Crime-busting with Tamaki Hiroshi

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It be rainin’ lawyers and policemen in October, as Tamaki Hiroshi takes on not one, but two law enforcement roles. First up is the drama SP Kyoaku wa nemurasenai Tokusou Kenji no gyakushuu (Great evil does not go to sleep – The counterattack of the special investigation unit prosecutor), which is an adaptation of the novel Baikoku (Treason) by Mayama Jin. Tamaki portrays public prosecutor Tominaga Shinichi, a newcomer at the special investigation unit, who investigates a case of illegal donations involving a big-name politician (Tachibana Yohei, played by Nakadai Tatsuya). Tominaga also gets embroiled in a scandal involving a space exploration project due to the disappearance of a childhood friend and realises the two cases are linked. The teaser looks awesome already and has that sort of intriguing battle of wits/strategy vibe that I’m generally a sucker for.

I’m so happy to see Tamaki once again lining up against a really solid veteran actor, and Nakadai-san is as big as they come – I still remember his imposing performance in Kurosawa’s Ran (highly recommended), and he also has a string of other illustrious works under his belt, so it’s fantastic for Tamaki to be able to learn from one of the greats in the industry. Tamaki commented that it is a very challenging drama as it’ll get viewers to reflect on what justice really means, and he’d been thinking of how to portray the confrontation scene between Tominaga and Tachibana, which is surely one to look out for. Nakadai-san was very modest and said he felt he couldn’t compete with the younger actors in terms of freshness and thus was nervous standing beside Tamaki, but I’m sure Tamaki himself felt nervous as well acting opposite Nakadai-san!

Hot on the heels of the SP is a new drama, titled Career ~ Okiteyaburi no Keisatsu Shochou ~. Tamaki will star as Toyama Kinshiro, the eccentric but compassionate chief of a police precinct who helps citizens without a voice, regardless of the type of case. He would investigate cases in plainclothes, but his methods aren’t always conventional and drive his colleagues up the wall. The teaser is more light-hearted as the genre is investigative comedy, and it reminds me of Tamaki’s offbeat detective role in Watashi no Kirai na Tantei, which was completely silly. I don’t expect Career (what a title) will be as screwball, but it sounds like a fun drama for the autumn season. Co-stars include Takashima Masahiro, who plays a detective at loggerheads with Toyama, and Takimoto Miori, whose character wants to be an independent detective but keeps making mistakes.

Kyoaku airs on Oct 5 at 9pm, while Career starts on Oct 9 at 9pm.

Away from dramas, Tamaki will be one of the guest stars in a new variety programme hosted by Amami Yuki and Ishida Yuriko, titled Amami Yuki Ishida Yuriko no Snack Akebono Hashi, which will air on Sept 29. The ladies will play the bosses of a fictitious snack bar and chat with guests on a variety of topics while also making food and drinks for them. It’s nice of Amami to invite Tamaki, I figure they must have gotten along well while filming Top Caster back in 2006 and Kekkon Shinai in 2012.

And finally, Tamaki won the Best Supporting Actor prize at the 88th Drama Academy Awards (Winter 2016) for his role in Asa ga Kita! おめでとう! I’m delighted for him since it’s been a while that he’s won something, even though he totally deserves more acting awards. Now that there’s additional motivation (haha), I promise to get to the rest of Asa ga Kita as soon as possible!

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Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi

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Japan is the land of the weird and wonderful, so it’s no surprise that this quirky characteristic is also present in some of its dramas. When a drama goes all out and actually delivers on the kooky, it deserves all the appreciation it can get.

Tada Keisuke (Eita) runs a small benriya business Tada Benriken in the fictional town of Mahoro. His only “employee” is Gyoten Haruhiko (Matsuda Ryuhei), who seems happy to sponge off Tada. As the pair work through some of the oddest job requests they can imagine, their relationship and clients’ backgrounds come to the fore… Continue reading

Kageri Yuku Natsu

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Is there a lifelong WOWOW subscription available and if so, where do I sign up? Once again, a WOWOW production leaves me impressed with the station’s reliability in churning out quality dramas, and I love that there are still networks that care about and put effort into ensuring a high standard of storytelling, acting and production values.

