Character watch: Suga Eiichiro

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*Note: This was written before I discovered Chiaki Shinichi, but the sentiments remain largely the same.

Suga Eiichiro is, hands down, my favourite drama character. That he’s played by Fujiki Naohito is a huge bonus, but there are a lot of Suga’s character traits that resonate with me, that I find particularly attractive, and can understand why Kyoko fell so hopelessly in love with him. How to resist that smile? How not to love a man who is handsome, charming, has a strong sense of justice, hardworking and doesn’t want children? Sign me up! Continue reading

A date with Spring 2015 dramas

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Considering I barely follow currently-airing dramas, it’s a mini achievement that I completed four Spring 2015 dramas more or less within the season, and this is my lazy way of not doing a big write-up for each of them. The four in question are I’m Home, Kokoro ga Pokitto ne, Fuben na Benriya and 64 (Rokuyon). While none of them really hit it out of the park, they were watchable in their own ways. Continue reading

Nobunaga Concerto

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There will always be some historical characters who, whether by virtue of their achievements or notoriety, get more attention in any medium, and this is same for Oda Nobunaga, one of the most famous and pivotal figures in Japanese history. A good chunk of jidaigeki tend to feature Nobunaga in some form and last year’s offering, Nobunaga Concerto, was quite a hit, enough that a movie sequel is apparently in the works.

Saburo (Oguri Shun) is a high-school student who somehow manages to travel back in time to the Sengoku period of 1549. He bumps into Oda Nobunaga (also Oguri Shun), who is the son of a warlord and magistrate of the lower Owari Province. Nobunaga looks and sounds just like Saburo, but is physically weak and wants Saburo to take his place in this turbulent time. Saburo initially thinks it’s for a lark, but as he gets used to living in the Sengoku era, Saburo as Nobunaga sets out to unify Japan… Continue reading

Day 8: Favourite Drama Couple

Yikes, this calls for some repeating again, haha. I have quite a few couples that I really ship, so here we go. Spoilers included.

1. Chiaki Shinichi & Noda Megumi (Nodame Cantabile)

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Well, I’m sure the reason why I love this couple is obvious. They love music and are just awesome sauce and complement each other in the ways that matter. Besides, Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri look so fantastic together and had such amazing chemistry, it’s a shame they aren’t dating in real life.

2. Suga Eiichiro & Asaoka Kyoko (Love Revolution)

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Whenever he calls her Kyoko-san in that half-teasing, half-flirty manner, it makes her knees and that of the audience go weak. They’re both workaholics and true professionals, but y’know, even hotshot journalists and brainy doctors make time to kiss their way to a sizzling romance.

3. Kuryu Kohei & Amamiya Maiko (Hero)

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Strictly speaking, they were never a couple in the original J-drama (whatever comes after isn’t worth a mention, really). But Kuryu and Amamiya were a powerhouse and wacko legal team, mostly because of his unorthodox methods, and their chemistry was off the charts.

4. Sena Hidetoshi & Hayama Minami (Long Vacation)

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Long Vacation is a classic J-drama everyone should watch, because it’s one of Kimutaku’s best works. Both friends and lovers, Sena and Minami show age difference is no barrier to true love. Bonus: there is classical music!

5. Hirokawa Eiki & Egi Toko (Koori no Sekai)

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This is a couple blighted by her traumatic past, but Eiki is nothing if determined to uncover the truth so Toko can finally get her life back. As they say, true love will overcome everything. Takenouchi Yutaka and Matsushima Nanako had some pretty sizzling chemistry here.

