Murder she solved: Rakuen & Cold Case

I’m back in business! Well, on the drama-watching front that is, since I’ve finally got a new computer and can watch stuff properly again. Recently cleared two dramas featuring ladies whose characters flexed some crime-solving muscles, so it was nice to see women take charge when usually this is a male-dominated genre. Coincidentally, both are WOWOW dramas, so quality was definitely assured. Continue reading

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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

Suna no Utsuwa

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Sometimes when I like what I see on screen, I make a beeline for the source material on which it was based. This was the case for Suna no Utsuwa, the 2011 tanpatsu starring Tamaki Hiroshi and Kobayashi Kaoru. The novel of the same name by Matsumoto Seicho has had a few adaptations, including a 2004 J-drama with Watanabe Ken and Nakai Masahiro, and a 1974 film by Nomura Yoshitaro, a testament to the enduring popularity of this story and the crime genre in general.

Given the difference in formats, I suppose it is mission impossible for screen adaptations not to add stuff that was not in the print source material. Still, I can generally accept it better if the adaptation more or less stays faithful to the essence of the source, even if certain changes have been made to improve story flow or tighten plot and characterisation. However, where the adaptation makes up a character or changes the perspective from which the story was originally told, it kind of annoys me. Yes, I’m Chiaki-like that way. Continue reading

Short takes: Neko Zamurai & Shinya Shokudo 2

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Concise storytelling is one of the hallmarks of Japanese dramas, and the good ones make sure scenes contribute to plot, characterisation and the overall big picture. This is even more evident when it comes to dramas whose episodes are at most 25 mins each – you need to tell a story in that period of time and not leave the viewer feeling shortchanged. Fortunately, when Japan does something like this, it tends to do it well, as both Neko Zamurai and Shinya Shokudo will attest. The two dramas are slightly different in the sense that Neko Zamurai is one whole story divided into 12 episodes of 20 minutes each, while Shinya Shokudo is more episodic with loose connections between stories. But they both leave you wanting more. Continue reading

Shinya Shokudo season 1

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I’d heard a lot about Shinya Shokudo and finally had the time to sit down and watch the first season. As expected, it’s excellent and heartwarming, and one can easily see why it has expanded to a season 3. It’s like comfort food that warms your insides on a cold snowy day, and the simplicity of it makes everything even more worth savouring. The short episodes (each is about 25-30 minutes) also make this a breeze to watch – you can easily polish off two or three episodes at a go and won’t even feel time passing by. Continue reading