Kaji Hidekazu (Watabe Atsuro) and Muto Seiichi (Tokito Saburo) were journalists on the case of a newborn baby being kidnapped from the Yokosuka General Hospital in the summer of 1995. Unusually, the kidnappers demanded a ransom from the hospital director rather than the baby’s parents. The kidnappers fled with the ransom but were killed in a car accident. Twenty years later, the kidnapper’s daughter Hiroko applies for a job at the newspaper company where Kaji and Muto work, and as Muto struggles to protect Hiroko from the glare of the media scrutiny, Kaji is tasked to relook into the kidnapping incident… Continue reading

Intermezzo: 바꿔 – Gloomy 30s

This song has been on my mind for the past two weeks, and is a timely reminder of how much I loved Jang Hyuk as Lee Dae-gil in Chuno. The song, 바꿔 (Change) by Gloomy 30s, typifies everything I liked about Chuno – swashbuckling fun, reckless adventure, solid fight choreography, and plenty of style, substance and oomph. While I disagreed with the direction Chuno eventually took, among other things, it doesn’t take away how awesome Jang Hyuk’s portrayal of Dae-gil is. That smirk, that swagger, the intensity, the choco abs… totally to die for! Perhaps a rewatch is on the cards…

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Beautiful Mind: Episodes 13-14

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All good things come to an end, and for Beautiful Mind, it’s been an incredible journey of self-discovery and healing. To be honest, I’ve sat here for days wondering how to write this post, knowing that I’m still not ready to let go but ultimately must. It’s been a fantastic ride, along with many memorable firsts, making this my favourite k-drama to date. When a drama shows this much integrity in all aspects of its production, you know you’ve got a real gem on your hands. One that lasts the test of time, to savour for years to come. Continue reading

Beautiful Mind: Episodes 11-12

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We move into Angstville and a number of familiar tropes, which have been simmering throughout the drama, are in full play this week (and possibly the next). It’s difficult to ignore the fact that Beautiful Mind does have enough story to last the full 16 episodes, but I’m trying to make peace with the episode cut by deluding myself that this would be like a slightly longer J-drama – how awesome would it be, though, if Japan remade this and invited Jang Hyuk to reprise his role? So many dramas have faltered in the second half of their run, but the cast and crew have responded admirably so far and I hope this continues as we head into the final stretch. Also, episode 11 is a big fuck you to KBS, cleverly couched in the downsizing plot with several choice barbs of love thrown in. Good one, drama. Continue reading

Beautiful Mind: Episodes 1-10

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Lately, I’ve lost my marbles again, but this time it’s for a good cause. When you sink your teeth into a drama on a whim (more or less), and find yourself richly rewarded, the feels… they are damn good.

Lee Young-oh (Jang Hyuk) is a genius neurosurgeon with impeccable observational, deductive and logical skills, but is unable to feel empathy. A series of patient deaths at Hyunsung Medical Centre, where Young-oh works, force him and traffic cop Gye Jin-sung (Park So-dam) to work together to uncover the mystery behind it all… Continue reading

Seirei no Moribito season 1

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Fantasy and sci-fi are not genres I gravitate towards often because there’s usually a lot of (sometimes complicated) world-building going on that tends to be too much for my limited brains. But spirits and such are okay, and it was a good opportunity to see if I could finally watch Ayase Haruka after her previous horrific drama. Fortunately, the stars aligned in my favour.

Balsa (Ayase Haruka) is a wandering, spear-wielding bodyguard who has promised her mentor Jiguro (Kikkawa Koji) to save eight lives in order to atone for eight previous deaths. On her journeys, she saves Prince Chagum of New Yogo Country and is tasked to become his bodyguard. As Balsa and her friends work to figure out Chagum’s connection to a legendary water spirit which could destroy the kingdom, her own complicated past begins to come to the fore… Continue reading

Short Takes: Neko Zamurai 2 & Shinya Shokudo 3

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It’s back to regular programming on this blog with two feel-good dramas. While there’s always a fear that sequels are unnecessary and don’t live up to successful earlier seasons, fortunately both Neko Zamurai 2 and Shinya Shokudo 3 still know how to keep a good thing going. The magic is knowing when to stop. For this round, kitty edges it, which makes me think a certain poet turned policeman needs to feature in a cat-related drama soon. Besides, how apt is that tagline on the poster of Neko Zamurai 2? It’s totally my motto in life! Continue reading

Goodbye Mr Black

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This is hopefully a one-off, or at least will not be a common occurrence. This is only happening because I’ve temporarily lost my marbles and watched my first k-drama in three years (since 2013’s Heartless City). The lack of logic pervading Goodbye Mr Black should have warned me to stay away, and indeed I tried, but alas, the pretty was too hard to ignore this time round.

