First Impression: April 2014 New Dramas

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A series of new dramas have started airing, particularly in Japan so I tried out a few just so that I could pick out the ones that I will keep on and those that I may not. This would be my first impression of them based on one episode (or two). Uh yeahhh~ I’m trying out a lot but how many that I will survive through is still a mystery. NOTE: This post contains spoilers.

01BORDER
Starring: Oguri Shun

One word describes it all: DISAPPOINTED. I would not have mind it so much if the drama didn’t have the horror factor and that the ghosts appear to assist him in solving all the cases. But honestly, how could the screen writer let the ghost(s) tell him who the killer is? What is the fun in watching the rest of the episode if the mystery and the identity of the killer already have been revealed and what is left is for Ishikawa Ango (Oguri Shun) to find evidences to convict the killer? *FLIPS TABLE*

Everything seems promising at the start, I like the hair too although I liked it way better when it was the shortest (after operating on his head) and him getting dizzy and all headachy as the sign that he will see the ghost(s) next. But then it all went downhill the moment the ghosts told him they knew the killer!

The one thing that I care about now is the ghost telling him that he was the one who ‘woke them up’ thus they were able to see him and communicate with him as well. That’s the most interesting part in my perspective regarding the first episode. From what the audiences saw, he didn’t summon them, he had a headache and the next thing he knew he sees dead people. Thus, I am inclined to think that the bullet in his head somehow causes his brain to subconsciously summon and wake the dead.

I like the character set up for Haru as the coroner, Higa Mika – she is cold, calm and perceptive. She would probably be the only person Ishikawa can confide in his ability to see spirits and not think he is crazy. However it is just a pity that they would not be romancing each other as J-drama do not usually multi-task in their story-telling and it does not look like there will be loveline in this drama. Tsk.

Verdict: I’m willing to give BORDER another go and if letting the cat out of the bag is the theme in every single episode then (1) it’ll be dropped (2) continue to watch for killing time & purely entertaining purposes.

[NEW UPDATE 20.04.2014] Episode 2 of BORDER is way better and uses another angle to present the case, Ishikawa races with time to rescue the victim by trying to extract information from the dead killer. So this time round, it is more interesting than episode 1 as we get a bit of thrill. I guess now I can safely say I am more than willing to continue on with this drama.

ALICE NO TOGE / ALICE’S THORN
Starring: Ueno Juri

Now this one I didn’t expect I would like it, but I actually did! The storyline is considered cliché as I have seen similar storyline before, but it was all Ueno Juri’s stellar performance in episode one that is captivating me.

Juri’s performance as the dark and mysterious Mizuno Asumi is really intriguing. She is a character with many layers and is constantly bombarded by various emotions when she interacts with the people she seeks revenge, yet she keeps her mind clear and controls those emotions. Juri has done a fantastic job expressing various emotions. Asumi is a tortured soul, in pain and angry. I believe subconsciously she yearns to be free from the agony of losing her father. The best scene from episode one would have to be Asumi holding an old photo of her and her father, reminiscing the past. The transition of emotions was very well done. The pained expression on Juri’s face and the mist forming inside her eyes was heart-breaking but slowly as her mind moved on to think about Date Risa (Fujiwara Norika), her expression changed to hatred and anger, but controlled. The other memorable scene would be Asumi standing in front of the cherry blossom tree and the sadness in her eyes were mesmerizing. The cinematography and background musics help a lot in creating the eerie atmosphere surrounding our dark characters too.

I am a little confused with Fujiwara Norika’s character though, was that just an episode cameo? Asumi has taken care of two people involved in the medical mishap of her father’s case in the first episode and Date Risa is one of them. The way she was ousted looked a lot like that is it for her character, but she’s being advertised on the poster as if she’s one of the permanent characters in the drama. Personally, I do hope to see Fujiwara Norika stays a bit longer in the drama; it seems all too simple for her smart and conniving character to meet her end so quickly.