Some honourable mentions (or this will never end):
Takano Seiichi & Amemiya Hotaru (Hotaru no Hikari)
Kuga Tatsuhiko & Kasahara Natsuki (Over Time)
Usami Kei & Aizawa Airu (Love Shuffle)
Kudo Junpei & Tanaka Chiharu (Kekkon Shinai)
Tsui Fei & Quin (Detective Investigation Files IV)
Kang Tae-bong & Oh Dalja (Dalja’s Spring)
Hyun Jin-heon & Kim Sam-soon (My Name is Kim Sam-soon)

junny@11.40pm

Day 4: Favourite Actor & Actress

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Clockwise from top left: Fujiki Naohito, Tamaki Hiroshi, Takenouchi Yutaka, Kagawa Teruyuki, Nakamura Toru, Shiina Kippei, Abe Hiroshi

It’s pretty obvious from this blog that Tamaki Hiroshi is my favourite actor, but this post will also feature actors whom I enjoy seeing regularly on my screen and whom I think deserve a shout-out. Currently, I have a “super seven” group of Japanese actors whom I hope will team up together in a big drama that will be the most kickass one in Japan ever, haha. They include Tamaki, Fujiki Naohito, Shiina Kippei, Nakamura Toru, Takenouchi Yutaka, Abe Hiroshi and Kagawa Teruyuki. These are all solid actors and I’ve generally enjoyed watching the stuff they’re in.

I might as well toss in some drama recs while I’m at it. For Tamaki, definitely check out Nodame Cantabile, Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi and Love Shuffle. Fujiki was awesome in Love Revolution and Hotaru no Hikari. Shiina is incredibly versatile, check him out in Antique and Over Time. Nakamura and Takenouchi were both in Koori no Sekai, but also give Soratobu Taiya and Suteki na Sen Taxi a spin while you’re at it. As for Abe, definitely Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, but I also liked him tons in Shinzanmono and Hero. Kagawa was excellent in Double Face and pretty much the only saving grace in MOZU (which was incredibly tedious).

As for Hong Kong actors, I’m very fond of Miu Kiu Wai, who is pretty versatile and a really nice guy in real life. I’ve watched most of his stuff and like his range – he’s done everything from the good guys and baddies, to comedies and serious stuff. And this section would not be complete without the two Tony Leungs – both big Tony and small Tony are awesome, although their careers have branched out in different ways. I haven’t always liked small Tony’s recent film choices – Lust, Caution was pretty mehhh – but he remains one of the standout actors of his generation. I also like Lee Jung-jae and Kim Kang-woo even if their recent works haven’t been particularly interesting.

From left: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka, Jeon Ji-hyun

From left: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka, Jeon Ji-hyun

I have to admit I’m hard-pressed to select an outright favourite actress, but I’ll just name five ladies of whose works I’ve seen at least two and whom I’d want to grace my screen again: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka and Jeon Ji-hyun. They are all solid and versatile in their own ways and have proven chemistry with the male co-stars they’ve worked with over the years. Jeon is actually more of a film actress (even if she did have a ratings hit drama last year), and she is especially memorable for her earlier works Il Mare and My Sassy Girl, both of which I recommend (Il Mare does have the edge, though). Ayase does need more challenging projects and co-stars who can bring out the best in her, while Esumi just needs a new drama, stat. Maybe it’s time for Ueno, Esumi and Ayase to team up with my “super seven” for a truly blockbuster J-drama to own all J-dramas (yes, one can dream!).

junny@7.35pm

Day 3: Favourite Male & Female Character

Even though I have a clear top two for favourite male character, I’m going to add a couple more just to have a little bit of variety, haha. For a very long while, my favourite male character was pretty much Suga Eiichiro from Love Revolution, because of how Fujiki Naohito portrayed him to perfection. Hotshot journalist with a hidden righteous streak, great kisser, charming and easygoing but not sleazy, and an all-round nice guy in the end… it is arguably Fujiki’s best role (yes, it even outranks Buchou!)

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Suga is still one of the sexiest male characters of any drama, but recently he’s had to take a backseat to Nodame Cantabile‘s Chiaki Shinichi, who’s now No 1. Tamaki Hiroshi’s Chiaki is simply irresistible – that incredible talent! the looks! he cooks and cleans! them white shirts! – how can one not love this guy? I just love it whenever Chiaki is immersed in his music and even though he has very high standards for music and himself, he’s not afraid to admit he’s wrong about things – he does appreciate and respect people who care about music, once he gets round to realising it. He’s a bit slow regarding things not concerning music, but half the fun’s seeing him lose his sanity trying to figure out other (nutty) humans, haha. Even though Chiaki is supremely grudging with showing affection, when he does show it, he pretty much knocks it out of the park.

