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Japanese Variety Shows, Dramas, and Pop Music

Archive for the ‘Fall 2013’ Category

Miss Pilot Ep 11 Review

Posted on: February 23rd, 2014 by tylerraiz 1 Comment

What sort of finale will Miss Pilot have? Will Tezuka Haru (Horikita Maki) really be put in a serious in-flight emergency like the previews at the end of the previous episode led us to believe? If this episode is going to be a successful conclusion to this drama, it has to bring a lot of tension into some sort of climactic event that will prove to us that Tezuka is really a pilot. She started to look like one in episode 10 (finally!), but I still need more evidence.

I’ve avoided saying it through this entire series but I can’t help myself now that it’s the last episode – she does look cute in the uniform:

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Anyway, they all find out where they’ll be flying for their first on-the-job training flights. Considering Yamada Kazuo (Fujii Ryusei) mixes up RJFK (Kagoshima) with KJFK (New York’s JFK International), I’m not sure he’s ready. Incidentally, all major Japanese airports have the R prefix, and all major American ones get the K prefix, and not knowing that is . . . well, it still beats me how Yamada managed to pass, so I think ANA might want to tighten up its standards.

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The Kunikida team all greet dispatcher Chisato (Aibu Saki) as full-fledged pilots . . .

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. . . after taking 1304 days to get here according to Moroboshi (Shounozaki Ken).


Ando Lloyd Ep 10 Review

Posted on: February 21st, 2014 by tylerraiz 1 Comment

This is the final episode of Ando Lloyd (安堂ロイド〜A.I. knows LOVE?〜) and frankly, nothing that’s going to happen here is going to make up for my disappointment in the series. I’m a Kimura Takuya fan and a science fiction fan, but neither was very well represented in this drama.

But let me save all that for the end. Can this episode at least provide 46 minutes of solid entertainment?

We last left the android Lloyd (Kimura Takuya) in what will presumably be his final confrontation against his sister robot, the ARX-IX (Kiritani Mirei), after she has killed the prime minister. I expressed a lot of frustration in the episode 9 review because very little makes sense anymore. The writers are trying to get away with too much without connecting the dots for the viewers. They haven’t even tried to attribute any sort of plan to the ARX-IX, and her character lacks any sort of coherent motive. She’s just evil for the sake of being evil.

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Oh, and then even though the prime minister is already dead, Suppli is somehow able to bring him back to life. Granted, there’s advanced technology and everything, but that’s not the point. The point is that at the end of episode 9 they seemed to kill off Nanase (Oshima Yuko), Isaku (Endo Kenichi), and Shinzo (Kiritani Kenta), and that was quite a shock – but only because we hadn’t been told Suppli could bring them back to life. In the end, it amounted to the writers playing a pointless trick on the viewer, since the deaths didn’t serve any purpose, and this particular viewer is not amused.

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All right, back to the fight between the two ARXs. Now, The ARX-IX has the Asura system boost, but Lloyd doesn’t have any more of those, so he’s at a disadvantage. Good thing she wants to toy with him.

It’s an extremely well-choreographed fight compared to the others we’ve seen in this series, and it’s a lot of fun watching the schoolgirl-looking ARX-IX beat up on her older brother. Suppli and Asahi (Shibasaki Kou) watch from Suppli’s super-high-tech inter-dimensional hospital room (just guessing here because it’s not like they’ve ever bothered to say anything about it) and despair as they see the ARX-IX winning.


Miss Pilot Ep 10 Review

Posted on: February 15th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

This is the second-to-last episode of Miss Pilot and there’s still one thing that this drama needs to do – convince me that Tezuka Haru (Horikita Maki) is someone I want piloting a plane. So far, I haven’t seen any indication that she would be level-headed in a crisis – pretty much the main requirement for a pilot. Will these last two episodes change that?

At the very least, I hope after the focus last time was largely on how she dealt with her mother’s illness, that this time we see her struggling with the fact that she’s already quite far behind the other trainees.

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Kunikida (Saito Takumi) lays down the situation. All the trainees except Tezuka are through with training and have to pass the final test. Tezuka gets an extra week to prepare, but it’s not much. I’m a bit puzzled by the way he frames this as a one-chance-only test, since you’d think that after all the money and time spent training these pilots, they’d give them a second chance if for some reason there was a chance for improvement.

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Anyway, this makes them all very tense and worried that all their efforts might come to naught if they fail . . .


Yorozu Uranaidokoro Ep 06 Review

Posted on: February 10th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

So, I’ve run out of English subtitles for Yorozu Uranaidokoro Onmyoya e Yokoso (よろず占い処 陰陽屋へようこそ) and my review will be based on my attempts to decode the Japanese subtitles that come with the YYeTs version of the drama. On the bright side, like with the Kindaichi special, this means that I’m learning all sorts of new words, and this is bound to make my future reviews of all shows better. The downside is that it’ll take me longer to review each episode and there are parts that I simply won’t understand, so I hope you’ll bear with me. I like mysteries and find this drama amusing, so I’ll keep at it.

This episode begins with Ayukawa Tamaki (Kashiwagi Yuki) using all the charms at her disposal to try and win Abeno Shomei (Nishikido Ryo)’s love. And when I say charms, I mean the magical spell variety – she doesn’t seem ready to approach Shomei directly. Shomei’s friend Hideyuki (Suruga Taro) discovers her obsession and decides to employ her help in discovering the mystery of why Shomei has decided to become first a host and then a psychic.

