Saturday, October 29, 2011

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de Episode 2 Screenshots and Review

Episode two's case involved a murder case that was originally thought to be a suicide, over an inheritance dispute. Overall I thought the episode was ok. It had a couple funny moments like the butler, Kageyama (Sho Sakurai), trimming a bush into the shape of a T-Rex. Again the interaction between Sho's and Keiko's characters were interesting, and I think it is interesting seeing how Kageyama solves the cases. The case in this episode was ok. It was a little bit more interesting than the first episode and had a little bit more depth to it than the previous one. Overall, I think Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de is interesting enough to keep the viewer curious and it's funny at times, but so far I think it's just ok. I'm hoping for a good backstory for the butler, and want to know with his deductive skills, how come he's a butler and not a detective.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Battle Royale J-Movie Review (2000)

Warning: Some Spoilers Ahead


Title: Battle Royale
Romaji: Batoru rowaiaru
Japanese: バトル・ロワイアル
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writer: Koushun Takami (novel), Kenta Fukasaku
Producer: Kenta Fukasaku, Kinji Fukasaku, Kimio Kataoka, Chie Kobayashi, Toshio Nabeshima, Masumi Okada
Cinematographer Katsumi Yanagijima
Release Date: December 16, 2000
Runtime: 114 Min.
Distributor: Toei

At the dawn of the new millennium, Japan is in a state of collapse. Unemployment is endemic and school violence is out of control. The beleaguered government retaliates with Battle Royale... Each year, a randomly chosen class is pitted against itself on an abandoned island in a cruel game of survival. The rules of the game are simple: 1) it lasts three days; 2) Each player starts with food, water and a "weapon"; 3) if more than one player survives, everyone dies (by detonating special electronic necklaces; 4) there is no escape. Takeshi Kitano plays a downtrodden teacher turned Battle Royale operation leader. As the game progresses, terror and panic challenge the students' fragile trust in each other. But despite the game's brutality, the adolescent players remain obsessed with their crushes, their petty grudges - and their dreams...

Tatsuya Fujiwara as Shuya Nanahara
Aki Maeda as Noriko Nakagawa
Taro Yamamoto as Shogo Kawada
Takeshi Kitano as Kitano
Masanobu Ando as Kazuo Kiriyama
Kou Shibasaki as Mitsuko Souma
Takashi Tsukamoto as Shinji Mimura
Sosuke Takaoka as Hiroki Sugimura
Yukihiro Kotani as Yoshitoki Kuninobu
Chiaki Kuriyama as Takako Chigusa

My Review
Battle Royale is one of the well-known and critically praised movies in the J-gore genre. Based off of the book by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale was also one of the most controversal movies to come out of Japan due to the graphic nature of the violence with high school students killing each other off for survival, and it's portrayal of the Japanese government, which is understandable. It's violent, dark, and gory. Battle Royale goes for shock value and it succeeds.

Yet despite the violence, Battle Royale isn't just about blood and gore. It has a strong storyline mixed with excellent character development mostly through a series of flashbacks. These flashbacks give background to the characters and the class as a whole. They show some of the strong friendships between the characters as well as the unpleasant lives that some of them have. These flashbacks and the fact that the class was randomly selected to fight each other to the death, gives a lot of sympathy to the characters. You start to feel like these students are victims of a corrupt government's inhumane solution to big problems.


The two characters who are really easy to sympathize with are Shuya Nanahara (played by Tatsuya Fujikawa) and Noriko (played by Aki Maeda). These two are the innocent bystandards, caught up in the mayhem of this unjust game of survival. Throughout the movie they develop a close bond and try to find a way to survive the game without killing anyone, even though the rules state that only one person can survive the game. This dilemna is reflected with the character, Kawada (played by Taro Yamamoto). Kawada, a transfer student, was a survivor of a previous battle royale after his girlfriend killed herself off so he could survive. Kawada's experiences lead him to sympathize with Nanahara and Noriko, and joins them in their efforts to try to escape.


The sadistic protagonist of the movie is Kitano (played by Takeshi Kitano), who was the class' former teacher. He quit teaching, however, after being stabbed in the leg by one of the students in the class. This incident leads him to sympathize with the government and the Battle Royale Act. Yet he has a soft spot for Noriko, whom he saw as the ideal, well behaived student of the class. Kitano is an excellent villain protagonist, who at times you can sympathize with because of him being stabbed and for his affection for Noriko, yet you grow to love to hate him for being a cruel SOB.


There are two other villain characters in Battle Royale, both of whom are students. One of them is Mitsuko (played by Kou Shibasaki), a student of the class who's troubled due to her dark past involving her father. She's deceptive, leading students to believe that she's either joining them, the innocent victim, or using other methods. She's the much more rounded of the two student villain characters. This also happened to be Kou Shibasaki's debut, and helped lead to her success in J-Dramas such as Good Luck!!, Orange Days, and Galileo. She was perfectly suited for her role, providing a mysterious physic about her.