Chiaki might seem very different from Suga but at heart, they’re really passionate about what they do and are just two guys who don’t recognise love until it threatens to slip away from them. I tend to be a sucker for tropes like this, and both Tamaki and Fujiki were pretty much kanpeki in their respective roles.

Other male characters I really like are Kuryu Kohei of Hero, and Akiyama Shinichi from Liar Game. Before Kimura Takuya’s drama choices went south in the latter 2000s, he had a string of hits and Kuryu is arguably his most memorable (well, enough to spawn a 2014 sequel). I think the role fitted Kimura to a T and he got to display the character’s quirky, misfit charm to the max. He also had wonderful chemistry with Matsu Takako in Hero, which made their pairing particularly memorable. As for Akiyama, I’d never quite liked Matsuda Shota in anything else – he was okay in Love Shuffle, but I think the Akiyama role suited him so well I couldn’t imagine any other actor doing it. Matsuda brought out Akiyama’s know-it-all smirks, trademark laid-back pose, arrogance and confidence perfectly, and made me root for him to outwit his opponents no matter the odds.

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Oddly enough, I don’t have a favourite female character – that’s not to say I don’t like any, but none of them stands out as strongly as the males. But I’d probably go for Quin from Detective Investigation Files IV and Oh Dalja from Dalja’s Spring.¬† I was a huge fan of this Hong Kong drama and Quin was portrayed by Jessica Hsuan, one of my favourite Hong Kong actresses. I thought Quin was pretty kickass in how she dealt with being in a difficult relationship – she loved Tsui Fei, but constantly had to battle with his memories of his ex-girlfriend, who’d gone missing. She was pretty much the logical and sane one in the volatile relationship, and I really rooted for her. It’s probably my favourite Jessica role, and also because she had such chemistry with Louis Koo, who played Tsui Fei.

Dalja is one of very few k-drama heroines I like. She deals with things in a logical, if amusing (and sometimes feisty) manner and I like how she decided to make the best of a failed crush on her colleague by becoming pals with the guy. While fairly inexperienced in love, she’s not one for bemoaning her fate too much and just gets on with it after a while. I love her relationship with Kang Tae-bong, and it helped tons that Chae Rim and Lee Min-ki had oodles of chemistry to successfully sell the older woman-younger man romance. This is one rare k-drama that I’d totally recommend.

junny@10.11pm

Day 2: Favourite Drama

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Hands down it’s got to be Nodame Cantabile. It’s pretty much perfect, from the cast to the music, right down to the manga-esque humour. Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi were fantastic as Nodame and Chiaki, and had such amazing chemistry that many people still ship them together till this day. No other actor could have brought Nodame and Chiaki to life the way Ueno and Tamaki did. The acting was solid throughout and you could feel the camaraderie of the cast shining through in the drama and behind-the-scenes videos. For an 11-episode drama, character development was rich and logical, and every scene meant something in the bigger scheme of things. The music selection was spot-on and delightful, and added much to both plot and characterisation. You don’t have to know your Beethovens or Mozarts to appreciate the drama, but it might just make a classical music fan out of you!

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I do have to give a shout-out to Love Revolution, which before Nodame Cantabile was probably my favourite drama, and still ranks very highly on my must-watch list. Japan doesn’t really do rom-coms like these anymore, where adults behaved like adults and weren’t afraid to get intimate with the people they liked. This was an all-round eye-candy cast, with plenty of kisses done right to go round, and the added bonus of these people being able to act (can’t say the same for the supposed eye-candy these days). Esumi Makiko and Fujiki Naohito were so winning in this drama, and their chemistry so pitch-perfect, that I’d shipped them for many years and still hope that they, like Ueno and Tamaki, would reunite on screen for just one more time. Dear Japan, time to give us some proper rom-com goodness!

junny@12.30pm