Verdict: It’s definitely worth continuing on this one for I am taken with Juri’s acting and selfishly I wish that Juri will develop a loveline with Odagiri Joe. It’s a such a waste of him being in there (as someone from Asumi’s happy past) if the show is not utilizing him fully.

main Yowakutemo Katemasu
Starring: Ninomiya Kazunari

I know. I know. The poster looks horrendous. But why do I think it was done purposely due to the set up of the story? I hadn’t had a chance to write-up an introduction post for this drama because I had nothing to work on and I meant literally nothing. There was no teaser trailer and no character relationship charts available until recently. It almost feel like they are channeling the theme of this drama by being ‘non-existence’ or ‘invisible’.

The story is pretty simple for this drama. If I am not wrong, it is one of those ‘ganbate’ encouraging drama. Aoshi Tamu (Nimomiya Kazunari) lost his job in the research laboratory of University of Tokyo and decided to take on the role of teaching in his alma mater for a year. That is exactly the time period that his professor promised that their research will be funded again.

Aoshi Tamu has a passion for baseball but when he was in the baseball team, he was the weakling and he quit to concentrate on his studies after failing in a game. When he arrived at the school, he could not keep away from the baseball team and soon he’s courted to be the team’s coach. Unfortunately, the baseball team is in a worser state than when he was still in school. The team is weak and struggles to recruit more players as they prepare themselves for a friendly match against the neighbourhood school, who is a much stronger team.

However, they were not disheartened or discouraged as Aoshi Tamu encourages them to enjoy playing baseball and it does not matter if they are weak. They will use their brains (which the school is famous for producing smart students) and their weaknesses to win instead. Now that I just have to see. If it helps, there’s a couple of cute looking boys we can ogle at ~ [偷笑]

I was interested to check it out because it was Ninomiya Kazunari, whom I was deeply impressed by after watching him in Ryusei no Kizuna many years ago. He was one of those what people called idol (Arashi) turns actor and succeeded. His acting was superb in Ryusei no Kizuna and I think among all the Arashi members, he’s the one I’m most taken with in terms of acting. Ninomiya Kazunari suited this role to a T because for one, he is not tall and he is skinny so that gives audiences the image that he is weak, and that suited the theme of the drama. However, if we watch his performance (even if only is the first episode), we would know he is putting up a strong performance with the delivery of his dialogues.

Verdict: It will be a fun and light drama to watch so yes, forward it is!

Mozu_Season1_zpse4e1a2b3MOZU
Starring: Nijishima Hidetoshi

Dark and heavy – that’s my impression of the drama and its storyline. It is also not a drama to be watched during or after a full meal. It’s not gruesome I don’t think but it requires a special kind of mood to be able to absorb and digest this type of drama. However, if you are looking for a mystery / political sort of drama, I think this is it.

Whatever happens at the bombing seems to intertwine with all the characters involved; between Japan’s top security company and possibly the police department’s higher up. I don’t quite know, yet.

As we know from the introductory post that Kuraki (Nijishima Hidetoshi) lost his wife in the bombing, but what we do not know is that she was once a public security officer like Kuraki. Kuraki has a really sad life in my opinion because his wife died and her death looks to me has everything to do with the case she was handling before she resigned from her post. Her last job rendered her mentally unstable and their precious daughter drowns in the bathtub in the house a year ago. That was a mystified death as he found his wife sitting at the toilet seat crying and daughter’s body half-submerged in the bathtub.

Nijishima Hidetoshi’s character – Kuraki is stone-cold and jaded so it is difficult to make out anything from him at the moment. The storyline isn’t the same as other mystery drama where the story is an episode a case but rather it is ongoing so it will take a bit of time for viewers to get to know each characters, settle in comfortably and start enjoying a burdensome-sort of drama. At this point, Kuraki is so stone-cold that it is difficult to see through his mind and understand his feelings. He hadn’t shown any grief for his wife’s death and he has this monstrous motivation and determination in investigating the bombing case that it worries me a little. Everything about him strongly screams, ‘this man needs grief counselling!’ if you know what I mean. But in another way, that’s the interesting side of his character for viewers. Will he break and when?

Verdict: The preview for next episode looks interesting so I will continue to check it out. However, if it gets too heavy, I might not follow it through even though I like adrenaline rush sort of thrills and suspense but MOZU isn’t giving me the same kind of feels as in God’s Gift – 14 Days.

ClipBITTER BLOOD
Starring: Satoh Takeru, Watabe Atsuro

The story is about new police rookie Sahara Natsuki (Satoh Takeru) and his father Shimao Akimura (Watabe Atsuro), who is a veteran police at the Ginza police department. Natsuki and daddy dearest did not have a good relationship, he and his sister were raised by his grandparents.

