Freitag, 25. März 2016

Code Blue

コード・ブルー  ドクターヘリ緊急救命 (Code Blue - Doctor Heli Emergency Lifesaving) is a Japanese TV series consisting of 11 episodes that aired on Fuji TV from July 3rd to September 11th 2008.
The special was aired in January 2009.

Story: Code Blue shows the life of four interns in the Shoyo University hospital. Being responsible for emergencies, those four are flight-doctors-in training and work with Doctor Heli, a program involving a helicopter transporting patients to offer help as fast as possible. However, those four work under Dr. Shuji Kuroda, a senior doctor who's said to not really like young people. Mihoko Hiyama is a straight-forward young woman while Megumi Shiraishi seems to be more calm and doesn't want to hurt people with words if she can avoid it. Kazuo Fujikawa is a talkative young person but seems to lack skills sometimes while Kousaku Aizawa is extremely quiet and cold which is why he can deal with emergencies well.
While working together, those four experience difficult situations.

Cast: As I am not one of those who watched many J-Dramas I think it's something special when I can say that I've known a few actors. And well, those are actually two but nevermind.
Tomohisa Yamashita is a quite good as Kousaku Aizawa. Why exactly? Well, I don't really know about his acting in general but this cold character in this series just fits him perfectly, and also the emotional scenes with his grandma (not a huge spoiler I guess) seem to be fine.
Erika Toda is in this series as Mihoko Hiyama. Compared to the movies I've seen her in before (*cough* Death Note *cough*) her role in this one is strong and confident. While I found her sometimes to be the difficult type of person, I did like her acting overall as well and seeing two different sides of one actress is a good thing as well.
As Megumi Shiraishi we see Yui Aragaki. While her rather shy character sometimes was too quiet in my opinion (or just didn't say what she thought), I was a little frustrated with her being careless in the end. Nonetheless I think she was a necessary part of this series, mainly because they wanted to show completely different characters.
The same actually works for Yosuke Asari as Kazuo Fujikawa. While at some point you pity him because he's seriously not that good compared to the others, in the end it seems like he just needed to adjust himself to the team and the new surroundings while following his dream to become a flight-doctor. Since he doesn't seem to be blessed with extremely medical talent, he's working hard to make his dream come true.
My favorite character in this series was by far Haruka Saejima played by Manami Higa, a young and extremely beautiful flight nurse who seems cold at first but warms up in the end. She's an important part of the team itself and she's good in what she's doing, sometimes even better than the average doctor.
And lastly I feel like I need to name Toshiro Yanagiba as Shuji Kuroda. While at some point one might start to hate him he's a good doctor and wants to safe patients in the end. That's also the reason why he's strict when it comes to the interns.

Soundtrack: The music in itself is not bad. The opening, "HANABI" by Mr. Children isn't bad, as an opening song it's quite nice actually. But then again the music in the whole series sometimes missed the atmosphere. This might be only my opinion but especially during those emergency operations I would actually expect something more dramatic if it's about life and death.
That being said, the soundtrack is probably the weak point this drama has.

After all a 9/10 for the series and an 8.5/10 for the special are still a good and strong rating because of the interesting stories told in such a short amount of time.
While the worst part in fact is the music in general it's not that bad and didn't really make me dislike the drama, that was just something I need to say.
Also, something about the special in itself: I found the talk about separation alright. Yes, it was nice, but not nearly as exciting as that huge accident (should I feel bad for saying this?). The last part of this special episode (actually almost two hours long) was rather slow, there was no major action since emotions were most important then.

Freitag, 18. März 2016

Vampire Heaven

ヴァンパイア・ヘヴン (Vampire Heaven) is a Japanese drama series that aired from April 12th to July 5th 2013 on TV Tokyo. It consists of 12 episodes with an average duration of 24 minutes.

Story: The count is a vampire who wants to marry Sakurako. When she decides to go to see him, her best friend Komachi, also called Koma-chan, gets her out of there and the two of them run away together. They end up in contemporary Tokyo and meet Hayato with whom Sakurako falls in love. Living with a young human, Kentarou, and working for Midnight Cafe's owner Aoi the two find out they're not the only vampires in the human world - the count is looking for his fiancee Sakurako...

