Mar 21, 2008

Review: Jap Dramas and Animes

Watched some Japanese Drama and Anime recently.. as an exercise (or excuse) for my Japanese listening skills.. :p

Enka no Joou 演歌の女王
I watched this 10 episode drama because of the main lead actress, Amami Yuki. The plot revolves around a has-been Enka Singer singer, 向日葵 (Himawari, which in Japanese means Sunflower) and how unlucky/unfortunate her whole life is, but yet she never gives up doing the right thing even though that could mean that she herself would have to suffer instead.

It is one of those feel good dramas that you just can't help but to sympathize and root for her. The main male lead in the show was a good-for-nothing guy who just kept getting Himawari into trouble/despair. Even after getting married (to another younger woman), the guy just kept running to her whenever he has a problem. He likes to say, "生きててごめんね", which means "Sorry for still being alive" whenever Himawari is angry with him for his antics, while Himawari likes to say, "一人ぼっちは寂しいよ。。", which means "It is lonely to be alone..". Also, in the show, Himawari seems to possess a body that is indestructible, where almost every other episode, she would be seriously/mortally injured, logically and in reality, but she seems to recover almost overnight..

Rating: 3 out of 5.
It is touching towards the last few episodes where all her good deeds bear fruits, but being a realist it is kinda difficult to believe the ending. Only Amami Yuki is able to make it watchable.. :)

Yama Onna Kabe Onna 山おんな壁おんな
Well, I watched it due to curiosity because of the title. ;) This drama was adapted from a manga series of the same name. It tells the story of Megumi, who is the supervisor and top sales person of the handbag section of a prestigious departmental store in Ginza. She is pretty, not-so-young (in Japan, 30 years old is OLD, especially if one is unmarried) and the envy of everyone around her. However, she has a inferior complex that seems to bother her endlessly - her flat chest.

In first episode, a new staff, Marie, joined Megumi's handbag section. Marie is not just very very endowed, she also has a way with difficult customers that seems to take some wind off Megumi's wings. Megumi felt threatened and inferior. As always in Japanese dramas, if there is friction between any lead actresses/actors, they will be resolved in the end where everyone became everyone's best friends. Add to the plot is the ever-present "concept" that women can't be happy if they are unmarried. So other than dealing with her inferiority complex, Megumi has to deal with the ever-present pressure (from her parents, her peers, and the society) to get married since she is already 30... :x In one of the last few episodes, Megumi received not 1, not 2 but 3 proposals from 3 different guys, and add to the dilemma is the fact that she was shortlisted (after rounds of tests and interview) to go for a 1-year training in France. In the end, as always, she choose the guy that from the start we know she would choose, and forfeited the chance to go France to, as usual - who else but, Marie to stay with the guy she choose to marry.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
For the self-depreciative jokes about breasts and Japan corporate culture. Slightly more entertaining than Enka no Joou. I can't help but to laugh agreeably the peculiarity of Japanese corporate culture..

The Wallflower: Yamatonadeshiko Shichihenge ヤマト ナデシコ 七変化
One of the few anime that my sis recommended. It is about a girl, Sunako, who was rejected by the first boy she professed her love to. She was called "ブス" which in Japanese means ugly girl. From then on, she shuns all forms of beauty, both in herself as well as in life, became withdrawn from crowds/family/friends and weird (she likes all things macabre). Her rich auntie concerned about her, offers the four very handsome guys free rent in her mansion if they can turn Sunako into a "perfect lady". And so the (mis)adventure begins.. ;)

It is hilarious to see the guys being shocked and afraid of the things Sunako likes, for example horror movies, body parts in jars, and anything macabre, while at the same time "forced" to "transform" Sunako. Although in the anime Sunako is portrayed as a girl who was called ugly, but she is in fact a very good cook, very athletic, intelligent (except that she is hopeless in math) and a good pianist. And it was just side-splitting to see Sunako getting nosebleeds whenever she sees or gets near to beautiful people, whom she refers as "creature of light".

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Very entertaining.. Tons of laughters.. Not your usual anime..

Hell Girl II (地獄少女 二籠)
Continuation from the first series when the protagonist, Ai Enma (閻魔 あい), still grants wishes of those who want the person whom they hated most, to go to Hell, when they agreed to give up their own souls after death. Her parting words is always,"この恨み、地獄へ流します。" (This grudge/hate shall be channeled/flushed to Hell).

In this 2nd season, more were told about Hell Girl and how her 3 helpers (輪入道, 一目 連 and 骨女) became who they are before serving under her. Some of the stories were touching and showed how simple misunderstanding/miscommunication or just bad coincidences could result in grudges and sometimes even hatred. Like what Ai likes to say to those who ask for her help, "人を呪わば穴二つ、相手を地獄に送る代わりに あなたの魂も死後地獄に行く事になるわ、それでもいいの?" (roughly means that "Cursing a person harms both. Is it okay that not just the person you cursed will be sent to Hell but after your death, your soul will also go to Hell too?") which begs the question: Does the grudge/hatred you have over that person worth the price of your own soul?? Some fruit for thought...

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Not too bad. A good plot and conclusion to the story.

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