Unknowingly, Natsuki is hired at the Ginza police department and put in the same division as his father, Akimura. In addition, Natsuki becomes Akimura’s new partner as appointed by the team leader of the division. Pwahahaha!

Natsuki is a gentle and sympathetic guy thus at the beginning of the episode, his inability to ignore people needing help puts him and his division in difficult situation with other divisions. However, it is also his personality that they are able to put down a 3-men robbery at a bank. What happened at the robbery attracted the attention of a mysterious man – Kaiduka Takehisa (Oikawa Mitsuhiro), who killed Akimura’s partner Maeda many years ago. Kaiduka has turned his target to Natsuki upon knowing he is Akimura’s son.

This drama is surprisingly fun to watch, I like it! I like the cheery introductory to the first episode. Natsuki is a fun character to watch and his bickering antagonistic relationship is also another reason why it’s interesting for the show. In addition, Natsuki is working with a great team that is supportive but welcoming to the two new rookies. They are a weird bunch but possess their own unique strengths and skills.

This is pretty much a story of polices catching the bad guys while in the process of giving the father and son the opportunity to mend their broken relationship. It isn’t new (what’s new these days?) but I like the combination of Satoh Takeru and Watabe Atsuro, I also like their character set up. It is a light and easy to get into comedy drama so yessssss. My only problem is I wish Satoh Takeru would change his hairstyle. Aish~

Verdict: It’s a keeper! 😀

WHITE LAB
Starring: Kitamura Kazuki, Tanihara Shosuke, Wakui Emi

*** DROP due to inavailability of subtitles 😦 ***

 

 

 

 

 

headerFALL IN LOVE WITH ME
Starring: Aaron Yan & Tia Li

The story is about Lu Tian Shing (Aaron Yan) – the brain of his famous advertising company and after handling a case which he discovers he has lost his purpose of doing advertisement; he decided to go on a self-discovery holiday (i.e. regain his passion for advertisement). Apparently his subordinates acted as if they can’t handle the company without him so they chased him down at the venue when he made the announcement.

He disguised himself like a geek and bumped into the OZ advertising team after getting out of the venue. He was mistaken as a part-time assistant so he spent an afternoon helping them shoot a CF. He then found out that OZ company is own by the man who was his inspiration to becoming who he is today. OZ co. is now run by the man’s sister Tao Le Si (Tia Li) and is in serious financial crisis but Tian Shing and Le Si had a misunderstanding so he couldn’t help the company without going in disguise as the geeky Xiao Lu. In disguise, Tian Shing helps them grab a CF deal that would release OZ from its financial difficulty. However, things didn’t go smoothly as Tian Shing’s right hand man, Lance (Vince Kao) plays dirty and steals the deal from OZ. Le Si is furious and upset with Tian Shing at the end of episode one.

It has been awhile since I pick up a Taiwanese drama and I actually miss watching a good drama from Taiwan. This is not going to be the same quality of Ariel Lin and Bolin Chen’s In Time With You but at least the first episode’s storyline and its execution is acceptable and bearable unlike Just You, also by Aaron Yan but with Puff Guo. The major problem of Taiwanese drama is lack of good scripts and production cost is low. There is also the serious lack of acting talents in the industry in recent decade, and then we get these generation of girls who come across as pretentious when they act with those god-annoying aegyo voices. I couldn’t stomach Puff Guo and another female side character in Just You because of their fake aegyo-ing voice. *Shudder* The story itself wasn’t captivating either and the execution was bad so I drop it.

Surprisingly, Falling In Love With Me is just as cheesy in storyline as Just You and if I’m not mistaken, that pretentious female side character is Le Si’s best friend but she’s not as annoying in this drama. Also, my first impression on episode 1 is that it at least has a better direction, the old actors are fun to watch and the story is so far interesting enough for me to want to watch episode 2. I’m just dying for a light, fluffy and cheery romance comedy with eye-candies. Visually, Tia and Aaron are matching eye candies so I’ll make do and they already look good together during that drunken scene, tee hee!