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After all, Tamaki knew Shomei from his host club days when he was ‘Sho’, so she can bring Hideyuki there so he can hopefully discover the truth there. Hideyuki suspects that it has something to do with Shunta (Chinen Yuri), but that would be strange, since Shomei only met Shunta after becoming a psychic . . . right?

Meanwhile, Shunta sees an old woman contemplating whether to enter Shomei’s shop and invites her in for tea. Looks like he’s well suited to this job, after all.

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She’s reluctant to say anything when Shomei asks what her would like to request of him and Shunta explains that he invited her in for tea.


Ando Lloyd Ep 09 Review

Posted on: February 8th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

The beginning of this episode of Ando Lloyd (安堂ロイド〜A.I. knows LOVE?〜) takes us back to the day after Matsushima Reiji (Kimura Takuya) was killed, when Matsushima Nanase (Oshima Yuko) first met the Mysterious Beauty (Kiritani Mirei). We wondered why Nanase seemed already so familiar with the Android Queen (as I might start calling her), and it turns out she met it at the same time as Asahi (Shibasaki Kou) met Lloyd (Kimura Takuya).

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But that sequence is just Nanase’s memory – she wakes up in the present in a hospital bed tied down. The psychiatrists think that she has multiple personality disorder, and one of those personalities is violent. I suspect that it’s just the Mysterious Beauty’s influence on her.

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The Android Queen has modified Nanase’s glasses to play video, and uses it to show Nanase what she has done.

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The psychological conditioning continues as the Android Queen forces Nanase to switch to the personality that I think the android created.

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That violent alternate personality then goes on a bloody rampage to escape the hospital/psych ward. Some brilliant crazed acting from Oshima-san, by the way – this whole issue of her transformation into a demon under the control of the Android Queen is the most remarkable plot in this series so far.


Miss Pilot Ep 09 Review

Posted on: February 2nd, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

With the trainees in Miss Pilot now facing the need to prepare to fly a real airliner – the Boeing 767 (ironically, my least favorite airliner) – Tezuka (Horikita Maki) faces an additional stumbling block because her father is ill. She doesn’t know that yet, but it’s coming – presumably in this episode.

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Which leads me to an observation – is this a frequent plot point in dramas? A parent getting sick near the end of the series? We just saw it in Pin to Kona, and Asahi’s mother faked it in Ando Lloyd. I think this is reflective of an understandable anxiety among people as both Japan and America see the post-war generation age. It’s a concern for both generations, as the parents wonder whether their children will really be all right.

Well, these trainees sure look all right in their uniforms, don’t they?

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They face some serious simulator time where they’ll train not only to handle the normal routines of flight, but also to handle the emergencies that pilots are really there to manage. Unfortunately, Taiji (Mamiya Shotaro) seems to be less focused on the task at hand and more interested in trying to court Tezuka now that Suzu has technically broken up with him. Could they make Taiji any sleazier, by the way? It’s sort of annoying that they didn’t bother to give him any redeeming qualities at all – he’s just a one-dimensional character. His sole purpose is to be unfaithful to Suzu (Sakuraba Nanami) and then to try to make a move on Tezuka. Good thing Tezuka doesn’t seem the least bit interested, but if that’s the case, isn’t this already-failed romantic subplot annoying?

Speaking of already-failed romantic subplots, maybe Yamada (Fujii Ryusei) can console himself after his simulator run by dreaming that Rinko (Nanao) actually likes him.


49 Ep 11 Review

Posted on: January 26th, 2014 by tylerraiz No Comments

Here it is, the final episode of 49. Among the dramas I’ve reviewed, I don’t think there’s any that I’ve been more reluctant to see end. For most series, it’s pretty clear they need to wrap things up. Shinryochu was the last one that I thought should have had more episodes to it because too many of its storylines were wrapped up too hastily, but it was so intense and disconcerting that I was nowhere as eager to see that one continue as this one.

Right up front (because I’ll be focusing on the review at the close of the article), I’d like to thank arisu-subs for the wonderful translation effort throughout the series. I don’t acknowledge the subbers often enough – mainly because I’m not sure whether they want me to.

So, the writers have only an hour left to do right by the story of Kagami Dan (Sato Shori) and his father. Can they manage it?

It begins with Dan recording a message to his father – a longer one than his father left him, but just as meaningful in its own way. We find out something quite surprising – that Dan’s father wasn’t the one who died. Dan distinctly remembers his spirit floating away from his body. He realizes that his father left his own body and pulled Dan’s soul back in by force, and that’s how they got merged in Dan’s body.

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The writers have had a lot of tricks up their sleeves along the way, but this one really takes the cake. I’m properly impressed by this twist to things.

I also like how they have the two of them facing each other like this when Dan says he’s afraid that he’s going to be the one who’ll disappear after the forty-nine days are up rather than his father. Very artsy.

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Dan’s father doesn’t know what will happen at the end of the 49 days, either, it turns out, and this is a state of affairs that we should be able to get some serious resolution out of. I noted in the previous episode that we didn’t really know whether Dan was now enjoying life enough so that he wouldn’t contemplate suicide. Well, I think we’re at least going to find that out, and if he still wants to live, that’s a start.

On the less serious side of life, Possessed Dan, Kenta (Yasui Kentaro), and Satoshi (Jinguji Yuta) find Kiryu Tetsuya (Kyan Yutaka) sleeping in his money. He’s really got the whole decadent thing down!