The other is Kazuo Kiriyama (played by Masanobu Ando), a transfer student who seemingly joined the game just for sadistic fun. Kazuo, IMO, is the far less impressive villain-type character. He's good a sadistic villain, but that's all there is to his character. He has no dialog throughout the movie, and no real development or backstory. He's just your standard one-dimensional psycho-path. Eventually these two villainous characters fight each other, which was a somewhat disappointing confrontation.


One surprising aspect about Battle Royale is how good the acting is, considering most of the actors portraying the students ranged in age anywhere from 14 to 19 years old. This includes Chiaki Kuriyama, who later was picked to star in the American movie Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (directed by Quentin Tarantino, who is a huge fan of Battle Royale). I felt the best performances were by Tatsuya Fujikawa, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, and Kou Shibasaki.

My Rating
9/10- Overall, this is an excellent movie and I recommend it to anyone who's interested in Japanese entertainment or gore films. However, I can't recommend it to everyone since the gore and the violence may not appeal to everyone. However, if you can stomach it (other than a couple scenes here and there it's not that bad), then I highly recommend this movie.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de Episode 1 Screenshots and Short Review

A couple days ago the first episode of Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de aired, and with an impressive 18.1% rating. Overall I thought the episode was descent. I liked the interaction between Keiko Kitagawa's character Reiko and Sho Sakurai's character Kageyama. Keiko had some funny moments throughout. Kippei Shiina's character, Kazamatsuri, was also pretty funny and flamboyant. It's nice to see him in a comedic role, where as the other dramas I've seen him in (Code Blue season 2 and Seito Shokun) he's played much more serious characters. The producers also did a good editing job. There's a lot of comic book-like inserts which gives the drama its lighter feel. It's also great that they don't overplay the wealth of the main character (Reiko), and the episode is more about the interaction of her and her butler, and solving the case. The case itself, however, was not that interesting. There was not much depth to it and it's not a case that arouses your emotions. Still, the episode had plenty of other stuff to make it interesting.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Actresses Best Fit to Play the Role of a Young and Rich Lady?


Recently, goo ranking did a survey on whom the audience thought would be best suited for the "young and rich lady" role. Coming in at #1 was Kyoko Fukada, followed by Keiko Kitagawa at #2. I thought this was really cool, since Kyoko and Keiko are my two favorite Japanese actresses. Kyoko played this role in Fugoh Keiji, a drama I really don't care about. Keiko is playing the role in her newest drama, Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de. Also making the list was one of my other favorites, Gakky at #10, whom I actually think would be best suited for such a role. Here's the full list.

1. Fukada Kyoko
2. Kitagawa Keiko
3. Takei Emi
4. Ayase Haruka
5. Horikita Maki
6. Ishihara Satomi
7. Toda Erika
8. Sasaki Nozomi
9. Karina
10. Aragaki Yui

Source: Tokyohive

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Look Ahead to the 2011 Fall Drama Season

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de.


Starring Keiko Kitagawa and Arashi member Sho Sakurai. Kitagawa plays the part of Reiko Hosho, a rich detective whom lacks detective skills. Sakurai plays Kageyama, Reiko's buttler whom helps her solve the cases. The synopsis sounds a bit cheesy but I'll watch it anyways, since I'm a Keiko Kitagawa fan.

Sengyou Shufu Tantei ~ Watashi wa Shadow


Stars Kyoko Fukada and Naohito Fujiki. Fukada plays the part of Serina, a bumbling housewife turned detective who is suppose to grow stronger throughout. Sounds like there might be some interesting character development for Kyoko's character, and may be interesting to at least check it out. Hopefully it will get subbed.

Kaito Royale


This drama will be a late night drama (Fridays at 24:20), which means that episodes will likely be only 30 minutes long. It stars a trio of talented new and young actors: Tori Matsuzaka, Aya Oomasa, and Seiji Fukushi. I've seen in the tokusatsu series Samurai Sentai Shinkenger, in which he played the main character, Takeru. He did a fine job in that series, and I've been looking forward to seeing him in something else since. It's ashame that Gold hasn't been fully subbed yet, because I would like to see Matsuzaka in it. I've also seen Aya Oomasu and Seiji Fukushi in minor roles in other dramas. Oomasu I've seen in Buzzer Beat, playing Yamapi's younger sister. I've seen Fukushi play Keiko Kitagawa's older brother in Hitsudan Hostess. Both were ok in their respective roles, so they should be ok to watch here. As for the plot itself, Matsuzaka plays the character Rei, who's hired to steal an expensive ring called "Alexander's tear." This drama has an attractive cast and I'll probably try to watch it, but it may take me some time to get around to it.

Nankyoku Tairiku


This one is likely to be a ratings getter, with vastly popular actors Takuya Kimura and Haruka Ayase. Just about any Kimutaku drama draw at least an average 15% rating. The drama itself celebrates TBS' 60th anniversary and seems to be based on a true story. It's about a group of 11 people whom were sent to explore Antartica on a national project. It does sound interesting, but this is a drama that I probably won't pick up until after it's finished. I may be hard pressed to watch the first three I have listed.