Cha Ji-won (Lee Jin-wook), a UDT officer of the Navy Special Operations Force, is a positive and happy-go-lucky sort who seems to have everything going for him. However, his father suddenly dies and Ji-won is betrayed by his best friend, Min Sun-jae (Kim Kang-woo), accused of a crime he did not commit. With the help of Swan (Moon Chae-won), Ji-won narrowly escapes death and returns with a new identity to exact his revenge… Continue reading

Ueno Juri, Wada Sho tie the knot

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The Nodame ship has sailed!

Ueno Juri announced today that she and Triceratops vocalist/guitarist Wada Sho are now husband and wife. They officially registered their marriage today. She posted on her Instagram account saying “Today, I got married to Wada-san!”, while the news has also been confirmed by their respective companies.  She further commented: “To everyone, I am very happy. From now on, whatever happens, I will still continue to do my best. Life is something that I need to set by myself. We have a lot of experiences and I think that every point was able to be connected now. With a wonderful partner, I would like to live this life with joy. Please continue supporting me from now on.”

Congrats to Juri-chan! I’m delighted for her that she’s found her special someone, and she does look so blissfully happy in the above photo. Wada Sho is a lucky guy! He also kind of reminds me of Odagiri Joe. News of Juri dating Wada broke a few months back, but I didn’t expect marriage to come so soon. I guess the relationship must have been very stable by then – they had apparently started dating around last autumn.

I never harboured much hope of Juri hooking up with Tamaki Hiroshi, since they’ve both denied strenuously rumours of any possible relationship between them, but I still wish for them to reunite onscreen just one more time. Now that Juri is a married woman with no risk of rumours, collaboration should be easier, yes? *crosses fingers*

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Yami no Bansosha

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It’s not often, given the current bleh drama climate, that you get a show that ticks all the boxes on why it should be a must-watch or be deserving of a place on any recommended drama list. Fortunately, Yami no Bansosha is all that and another testament to the enduring quality of WOWOW dramas. It’s short at only five episodes, but there’s a lot going on that deserves your full attention every minute of the way.

Mizuno Yuki (Matsushita Nao) is an ex-cop turned researcher for a publishing company. She gets an unusual request to look into whether a series of 50 unpublished sketches were really the work of manga master Ajima Fumiya, who died a year ago. The sketches are eerily similar to 35-year-old cases of young women who went missing. As manga is not her forte, Yuki enlists the help of eccentric manga editor Daigo Shinji (Furuta Arata) to uncover the mystery behind these sketches… Continue reading

Okashi no Ie

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Greetings after a spot of radio silence! Real life kept me busy for a while, but I’ve finally had the time to sit down and work through a drama. Thankfully, it’s of the nice and slow variety, and I found it difficult to resist the combination of Odagiri Joe and Ono Machiko in a genre the Japanese tend to excel in.

Sakurai Taro (Odagiri Joe) lives with his grandmother Akiko (Yachigusa Kaoru) and cat Mii-chan in an old part of town, where they run an old-fashioned candy shop called Sakuraya. The shop doesn’t make much money and has only a few customers. Grandma is worried that keeping the candy shop running is holding Taro back from a brighter future, but Taro wants to keep it going for Grandma’s sake. One day, Taro gets a surprise visitor when his childhood friend and now single mother Reiko (Ono Machiko) returns to the neighbourhood… Continue reading

Bakumatsu Kokosei

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Today’s my birthday? Really?

Happy birthday, Tamaki Hiroshi!

Our Chiaki senpai turns 36 today! Here’s wishing him many happy returns, and may all his dreams come true! Even though Tamaki wasn’t in a lot of dramas or films last year, I’m glad he ended 2015 strongly with Asa ga Kita, which is doing well in ratings so far. I’ve missed seeing Tamaki in solid roles and I really hope a super meaty one will land on his lap soon – the asadora is a wonderful opportunity for him, but I’d still like to see him in more primetime dramas.

Anyway, to celebrate his birthday, here’s a quick post on one of his recent films, 2014’s Bakumatsu Kokosei, otherwise known as Time Trip App. Basically, high school teacher Kawabe Mikako (Ishihara Satomi) and her students have somehow time-travelled back to 1868 Edo, where they meet imperial statesman Katsu Kaishu (Tamaki Hiroshi). These are troubled times for Edo, where a battle is about to break out between shogunate forces and those of the new government. Eager to prevent bloodshed, Katsu sends a peace envoy to the highly influential samurai Saigo Takamori (Sato Koichi). But as time ticks by, there is no response from Saigo and Mikako despairs that Katsu does not seem like he’s doing anything to rescue the situation… Continue reading