Cast: At first let me say that there is nothing outstanding about the acting in this one. Aya Oomasa as Sakurako was somehow the typical naive female you find in lots of dramas. I didn't really like her character until the very end. Tsubasa Honda as Komachi was just incredibly cute. While I really really really loved her character, her acting wasn't too special either but then again she was the most refreshing part about the 'main cast' in this series. Yuta Hiraoka did well as Hayato though but then again I don't know whether his acting was that special - sometimes he just seemed to be too calm about things, especially in the end.
Noriko Eguchi was somehow awesome as Aoi though. Or maybe I just found her character to be pretty appealing because she was just cool about almost everything. Especially when she was talking to Kentarou and telling him her 'secret' she seemed to see it as an almost funny thing (which it indeed was). Speaking of Kentarou, Satoshi Tomiura seemed like a 13 year old boy most of the time. I don't want to sound rude but his voice didn't really change the effect, and at first I was confused because he looks so girly in this and his voice is so high but.. Ken is a male name. Oh well, once you get used to it.
Lastly, there's Eisuke Sasai as the count. I don't remember ever hearing people using his name but though he was supposed to be a villain I couldn't help laughing from time to time about him being so damn stupid. It was funny to watch anyways.

Soundtrack: Please let's not talk about the opening and ending songs. I don't really like the Japanese idol culture so the first time hearing the opening song I was like "Okay... well, whatever" but after hearing it three times I wondered if they couldn't do better..

After all this drama is a 5.5/10 for me. I know people are criticizing it for it's basic plot, pointless romance, lack of story and character development and of course the fact that they aren't following their own rules! Saying vampires need to take care because of the sun but then again when they just lose a scarf or anything nothing happens. Sure it does have it's flaws, and there are a lot of those (though I think there is a story actually). It's nothing but the usual vampire stuff with only the fact that there's a female vampire now.
But then again, it's entertaining, and the whole series doesn't take longer than six hours to watch. It's perfect for a weekend if weird effects and even weirder fighting scenes make you laugh - and it's not as bad as many people make it seem. Especially those two spying on Sakurako, Aoi and Komachi for the count. THESE GUYS made me completely crack up.
I honestly found the Komachi and Hayato to be good characters, so maybe I'll rewatch some scenes just because of them.

Freitag, 11. März 2016


친구 (Friend) is a South Korean movie that was released in 2001. Most commonly people refer to this movie as a gangster movie but it's also said that it's one of the most important movies about friendship in general.

Story: The movie follows four childhood friends through their lives. Joon-seok is the leader of the group and his father is a gang boss. Dong-su is an ambitious man who wants to be more than an undertaker like his father. Jung-ho was known as the clown in their class and lastly Sang-taek who is an ambitious student. They've been playing together as children already, get reunited in high school and meet each other over and over again after graduating. While Jung-ho and Sang-taek went to college, the other two get into careers in rival gangs which leads to them fighting against each other. Jung-ho and Sang-taek find themselves helplessly watching their childhood friends pointing weapons at each other.
What I personally found impressive about this movie actually is the ending in court. Now I don't want to spoiler too much to those who haven't seen the movie yet but it's interesting to see how the friends still try to protect each other (as much as they can of course).

Cast: Jang Dong-gun is in this movie as Dong-su! While he became popular mainly through his roles in this movie as well as in Taegukgi: Brotherhood of War he has been playing in another gangster movie back at that time as well. I did enjoy his acting a lot in this movie anyways and will probably watch some other movies soon.
We see Yoo Oh-seong as Joon-seok, a character to whom friendship is more important than anything and who lives up to some kind of code within the gang business. Actually I found his acting to be best in this movie, fitting the story and the emotions I would imagine a character like his to feel.
Then there are Seo Tae-hwa as Sang-taek and Jung Woon-taek as Jung-ho. I don't remember much about them but together with the others they made up the main cast of this movie and I think no one stood out in a bad way.

I've rated this movie as a 7.5/10 though just because I found it interesting but not completely unique and I couldn't take some parts seriously. It's worth a watch if you're interested in the history of Korean cinema and movie analyzes but also if you just want to watch something about friendship. Be warned though, it's not a peaceful perfect world shown in this movie.

Freitag, 4. März 2016

Absolute Boyfriend

絕對達令 (Absolute Boyfriend) is a Taiwanese drama series based on a manga by Yuu Watase that aired from April 8th to July 1st 2012 on FTV/GTV.

