~Years in Dramaland~ A journey through 2000 and 2001
Hey guyze :D -I'm writing it « guyze » because this way you know I'm cool- So … although thoughtsramble's shoulder tasted really really good -cf. the previous post, the one not on this website, the one that's here- I thought I should not impose on her. I'll guest-post for her anytime she wants because she's awesome but... see the last post was long but nearly not as long as it could have been, I was actually restraining myself. When I get in the zone I'm kind of like the Hulk of blog posts. And I don't want her to get smashed. I mean, taking a hand, an arm, a shoulder and maybe, okay, maybe even a litttttle of the neck is okay but I can't take the whole body or what will thoughtsramble have left ? So I'm chewing on PotUp now :DDDD Yep, I'm the hungry muppet and the whole internet is my cookie. That said this is different, it seems I'm here to stay so I'll just chew on this particular piece of cookie until the owner of the cookie gets really mad and chase me out. Seriously though, another round of thanks to everyone on this website for letting me write. You all rock ♥ +
Anyway, how are you guys ? -switched back, yes, can't be cool all the way-. Seen anything good lately ? Good movies ? Good dramas ? Good 2000 or 2001 dramas ? Cause that's what we're talking about today -notice the smoothe transition skills here-. Next time I'll start going year by year but for this post, truthfully, there just was not enough to talk about. And nope, still no Kdramas on the list. Not to say that I've not seen any 2000-01 Kdramas, I have, I just didn't like them. Probably missed the good ones -taking recommandations here-. Cause when I say « didn't like them », really I mean « didn't like it » since I've only seen one : Autumn Tale. And I hate it.... Well maybe « hate » is too strong a word : it didn't take my hamster hostage nor did it kill a member of my family and I forgot enough of it that I'm not angry with it but it was way too heavy and forced for me. Didn't like any of it. I'm not too much into heavy melos anyway -there are some very appreciated exceptions of course-: I didn't like Beautiful Life -and less-than-beautiful Kimu haircut- nor Summer Snow for example and both are apparently well regarded dramas. Still Autumn Tale was the worst of those three and would have been my pick for worst 2000-01 drama if Peach Girl didn't exist. But it does. And the world is a little bleakier for it -but in a very very pink way... damn that drama was so pink-. So if you haven't seen it... good for you, well done, keep it up. And if you *have* seen it, well... it can only mostly go uphill from there so there's that.
Now, before we actually start this post and because I really don't know where to stop an intro, there's a drama I'd like to mention, one that, weirdly enough, I almost never see brought up anywhere. That's a miss, really. This drama should be watched ! It's called Koi ga shitai, koi ga shitai, koi ga shitai -yeah you gotta repeat stuff at least three times so people know you really mean it è.é- which basically means « I want to fall in love » three times. I'm bringing this one up now because to be frank, this is a drama I barely remember and couldn't talk to you in details about. I know I've watched it, I remember parts of it and, most of all, I remember thoroughly enjoying it and being moved by it. But I don't remember the content that clearly as this was... well 9 years ago I guess. I thought it was great and people whose opinions I really trust are telling me I was right and should rewatch it -which I should but I don't have as much time as I would like :(-. I can't really tell you much about it but somehow I've got a feeling I would be failing you if I didn't mention it. Quickly, this one is the story of 7 people, all named after colours of the rainbow, who are lonely in their own ways. They have different situations, different ages but they all share the same plight : somehow they can't connect, somehow they want to be in love but don't really know how. There are no actual leads as all characters get their own piece of the cake but of course, we're free to choose favorites and I remember mine were the housewife and the high-school kid who get close via the phone while lying about who they are. It doesn't hurt that the kid is played by Yamada Yakayuki who, even when he was young, was a great actor with solid acting chops. The relationship between those two characters is full of little awkward moments, hesitations and mistakes and it's very compelling to watch. But all the characters are interesting and they're all wonderfully played by good actors. So I have no doubt that when I rewatch the drama, I'll be thinking « yeah, phew, thank God I didn't fail to mention Koi Ga Shitai to those guys on Potup or I'd really have to personnally go over to everyone who's read the post to apologize ». Don't miss out because my memory sucks !
