say, rivals or not, even when murder and conspiracy are involved, it seems our two main characters intend to reach out to each other.

 3 out of 5 stars

So when the investigation involving the identity of Kira fell into the hands of L, it seems but natural for the famous investigator to become curious, perhaps even intrigued that maybe there is a “friend” on the horizon. Thus, we leave Episode 4 on a bright note – as the story progresses to my delight and as the drama (as a whole) seems to finally pick up a pace worthy of the hype.

In Episode 5, we continue with the unexpected appearance of Misa as she invited herself into the Yagami household. 

As the second Kira, Misa (Hinako Sano) likes nothing but get closer to the original god-like figure. Since Light is his personification, there is nothing better for Misa than to have an intimate relationship with the young man.

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Death Note Drama: Episode 4 Review

Now this is more like it! After an explosive initial episode and a boring Ep2, the Death Note drama is finally back on track. As mentioned in Ep3 review, the slack in the previous episode is compensated with a fast-paced, suspense-filled follow-up. In this episode, our two lead characters are gearing up for a face to face confrontation.

 3 out of 5 stars

With the death of the FBI agent, the police and L get more serious. Light is becoming more and more daring as he searched for the next criminal to put to death.

After a phone call from L, Light became more guarded – knowing that his identity as a person and as the crusader of vigilante justice might be exposed. He is Kira in the eyes of this aggressive and famous investigator who called him as if they knew each other rather intimately.

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Death Note Drama: First Impressions + EP 1 Review

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

In the case of Death Note, the power to kill your enemies or just “bad” people serves a means to an end. But can it be justified? This power was the dilemma of Light Yagami (Masataka Kubota) when he was offered the choice to write the names of anyone he wishes to die. This ‘death note’ fell from the sky and it may appear to have fallen at random. However, there seems to be more than what ‘meets the eye’ as Light was chosen because he is decent, yet he is just an ordinary student living an uneventful life. This seemingly ordinary young man carry his share of the burden – bullies that go after him and his friend, a dedicated police detective/investigator for a father, and a younger sister who likes to live life a day at a time.

 3 out of 5 stars

Unlike Tatsuya Fujiwara’s Light, Kubota’s character is younger, and here the battle between good and evil in both his mind and soul is more intense. His sense of justice and revenge are strong, but his conscience and the fact that his Dad serves as a law enforcer subdue any drastic actions. 

Masataka Kubota’s opening scenes represent half of EP1 of the highly-anticipated Death Note drama from NTV. It created some good impressions because Kubota delivered an excellent performance. There maybe some over-the-top acting, which serves a purpose. But Kubota always controls himself – every grin, every look, everybody movements were deliberate yet you cannot say he is conscious of his acting.

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