Story: After being involved in lots of unrequited love stories over the past years even since high school, Guan Xiao Fei, a woman in her late 20's, finds a phone in a park (or forest? I only know there are trees and basically no people around when she finds it.) The owner of the phone calls and invites her to his home where he introduces himself as Lei Wu Wu, a salesman. Wanting to thank her for finding his phone, Lei Wu Wu asks about a wish - and being a little desperate in that situation Xiao Fei says she wants a boyfriend. That's how she gets access to a website and orders a robot, a 'perfect darling'. After a two day trial she doesn't manage to return the robot in time so she would either have to pay a lot of money - or work for the company sending them information so in the future the data collected can be of use for other robot models. However, she can't tell anyone about Nai Te being a robot, not even her best friends nor her colleagues... so the two of them have to face many difficulties, especially when Nai Te starts to feel uncomfortable.

Cast: First of all, as you might know, I really really really like Koo Hye-sun for usually playing strong and confident female characters in most of her series. That being said, Guan Xiao Fei is so stupid, at least during the first episodes. Naive and can't do ANYTHING on her own. While I did hate her character in the very beginning, it was in fact bearable. What I found to be weird actually was that they had to dub her voice. Sure, she might not be fluent in Mandarin Chinese - but why in the world did they have to put a Korean actress in a Taiwanese drama if she doesn't know the language? I'd make a guess and say it's for popularity reasons but then again, who knows.
As Wan Nai Te we see Jiro Wang of Fahrenheit (yay! Make a guess how I found out about this series at all) and while I did like him in this series a lot sometimes his acting was too humane - but then again I would've imagined Nai Te to be like this so nothing wrong with Jiro portraying his character like that. Now, not criticizing him but saying this as a Korean studies major student - his accent when speaking Korean is so cute! Like.. I honestly didn't understand anything at first but it was just so adorable.
Yan Zhong Shi, a character I didn't mention earlier, is basically Xiao Fei's childhood friend and her neighbour. They're also working at the same company so they spend a lot of time together. Xie Kun Da was more like a squishy cutie in this series and while I felt sorry for him I really respected him 'fighting' for Xiao Fei and Nai Te in the end since it must have been hard on him.
The last character I just need to mention is Na Wei Xun as Lei Wu Wu. Despite for his.. taste in fashion this man just made my day, especially during the last two episodes. He's hilarious and funny and always made me smile. Sometimes I wasn't sure whether he was supporting or manipulating Xiao Fei's and Nai Te's relationship but it was alright - it definitely was, since he was funny on one side and actually we found out about this in the end.
Others in the cast include Cherry Hsia as Luo Mei Jia (I hated her, okay? If there are things I can't deal with in dramas it's people like her!), Emily Tsai as Fang Zhi Xi, Lin Yun Jong as SKY (loved him so much, so sassy~) and Bi Xiao Hai as Bai Qi.

Soundtrack: The soundtrack itself was and still is really nice but then again I like Jiro Wang as well as Fahrenheit, so basically the opening and ending songs were awesome to me. But I think Fahrenheit's "Mr. Perfect" has to deal with the same effect like many other songs - after some times you just tend to find it a little annoying because you've heard it (or only certain parts) over and over and over again. (If you don't know this effect, watch Boys Over Flowers and talk about T-MAX' "Paradise"..).
While I did listen to Jiro Wang's album already years ago I only found out through this series that his song "假裝我們沒愛過 (Pretend We Never Loved)" actually is/was part of a drama soundtrack. While this song isn't his best track ever, I do think it's nice and fits the series well, at least the concept.
Overall I found the soundtrack to be nice.

As for my rating, I think 6.5/10 is pretty much alright. While my ratings will definitely become more strict in general, this series put up some things I just hate - an incredibly stupid female lead, dubbing, "friends" lying, annoying bitches and - in fact a sad ending. The soundtrack and the nice male actors and characters as well as funny and cute moments just couldn't really save this series.
I've heard that since 2012 a Korean version produced by MBC was in talks but it didn't air yet and to be honest I'm quite curious how Korea would portray the characters and organize the story since there are already variations of this series in Japan and Taiwan.

And girls - let's appreciate this picture for it's... artistic.. atmosphere..? Ah, let's just appreciate it!