There are odd setups and then there are totally bizzaro setups. Atashinchi no Danshi is firmly in the later group here. While I can give points for originality the narrative presented here is incredibly fresh yet totally far-fetched and off-the-wall. I suppose it can sort of function if one regards the show as live-action manga or some sort of weird fairy tale but originality aside the series itself has some truly gigantic issues that prevent it from being remotely successful.
Fun though thoroughly unoriginal inspirational comedy that is a pleasant enough time waster but doesn’t truly make good use of either its leading lady Horikita Maki or its modest plot twist. Chance! is one of those tanpatsu, one-shot TV movies (or in this case 2 episodes) that you occasionally see each Japanese drama season. This time around we have a slice of life tale revolving around a struggling young woman Tamaki Kawamura (Horikita Maki) who after much disappointment manages to finally land a meagre job in a travel company. Shuffled to the lowest rungs of customer service she manages to make it through the days even though she’s saddled with a seemingly nasty boss and a less than bright career path.
Tokyo Boy (Tokyo Shonen) is a rather minimalist yet emotionally heartfelt psychological/thriller/romance that once again displays young rising starlet Maki Horikita’s impressive acting repertoire this time in a dual role as a girl who is suffering from split personalities.
Watching Innocent Love I can’t help but recall that hoary old Hollywood cliché that child actors have it tough when they attempt to transition to more mature subject matter. I’m sure you could start a list of famous kids who earned much praise and kudos for their earlier work only to find their careers careening into the abyss as they start to age. For every Ron Howard, Leonardo Dicaprio, Jodie Foster, Elizabeth Taylor or Drew Berrymore there’s a Macaulay Culkin, Edward Furlong, Gary Coleman or Dana Plato. I could go on for hours but you get the point.
War is hell. Many have probably heard this short truism numerous times before in their life but whether or not they truly understand it is another matter yet one hopes that everyone in the world never has to experience the horrors first hand. As cinema has progressed through the years so has the war film genre and while once it might have made for great propaganda to show a clear delineation between good and evil and to ramp up patriotic furor watching stilted war flicks the norm nowadays is to take a much more evenhanded perspective.
Kurosagi, the eleven episode drama released in 2006, might not have been the pinnacle of Japanese prime time television but it had enough charm and inherent spunk that made the show feel like goofy fun. It also helped that it had two compelling leads in Tomohisa Yamashita and Maki Horikita who were reunited after showing much onscreen chemistry in the critically lauded Nobuta Wo Produce made a year earlier in 2005. With Kurosagi a hit fans hoped for a second season but instead the producers decided that it was time to bring Tomohisa Yamashita to the silver screen in his first starring feature film thus we have Eiga: Kurosagi which takes place more or less right after the end of the series. However, like other television shows which attempt to make the jump to the cinema, it appears the filmmakers have made the same mistakes that have often times plagued these translations. In short, television and film might on the surface appear to be similar but they are in fact totally different mediums and a wise filmmaker would be aware of the massive differences between both.
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (For You in Full Blossom) is one of those shows which surprises at nearly every turn a monumental feat considering that the series straddles the thin razor’s edge between sanity and total outright lunacy. To say that the comedy is broad is the understatement of the year as some of the wit seems to have been written by a psychotic clown. Yet the show plainly works on so many levels even though it often teeters at the edge of total chaos and kudos goes to the cast most of which seem to have invented the phrase “hamming it up.”
Kurosagi (The Black Swindler) is an amusing Japanese drama that dares to be a bit different by following Western television series that focus on episodic storylines instead of serialized plots that weave through the whole season. The show’s formulaic format does eventually wear out its welcome as subplots begin to grind as the season progresses yet there’s enough here to recommend especially if you are a fan of either leads, Yamashita Tomohisa and Horikita Maki who make the rote narratives more enjoyable than they should be.