Verdict: So far so good… 🙂

ibgO7US1FLPuzTGAP DONG
Starring: Yoon Sang Hyun, Kim Ji Won, Lee Joon, Sung Dong II, Kim Min Jung

I think… I think I know who the real Gap Dong is. Is it my imagination or they are just being too obvious?

It didn’t come across as mysterious/suspenseful/eerie/thrilling as the teasers had advertised. What do you guys think? I mean, there is no more suspense there for Oh Maria (Kim Min Jung) as I already suspected who she is since episode 1 and her identity is confirmed in episode 2. There is also no suspense or mystery to Ryu Tae Oh (Lee Joon) too because we know he is obsessed and admires the real Gap Dong that he is the copy cat.

So I think the story will now revolve around the polices – Ha Moo Yum (Yoon Sang Hyun) and Yang Chul Gon (Sung Dong II) in catching Tae Oh at the crime scene and make him spill the beans on the real identity of Gap Dong.

At the moment, I am annoyed with the set up of Yang Chul Gon’s character – what an arse! I see no reason for him to insist that Moo Yum’s father is Gap Dong, there is not even a real and hard evidence that proves his father, who is mentally retarded to be Gap Dong, well okay, at least not in the past two episodes. Grrr.

Verdict: Not really interested, not really un-interested so I’ll give it another go.

X8y4YLqWITCH’S ROMANCE
Starring: Uhm Jung Hwa, Park Seo Joon

This is a remake adaptation of Taiwanese drama – My Queen starring Cheryl Yang and Ethan Ruan. I did adore this couple when I watched the original so I think it would be extremely difficult for Uhm Jung Hwa and Park Seo Joon to outshine them.

So far the K-version has been loyal to the original although the sequence of what happened at the fortune-teller and visit to her best friend were swapped. I prefer the original sequence in terms of story and character execution because I believe we can connect with the female lead better if the audiences are introduced to her background before the male lead rescues her at the bar.

That sequence to me was significant. Why? It’s because Yoon Dong Ha (Park Seo Joon) needed to empathize with Ban Ji Yeon (Uhm Jung Hwa) and feels compelled to get her out of the embarrassing situation his own best friend put her in. True that Dong Ha said it was unethical, however, he himself was disgusted and angry with Ban Ji Yeon at the beginning so it doesn’t sit right with me that he would go out of his way to rescue her just because it was unethical. Thus, we needed that fortune-teller scene to become a plausible reason for Dong Ha’s character to take pity on and feel protective of her.

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I am a little disappointed that the screen writer has turned the female lead into a cougar-like character for the bed scene. Cheryl’s version was a 32 years old woman who was deeply scarred when she got stood up at the altar and is very much still a conservative lonely woman. So before she and Ethan moved on to their bed scene, she was extremely nervous and shy about it yet she wanted to be loved by a man that night. However, Ban Ji Yeon totally glomps Yoon Dong Ha in that scene with the excuse of being drunk. Instead of Dong Ha taking control of the situation as it should like the original, she was the one in charge the whole time. The drunk excuse isn’t convincing either because she was wide awake and was able to do Maths during their hot and sexy time.

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I’m guessing the screen writer adapted the story but did not adapt the personality of the original character(s). I did not see Ban Ji Yeon as a ‘strong on the outside but vulnerable on the inside’ type of arrogant woman that Cheryl Yang portrayed. The original female lead is also the type that is super confident and smart when it comes to work but becomes timid when dealing with relationship. In addition, Cheryl’s version of Ban Ji Yeon was elegant and beautiful like ‘a queen’.

Verdict: I’ll probably give it another go depending on my mood. I wish they would do something to Uhm Jung Hwa’s hair, it’s really unattractive. 😦

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3 thoughts on “First Impression: April 2014 New Dramas

  1. Bitter Blood has been on my radar since it was announced that Mayday’s singing the theme song to the drama! But it is good? I haven’t had the chance to watch it, what with the sudden flood of dramas from HK, Japan, and China in April (2 new cdramas starting today!) I tried ep 1 of Border, but it didn’t hook me at all so I doubt I’ll be continuing this one. I’m waiting for YowaKate to finish airing before I watch it at one go. Nino’s acting is often understated and like a warm undercurrent, catches me unaware. Like in Freeter, Ie wo Kau, I was rooting for the flawed lead before I know it!

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