Anyway, let's talk about the dramas I liked and actually fully remember. And you know what, some of them are even good -yes, little reminder of the rules : those posts are about dramas I liked... not the best ones, just the ones I really liked for reasons ranking from « this truly is a masterfully written, directed and acted drama, I really like the subtle subtext and social commentary » to « OMG THAT GUY IS SO HAWT I CAN'T EVEN ».... also I kid : I'm way too obtuse for subtext and I clearly spend all my freetime on my computer so « society » is just a word that sometimes come up in stuff I read or watch-. But let's not start with a good one. Good ones are boring, we girls like the bad boys right ? Or, in this case, the … mediocre boy I guess :s Yep, we're starting with a mediocre drama : Strawberry on the Shortcake.
I won't spend too much time on it but still, I wanted to say a few words. First of all, that drama's mediocrity actually makes me sad because this show had a nice idea. I liked the theme of it : « acceptance of self through discovery of love ». That's always a nice theme if well written. I liked all those wounded characters, they were interesting on paper. But... then the actual drama happened. So... what's it about ? It's about a dude named Manato -played by Takizawa Hideaki from the boys-band who offered you this glorious video ... and I'm laughing my ass off right now but I do actually love it. Tackey's the one with oranger hair- who, because he's bullied at school and has a hard time dealing with his parents' divorce, keeps the world as a distance. He's very frustrated with himself and the world and he takes it out both on the world and himself. Then, he falls in love with his thrill-loving, risk-taking, passionate new half-sister -played by Fukada Kyoko-. Cause love ain't fun if you're not at least a little related. Anyway, characters had promise. From the teacher who can't mourn properly to the neighbour who can't confess, I was interested but sadly, the characters tend to fall a little flat. Takizawa Hideaki as Manato is boring and frustrating, Fukada Kyoko is also mediocre and the drama gets a little too slow, a little too repetitive and in general, there's just... something missing. But there's one part I love : Kubozuka Yosuke as Tetsuya. First all, I just like Yosuke. He's got his own style of acting and in some roles it doesn't work but in SOS, it does. He's charismatic and a little enigmatic and sexy and just plain cool. But mostly at the end, he gives a speech in front of the whole school and I love that speech. I can't really quote the whole thing here since, well, it does, of course, as all speeches do, depend a lot on delivery and timing... but I love the idea of it. As I said the whole theme of the drama is « we need to embrace ourselves by embracing others » and that's what the speech is about, about the friend we make for ourselves, how comforting but also cowardly it can be. And also it's about the meaning of our existence. « We were born to love » says Tatsuya. It's quite a simple thing to say -even simplistic to some- but the way he says it, and the whole thing about « We were not born to hurt others/get hurt by others » just gets to me. I like the drama because the whole drama leads to that speech. And also because Yosuke's hair.
I swear, when he moves, it works
That said, I'd guess you have better things to watch, your time is precious, so let's change subjects. With another mediocre drama but this time I'll really not waste your time and go very very quickly.
Ai Wo Kudasai => Kanno Miho's great in it, Ito Hideaki has a wonderful smile and is a breeze of fresh air, drama starts good, gets heavy and repetitive, has nice touches but over-explains everything to the point you just get sick of it, whatever, this song -and mv that spoils the drama a little bit so maybe listen and don't watch?- :
I like this song a lot. I wanted you to listen to this song. You have -I'm assuming- so let's move on.
And let's not move on to a mediocre drama this time, let's get to the next level with............. ALRIGHT-NESS!!!
And let's start with a question : have you heard of Eita ? You very probably, most certainly have as he has acted in a lot of things -most of them good- and is very easily spotted by the greatness of his acting or the size of his adorable ears. And if you don't know him, boy are you missing out. Cause Eita ain't alright, Eita is awesome, all kinds of it. Which is why I'm talking about Sayonara Ozu-Sensei today. This is a drama I would never have watched usually because it's an « unusual teacher » type of drama and really Gokusen's Yankumi has traumatized me. Sometimes when the moon is full and the mist is thick, I can feel the hair on the back of my neck standing up and I hear her voice as if in a nightmare I can never escape. Anyway, I watched this drama despite my prejudice since I was -and technically still am- in the middle of an « Eita project » -that is to say I'm watching and writing on every Eita movies/dramas- and you know what, it wasn't half bad. Or a quarter bad. Or any bad at all really. It was, as previously stated, completely and wonderfully alright. « Okay Mila, it's all cool and all, you talked about Yankumi a bit, mentionned Eita's ears which is always a good thing to do and told us again that the drama's alright but what the heck is it about anyway ? ». Patience young padawans, patience, what this drama about is, if patient you are, tell you I will. And in normal places verbs place I shall since not mean-spirited too much no am sometimes I yes. Right ? So this drama's about a teacher called Ozu who used to work in a bank, got arrested and, when he came out, had no choice but to accept a teaching position. Which sucks for him since he doesn't like humans in general. And really, Ozu's what sets the drama apart from the other « unlikely teachers » drama : the guy's depressed, severely so. There was a point in episode 1 where I thought he was gonna kill himself. Of course I knew he wasn't going to since there were more episodes to go but it wouldn't have felt out of place if he had. Ozu lost his work, lost his wife, lost his daughter who calls him a « ghost », a man of no consistence, a man who doesn't live with others. He's a tired man, a sad man. And of course he'll get better. And I really like how serious the drama gets. It's optimistic but also not light. Ozu doesn't have all the answers, some problems don't get solved and the teachers can be as lost as their students. It's not the most exhilarating drama but it's an interesting one. That said, it sadly is hard to enjoy as the existing subs are really bad. You might not always notice if you don't speak Japanese but I have enough notions to have noticed that sometimes the subbers were basically making up the dialogues. They were close enough to the actual lines that you'd get fooled but they still were telling a different story. So... yeah too bad. That said I think you can do without it. You cannot do without Eita though, do google Eita, find Eita, watch Eita's stuff and send me « thank you » gifts -also, don't worry: he'll come up again, I'll remind you-.
Anyway, let's get into the good stuff. And though I have hits on my list, I'd like to start with a relatively unknown drama. You most certainly have never heard of it since its lead actor is not that popular and the drama itself flew under everyone's radar but see, though I don't really talk about him, there's this guy I kinda like : Kimura Takuya. And he starred in a little unknown drama called Hero. Okay okay, I'll stop with the joke. I spent all previous not-on-this-blog post talking about Kimu and Hero was a HUGE hit. As I said in previous post, though Kimu-drama's ratings aren't what they used to be, the guy used to OWN Jdramaland. We're talking huge ratings for Hero here and I don't even think those were Kimu's best. A year ago -though I can't find the link again- I read a top of the Jdramas who'd achieved the highst ratings in the last 30 years and I think there were something like 6 Kimu-dramas in the top10 alone. Again : that guy owned Dramaland. And Hero was huge. And when season 2 came out -a mere 14 years later mind you- it was STILL huge and killed it ratings-wise. Then again, ratings don't mean much. Some bad dramas get great ratings and sometimes people don't watch Evasive Inquiry Agency. So yeah, ratings don't mean much. Which also means that this whole thing I just wrote is utterly pointless but then again the whole post is pretty pointless so I'm just respecting the theme here. That said, though ratings don't mean that much, Hero is actually good. Reuniting Long Vacation / Love Generation 's Matsu Takako and Kimura Takuya, Hero is a procedural type of drama in which a quirky prosecutor addicted to home-shopping gets a new job and must team up with a by-the-book clerk. They don't get along then they do but they still fight but eventually they kick ass. There's a hint of romance but it's really not the focus so you shouldn't expect too much from it. Really it's all about the cases and, even more about the characters, the ensemble. Kimu and Matsu Takako are the leads but there are several other actors -like highly appreciated Abe Hiroshi for ex- and they're a lot of fun. The whole office is likeable and provides with lots of good comedy. It also was the start of my Kimu obsession. Couldn't tell you why but I can pinpoint the moment it all clicked for me. Kimu was on the top of a truck, he turned around, smiled and just like that, a new chapter of my life began. A better one. Anyway I usually am not too fond of those « one episode = one case drama » as I often find them repetitive and, consequently and eventually, dull. But this one I've rewatched and would rewatch again.
Guess which one is the quirky doesn't-quite-fit-in lead character :D
I would, however, NOT rewatch Yasha. Not because it's bad but because that show emotionally BROKE me. It took my heart, strangled it, broke it into pieces, stuck them in my throat then repaired my heart just to break it again and again and again. Which is weird. I get emotional about stuff, I do all the time, I'm a very easily moved audience. Movies and dramas make me cry all the time for various reasons -when they're sad, when they're happy, when they're epic, when they're beautiful, etc- but they usually only emotionally reaaaaaally break me when they have some kind of reality behind them. I don't mean they should be based on real life events, just that I should be able to « grasp » the situations, feel a connection to them. And yet Yasha … you couldn't get less real really -well yeah you could but my sentence would have less impact-. The drama's about a young hot male scientific genius who, alongside his trusty hot bodyguard and beloved also-nice-to-look-at mute best friend, must stop a mortal virus from spreading worldwide while also fighting his new found evil twin.
Yes, this almost sounds like a joke. Nowhere in this drama can you be thinking « Yes, I totally buy the gritty real-ness of this whole thing ». You do find yourself thinking « great music » though. Don't know who was in charge of the soundtrack but picking Sting's Desert Rose was genius. Thank you music-dude and also I hate you. Because you HAD to also use Sting's A Thousand Years didn't you ? And it's a great song, oh it really is, but you used it in what was a beautifully heart-shattering scene and only made it more beautifully devastating and soul crushing. Damn you music-dude. Still, the story and characters never remotely sound grounded in anything even slightly resembling reality. But the relationships run deep. Do you like bromances guys ? … Of course you do. I mean, do bees bee ? Do bears bear ? And Yasha's like the celebration of everything bromantic. This drama is so bromancy that, given enough screentime, the lead -Sei, nicely played by Ito Hideaki, who, obviously, also portrays the twin- would probably have started bromancing the grass, the walls or the eff-ing air. Dude's like a bromancing machine. Which is fine by me. So, let's recap : we've got the Sei/Rin -his evil twin- bromance for starters, in which Rin, who never got the affection Sei got from his mom -however soon he lost her-, is like a hurt, twisted, little boy acting out for his brother's attention. And that's heartbreaking and ends on a scene I will never forget. Then we've got the Sei/Moichi -the best friend- bromance with the two friends so close they're each others' lifelines. And that's also heartbreaking and that also ends on a forever-burned-in-my-memory scene. Even the bodyguard gets his bromance. And there's also Rin and his psychotic wouldn't-introduce-him-to-your-parents-unless-you-hate-them-and-secretly-wish-he'd-kill-them-which-he-might-actually-do-just-for-kicks friend/part-time lover. There has to be bromance everywhere you see because THIS.IS.YASHA -this was a « This is Sparta » joke... I'm telling you cause without a pic or the actual screaming, it doesn't really come through and is a pretty crappy joke to put in a post... yeah-. Yasha is... not really a drama that everyone will enjoy. The story is what it is and though it has some suspense, I can very easily see why some people just wouldn't buy it. The directing can be cheesy as heck and … yeah I just really don't think everyone'd enjoy it. But I know I did. It left me empty and reaching for toilet paper as I had gone through my whole stack of tissues but I loved it, I still love it, flaws and all and... bromance is good guys o.o
We did the probably awesome, we did the mediocre, we did the alright, we did the good, … only one dama left : the « changed my life » drama. Which is also a good one.
I think, if not this drama, some other drama would have done it but it's while watching IWGP – or Ikebukuro West Gate Park if you're not as lazy as I am- that I first thought « one day I'm going to Japan, I'm going to IWGP, I'm meeting Kubozuka Yosuke and I'm marrying him at least for a night ». And sure enough, a few years later I went to Japan, to Tokyo, to IWGP. Yosuke wasn't in IWGP... but I did meet him ! In a weird unexpected twist, I went to a club with a friend one day and there he was too, in the club, amongst the dancers, two meters behind me, scheduled for a performance neither I nor my friend had known about -yeah he makesmusic too... I'm not really into it but boy was I glad I was there for this perf-. I got to talk to him, he offered me a sip of his whisky, and after the show I even got my own picture with him. He was great with my friend and I and though I didn't marry him that night... well you know, can't be too mad : I already stumbled upon him by chance in the middle of Tokyo, that's enough to be thankful for. Anyway as you can imagine, this drama has a special meaning to me. For a long long time it was actually my favorite drama too. Now... now it's not. Not that I love it less but I've now watched around 500 dramas. How do you pick a favorite ? There are so many dramas I love, some good, some great, some not-so-great, some actually bad in a way. And they're all so different, how do you start comparing ? So I don't. I think that's a pretty healthy way of dealing with it : when in doubt, don't choose. But yeah, I still love IWGP.
So, the drama takes place in Ikebukuro, a Tokyo district that's in the North-West of it. Our lead, played nicely by Nagase Tomoya, is Makoto, a young man who doesn't have much direction in life. He's clever but though he does help at his mom's vegetable shop sometimes, he mostly just hangs out with his friends in IWGP. They're hanging out every night, making new friends like the loner kid -baby Yamapi- who draws creepy picture or girls who just want to have fun. One day though, one of his friend is brutally murdered and as the police is of no help -which is usually the case in dramas... the only policemen solving stuff are the quirky, weird, genius ones that don't fit in-, Makoto decides to take matters in his own hands.
He finds the culprit and by doing so, builds a reputation for himself and soon gets people all over coming to him for help : prostitutes, yakuzas, regular folks -but not « too » regular as the drama was written by Kudo Kankuro which means everyone's at least a little weird-. For a few episodes, that's what the drama is. And it's fun. Makoto and his friends are very likeable and the drama is quickly set apart from other dramas by its mood. Which means some people won't like it -I know I tried to show it to my sis and she didn't like it at all for ex... this was her first drama tbf, probably not my best pick-. But I do, I love it. Anyway, then another part of the drama sets in. See, Makoto has this friend called Takashi and Takashi is not just any dude : he's the King. Ikebukuro is basically ruled by a yellow-wearing gang called the G-Boys and Takashi is their leader. Makoto never wanted to join the G-Boys but he and Takashi are very good friends -bit of nice bromance going on here guys !- and he can always count on the help of the G-Boys to solve his cases. Problem is, at some point, another gang starts to emerge in Ikebukuro and soon Makoto finds himself in the middle of a gang war. The drama goes a little darker from there. It's still fun but it gets dark and some things are actually a bit sad. But I love the whole thing because I just LOVE Kubozuka Yosuke's portraying of the King. Yosuke, as I already said, has his own brand of acting and it never fitted so well as it did in IWGP. He's charismatic and entertaining, a loyal friend, a just leader in his own way, he always seems to be high -though he strongly does not condone drugs- and, yeah, he seems laid-back and aloof. But he also can snap and when he does, he gets scary. Violence is no problem to him when he's working for his friends or taking revenge and if a war emerges, he's gonna go all out. There's always a sense that he's actually dangerous and that makes him very compelling to watch. I love Yosuke's portraying and I love that character, love that he can be so aloof yet so serious when he has too, so fun yet so menacing at times. I'm really glad they gave him that much screentime since, in the book this is all based on -yes, it's a book first, then a drama and manga... the manga's not that good but the book is a very nice read, it's easy to read and very entertaining- he appears way less. In the show, he steals the spotlight and that's more than fine by me.
That's about it I think :O You made it through people. I'm proud of you and thankful too. Not surprised though, I always knew you had it in you. Faced with a challenge I know you are the kind of people who'd tackle it head on and get stronger for it. The kind of people who'd make it through the desert with only half a glass of water. The kind of people who, when life gives you lemons, would throw the lemons in life's face and would buy a fricking beer in the supermarket nearby because let's face it, I don't have the slightest idea what I'm saying anymore. AND THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD BE. Nah, more seriously, thanks for reading and adress all your complaints to Kakashi, she's the one who said I could write whatever I wanted. I decline all responsibilty, I'll just take the « thank you for Eita » gifts.
Until next time, this is Mila, signing off.